By A. S. Bhalla, Peter McCormick (auth.)
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Extra info for Poverty Among Immigrant Children in Europe
Having discussed notions of poverty, deprivation and well-being, we now turn to two outstanding reflections on poverty, those of Rawls and his one-time colleague, Sen. A justice-as-fairness approach to poverty In this section we discuss the first of the two quite general approaches to questions of poverty. We wish to examine whether either one of these approaches can be applied fruitfully to poverty among immigrant children in affluent European countries. We begin with the views of Rawls. One key to appreciating Rawls’s justice-as-fairness approach to poverty is to understand the inadequacies of utilitarianism in politics, economics and, to a lesser degree, in political and social philosophy (Smart and Williams, 1973).
The freedom of poor (immigrant) children is derived from that of their parents. Consequently, it largely depends on the willingness of how much freedom their parents allow them. True, such immigrant children may indeed lack both concrete capabilities and abstract capacities. We believe that much more to the point than ‘process freedom’ and ‘opportunity freedom’ and ‘rationality’ is to understand better two basic issues. The first is understanding how individuals and societies in affluent countries are to assume their social, political and moral responsibilities in assisting poor immigrant children in incorporating fully their rights and dignity as children and persons (Brink, 1993).
This legal status is continually changing as the European Union struggles to arrive at a common immigration policy (see Chapter 3). As we discuss in Chapter 4 on Switzerland, such children lack access to proper schools and the job market because they possess short-term residence permits or are staying in the country illegally. This is also the case to a lesser degree in France where Roma children in particular lack access to proper schools. This situation may mainly reflect the fact that they are disadvantaged because of their precarious legal status, not necessarily because of their poverty.