What Makes the Family Special?

21 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2013

See all articles by Kerry Abrams

Kerry Abrams

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: January 12, 2013


This Article examines the rationales for family-based immigration, observing that most justifications for family-based admissions policies have rested on humanitarian grounds, and asking whether there are economically rational reasons why a receiving country like the U.S. would privilege family-based immigration over other types. It identifies a taxonomy of possible reasons: (1) families may function as a mechanism for integrating immigrants into U.S. society; (2) family-based immigration may be a form of labor migration in disguise, especially in low-skilled markets where employer needs are in flux and difficult to predict, and (3) family-based immigration may allow the government to engage in forms of social engineering (such as ensuring an optimal ratio of male to female immigrants, or restricting same-sex couples from entry) that it would not be able to constitutionally engage in through other means.

Keywords: immigration, family law, marriage, economics

Suggested Citation

Abrams, Kerry, What Makes the Family Special? (January 12, 2013). 80 University of Chicago Law Review 7 (2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2278373

Kerry Abrams (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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