The Instigator
Pro (for)
14 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Immigration as a Human Right

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 9/27/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,198 times Debate No: 80243
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)





Ajisthetruth PM'd me asking for a debate, and as I've been interested in this topic for awhile, I suggested it to him. I think this should be an interesting exchange, and I look forward to the debate.

You must have at least 2,500 ELO in order to vote.

Full Topic

Immigration ought to be recognized as a human right


The definitions below are influenced by or excerpted from Oxford Dictionary and the OHCHR:

Immigration - 'The action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country'
Ought - indicates moral desirability
Human Right - "rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status...Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law general principles and other sources of international law."


1. No forfeits
2. Any citations or foot/endnotes must be individually provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (e.g. moral skepticism, moral nihilism, (inherent) rights don't exist, etc.)
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
8. For all undefined terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
9. The BOP is Shared
10. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss


R1. Acceptance Only
R2. Pro's Case, Con's Case
R3. Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case
R4. Pro defends Pro's Case, Con defends Con's Case
R5. Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case, both Crystallize

Thanks... Ajiisthetruth; I am looking forward to a truly interesting debate!


Thank You bs1 for our argument here today and i wish the best for the both of us
Debate Round No. 1


Thank to Ajis for this debate. I will now present my case. I apologize if my round seems a bit haphazard...I am pressed for time.



The question before us is not whether it is pragmatic to make immigration a human right, but rather whether it is morally desirable to do so. In order to better consider whether immigration ought to be considered a human right, we might first ask, why do we consider other things human rights? One of the preeminent documents of human rights, the UDHR, sketches us a brief outline of why the rights in includes are included:

"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people." [1]

From this we can pull various key motifs, including respect for human dignity, freedom, justice, and so forth. Human rights are thus structured in a way that expresses weighty moral concerns about basic treatment of human beings: everyone should have a fundamental level of a freedom, a fundamental level of dignity, and a fundamental level of justice that is not impinged upon.

We can further enrich our understanding of the topic by asking, "what, generally-speaking, is a right." A right is a due, that to which I have an ethically justified claim/that I am morally owed. Suppose I fairly win a race, prepping for it with hard work and focus. I am due the prize for my victory (my due), because it was fairly earned (my claim). If, instead, I had cheated to win, I cannot be said to be due the prize for having won.

Taken together, I submit that if I can either show (a) that immigration is a due that is inherently owed to all people, or (b) that immigration meets the same standards used to include other rights in the pantheon of human rights, that I have affirmed the resolution.

I would also note that having a right to immigration does not mean immigration without limits. All rights have limits; I have a right to free speech, but that does not give me license to shout fire in a crowded theatre. To have a right to immigration, therefore, is to have a right to immigrate unless there is a compelling reason to restrict that right.

Right to a Better Life

Everyone has a basic interest in being able to pursue happiness and about having the opportunity to live a life of minimal safety. To confine people to squalid or degrading conditions for no other reason that where they live, you are inflicting an undue burden on them, you are causing them to suffer without cause. This is a violation of Human Dignity. "What do I mean, then, by saying that a life that does not contain opportunities for the development and exercise of the major human capacities is not a life worthy of human dignity? I mean that it is like imprisoning or raping a free thing whose flourishing (based on these capacities) consists in forms of intentional activity and choice. Such a life is a violation in much the way that rape and unjust imprisonment are violations: they give a thing conditions that make it impossible for it to unfold itself in a way suited to the dignity of those capacities. So the Stoics are wrong if they think that respect requires only a reverential attitude. It requires more: it requires creating the conditions in which capacities can develop and unfold themselves. (Similarly, we would say that a young child is a precious thing and that this preciousness is not itself an artifact of political arrangements while also thinking that it entails some very specific political obligations of respect and support.) Respect for human dignity is not just lip service, it means creating conditions favorable for development and choice." [2]

When a home nation refuses or fails to create conditions where people can receive their most basic dues, people are ethically justified in moving in order to receive those fundamental moral goods which are owed to them. We could list some examples of this, but refugees seem to be a prime example. They come from war-torn areas ravaged by violence and are seeking a situation where they can have access to a functioning government and basic necessities. Since these things are their due, they are justified in taking the actions necessary to obtain them, including immigration.

Economic Benefits

There are various economic benefits to allowing easier immigration. Promoting a healthy economy ensures a better quality of life, better access to basic resources, etc., which is in keeping with the goals of human rights.

a. Low-skilled immigrants are much more willing to relocate to new markets when existing markets tank. This levels off the markets, allowing the markets to better absorb shocks. When a market is full or in decline, labor shortages form, and surfeit workers who are unwilling to relocate suffer due to unemployment. Relocating to more vibrant markets thus gives both immigrants and the needy markets access to something they need: employment and labor capital. In the EU, for instance, which has relatively open borders due to the Schengen zone, up to 25% of a a labor shock could be absorbed by these immigrants in just a year. [3, 4]

b. Immigration is closely linked with economic freedom. The UN notes that the top places to immigrate to are (by numbers of immigrants): The US, the UAE, Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France, Canada, Austria, and Spain. [5] Of these 10, 6 are ranked at 70% or greater economic freedom, 9 are ranked at 60% economic freedom or better, and all 10 are ranked at 50% economic freedom or better. [6] So, it seems that immigration and economic freedom are heavily correlated. Moreover, studies show that immigration is actually a cause of economic freedom. [7, 8] The impact of this is simple: economic freedom, because it provides more business-friendly environments with better rule of law, correlates strongly with economic growth. [9] So, immigration leads to economic freedom leading, finally, to economic growth.

c. Immigrants significantly boost their income by moving. On average, they can double their wages, allowing them to send money back to their families (creating demand back home and improving their family's quality of life) and also creating demand and providing employment in their own place of residence. Remittances of this kind also reduce human rights violations like child labor, by reducing the need for people to have their children help provide for the family. [10, 11]

Choice of Where to Live

Everyone has a right to choose the place they wish to call home. Governments supposedly acquire legitimacy through the consent of the governed, but this requires that people be free to move if they don't consent. Living in place X cannot be interpreted as consent to X's policies if X does not allow people to vote with their feet and leave. People cannot be expected, also, to demonstrate allegiance to a place that they never chose to reside in.

Consider also the following: if we respect people's basic freedom to choose and to self-direct (as it seems we do by providing them human rights and essential freedoms in the first place) then why do we allow borders to somehow trump this basic right to choose, particularly the choice where to reside? Borders are arbitrarily born and we are arbitrarily assigned citizenship (at least in the moral sense). The place of my birth or who I was born to are things I have no control over, yet these have the force of law in international society in determining my situation. There is no moral rhyme or reason as to why my birth should impact where I must or can live, or what nationality I should assume. Only my choices should dictate that, because I can only be held accountable to them.

Thus, the right to choose where people live is key to maintaining government legitimacy and respecting basic freedoms.


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12 - I should also note that my economic arguments were influenced by JMK and 16K, though I tried to put everything in my own words, and am crediting them here.

I hand the floor over to Con...


ajisthetruth forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


ajisthetruth forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3



Voters, please enforce rules 1 & 10. Thank you.


ajisthetruth forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Extend all arguments. Do not let Con make any arguments in this round, as they'd all be new, which is prohibited per Rule 3.

Due to rules 1 and 10, I would ask that voters please VOTE PRO. Thank you.


ajisthetruth forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
Posted by Romanii 1 year ago
-.- nac
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Lexus 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit. As an aside, if pro had cited Baxi 1998 for their definition of human rights I think that the debate would have been more fun with an opponent that doesn't respond ;)
Vote Placed by donald.keller 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: FF.. I'd do an in-depth analyze, but without rebuttals, I'd just be repeating Pro's points.