Are immigration restrictions compatible with liberalism? Recently, Freiman and Hidalgo (2016) have argued that immigration restrictions conflict with the core commitments of liberalism. A society with immigration restrictions in place may well be optimal in some desired respects, but it is not liberal, they argue. So if you care about liberalism more deeply than you care about immigration restrictions, you should give up on restrictionism. You can’t hold on to both. I argue here that many restrictions on contractual, economic, and associational liberties seem to be justified by considerations other than liberty – thus the (undischarged) task for Freiman and Hidalgo is to tell us why such restrictions are justified but immigration restrictions are not. Moreover, even if this worry can be addressed, I argue, liberalism is not committed to its own demise in scenarios where there exist large enough numbers of would-be immigrants who accept and endorse illiberal norms in a way that is sufficiently resistant to change. Such a commitment requires thinking of border coercion as violating an absolute deontological constraint. This, I contend, is implausible.
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