Comparative Federalism: The European Union and the United States in Comparative Perspective

By Anand Menon; Martin Schain | Go to book overview

15
Immigration Policy

Martin A.Sahain1

In this chapter, I examine the development of immigration policy in Europe and the United States and the role of federalism in this development. I focus on how the immigration issue was politicized in each case, and the importance of the federal system (or federal governance) for the way that the issue was shaped. I argue that the way that power is dispersed in federal structures—not simply the fact of dispersion—gives considerable weight to territorial interests. Although the United States is clearly a federal system, while the EU is a developing system of governance, federalism has been a key aspect in shaping immigration policy in both cases. The federal influence over policymaking has been important for understanding the ways that policy has been initiated, developed, and administered. On the other hand, differences in the federal structures in Europe and the United States can also help us to understand differences in policy. Since the federal government first turned its attention toward immigration policy, the American federal structure has developed strong powers of initiative within a nationally oriented executive. In the EU, the power of the Commission to develop policy initiatives is considerable, but executive power remains in the more member-state-oriented Council of Ministers.

The story of federal immigration policy in the United States begins 155 years ago, well after the United States became a country of immigration, and is intimately linked to efforts to develop policies of immigration exclusion. The story of EU immigration policy begins far more recently, but is also linked to efforts to develop and enforce immigration exclusion within the EU. In each case, different aspects of federalism shaped the dynamics through which these policies developed.

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