The Right Not to Stay
Justice in Migration, the Liberal Democratic State, and the Case of Temporary Migration Projects
Valeria Ottonelli and Tiziana Torresi
A central question in the debate on justice in immigration is whether immigrants have a right to stay; this book argues that liberal-democratic receiving states should also grant migrants a right not to stay. This claim runs against the presumption that migrants always desire to move on a permanent basis and intend to forge a completely new life in the country of destination. From this perspective, temporary migration is always a second-best option for migrants, engendered by the closed and often punitive migration policies of receiving countries. This book’s innovative focus on the right not to stay is prompted instead by the realization that increasing numbers of migrants throughout the world conceive and plan their migratory experience as circumscribed in time and instrumental to goals and projects that they will pursue once back in their country of origin. These temporary migration projects are worthy of being accommodated by the receiving states as much as the migratory plans of those who resolve or aim to immigrate on a permanent basis. Accommodating them entails setting up the appropriate welfare measures and programs in the host country and, through bi-lateral agreements, in the country of return. This is especially important in view of the fact that very often the migrants who engage in temporary migration projects find themselves in a condition of high vulnerability and risk. The “right not to stay” advocated in this book is a positive and substantive right to see one’s project of temporary migration-and-return protected and accommodated by institutions.