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Two significant conceptual errors frame the public debate
concerning labor migration and the related phenomenon of illegal
immigration. Each error stems from lawmakers’ failure or refusal to
recognize the ongoing and transnational nature of migration. First, the
immigration debate occurs largely within a domestic political framework,
and the assumption that the United States can address immigration
issues, particularly illegal immigration, through the perfection of
domestic enforcement mechanisms pervades the discourse. But
migration is inherently international, and its management requires
engagement with other governments and with social facts beyond U.S.
control. Second, the rhetorical emphasis placed on “fixing” our broken
regime reflects a conception of immigration as a problem to be solved.
But migration is a cross-border phenomenon produced by structural and
historical factors that will only evolve, rather than disappear, and it
therefore requires transnational management, rather than a one-time
comprehensive legislative solution.
Date of Authorship for this Version
labor, illigal immigration, regulation