NEWPOLISCI - 2 Immigration is one of the most contentious...

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Immigration is one of the most contentious modern political issues – one of the few agreements is that countries view immigration as a problem. However, this agreement does not extend beyond the view of immigration as a problem; different countries have developed different responses to the problem of immigration. That being said, there has been a general trend towards a restrictionist response to immigration in varying degrees, and in turn, countries have faced constraints on restrictionary immigration laws. Three countries of particular interest are Japan, the United States, and France. These three countries prove most interesting because they provide a great deal of contrast in their origins of immigration, their attempts at immigration reform, and the constraints that have affected immigration policy. Despite these differences, a general pattern has emerged: the countries attempt to move towards a more restrictive policy, and yet, various institutions block these attempts. Further, this paper will examine the most recent attempts at change in countries (roughly, the last twenty years) in order to provide the best road map to predicting the future of immigration reform in these countries. First, this paper will examine the origins of immigration in these countries, the effect of origins on the conception of citizen ship, and how this conception characterizes attempts at immigration reform. Next, the paper will examine the attempts at immigration reform, and will contrast the different sources of reform in these countries. The paper will then examine the different outcomes of immigration reform in recent years. Finally, the constraints on immigration reform will be examined. Origins The US has experienced some form of immigration at all times during its existence, and the idea of the US as a nation of immigrants is integral to the American 2
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experience. The US practices jus soli – anyone born on American soil is an American citizen. Further, there are no restrictions on who can naturalize – anyone who wishes to become American, may naturalize (provided the immigrant follows the laws of the United States). This American conception of immigration colors immigration reform in an interesting way – essentially, the US focuses on border control, and stopping people at the border, yet allowing anyone who enters the country legally (and illegally, in certain exceptions such as the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act) to naturalize (an interpretation of Walzer’s communitarianist theory). Additionally, the US promotes a policy of both assimilation and multiculturalism (Glazer, “Is Assimilation Dead?” and Joppke “Multiculturalism and Immigration”) – that is to say, the US expects new immigrants to become a part of society, but allows immigrants to maintain a certain amount of cultural separation. This combined policy is exemplified in the presence of Mexican culture in the Southwest United States and in Cuban culture in Florida. The US concept of immigrants both parallels and contrasts with the French
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course POL SCI 147F taught by Professor Levy during the Spring '07 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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NEWPOLISCI - 2 Immigration is one of the most contentious...

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