Coercion as enforcement : adjudicating the Abizadeh-Miller debate on border controls

Are border controls coercive? Applying the “enforcement approach” to coercion, I show, provides a positive answer to this question. Thus, I side with Arash Abizadeh in his debate with David Miller over the nature of coercion and the legitimacy of border controls. After first countering Miller’s reasons for rejecting the argument, I aim to defend Abizadeh’s (2008) argument against a state’s right to unilaterally control its borders by framing the debate in several important ways. I highlight the ways in which state coercion differs from individual coercion by adopting an approach to coercion that emphasizes power differentials and the choice to use them through the enforcement apparatus of the state based on a monopoly on the use of physical force or violence. This, I take it, is the core of my paper, because it provides a solution to the Abizadeh-Miller debate over whether border controls are coercive in a way that honor both of their respective concerns. Finally, I argue that the enforcement approach, in neatly bringing together these various lines of reasoning, suggests a defense of the democratic justification thesis based instead on the way coercion interacts with the liberal-democratic value of equality, in addition to autonomy.