The Ethics of Immigration

Last Sunday, Italian voters in an election for Parliament gave a small plurality to the Brothers of Italy party and its leader, Giorgia Meloni.  The Party’s history harks back to the Fascist movement of Benito Mussolini.

Previously in an election in Sweden, a party of the right also won impressive support from voters.

The emotional issue activating voters to support both parties seems to have been immigration – too much immigration, that is.

Those voters raise the ethical issue of the right of nationals to maintain their own culture and not have it diluted by newcomers who think and behave according to the cultures to which they were born and in which they were raised.

From a standpoint of open societies and democracy, is there an ethic for immigrants to assimilate when they move to a new nation?  Or, is there an ethic of respect for “indigenous” people and their values and traditions?

This question was discussed at the Caux Round Table’s 2018 Global Dialogue in St. Petersburg, Russia.  A statement was drafted addressing the challenges of immigration.

In part, the statement concluded that:

The ethics of an immigrant: serving as prospective citizen and holding the offices of friend and guest.

Immigrants – refugee, asylum seeker, worker, student, retiree – become residents of a nation state with the intention of making a life as part of that community.  As such, they have the status of prospective citizen, learning how to assume the privileges and obligations of citizenship and the status of friend, obligated to perform the office of friend in their new homeland.

In gratitude for receiving permission to become a resident and then, perhaps, a citizen, immigrants should be particularly alert to being a gracious guest.

You may read the statement here.