Analyzing Migration Restriction Regimes

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Guillermina JASSO, Sociology, New York University, New York, NY, USA
This paper develops a framework for analyzing migration restriction regimes, and illustrates it with the case of U.S. immigration law and policy. Nation-states regulate the entry of persons born abroad, and this regulation may be understood as an amalgam of three elements: the type of restriction, the apparatus of restriction, and the consequences of restriction. Restriction may be qualitative, quantitative, or both. Qualitative restriction notices the characteristics of persons, using them as criteria for accepting or denying admission. Quantitative restriction places numerical ceilings on admissions. The apparatus of restriction stipulates specific ceilings, whether some groups are exempt from the ceiling and, if so, by what criteria, and whether admission under the ceiling is first-come/first-served or instead preferential and, if so by what criteria. Two unintended consequences follow immediately: unauthorized migration and backlogs (visa processing backlogs under both qualitative and quantitative restriction and visa number backlogs under quantitative restriction). These in turn generate a range of policy devices: border enforcement, procedures for legalization and deportation, and procedures for clearing backlogs. Indeed, the history of a country's immigration law may be understood as a sequence of measures for altering the apparatus of restriction in order to address unauthorized migration and visa number backlogs. Viewing migration through this lens enables assessment of particular legislation and, more broadly, dynamics of a migration restriction regime, subject to world circumstances, and it also generates new metrics for a country's attractiveness and its innovativeness and creativity.