Undocumented Workers: Crossing the Borders of Immigration and Workplace Law
30 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2012
Date Written: May 14, 2012
Undocumented workers uncomfortably straddle two legal regimes: immigration law and workplace law. Because of their undocumented immigration status, immigration law formally excludes these workers from such things as voting, the workplace, and access to most federal public benefits. Nonetheless, because of their status as employees who perform labor, “workplace law” simultaneously provides them with workplace protections. Despite these seemingly distinct lines of inquiry, a growing community of scholars has started to break down the boundaries between immigration and workplace law. A new hybrid area of law has emerged, what I call immployment law, at the crossroads of immigration and employment policies. Through its focus on undocumented workers in particular, this Article further justifies the need to move away from the immigration law-workplace law dichotomy and to more fully embrace immployment law as a crucial field of inquiry. Because this nascent “field” is somewhat fragmented and constituted by a diverse set of actors (scholars, legislators, courts, enforcement agents, and advocates), there is a pressing need for a more integrated understanding of the sometimes complementary, sometimes conflict prone, relationship between immigration law and employment policies. This Article outlines the emerging field of immployment law and proposes directions for future research in this area. As this Article will show, a hybrid analytical lens reveals otherwise obscured areas of inquiry. It thereby encourages scholars, policymakers, enforcement agency officials, and courts to more comprehensively develop immployment frameworks and research agendas.
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