Democratic Legitimacy, Authority, and Coercion

The question of whether or not a closed border entry policy under the unilateral control of a democratic state is legitimate cannot be settled until we first know to whom the justification of a regime of control is owed. According to the state sovereignty view, the control of entry policy, including of movement, immigration, and naturalization, ought to be under the unilateral discretion of the state itself: justification for entry policy is owed solely to members. This position, however, is inconsistent with the democratic theory of popular sovereignty. Anyone accepting the democratic theory of political legitimation domestically is thereby committed to rejecting the unilateral domestic right to control state boundaries. Because the demos of democratic theory is in principle unbounded, the regime of boundary control must be democratically justified to foreigners as well as to citizens, in political institutions in which both foreigners and citizens can participate.

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