From their perspective, immigrants pose a socioeconomic and an ethno-cultural threat to Western societies.
They are perceived as stealing native workers’ jobs, reducing their wages, and vastly consuming social benefits.
CONTEMPORARY IMMIGRATION DEBATES ARE FREQUENTLY STUDIED AS POPULATION FLOWS across spatial borders, with relatively less scholarly reflection on how the stakes of those debates are framed and contested in terms of time.
The insufficiency persists despite the glaringly obvious temporal dimensions of neo-nativist arguments in the U. on behalf of reclaiming a past of patriarchal, white-governed, national greatness—partisans plainly seeking to turn back the clock.
The second reason that I suggest these debates are sterile relates to the tendency to use simplistic dichotomies in discussing the issues raised by immigration—such as bad or good immigrants, closed or open borders, pull or push factors, and nationalistic realism (justified by the ethics of responsibility to protect the nation) in contrast to idealist cosmopolitanism (based on the ethics of conviction and the need to protect human rights).
Such a binary approach ignores the “grey zones” that characterize many aspects of the decision-making process in the fields of border controls, socio-economic policies, and integration policies.
The ethics of responsibility requires prioritizing the interests of the state and its citizens; yet, it does not require the infringement of the human rights and civil liberties of “others”—notably in the current context of a “permanent state of emergency” in which native citizens are also targeted by discriminatory security measures. Instead of asking whether immigration is good or bad for democracy, I thus advocate analyzing what kind of immigration policies are democratic and which are not.
Conversely, proponents of the ethic of conviction tend to underestimate the issues raised by the minority integration process, taking for granted the idea that “diversity” will produce more tolerance. Addressing this question requires defining the contours and substance of a democratic governance of immigration.
Conversely, proponents of liberal policies argue that the socio-economic and cultural contributions of immigrants are largely positive.
They praise immigration as improving “diversity” (also broadly defined) while noting that newcomers actually assimilate faster than prior generations of immigrants, including those (such as Muslims and Hispanics) often suspected of being unable to assimilate at all.