Research Paper: Immigration Ethics and Social Responsibility

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[. . .] If these immigrants are sent back to their native countries, perhaps this drug-related violence would increase even more, as those captured would simply be assassinated when nobody would be able to provide funds.

Once again, "customary international law does not permit refoulement (returning someone to a place where her life or freedom are at serious risk), and the United States has an obligation to ensure that it is not repatriating immigrants to places where violence is likely." (Reynolds, 20110). The United States, however, in addition to breaking this law, in no way guarantees the safety of immigrants once they have been deported back to Mexico. Furthermore, as Reynolds states, "If found deportable, the least the U.S. government could do is ensure that they are not returned to kidnapping and torture by organized crime who sit waiting for deportees at the Mexican border."

[The position held by many Americans against immigrant amnesty, however, seems to reflect a utilitarian viewpoint; wherein the 'end justifies the means' (Smart & Williams, 1982). Because of the concerns of flooding the workforce with undocumented workers who will work for less and rob U.S. citizens of opportunities for employment, for the overall good of the many, it is best to maintain current immigration policies and policing procedures. This would be an example of the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens; not undocumented immigrants.

When looking at immigration amnesty through a deontological lens, again the position would be prohibitive in that deontology is a moral theory and if any action goes against what is considered moral, then that action is prohibitive. Much like the position of many Christians, undocumented immigrants violate the strict nature of the law of the land. As such immigrant amnesty is amoral. Virtue ethics, however, may be used to argue in favor of immigrant amnesty in that characteristically, virtue ethics maintains that the notions or right and wrong have no intrinsic value and thereby cannot be effectively used to prohibit humans from flourishing.

Neither of the classical ethical theories seems to completely resolve the ethical dilemma associated with immigration amnesty; however, virtue ethics posits the most viable argument if used from the aspect of looking from the perspective of undocumented immigrants vs. from the viewpoint of U.S. legislation and many U.S. citizens. The notion that humans have a right to flourish eliminates geographical limitations. Therefore undocumented immigrants have as much right to flourish as U.S. citizens.

From a relativism viewpoint, right and wrong have no consistent meaning. As such, depending on who purports the argument, their positioning determines their perspective as to right and wrong. Through an emotivism lens either side could argue ethically from a position of feelings and attempt to garner support for that emotional positioning. With ethical egoism, moral agents are to do what is in their own self-interest (Baier, 1990). Because it is always moral and thereby ethical to promote one's own good, then both sides of the immigrant amnesty argument could effectively utilize the rationale and perspective associated with ethical egoism.

Virtue ethics with a relativism viewpoint is closest to this author's viewpoint in that notions of right and wrong are subjective and measureable through an individual's own sense of morality, and what they personally deem to be ethical.]


This paper has made various arguments pro and against immigration amnesty in the United States, and has shown the implications this has on various segments of the immigrant population. It is important to know both sides of the issue in order to fully examine how each are suffering and what impact this important issue has both in the United States, on United States citizens, but also in Mexico, and on illegal immigrants and those immigrants who are not provided with amnesty. It is often very difficult to choose the right thing, but in a country made of immigrants, it is impossible to simply deny amnesty without providing any reason. So far, arguments offered by many against amnesty have not truly fulfilled this criteria. one must hope that our politicians choose rightly, and if amnestyy should not be given, at least ensure safety of those returned.


Please note that the bracketed paragraphs have only been slightly altered from the draft version you submitted and which you requested incorporated, both in content and citation.


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Ellis Island. "History of Ellis Island." (2011). Ellis Island Foundation. <>.

Hemphill, C. (2009). Am I my brother's keeper?: Immigration law reform and the liberty that is America (A legal, theological, and ethical observation on the debate of allowing immigrant amnesty), Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy, 15(1), 51-70.

Henkin, L. (1987). The constitution and the United States sovereignty: A century of Chinese exclusion and its progeny. Harvard Law Review, (853), 856-863.

Hospers, J. (1967). "Ethical egoism," In an introduction to philosophical analysis. 2nd

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Siegel, B. (2008). The political discourse of amnesty in immigration policy, Akron Law Review, (41), 291, 92-304.

Smart, J., & Williams, B. (1982). Utilitarianism, 1973, in A. Sen and B. Williams, Ed.,

Utilitarianism and beyond.

Reynolds, Sarnata. (2011). "Migrants… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Immigration Ethics and Social Responsibility.  (2011, July 24).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Immigration Ethics and Social Responsibility."  24 July 2011.  Web.  20 May 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Immigration Ethics and Social Responsibility."  July 24, 2011.  Accessed May 20, 2019.