Migration and International Relations
Abstract and Keywords
This article argues that the state plays a key role in managing migration. The necessary conditions for migration to occur may be social and economic, but the sufficient conditions are political and legal. States must be willing to open their borders to the movement of people, and as people move they can acquire rights. Immigration has profound political implications, and states are critical in shaping migration outcomes, even when they choose to accept high levels of illegal immigration or when borders are porous and they do not have the capacity to control many forms of migration.
Introduction: A Global Migration Crisis?
International migration has been steadily increasing in every region of the globe since the end of World War II. Over the past half century individual mobility has increased exponentially, and at the beginning of the twenty-first century approximately 200 million people resided outside of their country of birth. Today tens of millions of people cross borders on a daily basis. International mobility is part of a broader trend of globalization, which includes trade in goods and services, investments and capital flows, greater ease of travel, and a veritable explosion of information. Trade and capital flows are seen as the twin pillars of globalization, and migration often is overlooked, especially among scholars of international relations (Hollifield 2008, 2010).
Yet migration is a defining feature of the global era in which we live, and although it is related in many ways to trade and investment, it is profoundly different. Some clever person once observed that “people are not shirts,” which is another way of saying that labor is not a pure commodity. Unlike goods and capital, individuals can become actors on the international stage, whether through peaceful transnational communities or violent terrorist/criminal networks. Migration and mobility can be a threat to the security of states, as we have been reminded daily since the (p. 346) terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Immigrants bring new ideas and cultures to their host societies, and they often come with a basic package of (human) rights that enables them to become members of society in, if not citizens of, their adoptive countries. Conversely, they may return to their countries of origin, where they can have a dramatic effect on economic and political development (Hollifield et al. 2007). And lest we forget, not all migration is voluntary—in any given year millions of people move to escape political violence, hunger, and deprivation, becoming refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced persons. In 2007 United Nations (UN) estimates put the global refugee population at 11.4 million—down considerably from the turbulent decade of the 1990s but trending upward. The total population of concern to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), including internally displaced persons, stood at almost 33 million. Because it is so complex and multifaceted, migration poses an enormous regulatory challenge for states and the international community (Martin and Widgren 1996; Gibney 2004; Martin et al. 2006).
Migration, like globalization, is not a new phenomenon (Hatton and Williamson 1998; Williamson 2006). Throughout history, the movement of populations has been the norm. Only with the advent of the nation-state in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe did the notion of legally tying populations to territorial units (states) and to specific forms of government become commonplace (Moch 1992). State-building in Europe entailed consolidating territory, centralizing authority, controlling the nobility, imposing taxes, and waging warfare (Tilly 1975; Sassen 2006; Castles and Miller 2009). The institutions of nationality and citizenship, which would become the hallmarks of the modern nation-state, did not develop fully until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Koslowski 2000). The reason for these developments in Europe was closely related to warfare, conscription, and taxation. In the nineteenth century warfare pitted one people against another, and political leaders cultivated among their populations a sense of nationalism (Kohn 1962; Brubaker 1992). The expansion of the European system of nation-states through conquest, colonization, and decolonization spread the ideals of sovereignty and nationality around the globe (Krasner 1999).
In the twentieth century passport and visa systems developed, and borders were increasingly closed to non-nationals (Torpey 2000). Almost every dimension of human existence—social-psychological, demographic, economic, and political—was reshaped to conform to the dictates of the nation-state (Kohn 1962; Hobsbawm 1990). The migration “crises” of the late twentieth century pale by comparison with the upheavals associated with the Industrial Revolution, the two world wars, and decolonization, which resulted in genocide, irredentism, the displacement of massive numbers of people, and the radical redrawing of national boundaries, not only in Europe, but around the globe—witness the partition of India following independence from Britain This process was repeated with the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet empire (Brubaker 1996).
(p. 347) Myron Weiner (1995) argues that the increase in international migration in the postwar period posed a threat to international stability and security, especially in those areas of the globe where nation-states are most fragile—the Balkans, Transcaucasia, the Middle East, the great lakes region of Africa, and Southern Africa. Weiner extends his argument to the Western democracies, pointing out that the rise in xenophobic and nationalist politics in Western Europe shows that even the most advanced and tolerant democracies risk being destabilized politically by an influx of unwanted immigrants. Weiner postulates limits on how many foreigners a society can absorb. Samuel Huntington, of the “clash of civilizations” fame, argues that failure to control American borders is the single greatest threat to the national security of the United States (Huntington 1996, 2004). Weiner and Huntington echo the sentiments of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (1992) and others (Brimelow 1995), who fear that immigration and multiculturalism will lead to the “disuniting of America.” In this line of reasoning, nation-states are threatened by globalization from above and multiculturalism from below.
At the heart of this version of the migration crisis are concerns about sovereignty, citizenship, national security, and identity. The ability or inability of a state to control its borders and hence its population is the sine qua non of sovereignty (Freeman 1998a; Guiraudon and Lahav 2000; Hollifield 2005). With some notable exceptions—such as the international refugee regime created by the 1950 Geneva Convention in the aftermath of World War II (Goodwin-Gill 1996; Gibney 2004)—the right of a state to control entry and exit of persons to and from its territory is an undisputed principle of international law (Shaw 1997). But this political and legal principle immediately raises several questions: Why are some states willing to accept rather high levels of immigration when it would seem not to be in their interest to do so (Hollifield 1992a; Freeman 1995, 1998b; Cornelius et al. 1994; Joppke 1998b)? Does this influx pose a threat to the institutions of sovereignty and citizenship (Joppke 1998a; Freeman 1998a; Guiraudon and Lahav 2000)? Should we view migration primarily as an issue of national or international security (Rudolph 2006; Adamson 2006)?
It might be tempting to argue, as some have, that international migration is simply a function of the inexorable process of globalization (Sassen 1996). Demand for labor—both skilled and unskilled—is high in the principal receiving countries of North America, Europe, and Australia, and the supply of workers in Asia, Latin America, and Africa willing to meet this demand is unlimited. Demand-pull and supply-push forces seem to account rather well for the surge in international migration. Yet we know that individuals are risk averse, and migration is fraught with risks—the transaction costs alone should be enough to deter most people from moving, and indeed this is the case. Two hundred million people residing outside of the country in which they were born are less than 3 percent of the world's population. Despite efforts to restrict immigration, people are moving in increasing numbers, and there is a sense of crisis and loss of control, not just in the industrial (p. 348) democracies of the Northern Hemisphere but increasingly in the less-developed south, in places like South Africa and Malaysia (Sadiq 2009). Sociologists and anthropologists have helped us to understand how individuals reduce the risks associated with migration (Massey et al. 2002). People are more likely to migrate if they have friends or relatives in the destination country willing to help and ease the process of transition. Social networks lower the transaction costs associated with emigration, making it less risky and connecting supply and demand, like two poles of a battery.
Is this the end of the story? If so, there would appear to be no room for the state in managing migration. Policy, some say (Sassen 1996), may be irrelevant, playing at best only a marginal role in the migration process, and the institutions of sovereignty and citizenship are increasingly outdated (Soysal 1994). According to this logic, we are entering a postnational era, and migration is redefining the international state system. However, this chapter argues that it is a mistake to eliminate the state from our analysis. The necessary conditions for migration to occur may be social and economic, but the sufficient conditions are political and legal. States must be willing to open their borders to the movement of people, and as people move they can acquire rights. Immigration has profound political implications, and states are critical in shaping migration outcomes, even when they choose to accept high levels of illegal immigration or when borders are porous and they do not have the capacity to control many forms of migration
Whither Migration and International Relations?
Given the seemingly inexorable increase in transnational movements of goods, services, capital, and people, it is tempting to conclude that migration is simply part of the process of globalization, over which states have little, if any, control (Sassen 1996; Glick Schiller 1999; Levitt 2001). From an economic standpoint, it is difficult to separate trade and investment—the movement of goods, services, and capital—from migration (Hollifield et al. 2007), but conventional economic wisdom has it that in the long run, trade can substitute for migration through a process of factor-price equalization (Krugman and Obstfeld 1997, 160–165; Mundell 1957; Stolper and Samuelson 1941). In the short run, however, historical and empirical studies demonstrate that free trade can lead to increased emigration, especially when disparities in wages and income are high, such as between the United States and Mexico (P. L. Martin 1993; Hollifield et al. 2007). When backward economies are exposed to strong exogenous competitive pressures, the agricultural sector can (p. 349) collapse, leading to a rural exodus, which will swell the population of cities and increase pressures to emigrate. Again following the logic of microeconomics—one of the most powerful arguments in the social sciences—one would expect emigration to continue so long as there are economic imbalances in the international economy or until the process of factor-price equalization is complete. But these basic economic models, like their sociological counterparts, more often than not ignore the political and legal realities of the Westphalian system, which is based on the principles of sovereignty and noninterference. Without arguing that these principles are eternal, absolute, and immutable, it is nonetheless important to remind ourselves that the world is divided into territorial units over which governments still exercise considerable authority (Krasner 1999). Rather than assuming that states have lost control of their borders—overwhelmed by transnationalism and unable to regulate the movement of goods, capital, and people (Sassen 1996; Levitt 2001)—a more interesting question is why states risk opening themselves to trade, foreign investment, and immigration, especially when they can be politically and socially destabilizing, and why such openness has varied considerably over time. Again, one answer would be that it is profitable for the private sector in any mixed capitalist system to remain open to migration, as well as trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), but this does little to explain when and under what circumstances states choose openness over closure.
In looking at the politics of sovereignty and national security, this discussion is concerned not just with domestic politics, the play of organized interests, and issues of state autonomy (Hollifield 1992a), but also with foreign policy and the nature and structure of the international system (Adamson 2006). In addition to immigration policy, the list of dependent variables can include the demand for and supply of refugee policy, which has become an increasingly important foreign policy issue, especially with the end of the Cold War (Teitelbaum 1984; Waever et al. 1993; Weiner 1993, 1995; Zolberg, Suhrke, and Aguayo 1989). When and under what international systemic conditions are states willing to accept large numbers of refugees or risk large-scale labor migration? Here the level of analysis shifts from individuals and interest groups to the state and the international system itself. Contending theoretical perspectives in international relations (liberalism, realism, Marxism-Leninism, and constructivism) come into play, each with its own view of the state and the international system. However, the political science literature on migration and international relations (IR) is exceptionally thin, even though a number of younger (and some older) scholars have begun to turn their attention to this field of inquiry (see, for example, works by Adamson 2006; Andreas 1998; Heisler 1998; Hollifield 1992b, 1994, 1998, 2008; Koslowski 2000, 2005; Meyers 2000; Rudolph 2006; Waever et al. 1993; Weiner 1993, 1995).
How to explain the absence of this area of inquiry from one of the most important subfields in political science is indeed a mystery, worthy of the attention of intellectual historians. In this author's view, the answer to the mystery is (p. 350) historical, as well as theoretical and methodological. The period from 1945 to 1990 was dominated by the Cold War, and international relations theorists tended to divide politics into two categories: high and low. Theoretical formulations in IR were dichotomous as well: realists versus idealists. In the realist formulation, high politics—the paramount subject of international relations—is concerned with national security, foreign policy, and issues of war and peace, whereas low politics is concerned with all issues relating to social and economic (i.e., domestic) policy. In this framework, international migration, like any economic or social issue, belongs in the realm of low politics and therefore should not be the subject of analyses by scholars of international relations, especially national security or foreign policy analysts. For IR theorists wedded to the “realist paradigm,” the international system, rather than the state or the individual, is the appropriate level of analysis (Waltz 1979). Unless it can be demonstrated that a social or economic phenomenon, like migration, clearly affects relations among states to the point of upsetting the balance of power, the study of migration should be left to economists, sociologists, anthropologists, and other scholars of low politics, especially those with a more transnational or idealistic view of international relations, driven by agency and devoid of power considerations (compare Sassen 1996; Levitt 2001; and Waldinger and Fitzgerald 2004).
But as the Cold War began to wane during the period of detente in the 1970s, new issues forced their way onto the agenda of IR theorists. Enormous increases in the volume of trade and foreign investment in the 1950s and 1960s and the rise of multinational corporations (MNCs) drew the attention of IR theorists like Robert Gilpin, Joseph Nye, Robert Keohane, and Stephen Krasner. Efforts were made to bring the insights of IR theory to bear on solving some of the basic dilemmas of conflict and cooperation, not only in the area of international security but also in international economics. From the efforts of these and other scholars, a new subfield of international political economy (IPE) was created; and the basic, realist assumptions of IR theory—that the international system is structured by anarchy, and states are the key units of action—were relaxed (Keohane and Nye 1977). With the end of the Cold War in 1990 and even before, a cottage industry of new security analysis sprang up, focusing on a wide range of problems, from population control and environmental degradation, to the protection of human rights, to combating terrorism. But despite the best efforts of some scholars (e.g., Zolberg 1981; Heisler 1992; Hollifield 1992b, 1994, 1998; Weiner 1993), the issue of international migration did not make it onto the agenda of IR theorists—indeed, a survey of basic IR textbooks written from the 1960s through the 1980s reveals little if any coverage of migration. Only in the mid- to late 1990s and with a new generation of scholars did this begin to change (Adamson 2006; Meyers 2000; Rudolph 2006; Betts 2009a, 2009b). The discipline of international relations began to recognize that international population movements can have a dramatic effect on the security and sovereignty of states (Weiner and Teitelbaum 2001; Weiner and Russell 2001). How can we begin to theorize about international migration from the standpoint of international relations?
(p. 351) Migration and IR Theory
Broadly speaking, there are four schools of thought in IR that tell us something about migration: (1) realism or neorealism, with an almost exclusive focus on power, interests, and structure; (2) transnationalism, or what this author calls the globalization thesis, which downplays power and the state system, giving primacy to agency; (3) liberal institutionalism, which is closely associated with IPE and the theory of complex interdependence; and (4) constructivism, wherein ideas, culture, and norms are as important as interests in shaping state actions. Of these four theories, much empirical work has been done from the globalization perspective, primarily in the context of the sociology of international relations, following the works of such scholars as Mary Douglas (1986) and John Meyer (1979). The students of Douglas, like Martin Heisler (1992, 1998), and of Meyer, like Yasemin Soysal (1994) and David Jacobson (1996), have been especially prolific in writing about international migration. In political science, Rey Koslowski (2005) subscribes to the basic tenets of globalization theory and has extended his work to look at mobility and migration from a constructivist perspective, which holds that concepts such as national security and the national interest are sociological constructs, and almost any issue can be transformed from an issue of “state” security to an issue of “societal” security. Constructivists contend that the national interest cannot simply be deduced, as realists would have it, from the structure of the international system and the balance of power. They see ideas, culture, and norms trumping material interests (Katzenstein 1996; Wendt 1999), and almost any issue can be “securitized” through political discourse (Waever et al. 1993).
A growing body of work draws upon the insights of IPE to understand why states risk migration. Exemplars of this school include Christopher Rudolph (2006), Hollifield (1998), and Betts (2009a). They differ from the globalization theorists and constructivists, who tend to focus more on social networks, transnational communities, political discourse, and identity politics. They want to deconstruct and unpack concepts such as the “national interest” (Koslowski 2005; Levitt 2001; Sassen 1996; Jacobson 1996). IPE theorists follow one of the two approaches delineated in the previous section, focusing on the interplay of interests, ideas, and institutions to explain why states risk migration (Hollifield 2000a, 2004, 2008).
Finally, the school of thought in IR that has the least to say about international migration is in fact the oldest and most venerable theory: political realism. Myron Weiner (1993, 1995) was the most consistent advocate in political science for taking a realist approach to understanding international migration. But like IPE theorists, he tended to mix the levels of analysis, moving back and forth from the individual, to the state, to the international level. In this respect, no one has taken a purely realist approach to the study of international migration. This would require us to infer the behavior of states, as reflected in their policy choices (more (p. 352) or less migration, greater or less support for the principle of political asylum), from the structure of the international system (i.e., the distribution of power). Rudolph (2006) perhaps comes closest, but he, like Hollifield, draws heavily on the insights of IPE and liberal institutionalism.
The basic assumption of political realism is that states are unitary rational actors, whose behavior is constrained by the anarchic structure of the international system. States are therefore caught in a security dilemma, forced to be ever attentive to the protection of their sovereignty and searching for ways to enhance their power and capabilities (Adamson 2006). Two simple hypotheses can be drawn from this theoretical starting point. First, migration or refugee policy (i.e., rules of entry and exit) is a matter of national security, and states will open or close their borders when it is in their national interest to do so (i.e., when it will enhance their power and position in the international system). It is evident that this argument, like many purely realist arguments, is dangerously close to being a tautology; therefore, it must be linked to the second hypothesis. Second, migration policy and flows are a function of international systemic factors, namely, the distribution of power in the international system and the relative positions of states. Their relative positions in the system and balance of power considerations will determine whether states are willing to risk immigration or emigration and whether they will accept large numbers of refugees or turn them away.
These arguments are attractive if one looks at shifts in the politics of international migration during, and after the end of, the Cold War in 1990. During the Cold War it was not in the interest of communist states to allow their people to emigrate (witness the construction of the Berlin Wall), and it was in the interest of the West to support the principle of political asylum and promote immigration from the East. With the end of the Cold War, the situation changed dramatically. Suddenly people were freer to move (exit), but without any concomitant right to enter. Migration was redefined in the West as a security threat by national security analysts like Samuel Huntington (1996), and the economist George Borjas captured the situation succinctly in the title of his best-known work, Friends or Strangers? (1990). Borjas argues that mass migration from poor Third World countries constitutes an economic threat, because it depletes or waters down the human capital stock of the receiving societies, transforming them from diamond- to hourglass-shaped societies, with lots of haves at the top and more have-nots at the bottom. The middle class is squeezed, which fosters social and economic conditions that are not healthy for capitalist democracies. Finally, polemicists like Peter Brimelow (1995) and Patrick J. Buchanan (2006) make a security argument with clear cultural and racial overtones. They see the influx of nonwhite immigrants into Western societies as a cultural threat that could lead to the political destabilization of liberal democracies. Their arguments are reminiscent of the now famous remark from 1969 by the Tory politician Enoch Powell that, unless colored immigration to Britain was halted, there would be “rivers of blood” in English streets.
All of these works are, in effect, securitizing migration. But by far the most sophisticated treatment of migration from the standpoint of political realism is that of Myron Weiner (1993, 1995; Teitelbaum and Weiner 1995). Weiner was particularly conscious of the destabilizing impact of mass refugee migrations in the Southern Hemisphere, where the legitimacy of newly independent states is extremely fragile. Weiner extended his argument to include south-north and east-west movements, hypothesizing that every society has a limited capacity to absorb foreigners—what the former French President François Mitterrand called a “threshold of tolerance”—and he points to xenophobic backlashes in Western Europe as examples of the kind of security threat posed by uncontrolled migration. Hence, it is imperative that Western governments be prepared to intervene in conflicts that are likely to produce large refugee flows, as the American government did in Haiti and as NATO did in the Balkans in the 1990s. Kelly Greenhill, a student of Weiner, extends this logic by arguing that states can and do use migration as a tool for pursuing their interests, even to the point of threatening mass refugee movements as a form of leverage in conflict situations (Greenhill 2010).
Transnationalism and the Globalization Thesis
Although it is a powerful argument—one cannot ignore the effect of structural or systemic factors on the demand for and the supply of migration policy—the principal weaknesses of realism are that it is politically overdetermined and cannot account for the continued increase in world migration (flows) in the post–Cold War era. The globalization thesis, with its strong emphasis on transnationalism, offers a compelling alternative hypothesis. Globalization arguments come in many shapes and sizes, but most are grounded in the world systems framework (Wallerstein 1976; Glick Schiller 1999) and are inspired by works in economic sociology and the sociology of international relations. But all the globalization theorists agree on one point: the sovereignty and regulatory power of the nation-state has been weakened by transnationalism, in the form of the movement of goods, capital, or people (Sassen 1996). With respect to migration, however, the dependent variable in these arguments is the movement of people; in contrast to (p. 354) realism, the actors in international relations are not limited, if they ever were, to states. In the globalization thesis, firms, individuals, and transnational communities have found ways to bypass the regulatory authority of sovereign states. In the words of James Rosenau (1990), the world has been “individualized.” To borrow the expression of another IR theorist, John Ruggie (1998), states have been “deterritorialized.”
The globalization thesis is at the other extreme from realist arguments, which stress the role of the nation-state as the primary decision-making unit in international relations. The nation-state is no longer the sole, legitimate actor in international relations, if it ever was. Rather, the tables have been turned against the state, which is unable to control either transnational corporations—especially banks, which move vast sums of capital around the globe—or migrants, who move in search of employment opportunities. Under this thesis, the internationalization of capital has provoked a radical restructuring of production, as national economies move up (or down) in the international product cycle. Production itself has been decentralized with the rise of new centers of power and wealth, which Saskia Sassen (1991) has dubbed “the global city.”
According to Sassen (1996), Portes (1996), and others (Glick Schiller 1999; Levitt 2001), the rise of transnational economies has resulted in the creation of transnational communities, as workers are forced to move from one country to another in search of employment, often leaving family members behind. Such communities can be found at both the high and low ends of the labor market, as individuals move with more or less ease from one national society to another. A great deal of research has been done to document this practice among Mexican immigrants to the United States. Douglas Massey (1987) was one of the first migration scholars to point out the importance of transnational social networks in linking communities in the country of origin to those in the country of destination. These kinship and informational networks help to instill confidence in potential migrants, thus raising their propensity to migrate and, in effect, lowering transaction costs for international migration. Alejandro Portes (1996) argues that migrants have learned to use this “transnational space” as a way to get around national, regulatory obstacles to their social mobility. He points out that changes in Mexican law to permit dual nationality may reinforce this type of behavior, leading to ever-larger transnational communities.
The rapid decline in transaction costs and the ease of communication and transportation have combined to render national migration policies obsolete. Indeed, the entire regulatory framework of the state with respect to labor and business has been shaken by the process of globalization. To compete in the new international marketplace, businesses and governments in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have been forced to deregulate and liberalize labor and capital markets. Moreover, less-developed states have been thrown into debt crises, leading to the imposition of painful policies of structural adjustment, which in turn cause more migration from poor to rich states. A case in point is the financial crisis in Mexico in the mid-1990s, which (p. 355) led to the devaluation of the peso and a surge in emigration to the United States in the latter part of the decade (Rosenblum 2007; Robertson 2007).
Politics and the state have been factored out of international relations in these types of globalization arguments. Following this apolitical logic, both trade and migration (which are closely linked) are largely a function of changes in the international division of labor, and states play at best only a marginal role in determining economic and social outcomes. The prime agents of globalization are transnational corporations and transnational communities, if not individual migrants themselves. We live increasingly in a world of agency, which trumps state structures and politics. If states have such a minor role to play, any discussion of national interests, national security, sovereignty, or even citizenship would seem antiquarian and beside the point. However, one group of sociologists has tried to bring politics and law, if not the state, back into the picture.
Yasemin Soysal (1994) and David Jacobson (1996) focus on the evolution of rights for immigrants and foreigners. Both authors posit the rise of a kind of postnational regime for human rights, wherein migrants are able to attain a legal status that somehow surpasses citizenship, which remains grounded in the logic of the nation-state. Jacobson, more so than Soysal, argues that individual migrants have achieved an international legal personality by virtue of various human rights conventions, and both authors view these developments as presenting a distinctive challenge to traditional definitions of sovereignty and citizenship (compare Joppke 2001 and Waldinger and Fitzgerald 2004 for a critique). But Soysal in particular is careful not to use the terms postnational or transnational citizenship, opting instead for the expression post national membership. Wrestling with the contradictory nature of her argument, Soysal writes: “Incongruously, inasmuch as the ascription and codification of rights move beyond national frames of reference, post-national rights remain organized at the national level … the exercise of universalistic rights is tied to specific states and their institutions” (1994, 157).
Another sociologist, Rainer Bauböck (1994 and chapter 24), is less circumspect. He argues that, given the dynamics of economic globalization, a new transnational/political citizenship is necessary and inevitable. Bauböck draws heavily on political and moral philosophy, especially Kant, in making his argument in favor of transnational citizenship. Like Soysal, he relies on the recent history of international migration in Europe and the experience of the European Community/Union to demonstrate that migration has accompanied the process of economic growth and integration in Europe. Guest workers and other migrants have achieved a rather unique status as transnational citizens. What all three of these authors (Soysal, Jacobson, and Bauböck) are attempting to do is give some type of political and legal content to world systems and globalization arguments. But like Saskia Sassen (1996), they see the nation-state as essentially outmoded and incapable of keeping pace with changes in the world economy.
What do these theories tell us about migration policy (the willingness of states to risk openness) and the more or less continuous rise in international migration (p. 356) in the postwar period? On the surface they seem to account rather well for the rise in migration. Even though the globalization arguments draw heavily on world systems theory, and some are neo-Marxist in orientation (in this framework economics/material interests always trump politics), they share many assumptions with conventional, neoclassical (push-pull) theories of migration. The first and most obvious assumption is that migration is caused primarily by dualities in the international economy. So long as these dualities persist, there will be pressures for individuals to move across national boundaries in search of better opportunities. But whereas many neoclassical economists (like Simon 1989) see this as pareto optimal—creating a rising tide that will lift all boats—many globalization theorists (like Sassen and Portes) view migration as further exacerbating dualities both in the international economy and in national labor markets—witness, for example, the tremendous growth of informal economies. This variant of the globalization thesis is close to the Marxist and dual labor market arguments that capitalism needs an industrial reserve army to surmount periodic crises in the process of accumulation (Castles and Kosack 1985; Piore 1979). As migration networks become more sophisticated and transnational communities grow in scope and complexity, migration should continue to increase, barring some unforeseen and dramatic decrease in the demand for immigrant labor, perhaps as the result of a meltdown in the global financial system. Some theorists, like Wayne Cornelius, would argue that even then the demand for foreign labor is “structurally embedded” in the more advanced industrial societies, which cannot function without access to a cheap and pliable foreign workforce (Cornelius et al. 2004).
The second (crucial) assumption that globalization theorists share with neoclassical economists is the relatively marginal role of the state in governing and structuring international migration. States can act to distort or delay the development of international markets (for goods, services, capital, and labor), but they cannot stop it. With respect to migration, national regulatory regimes and municipal law in general simply must accommodate the development of international markets for skilled and unskilled workers. The idea of the opening and closing of societies, or rules of exit and entry, is simply a nonstarter in a globalized world. Likewise, citizenship and rights can no longer be understood in their traditional national contexts (Castles and Davidson 2000). Postwar West Germany provides an example. Nationality and citizenship laws date from 1913 and, until the reforms of 1999, they retained kinship or blood (jus sanguinis) as the principal criterion for naturalization (Brubaker 1992; Joppke 2005). But this very restrictionist citizenship regime did not prevent Germany from becoming the largest immigrant-receiving country in Europe (Messina 2007). What is the explanation of this gap between immigration policy outputs (goals) and outcomes (Cornelius et al. 2004)? Globalization theorists, like Portes, Soysal, and Castles, explain this anomaly by reference to the structural demand for foreign labor in advanced industrial societies, the growth of networks and transnational communities, and the rise of postnational membership, which is closely tied to human rights regimes—what Soysal calls “universal personhood.” In this framework, national citizenship and regulatory regimes seem (p. 357) to explain little in the variation of migration flows or the openness (or closure) of German society.
Liberalism and the IPE
What can be retained from globalization, as opposed to realist, arguments? The major shortcoming of the globalization thesis—in contrast to realism—is the weakness or in some cases the absence of any political explanation for migration. The locus of power and change is in society and the economy, agency trumps structure, and there is little place for states and national regulation in this framework. Almost everything is socially and economically determined. By contrast, liberal arguments focus on institutions and the state and share some assumptions with realism. Both liberal and realist theories are heavily rationalist and stress the primacy of interests, the major difference being that liberals want to disaggregate the “national interest” and look at the multiplicity of social and economic groups that compete to influence the state. For liberal theorists, national and international politics can be reduced to an economic game and ultimately to a problem of collective action with competing interests. To understand this (means-ends) game, all that is needed is to identify correctly the interests and preferences of social, economic, and political actors (Moravcsik 1997; Milner 1997). Not surprisingly, liberal institutionalists focus almost exclusively on politics and policy in liberal states, where the competition among groups is relatively open and unfettered by authoritarianism and corruption. Studying competition among groups at the domestic level, as well as the allocational and distributional consequences of policy, presents a clearer picture of why states behave the way they do in the international arena, whether in the areas of trade, finance, or migration.
Because this approach incorporates both economic and political analysis, it has come to be called international political economy (IPE). IPE theorists, many of whom are liberal institutionalists, are interested in the connections between domestic/comparative and international politics. In addition to focusing on domestic interests, they also stress the importance of institutions in determining policy outcomes. For one of the original IPE theorists, Robert Keohane, international institutions hold the key to explaining the puzzle of conflict and cooperation in world politics, especially with the weakening of U.S. hegemony in the last decades of the twentieth century. Along with Joseph Nye, Keohane has argued that increases in economic interdependence in the postwar period have had a profound impact on world politics, altering the way states behave and the way in which they think about and use power, which is much more diffuse than in classic balance of power systems (Keohane and Nye 1977). In the nuclear age and with growing interdependence, it became increasingly difficult for states to rely on traditional (p. 358) military power to guarantee their security. National security was tied more to economic power, and nuclear weapons fundamentally altered the nature of warfare. The challenge for states (especially liberal states) was how to construct a new world order to promote their national interests, which were tied ever more closely to international trade and investment, if not to migration.
In the first two decades after World War II, this problem was solved essentially by the United States, which took it upon itself to reflate the world economy and provide liquidity to solve problems of structural adjustment. This approach was dubbed “hegemonic stability” (Gilpin 1986). But with the gradual decline of American economic dominance in the 1970s, the problem arose of how to organize world markets in the absence of a hegemon. The answer would be found, according to Keohane and others, in multilateralism and the building of international institutions and regimes (like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT] and the International Monetary Fund [IMF]) to solve the problems of international cooperation and collective action (Keohane 1984; Ruggie 1993). As the Cold War waned in the 1980s, the entire field of international relations shifted dramatically, away from the study of national security toward the study of international economics, especially issues of trade and finance. In the last decades of the twentieth century, even domestic politics, according to IPE theorists, was thoroughly internationalized (Keohane and Milner 1996; see also Koslowski 2005).
Although international migration would seem to lend itself to liberal/IPE arguments (migration has a strong political-economic dimension and clearly contributes to the internationalization of domestic politics), very little has been written about it from this perspective (see, however, Hollifield 1992b, 1998, 2000a; Rosenblum 2004). The reasons for this are fairly simple. Until recently there was little demand for international cooperation (or policy) in the area of migration, with the major exception of managing refugee flows (Teitelbaum 1984; Betts 2010). The dependent variable in this framework is the demand for and supply of international policy, in the form of regimes. Even for the relatively weak refugee regime (UNHCR), the numbers were modest until the 1980s, and the incentives for cooperation among liberal states were closely linked to the Cold War and the bipolar structure of the international system (Loescher et al. 2008). From the late 1940s through the 1970s, liberal states had little incentive to cooperate or to build regimes for managing labor migration, because there was an unlimited supply of (unskilled) labor available, which could be recruited through bilateral agreements with the sending countries. The German Gastarbeiter (1960s) and the American bracero (1940s to the1960s) programs are classic examples of these types of bilateral accords (Rogers 1985; Calavita 1992; Rosenblum 2011).
With the major exception of the European Union (EU) and its Schengen system (Geddes 2003; Guiraudon 1998), the situation did not change much in the 1980s and 1990s, despite the end of the Cold War. There is still an unlimited and rapidly growing supply of cheap labor available in developing countries. What has changed, however, are the goals of immigration and refugee policies among the OECD states. The demand now is for policies to control, manage, or stop migration (p. 359) and refugee flows (Freeman 1995; Ghosh 2000). The Cold War refugee regime, specifically the UNHCR, has come under enormous pressure to manage various refugee crises, often in the context of civil wars and in the face of humanitarian disasters (Loescher et al. 2008; Lischer 2005; Salehyan 2009; Betts 2010). In contrast, existing international organizations for dealing with economic migration, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva, have not been besieged by demands for action. Western Europe developed its own regional regime for migration, the Schengen system. Otherwise there has been little effort to regulate international migration on a multilateral basis, with the very partial exception of the Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS (Ghosh 1997; Hollifield 2000a).
What can liberal or IPE arguments tell us about the development of international migration during the postwar period and the willingness of states to risk exposing their societies and economies to the exogenous pressures of trade and migration? The first major hypothesis that can be derived from liberal theory is that states are more willing to risk opening their economies to trade (and by extension migration) if there is some type of international regime (or hegemonic power) that can regulate these flows and solve collective action and free-rider problems. However, there is no regime for regulating migration that comes close to the types of regimes that exist for trade (GATT/World Trade Organization) and international finance (IMF/World Bank). Yet migration has increased steadily throughout the postwar period, in the absence of a regime or any type of effective multilateral process to manage it (Hollifield 2000a). Again, the EU and Schengen are an important exception. If one accepts the realist assumptions that states are unitary, sovereign actors, capable of closing as well as opening their economies, then other (political) factors must be at work, driving the increases in and maintaining a degree of openness to migration, at least among the advanced industrial democracies.
A second (powerful) hypothesis can be derived from liberal theory. The maintenance of a relatively open (nonmercantilist) world economy is heavily dependent on coalitions of powerful interests in the most dominant, liberal states. In Resisting Protectionism (1988), Helen Milner, a prominent liberal theorist, demonstrates how advanced industrial states in the 1970s were able to resist the kind of beggar-thy-neighbor policies that were adopted in the 1920s and 1930s. She argues that growing interdependence (multinationality and export dependence) helped to solidify free trade coalitions among the OECD states in the postwar period, thus preventing a retreat into protectionism following the economic downturns of the 1970s and 1980s. Government leaders in a range of industrial nations were willing (and able) to resist strong political pressures for protectionism in the 1970s, in large part because a powerful constellation of business interests contributed to a substantial realignment within these societies. In some cases polities themselves were creatively redesigned by political entrepreneurs to facilitate the maintenance and strengthening of these new (free-trade) coalitions (Lusztig 1996). Of course free-trade interests were bolstered by the existence of an international trade regime (GATT) in the 1970s.
(p. 360) From a liberal/IPE perspective, the central question with respect to migration is, How did pro-immigration coalitions in the key OECD states form, and will they be able to maintain legal immigration regimes since the end of the Cold War, in the absence of a strong international migration regime and in the face of financial crises and severe economic recession? One cannot discount the importance of international systemic constraints, like the end of the Cold War, which clearly has had an impact on political coalitions and alignments in all of the liberal democracies (Meyers 2000). It has had a profound impact on coalitions supporting open migration policies, even more than in the area of trade. The major difference between trade and migration is the nature and types of the coalitions that form to support or oppose them. Although related, in the sense that strong economic liberals tend to support both free trade and more open migration policies (Hollifield et al. 2008), there is a much stronger legal, ideational, and cultural dimension involved in the making of promigration coalitions than in forming free-trade coalitions, which tend to be based more narrowly on economic interests. Free-trade policies clearly have important political and social effects, but the arguments about comparative advantage and tariff policies tend to be heavily economic, and the interests are organized along sectorial or class lines. With respect to trade, individuals and groups tend to follow their market interests. But in the making of migration policies, this is not always the case.
If a state can be sure of reciprocity—that other states will abide by the most favored nation (MFN) principle—then it is easier to convince a skeptical public to support free trade. By contrast, economic arguments about the costs and benefits of migration tend to be overshadowed by political, cultural, and ideological arguments (Rosenblum 2011). National identities and founding myths, what this author has called elsewhere “national models,” come into play in the making and unmaking of coalitions for admissionist or restrictionist migration policies (Hollifield 1997a, 1997b). Debates about migration in the liberal-democratic (OECD) states revolve as much, if not more, around issues of rights, citizenship, and national identity as around issues of markets (Cornelius et al. 2004; Hollifield 2004). The coalitions that form to support more open migration policies are often rights-markets coalitions (Hollifield and Wilson 2011). Constructivists would argue that debates about sovereignty and control of borders are reduced to discussions of national identity and societal security—fungible concepts that reflect values, morality, and culture, rather than a strictly instrumental, economic calculus (Waever et al. 1993).
Migration and Global Governance
Of the three analytical perspectives on migration and international relations reviewed so far—realism, globalization or transnationalism, and liberal institutionalism—the latter comes closest to explaining why states risk migration. But (p. 361) as previously indicated, structural or systemic factors such as the end of the Cold War, which can influence the propensity of states to support liberal international regimes, cannot be ignored. In the absence of a threat or hegemon to unite liberal states and help them overcome collective-action problems, multilateralism is one way for states to cooperate and build a migration/refugee regime.
Following the work of Ruggie (1993, 3–47), one can identify three tenets of multilateralism. The first is indivisibility, which is another way of saying that multilateral regulation should take the form of a public good. Unless it is a hegemon, a single state or even a small group of states cannot provide this good for the international community. The costs and benefits of its provision must be shared relatively equally among states. The second tenet is principles, or norms of conduct, which can alter the behavior of states. The fewer principles or norms there are, the greater the likelihood that states will respect them and change their behavior. The most difficult problem in any multilateral regime is to find a single compelling principle (or at least a very small number of interrelated norms or principles) “around which actor expectations can converge.” Third, Ruggie points to diffuse reciprocity, meaning that states must be convinced that everyone will respect the rules of the game, thus making it possible for governments to persuade a skeptical or even hostile public to accept the short-term political and economic costs of establishing the regime, in order to reap the long-term gains.
Using this liberal framework, one can ask: What are the possibilities of building an effective international migration regime? What would be the incentives to participate in such a regime? Can states overcome their misgivings, which may include loss of sovereignty, threats to national security and identity, and changes in the composition of the citizenry (Joppke 1998a)?
On the first point, indivisibility, one must ask if migration (or more likely the migration regime itself) can be defined as an international public good, wherein the benefits are nonrivalrous in consumption (the benefits of an international migration regime, which provides for orderly/legal movement, would be equally available to all states) and nonexcludable (i.e., all states would have access to the regime, and as more states accept it greater benefits would accrue). As noted previously, this is problematic, especially when comparing migration and trade. During the postwar period, a consensus emerged—based on American leadership and the doctrine of comparative advantage—that an open trading regime would promote global welfare and advance the cause of peace. The motto of the immediate postwar period was “peace through trade.” The GATT system was created to ensure that the costs and benefits of free trade would be shared relatively equally, thus allowing the leading liberal states (especially the United States) to gradually overcome some of the hostility and skepticism of weaker developing states. As more and more states signed onto the GATT system, greater benefits accrued to all. Free trade would lead not only to specialization in production, increased output, and pareto-optimal economic outcomes, but also to interdependence and a more peaceful world.
This type of economic reasoning, however, does not work well in the area of migration, because the asymmetry between developed and developing countries is (p. 362) too great, and it is difficult to agree on a set of core, organizing principles for the regime; there is no functional equivalent of the theory of comparative advantage. It is only at certain critical points—such as the rapid industrialization in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which led to the swift growth of a transatlantic economy (Nugent 1992; Hatton and Williamson 1998); reconstruction in Europe after World War II, which led to the Treaty of Rome and the founding of the European Community; or the very high growth in Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, which led ultimately to the accession of China to the WTO—that the interests of developing and developed states converge. Developing states almost always have an incentive to export surplus populations, whereas developed states only periodically have an interest in admitting large numbers of foreign workers. The history of south-to-north migration has been one of fits and starts, of peaks and valleys that tended to follow the business cycle. But there is strong evidence that this dynamic may have been broken in the postwar period, at least for certain “core” liberal states in North America and Europe (Hollifield et al. 2008; Hollifield and Wilson 2011). This is evident in the rates of world migration, which have been rising continuously since 1945.
So if migration does not mirror the business cycle, what is driving it? The answer, in a word, is rights. As the world becomes more open, more democratic, and more liberal, people are freer to move than ever before. This has placed great strains on liberal states, especially on the institution of citizenship. Liberal states are caught on the horns of a dilemma, what I call a “liberal paradox” (Hollifield 1992a; Weiner 1995). In liberal political and economic systems, there is constant tension between markets and rights, or liberty and equality. Rules of the market require openness and factor mobility, whereas rules of the liberal polity, especially citizenship, require some degree of closure, mainly to have a clear definition of citizenry and to protect the sanctity of the social contract—the legal cornerstone of every liberal polity. Equal protection and due process cannot be extended to everyone without undermining the legitimacy of the liberal state itself. How can states solve this dilemma and escape from the paradox? Constructing an international migration regime, as the EU has done for its member states, is one way; another, much more difficult, approach is to look for ways to overcome collective action/free-rider problems and build a global migration regime.
But if a migration regime is to be an international public good (see previous discussion), it cannot be defined purely in economic terms, on the basis of homo economicus, even though mobility of productive factors (labor as well as capital) is recognized in economic theory to be pareto optimal. To regulate migration on a unilateral basis, liberal states must adopt draconian (illiberal) policies that may threaten the foundations of the liberal state itself. It is not efficient or desirable in a liberal state to close or seal borders. This would be the ultimate strategy for external control (Freeman 1995). Likewise, strategies for internal control, including heavy regulation of labor markets, limiting civil rights and liberties for foreigners and citizens, and tampering with founding myths (for example, weakening birthright (p. 363) citizenship in the United States) also threaten the liberal state (Hollifield 1999). Such measures can fan the flames of racism and xenophobia by further stigmatizing foreigners. Establishing a multilateral process for regulating and controlling immigration is one way out of this dilemma, but to accomplish this, control must be redefined as an international public good, such as orderly or legal movement of people. Orderly movements imply respect for the rule of law and state sovereignty, which are fundamental principles in every liberal state (Hollifield 2005).
The problem remains of how to set up generalized principles of conduct in the area of migration. Various conventions exist, many put forward by the UN and its agencies (UNHCR, IOM, and ILO) to safeguard the rights of migrant workers and establish standards for the treatment of these workers and their families. Likewise, Mode 4 of GATS includes provisions for migration (Bhagwati 1998; Ghosh 2000). But none of these agreements has achieved the status of a full-blown international migration regime capable of altering the behavior of states. It is only with asylum that a quasi-effective international regime has emerged in the postwar period, with a single guiding principle: a well-founded fear of persecution (Betts 2010). The freedom-of-movement clauses in various EU treaties have resulted in the construction of a regional migration regime for EU member states, and the Schengen group has developed rules for dealing with the migration of third-country nationals, specifically asylum seekers (Uçarer 1997).
In such a regional context, where the asymmetry is less pronounced than in the international system, it is easier to solve the problems of reciprocity and collective action. Rules can be adopted and formalized through already established institutional procedures. At the international level, however, what has developed is a proliferation of very weak rules, norms, and procedures, resulting in a kind of fragmented and ineffective regime (Ghosh 2000). Moreover, the primary concern of the most powerful liberal states is not to facilitate the orderly movement of people (even paying tourists) or promote international factor mobility. Rather, it is control, which has as many different meanings as there are states (Cornelius et al. 1994, 2004). The challenge for any state or organization attempting to construct an international migration regime will be to define control in such a way that it is indivisible, can serve as a generalized norm or principle of conduct, and can lead to diffuse reciprocity. This is no mean feat, because heretofore international migration has been regulated almost exclusively on a bilateral basis, if not through some type of imperial hierarchy. Both regulatory systems are currently at work. It is only among the OECD states that freedom of movement (but not settlement) has been more or less achieved, especially for the highly skilled. Between the core liberal states in the international system and the less developed countries, movement of populations is still governed by a system of imperial hierarchy, which is in many ways more one-sided now than it was during the colonial era.
To better understand the difficulties of international cooperation to regulate migration, a typology of international regimes is presented in figure 15.1. It points to a clear distinction between the regulation of capital, goods, and services on (p. 364) one hand, and migrant labor or refugees (people) on the other. When it comes to regulating trade and capital flows—an essential function of the international political economy—multilateralism (on the y axis) is strongest and most heavily institutionalized in the area of finance. Even though the institutions dealing with international finance are far from perfect, the IMF and the World Bank have become the bulwarks of stable exchange rates, without which international trade and investment would be difficult and extremely risky. The GATT/WTO regime for trade also is heavily institutionalized, but the multilateral basis of this regime is weaker than that for finance. States feel the need for strong currencies and stable exchange rates much more acutely than the need for free trade. Nonetheless, these institutions have evolved together in the postwar period. Powerful market incentives, as well as formal enforcement mechanisms in the case of WTO, compel states to “play by the rules” (Goldstein 1993, 201–232).
Of the two “regimes” dealing with migration, one for labor migrants and the other for refugees, clearly the refugee regime, which is institutionalized through the UNHCR, is the more effective, for reasons previously described. Regimes is in quotes because the labor regime is quite ineffective. The rules for entry and exit of economic migrants are controlled by nation-states, not by international organizations like the UN, IOM, or ILO (Joppke 1998a). Again, the major exception is the EU, but the EU regime for international labor migration functions only for nationals of the member states, not (or at least not yet) for third-country nationals (Guiraudon 1998). Even in the Schengen states—referred to in the British press derisively as Schengenland—third-country nationals do not have freedom of movement. Only Schengen nationals have this right. Schengen does, however, function as a multilateral regime for asylum and is designed to help member states restrict refugee migration and prevent “asylum shopping” (Thielemann 2003). Refugees have the right to request asylum in the first Schengen state in which they arrive—consistent with the Geneva Convention—but if they transit through a “safe” third country, they can be refoulés (sent back to that third country). The result has been to forge a more or less common asylum policy in Schengen and turn all adjoining (p. 365) states into buffer states. The important point is that these Western European states, together with the United States and other liberal democracies, are respecting the letter, if not the spirit, of international refugee law. Although the principles of the refugee regime are widely recognized, the UNHCR as an institution remains weak and heavily dependent on a few “client states,” especially Sweden, the Netherlands, and other small European social democracies (Loescher et al. 2008; Gibney 2004). The Japanese contribute a lot of money to the UNHCR, and the Americans support it and use it as a tool for managing refugee crises around the world, especially when their national interests are involved.
The regime for international labor migration is weakly institutionalized (depicted on the x axis), with no central norm, and its principal organs, the ILO and IOM, based in Geneva, have little regulatory or institutional capacity. For developed states in particular, the costs of participating in a regime for international migration would seem to outweigh the benefits, and a short-term strategy of unilateral or bilateral regulation of migration is preferred to a long-term, multilateral strategy. This is less true for the refugee regime, because the more powerful liberal states need it for situational exigencies: to manage massive refugee flows that can destabilize governments and, in some cases, entire regions. When such crises strike close to home, such as in the 1999 Balkan war, the utility of the refugee regime increases exponentially. But when the crisis is past, it decreases again.
Strategies for Regulating International Migration
To date, unwanted labor migrations might be considered more of a nuisance for states, especially from a political standpoint, because they are not fundamentally threatening and therefore can be handled unilaterally and on an ad hoc basis. The payoff for international cooperation in the area of unwanted labor migration is negative, and opportunities for defection are numerous. The possibilities for monitoring, enforcing, or developing some principle of nondiscrimination are minimal. The search for an explanation of why states risk migration thus returns to the domestic level. The three factors driving migration policies—cultural and ideational, economic interests, and rights—must be studied on a case-by-case basis. Yet an international market for labor exists and is growing. If the first rule of political economy is that markets beget regulation, a stronger international regime is likely to develop. What will be the parameters of such a regime, and how will it evolve? International relations theory, especially liberal/rationalist arguments, offers some clues.
(p. 366) One of the principal effects of economic interdependence is to compel states to cooperate (Keohane and Nye 1977; Milner 1988). Increasing international migration is one indicator of interdependence, and it shows no signs of abating. As the international market for skilled and unskilled labor grows in the coming decades, pressures to create an international regime will increase. Following the work of Lisa Martin (1993, 91–121) and drawing on the preceding review of international relations theory, two ways can be identified in which states can overcome coordination problems in the absence of trust and reciprocity (developed states do not trust less-developed states to help control borders and deter irregular migration): (1) through the centralization of regulatory power and pooling of sovereignty, and (2) by suasion or, as Lisa Martin (1993, 104) puts it, “tactical issue linkage.”
An example of the first strategy at the regional level in Europe has already been discussed. The EU and, to a lesser extent, the Schengen regimes were built through processes of centralization and pooling of sovereignty. But as previously mentioned, this was fairly easy to do in the European context because of the symmetry (of interests and power) within the region and the existence of an institutional framework (the EU). It would be much more difficult to centralize control of migration in the Americas or Asia, where the asymmetry (of interest and power) is much greater, and levels of political and economic development vary tremendously from one state to another (Fields 1994; Sadiq 2009). It is unlikely that regional trade regimes like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will lead quickly to cooperation in the area of migration. But the beginnings of collaborative arrangements are there, just as they were in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in the early 1950s. The regional option—multilateralism for a relevant group of states—is one way to overcome collective-action problems and to begin a process of centralization. Most international regimes have had a long gestation period, beginning as bilateral or regional agreements. It is unlikely, however, that an international migration regime could be built following the example of the International Trade Organization (ITO)/GATT/WTO. It is too difficult to fulfill the prerequisites of multilateralism: indivisibility, generalized principles of conduct, and diffuse reciprocity. The norm of nondiscrimination (equivalent of MFN) does not exist, and there are no mechanisms for punishing free riders and no way of resolving disputes. In short, as depicted in figure 15.1, the basis for multilateralism is weak, and the institutional framework is very weak.
With the asymmetry of interests and power between developed (migration receiving) and less-developed (migration sending) countries, suasion may be the only viable strategy for overcoming collective-action problems, whether at the regional or international level. Lisa Martin (1993, 104–106) points to a number of ways in which suasion can help to solve coordination problems.
Step one is to develop a dominant strategy, which can be accomplished only by the most powerful states, using international organizations to persuade or coerce smaller and weaker ones. From the standpoint of receiving countries, the orderly (p. 367) movement of people, defined in terms of rule of law and respect for state sovereignty, would be the principal objective of hegemonic, liberal states. From the standpoint of the sending countries, migration for development, taking advantage of remittances, and return (brain gain) migration would be the principle upon which an international regime could be based (Russell 1986; Faini 2007; Ratha 2007).
Step two is to persuade other states to accept the dominant strategy. This will necessitate tactical issue linkage, which involves identifying issues and interests not necessarily related to migration (such as MFN) and using these as leverage to compel or coerce states to accept the dominant strategy. This is, in effect, an “international logroll.” Such tactics will have only the appearance of multilateralism, at least initially. Tactical issue linkage was considered in negotiations between the United States and Mexico over the NAFTA, and migration issues have figured prominently in negotiations between the EU and prospective EU members in East Central Europe. At the EU summit in Seville in 2002, the British and Spanish attempted to link official development aid (ODA) and trade concessions for African states to migration control, but this initiative was blocked by the French and the Swedes.
In such instances, reciprocity is specific rather than diffuse. Individual states may be rewarded for their cooperation in controlling emigration. Again, there have been many bilateral examples of this type of strategic interaction between the states of Western and Eastern Europe, and between countries around the Mediterranean littoral. The postunification German government has cut a number of deals with East Central European states to gain their cooperation in the fight against irregular migration. In Poland this has involved investments and debt relief as well as greater freedom of movement for Polish nationals in Germany. But liberal-democratic states may face a problem of credibility in pursuing these types of strategies. They need international organizations to give them greater credibility (cover) and facilitate these logrolls; in the case of the EU, candidate states for accession had to accept EU rules for entry and develop the administrative (border control) and legal capacity to regulate movement. In most cases this has meant the adoption of much greater visa restrictions and tougher rules for asylum. To gain access to markets and ODA, transit countries in North Africa have been compelled to sign return agreements whereby illegal immigrants can be sent back to the transit country (Ellermann 2008).
The third step for hegemonic states is to move from what is an essentially one-sided, manipulative game to a multilateral process, and eventually to institutionalize this process. The long-term benefits of such a strategy for receiving states are obvious. It will be less costly to build an international regime than to fight every step of the way with every sending state, relying only on unilateral or bilateral agreements. This may entail some short-term loss of control (such as larger numbers of visas and higher quotas for the sending states) in exchange for long-term stability and more orderly/regular migration. The ultimate payoff for liberal states is the establishment of an international order based on the rule of law, respect for state (p. 368) sovereignty, ease of travel, elimination of black markets and illicit economies, and the smoother functioning of international labor markets. The payoff for sending states is greater freedom of movement for their nationals, greater foreign reserves and a more favorable balance of payments (thanks to remittances), increased prospects for return (brain gain) migration, and increases in cultural and economic exchange, including technology transfers (Russell 1986; Hollifield et al. 2007, specifically Ratha; Faini 2007). This is a desirable situation: a win for migrants, who improve their individual welfare; a win for receiving states, which gain access to legal and orderly flows of skilled and unskilled labor; and a win for sending states, which benefit from remittances and (eventually) brain gains in the form of return or circulatory migration.
However, changes in the international system after the end of the Cold War have altered the situation in several ways. First, they have made defection easier. Since 1990 states have been more likely to pursue beggar-thy-neighbor policies by closing their borders and not cooperating with neighboring states in the making of migration and refugee policies. The Schengen process in Europe is a kind of beggar-thy-neighbor policy on a regional scale. Second, the new post–Cold War configurations of interests and power, both at the international and domestic levels, make it more difficult to pursue a multilateral strategy for controlling international migration. Rights-markets coalitions have been breaking apart in the dominant liberal states, increasing polarization and politicization over immigration and refugee issues (Hollifield et al. 2008). Yet liberalization and democratization in formerly authoritarian states to the east and south have dramatically reduced the transaction costs for emigration (Hollifield and Jillson 2000; Geddes 2003; Koslowski 2005). Initially this caused panic in Western Europe, where there was a fear of mass migrations from east to west. Headlines screamed, “The Russians are Coming!” Even though these massive flows did not materialize, Western states began to hunker down and search for ways to reduce or stop immigration. The time horizons of almost all Western democracies suddenly were much shorter because of these changes in domestic and international politics. Migration came to be perceived as a greater threat to national security and as politically disruptive (Huntington 2004; Norris 2005).
If the United States were to defect from the liberal refugee and migration “regimes,” such as they are, it could mean their collapse. In game theoretic terms, such a defection would fundamentally alter the equilibrium outcome, and it would be potentially costly to all states and the international community. At least as far as migration is concerned, the process of globalization of exchange could be quickly and dramatically reversed. To prevent the collapse of liberal migration and refugee regimes, the United States and other liberal states must pursue an aggressive strategy of multilateralism, taking the short-term political heat for long-term political stability and economic gain. This happened in international finance with the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s and in trade with the Latin debt crisis of the 1980s, the Asian crisis of the 1990s, and the banking and liquidity crisis of the 2000s. Without the kind of leadership exhibited in international trade (p. 369) and finance, irregular migrations will increase and become ever more threatening, leading more states to close their borders.
Conclusion: The Emerging “Migration State”
International migration is likely to increase in coming decades unless there is some cataclysmic international event, such as war or a worldwide economic depression. Despite the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the liberal democracies have remained relatively open to international migration. Global economic inequalities mean that supply-push forces remain strong, while at the same time demand-pull forces are intensifying (Martin et al. 2006). The growing demand for highly skilled workers and the demographic decline in the industrial democracies create economic opportunities for migrants in those democracies. Transnational networks have become more dense and efficient, linking the sending and receiving societies. These networks help to lower the costs and risks of migration, making it easier for people to move across borders and over long distances. Moreover, when legal migration is not an option, migrants have increasingly turned to professional smugglers; a global industry of migrant smuggling—often with the involvement of organized crime—has sprung up, especially since the last decade of the twentieth century (Sadiq 2009). Hardly a week passes without some news of a tragic loss of life associated with migrant smuggling (Kyle and Koslowski 2000).
But migration, like any type of transnational economic activity (such as trade and foreign investment), cannot and does not take place in a legal or institutional void. States have been and still are deeply involved in organizing and regulating migration, and the extension of rights to non-nationals has been an extremely important part of the story of international migration in the post–World War II period. For the most part, rights that accrue to migrants come from the legal and constitutional protections guaranteed to all “members” of society (Layton-Henry 1990; Hollifield 1992a, 1999; Joppke 2001). Thus if an individual migrant is able to establish some claim to residence in the territory of a liberal state, his or her chances of being able to remain and settle will increase. At the same time, developments in international human rights law have helped to solidify the position of individuals vis-à-vis the nation-state, to the point that individuals (and certain groups) have acquired a sort of international legal personality, leading some analysts to speculate that we are entering a postnational era, characterized by “universal personhood” (Soysal 1994), the expansion of “rights across borders” (Jacobson 1996), and even “transnational citizenship” (Bauböck 1994).
(p. 370) Others have argued that migrants have already become transnational, because many no longer reside exclusively in the territory of one state (Sassen 1996; Glick Schiller 1999; Levitt 2001), opting to shuttle between a place of origin and destination. This line of argument gives priority to agency as a defining feature of contemporary migrations, but it ignores the extent to which state policies have shaped the choices that migrants make. The migration state is almost by definition a liberal state, inasmuch as it creates a legal and regulatory environment in which migrants can pursue individual strategies of accumulation.
But regulating international migration requires liberal states to be attentive to the (human or civil) rights of the individual, because if rights are ignored or trampled upon, the liberal state risks undermining its own legitimacy and raison d’être (Hollifield 1999). As international migration and transnationalism increase, pressures build on liberal states to find new and creative ways to cooperate, to manage flows. The definition of the national interest and raison d'Etat have to take this reality into account, as rights become more and more a central feature of domestic and foreign policy. New international regimes will be necessary if states are to risk more openness, and rights-based (international) politics will be the order of the day (Hollifield 1992b, 1994, 2000b, 2000c; Cornelius et al. 1994).
Some politicians and policymakers, as well as international organizations, continue to hope for market-based/economic solutions to the problem of regulating international migration. It is hoped that trade and foreign direct investment—bringing capital and jobs to people, either through private investment or official development assistance—will substitute for migration, alleviating both supply-push and demand-pull factors (Bhagwati 1983; Martin et al. 2006). Even though trade can lead to factor-price equalization in the long term, as in the case of the EU (Straubhaar 1988), in the short and medium terms exposing less developed countries to market forces often results in increased (rather than decreased) migration, as is evident with NAFTA and the U.S.-Mexican relationship (P. L. Martin 1993; Massey et al. 2002; Hollifield and Osang 2005; Rosenblum 2006). Likewise, trade in services can stimulate more “high end” migration, because these types of products often cannot be produced or sold without the movement of the individuals who make and market them (Bhagwati 1998; Ghosh 2000).
In short, the global integration of markets for goods, services, and capital entails higher levels of international migration; therefore, if states want to promote freer trade and investment, they must be prepared to manage those higher levels. Many states (like Canada, Australia, and Germany) are willing, if not eager, to sponsor high-end migration, because the numbers are manageable, and there is likely to be less political resistance to the importation of highly skilled individuals. However, mass migration of unskilled and less-educated workers is likely to meet with greater political resistance, even in situations and in sectors, like construction or health care, where there is high demand for this type of labor. In these instances, the tendency is for governments to go back to the old guest worker models, in hopes of bringing in just enough temporary workers to fill gaps in the labor market, but with strict contracts between foreign workers and their employers that limit the (p. 371) length of stay and prohibit settlement or family reunification (Miller and Martin 1982; Rogers 1985). The alternative is more illegal immigration and a growing black market for labor—a Hobson's choice.
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries experienced the rise of what Richard Rosecrance (1986) has labeled the trading state. The latter half of the twentieth century gave rise to the migration state. From a strategic, economic, and demographic standpoint, trade and migration go hand in hand, because the wealth, power, and stability of the state is now more than ever dependent on its willingness to risk both trade and migration (Lusztig 1996; Hollifield 1998, 2004; Hatton and Williamson 1998). In launching a new “blue card” program to attract highly skilled foreign workers, the EU is clearly seeking to emulate the United States and Canada, on the premise that global competitiveness, power, and economic security are closely related to a willingness to accept immigrants. Europeans are somewhat reluctantly following the American and Canadian examples to enhance their material power and wealth. But in one important respect, Europe has an advantage over the United States, Canada, and Australia. Europe is a regional economic enterprise, which is not only creating a free trade zone, but also a free migration area.
Now more than ever, international security and stability are dependent on the capacity of states to manage migration (see Hollifield 2004). It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for states to manage or control migration either unilaterally or bilaterally. Some type of multilateral/regional regime is required, similar to what the EU has constructed for nationals of its member states. The EU model, as it has evolved from Rome to Maastricht to Amsterdam and beyond, points the way to future migration regimes, because it is not based purely on homo economicus, but rather incorporates rights for individual migrants and even a rudimentary citizenship, which continues to evolve (Geddes 2003; Lahav 2004). The problem in this type of regional migration regime, of course, is how to deal with third-country nationals (TCNs). As the EU expands and borders are relaxed, the issues of TCNs, immigrants, and ethnic minorities become ever more pressing, and new institutions, laws, and regulations must be created to deal with them (Guiraudon 1998).
The EU, by creating a regional migration regime and a kind of supranational authority to deal with migration and refugee issues, allows member states to finesse, if not escape, the liberal paradox (Geddes 2003). Playing the good cop/bad cop routine and using symbolic politics and policies to maintain the illusion of border control help governments fend off the forces of closure, at least in the short run (Rudolph 2006). In the end, however, it is the nature of the liberal state itself and the degree to which openness is institutionalized and (constitutionally) protected from the “majority of the moment” that will determine whether states will continue to risk trade and migration (Hollifield 2000a, 2008; Hollifield et al. 2008). International regimes help to lock liberal states into policies of openness.
Regional integration reinforces the trading state and acts as a midwife for the migration state. In the EU, migrants are gradually acquiring the rights that they need to live and work on the territory of the member states (Layton-Henry 1990; Groenendijk et al. 2000; Geddes 2003; Hollifield 1992b, 2000b). Regional integration (p. 372) blurs the lines of territoriality, lessening problems of integration and national identity (Hollifield 1997b; Freeman 2004). The fact that there is an increasing disjuncture between people and place—which in the past might have provoked a crisis of national identity and undermined the legitimacy of the nation-state—is less of a problem when the state is tied to a regional regime like the EU. This does not mean, of course, that there will be no resistance to freer trade and migration. Protests against globalization and nativist or xenophobic reactions against immigration have been on the rise throughout the OECD world (Bhagwati 2004). Nonetheless, regional integration—especially when it has a long history and is deeply institutionalized, as it is in Europe—makes it easier for states to risk trade and migration and for governments to construct the political coalitions that will be necessary to support and institutionalize greater openness.
Mexican leaders, like former presidents Raul Salinas de Gortari and Vicente Fox, looked to Europe as a model for how to solve problems of regional integration, especially the very delicate political issue of illegal Mexican migration into the United States. Their argument is that freer migration and a more open (normalized) border are logical extensions of the NAFTA. The government of Ernesto Zedillo moved to grant dual nationality to Mexican nationals living north of the border, thereby taking a big step toward consolidating and extending the rights of Mexicans in the United States. But the U.S. government under George W. Bush was reluctant to move so fast with economic and political integration, especially after the attacks on September 11, 2001, preferring instead to create new guest worker programs or to continue with the current system, which tolerates high levels of unauthorized migration from Mexico (Massey et al. 2002; Fitzgerald 2009; Rosenblum 2011). Clearly, however, North America is the region that is closest to taking steps toward an EU-style regional migration regime, and the United States is facing the prospect of another amnesty comparable to the one implemented as part of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. In the long run, it is difficult for liberal states, like the United States, to sustain a large, illegal population. For this reason, amnesties, legalizations, or regularizations have become a common feature of the migration state.
Even though there are large numbers of economic migrants in Asia, this region remains divided into relatively closed and often authoritarian societies, with little prospect of granting rights to migrants and guest workers (Fields 1994; Sadiq 2009). The more liberal and democratic states, like Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, are the exceptions, but they have only just begun to grapple with the problem of immigration, on a relatively small scale (Cornelius et al. 2004). In Africa and the Middle East, which have high numbers of forced migrants and refugees, there is a great deal of instability as a result of civil wars; diasporas abound; and states are fluid, with little institutional or legal capacity for dealing with international migration (Lischer 2005; Adamson 2006; Salehyan 2009; Betts 2009a).
In conclusion, migration is both a cause and a consequence of political and economic change. International migration, like trade, is a fundamental feature of the postwar liberal order. But as states and societies have become more liberal and (p. 373) more open, migration has increased. Will this increase in migration be a virtuous or a vicious cycle? Will it be destabilizing, leading the international system into greater anarchy, disorder, and war, or will it lead to greater openness, wealth, and human development? Much will depend on how migration is managed by the more powerful liberal states, because they will set the trend for the rest of the world. To avoid a domestic political backlash against immigration, the rights of migrants must be respected, and states must cooperate in building an international migration regime. This chapter has argued that the first, halting steps toward such a regime have been taken in Europe, and that North America is likely to follow (Hollifield 1997b, 2004). As liberal states come together to manage this extraordinarily complex phenomenon, it may be possible to construct a truly international regime, under the auspices of the United Nations. But I am not sanguine about this possibility, because the asymmetry of interests, particularly between the developed and the developing world, is too great to permit states to overcome problems of coordination and cooperation. Even as states become more dependent on trade and migration, they are likely to remain trapped in a liberal paradox, needing to be economically open and politically closed, for decades to come.
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