Care, Hostility, and Immigration: A Caring Approach to U.S.-Mexico Border Policy

Matthew Ryan Trevino


As the result of the U.S. Border Patrol’s deterrence strategy, over 5,000 migrants have died trying to cross the U.S.’s southern border since 1994. While the U.S. has the right to exclude, this situation is morally wrong, though not only because of its consequences. Proceeding from a care ethical position, I identify the manner in which the U.S. exercises the right to exclude along its southern border as morally wrong because it is uncaring. I contend that the manner in which institutions act should be constrained by a minimal care constraint. A minimal care constraint draws on the virtues of care (attentiveness, responsiveness, respect) as the basis for guiding institutional behavior and evaluating whether an institution is minimally caring. The minimal care constraint guides an institution to express attentiveness, responsiveness, and respect in its actions. The Border Patrol, by this metric, is uncaring and should not utilize its current deterrence strategy. This approach is advantageous because it informs us of when it is permissible and impermissible to exercise a non-absolute right, enjoys support from multiple normative theories, and promotes both actions that are more likely to achieve the aims of care and the aims of an institution.


Ethics of Care; Migrants; U.S.-Mexico

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