The Shifting Border of Immigration Regulation

30 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2007 Last revised: 6 Jan 2009

See all articles by Ayelet Shachar

Ayelet Shachar

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity


Contributing to the growing literature on globalization and migration, this article identifies the new phenomenon of the shifting border of immigration regulation, which has turned the U.S. border into a moving barrier - a legal construct no longer affixed to territorial benchmarks. Charting the logic of this new cartography (or legal reconstruction) of the border in the context of immigration regulation, I consider several vivid illustrations of the emerging shifting-border concept. These include the procedure of expedited removal, pre-inspection, interdiction, 'smart' borders, and excision zones. These new measures significantly redraw the line of inclusion and exclusion, blurring the once-firm distinction between the protected citizen and less-welcomed alien. Indeed, we increasingly witness how border control requirements, initially designed to apply only to members of other nations, are traveling ever faster towards a new role of challenging long-accepted norms concerning U.S. citizens as well. Whereas post-nationalists and others have predicted the retreat of the regulatory state's control over immigration, the domestic and comparative examples discussed here demonstrate how border controls are being retooled and redesigned by nation-states to reassert control over their so-called 'broken' borders in the age of increased international mobility and security risks.

Keywords: immigration, citizenship, globalization, border control

Suggested Citation

Shachar, Ayelet and Shachar, Ayelet, The Shifting Border of Immigration Regulation. Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Vol. 3, p. 165, 2007, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 07-17, Harvard Law School Program on Risk Regulation Research Paper No. 08-10, U Toronto, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1010741, Available at SSRN:

Ayelet Shachar (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Hermann-Foege-Weg 11
Goettingen, 37073

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
416-978-1620 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)


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