In general, Religious Globalists believe that the needs of people in the Third World have priority over the needs of people in more advanced nations when it comes to questions of whether migrants should cross borders. Underlying this is the assessment that most would-be immigrants come from conditions that are worse than those for the Americans who may be hurt by their entry.

Powerful appeals for a version of open borders have come in recent years from some high-profile religious leaders who say that although a country has a right to control its borders, workers without jobs have a higher right to cross the borders in search of work. That would qualify hundreds of millions of people around the world to immigrate. Many open-immigration globalists contend that borders and communities are barriers to a just world; any person anywhere in the world should be allowed to go anywhere else in the world if that will advance that person's well-being -- even if it creates a decline of the well-being of residents of the receiving community. The justice of this is based primarily on the assumption that migrants would not move into a community unless the conditions there were better. Therefore, residents of that community can lose some of their standard of living and still not be worse off than the arriving migrant. Global egalitarianism appears to be the goal.

In the end in a democracy, a decision on immigration ought to be made in answer to the question, "What is the right thing to do?"

The ethics of closed-immigration are based primarily on the belief that a country's ethical priority is to its own citizens. To the extent it has ethical obligations to other people, a country should help those people where they reside, not by bringing them into the country and posing harm to its own citizens. Some closed-immigration advocates feel little obligation to helping impoverished peoples in other countries, while other closed-immigration advocates are extremely active in international religious ministries and relief and development efforts in poor countries. But people of this philosophy do not see immigration as being necessary for individuals or nations to show compassion for people in other lands.

Closed-immigration advocates note that the same religions with teachings about the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humankind also include teachings about the creation of just societies based on mutually held responsibilities within the family, tribe or nation. Supporters of closed borders
point to what they see as substantial agreement among history's philosophers that a person's moral obligations are greatest for those persons who are closest to them, and to their own descendants. Vanderbilt University philosopher John Lachs has noted that, "Throughout history, acting in self-interest for one's own people generally has not been considered morally selfish."

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