Undocumented Migrants and the Failures of Universal Individualism

65 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2013 Last revised: 13 Jun 2014

See all articles by Jaya Ramji-Nogales

Jaya Ramji-Nogales

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: November 25, 2013


In recent years, advocates and scholars have made increasing efforts to situate undocumented migrants within the human rights framework. Few have examined international human rights law closely enough to discover just how limited it is in its protections of the undocumented. This Article takes that failure as a starting point to launch a critique of the universal individualist project that characterizes the current human rights system. It then catalogues in detail the protections available to undocumented migrants in international human rights law, which are far fewer than often assumed. The Article demonstrates through a close analysis of relevant law that the human rights framework contains significant conceptual gaps when it comes to the undocumented. It concludes by suggesting three alternate approaches — substantial reform of the current human rights system state-based political responses, and social movements — to protect undocumented migrants and other vulnerable populations.

Keywords: human rights, immigration

JEL Classification: K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Ramji-Nogales, Jaya, Undocumented Migrants and the Failures of Universal Individualism (November 25, 2013). Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 477, 2014, Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-36, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2321728 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2321728

Jaya Ramji-Nogales (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.law.temple.edu/contact/jaya-ramji-nogales/

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