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The Promise of a Subject-Centered Approach to Understanding Immigration Noncompliance

Journal on Migration and Human Security Vol. 5, pp. 285-296

USC CLASS Research Paper No. 17-22

13 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2017  

Emily Ryo

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Date Written: September 19, 2017

Abstract

Unauthorized immigrants and immigration enforcement are once again at the center of heated public debates and reform agendas. This paper examines the importance of applying a subject-centered approach to understanding immigration noncompliance and to developing effective, ethical, and equitable immigration policies. In general, a subject-centered approach focuses on the beliefs, values, and perceptions of individuals whose behavior the law seeks to regulate. This approach has been widely used in non-immigration law contexts to produce a richer and more nuanced understanding of legal noncompliance. By contrast, the subject-centered approach has been an overlooked and underappreciated tool in the study of immigration noncompliance. This paper argues that a subject-centered understanding of why people obey or disobey the law has the potential to generate new insights that can advance public knowledge and inform public policy on immigration in a number of important ways. Specifically, the paper considers how the use of this approach might help us: (1) recognize the basic humanity and moral agency of unauthorized immigrants, (2) appreciate not only direct and immediate costs of immigration enforcement policies, but also their indirect and long-term costs, and (3) develop new and innovative strategies for achieving desired policy goals.

Keywords: Unauthorized Migration, Legal Noncompliance, Subject Centered Approach

Suggested Citation

Ryo, Emily, The Promise of a Subject-Centered Approach to Understanding Immigration Noncompliance (September 19, 2017). Journal on Migration and Human Security Vol. 5, pp. 285-296; USC CLASS Research Paper No. 17-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3039608

Emily Ryo (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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