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Illegal Immigration - Democracy, Immigration, and the Psychology of Exclusion

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Democracy, Immigration, and the Psychology of Exclusion

Judy Ceccherini

Utah Valley University

Spring 2009

Senior Project

Honors/ Peace and Justice Studies/ Integrated Studies

Dr. Michael Minch, Ph.D. Director, Peace and Justice Studies

Dr. Michael Shaw, Ph.D. Director, Honors Studies

Dr. Scott Abbott, Ph.D. Integrated Studies


Liberal democratic theory presents a framework for interaction that is inclusive, humane, and robustly challenges systems which dehumanize others. Liberal democratic theory is based on the moral arguments of Immanuel Kant, who in his "Idea for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent," calls for a political system based on equality. Kant proposed that each human life should be valued with unconditional positive regard. He argues that people should live within a federation of states where people can move freely within and between states and be governed by republican political systems. Immigration is an issue that must be addressed transparently and honestly. The current system functions largely as a broken system that feeds off of nationalism and the social practice of normalizing poverty. U.S. immigration policy allows for undocumented migrant people to be easily exploited because of their lack of political identity. People mindlessly and fearfully create us and them categories that perpetuate prejudice and injustice for marginalized peoples. By understanding the psychoanalytic theory of the development of the Self, we can better understand the fear-based tendency of individuals to exclude unlike others socially and politically. Mindful attention to this tendency may help individuals to reassess this propensity and determine alternative and more humane social interactions.


Democratic theories and practices are evolving, dynamic and living. They are constantly being worked and reworked by scholars who are interested in moving thought and conviction about quality of life toward increasingly more healthy living standards for individuals and communities around the world. I use the word healthy cautiously because it is a relative term, although used here it is meant to be a holistic expression that includes many criteria including human rights, to be discussed later. Democratization is also expressed and interpreted everyday in the consciousness of individuals, households, in villages, towns, cities, and states. Some individuals, households, villages, towns, cities and states express democratization robustly and courageously. In other places democratization is a dream that few will ever see realized. The Economist 2007 report puts the countries of Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands at the top of the list classified as "full democracies." Iraq, considered a hybrid democracy, did not score well. China and North Korea are ranked at the bottom as "authoritarian regimes," with "flawed" and "hybrid" democracies such as Italy and France placed in the middle of the two extremes. Costa Rica and Uruguay also topped the list of full democracies within South America.

The realities and expressions of democracy ebb and flow. There is a constant press and strain within humanity to increase the availability of economic and political resources individually and within one's own group. Those who capture more resources claim the power that control over those resources avails to them. This power-grabbing creates a lopsided inequitable situation rather than a just and equitable outcome for all. Just as the lunar pull shapes the earth's seas, increasing and diminishing its presence on the shorelines, political regime changes, drought, famine, disease, unemployment, war and avarice all contribute to the competition for the bread-basket-- and therefore the shaping of survival.

Within the hands of some the forcing of "democracy" is a violent tsunami. "Democracy" exported at the point of a gun, or through colonization, that destroys precious lives, homes, resources and hope is the iteration of a false democracy. It is an aberration of what pure democratization seeks to achieve. It is democracy at its worst, much like the tsunami is nature at its worst and most violent. However, the tsunami is a legitimate expression of natural forces. Imposed "democracy" is a knock-off, a cheap imitation, a fancy label sewn into the language of suspect political agendas. For instance, when imperialist states or corporations destroy a community or culture in the cause of profit and call it the spreading of democracy, one need not look too hard to realize that the definition of the word democracy has been mutated. It is the misuse of a treasured ideal.

Democracy at its best is like an abundant ocean. It teems with possibility for the smallest microorganism and the largest mammal it contains. A healthy abundant sea is beautiful, radiant, diverse and specialized, creating and re-creating hundreds of thousands of life forms. The ocean at its most healthy seeks balance. As a by-product of this balance it disperses oxygen to the non-aquatic planet, inviting life and abundance in the ecosystem outside of itself. The system's beautifully adapting, co-existing, co-creating and sustaining balance of life in all of its forms within and between its own and coexisting systems. We can easily use this metaphor as a rubric for what a shared existence on terra firma between polities might look like. At the border of the atmosphere and the ocean mammals, birds and reptiles share a dual existence and gases are exchanged in life-giving interactions that benefit the whole.

Democratization is the reaching for coexistence, co-creation, and cohabitation in all of its forms, brilliance, innocence, brokenness and limits. It is the striving of humanity to come into balance within the global habitat just as nature adjusts and heals, repairs and grows in relation to the pressures, changes, malfunctions and rising and falling of terrestrial conditions. Democratization seeks the possibility of a fullness of life experience for all. It seeks for institutions, societies, communities, cultures, families and individuals to become the best versions of themselves, thriving within and through their shared global community, adapting to



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