Thursday, February 28, 2013
Abstract: The character of the American immigration regime has remained remarkably stable over many decades. It changes, to be sure, sometimes granting migrants benefits and at other moments cracking down. However, the broad trend is unmistakable: immigration law and the way it is implemented is increasingly harsh and inhumane. This article argues that this long-term trend is likely to continue — even in the event of comprehensive immigration reform — unless the immigration reform agenda reconciles itself with the structural elements responsible for this trend and imagines ways to counteract them. In particular I urge a reconsideration of the relationship between the immigration reform agenda and the democratic will. Rather than focus on finding ways to quash anti-migrant policies that are responsive to the democratic will, reformers should develop creative, democratically legitimate ways to alter the demands that citizens make.
This paper has been previously highlighted on the Legal Theory Blog.