Micallef, René Mario. “Gates Fair on All Sides”, Boston College, 2013. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:104082.
This dissertation starts by noting a tension in Catholic Social Teaching between the right of certain persons to immigrate, and the right of polities to control their borders, and seeks to find a way to resolve that tension. In a first moment, we ask whether the "right to immigrate" made sense only before the mass international migration movements starting around 1980, and before "globalisation", and whether polities today are morally justified in adopting increasingly harsh immigration restriction measures unilaterally. After rejecting this hypothesis by using an interdisciplinary analysis of the changes in the phenomenon of human mobility in recent decades, we propose another hypothesis to resolve the tension. We claim that the two rights are not "absolute" rights, and must be kept in tension. Which one of them trumps the other in concrete situations is determined partly by a set of (moral) priority rules, and partly through political discernment via fair democratic processes (which are always necessary so as to formulate concrete policies which require the consent of the governed). The rest of this dissertation provides a well-documented argument in favour of this second hypothesis, and in the process, we formulate a number of priority rules which help activists and policy makers, qua citizens and qua Christian disciples, adjudicate between rights claims based on the right to immigrate and the right to political sovereignty. The work also includes a systematic and historical presentation of Catholic Social Teaching on migration, a case study on immigration and emigration in Malta, a diachronic analysis of concepts related to human mobility in the Hebrew Bible, a philosophical reflection on Political Sovereignty in a "globalising" world, and a virtue ethics approach to the notions of solidarity, hospitality and kinship.