Nations Duties Towards Undocumented Immigrants - Paper Example

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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History about immigration

The United States of America first experienced tremendous immigration pattern in the first part of the 19th century and it happened in the periods between 1880s to the mid of 1920. A majority number of immigrants had come to the United States with a vision of growing economically because of the economic stability of the country(Chatterjee, Sutirtha et al.). Some pilgrims also came in the 1600s to the United States to search for their religious freedom.

Between the 17th and 19th centuries thousands of slaves from Africa arrived in the United States which was against their will. Many of them were forcefully carried to work as slaves in the industries in the overseas. According to the statistics, a majority of immigrants in the United States of America come from Asia and Latin America. From time immemorial, America has been a country of immigrants beginning with its initial inhabitants being people who connected from Asia and North America thousands of years.

In the mid-1500s, the first Europeans who came from Spain and France made their settlement in now the present United States of America. The Europeans first established their residence in the year 1607 at Jamestown in the colony of Virginia. This is where most of them made there permanent residence and did their cultivation. The first settlers who had come, their main purpose was in search of the will and freedom to exhibit their faith.

Another group of immigrants came to America between 1815 and 1865 and a large proportion of them came from western and northern Europe. Nearly one-third of the immigrants came from North Ireland which was as a result of famine which had struck the country at large in the mid of the 19th century. Between 1840 to early 1850s approximately half of the population in America were the immigrants from Ireland alone. This was as a result of the famine which had impacted on the country. Between the period of 1820 and 1930 around 4.5 million Irish migrated in America.

In the 19th century America also received 5 million immigrants from Germany and with majority of them settling in Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis. In the census of 2000, a large number of Americans had a Germany ancestry than in other group in the United States of America.

In explaining whether is it the right thing to do report the immigrants, we employ the understanding from the three schools of philosophy namely Utilitarianism, deontology and virtue of ethics.


Utilitarianism is defined as an ethical theory which lays the understanding of a particular phenomenon whether right or wrong on the consequences of choosing one policy over the other. The theory tries to explain not only one persons interests but also other people interests. It looks to the happiness of people in a broader perspective as it takes into account the general happiness of people in the society at large. Utilitarianism focuses on the quality of happiness rather than the quantity of pleasure. It emphasizes on the capability of achieving greatest happiness for a majority number of people in society.

Calculating the consequences of the Utilitarianism approach on the topic if it is the right thing to report the undocumented immigrants.

In analyzing the consequences of whether is it the right thing to report the undocumented immigrants we look on whether doing that at the end will bring greatest happiness to a majority of people in the society. The utilitarianism theory tends to ask the question if deporting the illegal immigrants at the end of the day will bring the greatest happiness to a greater number op people.

Greatest Balance of Goods over Harms

In answering no to the question whether it is the right thing not to report the undocumented immigrants then we will be employing a moral reasoning known as utilitarianism. Assessing down further to the components of the theory, utilitarianism is seen as a moral principle which sees the morally right of a situation by analyzing its consequences. The moral course of action should produce the greater maximum benefit to a greater number of people (Rawls, John). The approach assumes whether the greatest happiness is brought by either false pretense, manipulation or in other form of falsehood. The theory looks on the general great happiness to a large number of people in society.

A majority number of people employ utilitarianism form of reasoning in their day to day activities in making various decisions on matters which require urgent attention. The governments therefore employ this moral reasoning in assessing whether to do away with the illegal immigrants in their countries. The country for example the United States of America will analyze whether deporting the illegal immigrants will bring a greater happiness to a large number of US citizens. The government will use the moral reasoning in comparing whether deporting them will bring either happiness or harm to a great number of people.

The government in coming up with the best course of action to undertake, it will tactfully analyze the consequences on both side as to ensure that it bring happiness to a majority of the citizens of America. After coming up with the best course of action to undertake, the government will evaluate the numerous benefits and harm that could emerge from each course of action undertaken during the process (Inglehart, Ronald, and Christian Welzel). The government after coming up with the best course of action, it will see the best course of action among others that could bring the greatest happiness or benefits after the costs involved have been taken into account.

Jeremy Bentham in his writings of utilitarianism provided a framework in accepting norms of what rules England should could have made in the 18th and 19th centuries. He finally came up with an agreement in which he believed could bring greatest happiness to the society at large. He believed that in experiencing a greatest net benefits, he could resort to making a policy that could generate maximum social benefit to the people in society. Jeremy Bentham motto was to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people in society. In explaining the theory of utilitarianism, Jeremy defined benefits and harms in terms of greater pleasure and harm in society. Alternatively, John Stuart Mill defined benefits in terms of the intensity or the quality of pain and pleasure. Nowadays people though value benefits and harm in terms of the satisfaction that is derived or the monetary benefits that could accrue. The United States of America could therefore devise a method of ensuring what they will do in terms of whether to report the undocumented immigrants could derive satisfaction to a greater number of people (HURTADO, JIMENA). For example the immigrants provide easily available labor force in the country thus there will be increased production in the country.

The government of the United States for example could choose on the best course of action which conforms to the general rule of utilitarianism that could bring greatest happiness to a majority of the people. Therefore in evaluating whether is it the right thing to do report the undocumented immigrants, we employ the moral reasoning of utilitarianism in coming up with the best viewed conclusion. We dont look on the economic impact of chasing away the immigrants rather the moral reasoning of bringing maximum social benefit to a high number of people.

Problems with the Utilitarianism approach

The utilitarianism approach has a myriad of difficulties in using it as the only way of making moral decisions in society. The utilitarian requires people to assign values to the harms and benefits resulting from the best course of action we choose in arriving at a particular moral reasoning. It is normally difficult to measure the values of costs and benefits and also in comparing them. In doing away with the immigrants, it is difficult to ascertain the cost of deporting them and the benefits of the immigrants remaining in the United States. Utilitarianism also fails to into account the criteria of determining justice in its reasoning. For example in South Africa it was said that South Africans including the blacks were happy under the leadership of the whites but this was not the case. It is unjust in making such a claim because that resorted to civil wars for a long time, famine, unrest, economic deterioration among others.

The approach at times does not look on whether the best course of action undertaken is appropriate or not. At times the best course of action ends being unjust. The approach is also unscientific as it only derives its reasoning through evaluating the maximum social maximum benefit and harm of a particular phenomenon.


Deontology focuses on the moral theories that guide in assessing of the choices we make and what we ought to do. Deontological theories is divided into four classes namely, Agent centered deontological theories, and patient centered deontological theories, contractarian deontological theories and deontological theories and Kant.

Deontology: Consequentialism

The consequentialists argue that choices are to be morally assessed independently by the actions of affairs they bring along with (Van Norden, Bryan W). The consequentialists therefore have to specify first actions of affairs that exist. It argues that people in society are in a position to choose on the available alternatives which could result to the increase in the good in society and by also giving much of an outcome. The consequentialists agree that the morally right alternatives are those which increase either directly or indirectly the general good in society.

In explaining whether it is right to report the immigrants, the consequentialists argues that, if the deporting them brings or increases the good in society, then it turns to be a viable thing. Hence an action is deemed to be right if it maximizes on the good which is regarded to exist in the society at large. Consequentialism has been criticized at various places for example there is no realm of going past one moral obligation and all the actions are in most cases forbidden. Reporting the immigrants falls under the mechanism of ensuring that the moral rights of the immigrants is met as required by the law.

The government of the United States therefore they should come up with a myriad of mechanisms as to ensure that the best actions are undertaken in ensuring that the immigrants are properly handled as to bring the best good out of the course of action they undertake. The consequentialists therefore finds the ways of advocating for a way or means of increasing the common good in society.

Deontological TheoriesThe deontological theories explains the morality of the available choices by the various levels of choices they come along with. Deontological theories gives an highlight that some some choices cannot be justified by the effects they come along with during the process. In real life some of the choices we make are not only morally rejected but also socially. By reporting the immigrants, the effects are later experienced which results to a decline in the economic status of a country.

The deontological theory further says if the act in not accorded with the right, it will not be undertaken at any given time. Hence the immigrants should be accorded with their rights so that they can experience the common good in the country they living.

Agent Centered Deontological Theories

The agent centered theories give people the chance and obligation which is agent relative for which the best course of action is undertaken. The agent relat...

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