Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010
How the rest of the world deals with aliens at the ballot box
By SARAH NOORBAKHSH
Acknowledging the rights of immigrant groups, “recognizing special ties among particular groups of countries” and reciprocation are often part and parcel of granting suffrage, says Michele Wucker, executive director of the World Policy Institute. The EU, the Commonwealth, Brazil, Portugal and Spain are cases in point. However, the decision in South Korea had the effect of enfranchising mostly Taiwanese immigrants rather than being a “quid pro quo” reform benefiting Japan, and the country has thus far only indicated that it hopes for a similar move here in Japan. Also worth noting is that whereas 6,000 noncitizens benefited from the law change in South Korea, there are over 900,000 permanent foreign residents in Japan, including over 400,000 “special permanent residents” — mostly Koreans and Taiwanese who lived in Japan before and during the war, as well as their descendants.
So what about the argument that, rather than give voting rights to permanent residents, they should be encouraged to naturalize instead? This attitude is prevalent in North America, where noncitizen voting rights have been rolled back. In contrast, Chile introduced alien suffrage to in part to compensate for its slow, inefficient nationalization system.
“If people feel that they are part of a community with their neighbors, then they are more likely to embrace national values and even apply for citizenship as well,” suggests Wucker. Indeed, movements in Toronto as well as Rome have used this argument in pressing for the involvement of immigrant groups in local politics, though demonstrating objectively that granting foreigners the vote leads to an increased demand for naturalization has proved a challenge.
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Published in Carnegie Council Policy Innovations
part of a collection from the December “The Right to Move?” conference in Tokyo.
January 26, 2010
Facing demographic and economic challenges, countries around the world are reconsidering the policies that govern migrant rights—the basis on which people are allowed to enter a country, the access that non-citizens have to services and rights, and the ability of non-citizens to naturalize. Decisions about who gets the right to move have significant consequences for the citizens, societies, and economies of host and sending countries alike.
The central question for many countries is: Who is admitted and how? In countries where ethnicity or family ties are priority criteria, the ethics of deciding who enters are closely tied to national conceptions of self-interest and identity. Sometimes these conceptions conflict, as Germany found when reconciling its long-standing policy of admitting people based on blood ties with its national desire to provide hospice to refugees. Admissions decisions also have consequences for sending countries which in turn ripple back to host countries when borders are weak and economic pull is strong.
Immigration rights advocates often make a moral argument for liberalizing immigration policy. No matter how good the moral case is, however, under the fraught politics of immigration the only arguments that will succeed are those that make a strong case for the self-interest of the host society. Yet the moral arguments are not necessarily opposed to self-interest; in fact, they often coincide. Continue reading “Jan 26: Linking Ethics and Self-Interest in Human Mobility”
I’ll be speaking at the “Right to Move: Debating the Ethics of Global Migration” conference at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, December 12-13th, 2009, organized by Carnegie Council Global Policy Innovations and Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture.
Here’s a description of my presentation:
Linking Ethics and Self-Interest in Human Mobility
Facing demographic and economic challenges, countries around the world are reconsidering the policies that govern migrant rights: the basis on which people are allowed to enter a country, the access that non-citizens have to services and rights, and the ability of non-citizens to naturalize. What are the consequences for citizens, societies, and economies of the decisions they make about who gets the right to move? How do limitations on the rights of others to move to a country, to become citizens, and to participate in the workforce and in social and political structures affect established citizens of those countries? What are the most ethical regimes involving human mobility—and how do they compare to policies that might maximize the well-being of citizens and non-citizens?
Panel descriptions and biographies are HERE
You can find the full agenda HERE