Destigmatizing Disability in the Law of Immigration Admissions

Disability, Health, Law, and Bioethics 187 (I. Glenn Cohen, Carmel Shachar, Anita Silvers, Michael Ashley Stein eds., 2020)

18 Pages Posted: 11 May 2020 Last revised: 29 Oct 2021

See all articles by Medha D. Makhlouf

Medha D. Makhlouf

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law

Date Written: April 21, 2020

Abstract

In U.S. immigration law, disability has historically been associated with deviance, and has served as the basis for legal barriers to entry and eventual citizenship. For example, immigrants with actual and perceived physical and intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and other health conditions have been deemed “inadmissible” to the United States based on the belief that they are likely to become dependent on the government for support. Although the law has evolved to accommodate immigrants with disabilities in some ways, significant legal barriers still exist on account of the widespread, persistent characterization of disability as a “bad difference” from the norm. This chapter contributes to the scholarly literature on disability rights and immigration by examining the strengths and limitations of adopting a destigmatizing account of disablement in the context of immigration admissions. Such an approach, which characterizes disablement as a “mere difference” as opposed to a “bad difference,” would build on the momentum that has liberalized disability-related immigration exclusions over the years. Framing disability as a valued form of diversity, while acknowledging its inherent costs, would be a promising first step toward characterizing immigrants with disabilities as valuable and contributing members of society, and supporting a more just societal allocation of the economic costs of disability.

Keywords: law, disability, immigration, welfare, exclusion, immigrants, citizenship

JEL Classification: K23, K27, K32, I14, I18

Suggested Citation

Makhlouf, Medha, Destigmatizing Disability in the Law of Immigration Admissions (April 21, 2020). Disability, Health, Law, and Bioethics 187 (I. Glenn Cohen, Carmel Shachar, Anita Silvers, Michael Ashley Stein eds., 2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3581891

Medha Makhlouf (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law ( email )

150 S College St
Carlisle, PA 17013
United States

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