Theories of post-national rights for non-citizens presuppose a general trend in expansion of rights consistent with the growth of the post-World War Two welfare state. In the late twentieth century, the context for the negotiation of rights has altered dramatically, such that most governments in capitalist democracies have accepted the priority of deficit reduction and global competitiveness over the promotion of social and redistributive justice. As unemployment and insecurity of citizens within advanced economies have deepened, immigration, refugee and citizenship policies have become more restrictive. Restrictive policies are supported by first world citizens defending declining public resources against growing numbers of third world migrants, who are also ideologically construed as ethnic/racial cultural threats. Policies of border fortification against undocumented and autonomous migrants have a spillover effect, leading to violence and undermining social citizenship rights for permanent residents. The article concludes that in order for deterritorialised human rights to become a reality, the negotiation of transborder rights must deal with obstacles such as the reluctance of states to cede control over immigration and non-citizen rights, and the weakness of international human rights, migrant worker and refugee conventions. Most importantly, post-national rights will have to combat the illiberal tendencies of 'actually existing liberal democracies' which have been accepted, however reluctantly, as a condition for participation of states in the global economy.