Exclusion: Property Analogies in the Immigration Debate
By what right do sovereign states prohibit migrants from entering their territories? It cannot be assumed that they do, certainly not as a matter of the way we define “sovereignty.” Can the sovereign right to exclude immigrants be derived from the sovereign’s status as owner of the territory it controls? This Article shows that the idea of the sovereign as owner is too problematic to be the basis of any argument for the right to exclude. It also argues against the proposition that communities, considered as informal sovereigns, have a right to exclude based on their communal property in the land they inhabit. In both cases, an “ownership conception” is distinguished from a more attractive “responsibility conception” of sovereignty. The former remains unclear, while the latter leaves open the question of who the sovereign (state or community) is responsible for.