Rationing Family Values in Europe and America: An Immigration Tug of War between States and Their Supra-National Associations
102 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2011
Date Written: October, 18 2011
Family reunification – for decades, the centerpiece of immigration policy practically everywhere – is under siege today in both Europe and the United States. Two trends, however, seem to have escaped notice. First, the most popular restriction strategies have been quantitative controls that “ration” family reunification by reducing or delaying admissions - as distinguished from qualitative immigrant “selection” policies that aim only to screen out individuals with undesirable personal attributes. Second, and perhaps counter-intuitively, the supra-national associations of which these very States are members have been pushing in precisely the opposite direction, constraining the powers of their constituent States to restrict family reunification. The result has been a tug of war, in which States adopt continually tighter restrictions, the supra-national associations respond by limiting States’ powers to restrict, and the States continue to test those limitations. This article documents and describes the increasing barriers to family immigration in the United States and the individual Member States of the European Union, highlights the more specific trend in favor of the rationing strategies, and contrasts the restrictive impulses of the EU Member States and the United States with the resistance from their own supra-national associations. It then hypothesizes several theories for that dissonance.
Keywords: Immigration, migration, aliens, family, United States, European Union
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