In this chapter, I will argue that the debate about cosmopolitanism vs. sovereignty can only be considered as a relevant debate if the wrong questions are asked – at least in my field of expertise, migration law. The question which is at the heart of this debate in migration law (under which circumstances should aliens be admitted) is a false one. In my view, the issue is not the just distribution of membership. Instead, the debate is mostly about the position of aliens who are in the community already, and whom the community prefers to consider as nonmembers, or even as non-entities. If it would be acknowledged that the aliens whose position is being discussed are already in the community, it would become clear that their position can either be debated under the rubric of admission, or under the rubric of redistribution. The obsessive way in which the redistribution option is ignored suggests that the (ideological, material, and/or other) stakes for debating migration under the admission rubric are high.
A distributive approach to migration law: or the convergence of communitarianism, libertarianism, and the status quo, in Roland Pierik & Wouter Werner (eds): Cosmopolitanism in Context: Perspectives from International Law and Political Theory, Cambridge University Press 2010, p. 249-274