The Rights of Noncitizens in the United States

Posted: 10 Jan 2012

See all articles by Susan Bibler Coutin

Susan Bibler Coutin

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: December 2011


Over the past three decades, sociolegal scholarship on the rights of noncitizens in the United States has sought to explain rights and exclusions while incorporating new theory regarding racialization, biopolitics, neoliberalism, risk, and states of exception. Early work in this period distinguished between legal and illegal immigration, with a focus on assimilation, ethnicity, and new ethnic enclaves in the case of the former, and an examination of the relationship between membership and movement in the case of the latter. Large-scale restructurings of the immigration enforcement regime have made the distinction between citizens and noncitizens more important than before. Thus, scholars have coined such terms as “crimmigration” to describe the unprecedented convergence of criminal and immigration law, “rescaling” to refer to shifts from national to local enforcement efforts, and “securitization” to denote the infusion of antiterrorist measures within immigration policymaking.

Suggested Citation

Coutin, Susan Bibler, The Rights of Noncitizens in the United States (December 2011). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 7, pp. 289-308, 2011, Available at SSRN: or

Susan Bibler Coutin (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
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Irvine, CA 92697-1000
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