In the Key of Aoki: Immigration Regionalism (eco)
UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 5 (2012)
45 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2012 Last revised: 17 Sep 2012
Date Written: July 24, 2012
In 2010, Keith Aoki and I coined the phrase 'immigration regionalism' to describe a proposed innovation in immigration law and policy reform. Our intention was that immigration regionalism would become Immigration Regionalism — a book-length articulation, argument, and analysis of the provocative idea — in hopes that others would take up, critique, expand, revise, and operationalize this notion, in other words: help to answer our query as to whether 'immigration regionalism is an idea whose time has come.' Thus, without Immigration Regionalism, and without Keith, immigration regionalism necessarily remains incomplete. Given Keith’s love of music, his talent and background as a musician, his distinctive collaborative style of riffing-and-jamming, and his prolific career forged by crossing genres and media, I regard the status of our work on immigration regionalism like the first song of an unfinished album: Immigration Regionalism. Perhaps just as important as what we discussed is what we did not discuss before Keith passed away on April 26, 2011. Specifically, we had not written about these basic topics: what is a region; how and why are regions defined and who defines them; what is regionalism; what is the connection between regions and regionalism; what meaning or influence might regionalism have in the context of immigration law and policy; and what might count as an immigration region. I want to begin to address those topics here. In paying my respects to the influence of Keith’s work and thought, it feels right to continue with the focus of our collaboration and to reflect upon and share with others the distinctiveness of how Keith worked. How Keith thought through and worked out ideas with others was utterly refreshing, both professionally and personally speaking, and it is part of what so many of us dearly miss. With this Article, I mean to help bring our unfinished album nearer to completion. I do so here both by sharing the genesis and formation of immigration regionalism and by discussing and employing the methods by which we worked. I use a song structure framework as the organizational framework for this piece, both in homage to Keith and in keeping with our style of collaboration, and I utilize eco — the recalling of previously played notes, though softly and in a different octave — as I work to advance this half-written song toward a coda (repeat) and fade. My hope is that Keith’s voice, as well as his thought, vision, and inspiration, remains resonant here and in any future work on immigration regionalism.
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