You Can't Get Here from Here: Toward a More Child-Centered Immigration Law
30 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2008
Date Written: 2006
This article analyzes a serious conceptual flaw in immigration law related to its treatment of children. The extensive integration of immigrants into the broader population of families in the United States contrasts with several characteristics of the legal framework of immigration that create significant barriers to legal immigration for immigrant families. The article reveals how immigration law systemically devalues children and gives rise to a narrow, parent-centered conception of family. The article also uncovers the manner in which the excruciating complexity of immigration law can mask the ways in which seemingly innocuous immigration provisions work together to severely curtail immigration options for families in the United States. It examines the serious social consequences that result when families are unable to regularize the immigration status of all family members. Not only are immigrants and immigrant families marginalized, but citizen children in mixed status families are denied the full social benefits of citizenship as a variety of formal and informal barriers assimilate them to the status of noncitizen. Finally, the article discusses the underlying motivations for the current family immigration system and envisions a more child-centered approach.
Keywords: immigration, family, children, children's rights
JEL Classification: I30, K1, K10, K19, K3, K39, K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation