There is no obligation to be fair to foreigners. ~Michael Kinsley
This is one of those things that you never expect to see in Time or any other mainstream publication, and then suddenly there it is. The debate really does seem to have shifted in the last year. I don’t know that I would put it quite this way, but the basic insight is right.
We do have some obligation to be just in how we act towards foreigners (for starters, we might refrain from attacking their countries without good cause or treating their political systems as our toys), but it isn’t at all clear that justice demands–or even allows–mass immigration. For reasons I have stated before during a debate that I have neglected to follow up recently, we have prior obligations to our fellow citizens that take precedence over whatever obligations we have to others. Mass immigration is most unjust to native labour and to the communities in other countries that lose a lot of “human capital” to other markets, but it is also unjust to taxpayers who foot the bill and bear the costs of this immigration. Under the current arrangement, even the immigrant labourers–who are supposedly the beneficiaries of all this–are treated exploitatively and unfairly. Thanks to the importation of cheap labour, we do have cheaper goods and services, which means that there is an entire economic structure based on taking advantage of these labourers, which is also unjust.
I have never quite understood how supporting mass immigration was the position that was obviously more “fair” to foreigners. There are arguably just as many foreigners in their own countries who suffer on account of more industrialised economies drawing away some of their most productive and educated people. The latter may ultimately benefit greatly, but, as Kinsley says, let’s not kid ourselves that immigrant labour is preferred because of an innate sense of fair play and a desire to help the foreign opportunity-seekers of the world.