Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit: Bureaucratic Incorporation of Immigrants in Federal Workplace Agencies
Ming Hsu Chen
University of Colorado Law School; University of Colorado, Boulder - Political Science
March 9, 2012
Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, 2012
U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-03
This article integrates social science theory about immigrant incorporation and administrative agencies with empirical data about immigrant-serving federal workplace agencies to illuminate the role of bureaucracies in the construction of rights. More specifically, it contends that immigrants’ rights can be protected when workplace agencies incorporate immigrants into labor law enforcement, in accordance with their professional ethos and organizational mandates. Building on Miles’ Law that “where you stand depends on where you sit,” I argue that agencies exercise discretion in the face of contested law and in contravention to a political climate hostile to undocumented immigrants for the purpose of protecting workers. The implication is that strongly pro-immigrant policies in the political branches are not necessary for the recovery of immigrants’ rights. Instead, entrenched institutional commitments to professional ethics and recognition of organizational mandates sometimes suffice. Empirical evidence of regulatory responses to immigrant workers after Hoffman Plastic v. NLRB in three federal agencies serve as comparative case studies: the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 51
Keywords: immigration, labor and employment, administrative law, politics, regulation, social science, legal mobilization, rights, Hoffman Plastic
JEL Classification: H11, L28, J38, J71, L50Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 11, 2012 ; Last revised: July 4, 2012
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