110 Colum. L. Rev. Sidebar 1 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/sidbarc110 and id is 1 raw text is: COLUMBIA LAW REVIEW
VOL. 110                 FEBRUARY 10, 2010              PAGES 1-11
Cristina M. Rodriguez*
Two significant conceptual errors frame the public debate
concerning labor migration and the related phenomenon of illegal
immigration. Each error sterns from lawmakers' failure or refusal to
recognize the ongoing and transnational nature of migration. First, the
immigration debate occurs largely within a domestic political framework,
and the assumption that the United States can address immigration
issues, particularly illegal immigration, through the perfection of
domestic enforcement mechanisms pervades the discourse.         But
migration is inherently international, and its management requires
engagement with other governments and with social facts beyond U.S.
control. Second, the rhetorical emphasis placed on fixing our broken
regime reflects a conception of immigration as a problem to be solved.
But migration is a cross-border phenomenon produced by structural and
historical factors that will only evolve, rather than disappear, and it
therefore requires transnational management, rather than a one-time
comprehensive legislative solution.
Regulating immigration ultimately requires lawmakers to reach
beyond a unilateral gatekeeping strategy defined by efforts to stop
migration through law enforcement and economic coercion. Because
states cannot effectively manage migration in isolation from one
another,' the United States must approach the issue by prioritizing
cooperation with actors outside the United States. In their contributions
to the policy debate, scholars increasingly have emphasized the
importance of addressing labor and illegal migration through bilateral
and transnational frameworks2-through accords that would recognize
* Henry L. Stimson Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Professor of Law,
NYU School of Law. I am grateful for outstanding research assistance froin Amelia Rawls
and Casey Schwarz.
1. Bimal Ghosh, Managing Migration: Interstate Cooperation at the Global Level, in
Interstate Cooperation and Migration 109, 111 (2005).
2. See, e.g., Jorge A. Bustamante, Mexico-United States Labor Migration Flows, 31
Int'l Migration Rev. 1112, 1112 (1997) (noting that outmigration in Mexico is perceived
as economic and labor phenomenon froin which United States reaps benefits, whereas in


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