National Identity and Immigration Policy in the United States and the European Union

46 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2009 Last revised: 24 Jan 2012

See all articles by Lauren Gilbert

Lauren Gilbert

St. Thomas University College of Law

Date Written: 2008


This article contrasts the efforts currently underway in the European Union to develop a harmonized system for admitting and integrating immigrants with the repeated failure of immigration reform in the U.S. and the absence of a policy for immigrant integration. After examining recent obstacles to immigration reform in the U.S., Part II discusses different integration models and experiences in the U.S. and the European Union. Part III then considers the extent to which these different approaches can be explained by i) domestic law and legal norms; ii) different discourses on integration; iii) the connection between national and supranational forms of belonging and identity; and iv) the relationship between citizenship and immigration policy. I argue that despite encouraging efforts underway in Europe, ultimately the U.S. stands the best chance of succeeding in effectively integrating newcomers into society. For integration of immigrants to be truly successful, EU member states must learn that successful integration depends not just on having a comprehensive integration policy with benchmarks but on providing meaningful access to citizenship. In the U.S., in turn, integration policy must be defined not only in terms of eligibility for naturalization; it must ensure that residents enjoy, as far as possible, the same legal protections as U.S. citizens.

Suggested Citation

Gilbert, Lauren, National Identity and Immigration Policy in the United States and the European Union (2008). Columbia Journal of European Law, Vol. 14, p. 99, Winter 2007/2008, Available at SSRN:

Lauren Gilbert (Contact Author)

St. Thomas University College of Law ( email )

16401 NW 37th Ave.
Miami Gardens, FL 33054
United States
305-623-2386 (Phone)


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