Amnesty in immigration: Forgetting, forgiving, freedom

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Whether or not to grant amnesty has been a contentious policy issue in a wide range of settings, from human rights violations to draft avoidance to library fines. Recently, the idea of amnesty has come to structure many debates over irregular immigration. While amnestys meaning is usually treated as self-evident, the term in fact signifies in a variety of normative directions. This article employs amnesty as an optic to examine accountability questions that structure normative debates over irregular immigration in liberal states. It distinguishes among conceptions of amnesty emphasizing forgiveness, erasure and vindication, and argues that developing a vindicatory account of amnesty is both particularly difficult and particularly necessary in the immigration setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-365
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • accountability
  • citizenship
  • forgiveness
  • idealism
  • immigration
  • marginality apology
  • memory
  • realism
  • vindication


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