Irregular migrant children and the right to education

This research focusses on the rights of irregular migrant children, specifically their right to education in two liberal democratic states: Canada and the United Kingdom (UK).

The perceived growth in the number of irregular migrants in Canada and the UK has resulted in a fresh series of debates, pitting the rights of migrants against the sovereign rights of nations to defend their borders and the distinct character of their national communities. Today, irregular migrants feature much more prominently on public policy agendas in both countries.

The irregular migrant child occupies a unique and controversial place within this debate. As children, they enjoy many rights that adults do not. These are usually considered inviolable: they accrue to children by virtue of their status as minors, not their citizenship status.  However, as irregular migrants their claim to rights and social goods is tenuous. It is argued that the provision of rights may foster the integration of the irregular migrant child and this may lead to a strong moral claim of membership. In this way, the recognition of rights for irregular migrant children may problematise the practical exercise of migration control.

The project builds on a growing body of literature on the ethics of migration, as well as classical texts in political and moral philosophy. The project will consider how the moral claim to provide education to irregular migrant children might be reconciled with policies and legislation aimed at securitising borders and managing immigration in modern liberal democratic states.