Undocumented Migrants and the Failures of Universal Individualism

By Ramji-Nogales, Jaya | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, May 2014 | Go to article overview

Undocumented Migrants and the Failures of Universal Individualism


Ramji-Nogales, Jaya, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


ABSTRACT

In recent years, advocates and scholars have made increasing efforts to situate undocumented migrants within the human rights framework. Few have examined international human rights law closely enough to discover just how limited it is in its protections of the undocumented. This Article takes that failure as a starting point to launch a critique of the universal individualist project that characterizes the current human rights system. It then catalogues in detail the protections available to undocumented migrants in international human rights law, which are far fewer than often assumed. The Article demonstrates through a close analysis of relevant law that the human rights framework contains significant conceptual gaps when it comes to the undocumented. It concludes by suggesting three alternate approaches-substantial reform of the current human rights system state-based political responses, and social movements-to protect undocumented migrants and other vulnerable populations.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.    WHAT'S WRONG WITH HUMAN RIGHTS? THE
      FAILURES OF UNIVERSAL INDIVIDUALISM
      A. Human Rights Law's Hierarchy of Suffering
      B. Human Rights Law's Disguised Political
         Dimensions
      C. Human Rights Law Obscures Global
         Inequality
      D. Human Rights Law Crowds Out Alternative
         Worldviews
II.   HUMAN RIGHTS LAW AND UNDOCUMENTED
      MIGRANTS
      A. Being Undocumented
      B. Human Rights from the Perspective of
         Undocumented Migrants
      C. The Contested Content of Human Rights Law..
         1. Territorial Security.
         2. Procedural Due Process in Deportation
            Proceedings.
         3. Nondiscrimination Based on
            Immigration Status
         4. Family Unity.
III. CONSTRUCTING VULNERABILITY: SOVEREIGNTY,
     GLOBALIZATION, AND HUMAN RIGHTS
     A. History of Human Rights: Sovereignty
        Challenged?
     B. Globalization and Human Rights:
        Manufacturing the Undocumented
        Migrant
IV.  REALIZING A NEW APPROACH TO PROTECTING
     UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS
     A. Ameliorating the Existing Human Rights
        Structure: More Universal, Less
        Individualist
     B. Long Live Sovereignty?: A State-Based
        Approach
     C. Social Movements: Aggregating Interests
        Beyond the State
V.   BEYOND HUMAN RIGHTS: ENGAGING WITH
     SYSTEMIC INJUSTICE

In recent years, advocates and scholars have made increasing efforts to situate undocumented migrants within the human rights framework. (1) Amnesty International's "Immigrants' Rights are Human Rights Campaign" declares that "[a]ll immigrants, irrespective of their legal status, have human rights." (2) The American Civil Liberties Union claims that "[njumerous international human rights documents firmly establish the principle that no human being can be outside the protection of the law or 'illegal' ... [and] that discrimination and abuse based upon immigration status is a violation of human rights." (3) Human Rights Watch goes so far as to suggest that "a human rights framework strongly supports a program of earned legalization for undocumented immigrants in the US." (4) Even Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney-General, stated recently that "creating a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country ... is a matter of ... human rights." (5) In a similar vein, legal scholars have noted that "irregular migrant workers are entitled to the full range of human rights" (6) and that "[m]ost human rights are guaranteed irrespective of an individual's immigration status; they are a function of a person's status as a human being, not as a citizen of a particular state." (7)

The assumption underlying these pronouncements is that international human rights law affords undocumented migrants substantial protection against the mistreatment, exploitation, and abuse they face in their host countries. They even suggest that the undocumented are recipients of specific rights under international human rights law, such as the right to nondiscrimination based on immigration status and the right to regularize their status. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Undocumented Migrants and the Failures of Universal Individualism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.