Deporting Democracy: The Politics of Immigration and Sovereignty (Book Project)
My book manuscript, Deporting Democracy, offers a novel interpretation of three dimensions of Immanuel Kant’s political writings in order to tackle contemporary immigration politics: political cosmopolitanism, judgment, and provisionality. Thriving democracies need spaces of politics to facilitate discussion and contestation of institutions. Immigrants themselves rely on these spaces to claim for inclusion, transforming them into cosmopolitan spaces and challenging the legitimacy of external sovereignty from within. This political challenge seeks to sway the way communities judge the issue of immigration, which is shaped and/or limited by sovereignty and by the dominant position that recipient countries hold in the international sphere. Finally, the response or reaction of immigration legislation and state institutions to the activism of immigrant political actors and their allies reveals the provisional status of the institutions that regulate immigration today and illuminates potential paths of transformation.
The new conception of immigration politics I put forward addresses three blind spots of the literature on immigration. First, scholars enact prescriptions as if immigrants were waiting in line at the border. Second, they do not theorize the way in which hostility and anti-immigrant sentiment affects judgment in democratic communities. Third, they consider formal citizens the only active political actors, leaving immigrants’ activism untheorized. These blindspots are shared by the two dominant approaches to the issue, which either oppose the rule of sovereignty through principles of freedom of movement or cosmopolitan human rights (Joseph Carens and Seyla Benhabib) or justify the restriction of immigration to preserve national culture or freedom of association (David Miller, Christopher Wellman). As a consequence, prominent normative issues of unequal power in the international sphere, immigrant political action, and the quality of democratic judgment are left out of the analysis in existing scholarship. In contrast, my book project puts them at the center of the normative inquiry.