Unraveling the Veil: An Evaluation of American Immigration Policy in the 20th Century using John Rawls’s Ethical Theory

Linginfelter, Elizabeth J. (2018) Unraveling the Veil: An Evaluation of American Immigration Policy in the 20th Century using John Rawls’s Ethical Theory. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Joseph Holland from Public Policy Leadership, University of Mississippi.

Final Copy of Final Thesis.pdf

Download (523kB) | Preview


Due to the current discussion surrounding immigration policy, I found it prudent to research the ethics behind the policies we have had in the past in order to make better policy decisions in the future. These policy decisions in the past have shaped America, and will continue to do so. Having this in mind, I decided to ethically evaluate the immigration policy of the 20th century using four acts implemented during this time: the Immigration Act of 1924, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, the Immigration Act of 1965, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. To evaluate these four acts I laid out the ethical framework that philosopher John Rawls provides and used that as a guiding factor. I divided the framework into four parts so that it would be clear and easy to understand: his principles of justice, justice as fairness, the original position and duty and obligation. I found that the policies over time started to reach a more and more ethical tone to them. The quota system in place, over the history of policy, has not been particularly ethical according to the Rawlsian framework. Overall, however, I came to the conclusion that due to the fact that the framework from John Rawls I used is only within the confines of a closed state it is not the most effective way to evaluate this sort of policy. I suggest further research and evaluation using a Jeremy Bentham Utilitarian framework or Kantian Deontological framework.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Linginfelter, Elizabeth J.
Student's Degree Program(s): B.A. in Public Policy Leadership and Philosophy
Thesis Advisor: Joseph Holland
Thesis Advisor's Department: Public Policy Leadership
Institution: University of Mississippi
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Depositing User: Miss Elizbeth Jean Linginfelter
Date Deposited: 18 May 2018 15:31
Last Modified: 18 May 2018 15:31
URI: http://thesis.honors.olemiss.edu/id/eprint/1248

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item