Migration and the Moral Imagination


“Reexamining our Words, Reimagining our Policies: Undocumented Migration, Families, and the Moral Imagination,” Journal of Poverty, Vol. 13, 2009, 1-20.


Don't fence me inAbstract 

Through examining words and phrases being used to define U.S. immigration in popular speech and public policy, I argue that just speech is an essential component in the creation of just policy toward migrants. Particular consideration is given to the use of the word “illegal” to describe migrants and how the use of this word inhibits the moral imagination. Utilizing a justice framework in conversation with postcolonial ethics, I suggest that migrants and their movements can best be understood not primarily through the lenses of individual action, but through the lens of their communal and social relationalities and responsibilities. With this distinction in mind, I argue that an understanding of the particularity of persons rooted in particular familial structures can provide a more adequate lens for creating just policy for migrants and their families than can the paradigm of the individual as border crosser.


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 With thanks to the Journal of Poverty (Taylor & Francis) for permission to post this article in this portfolio.