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Hollifield posits that the dominant ideology of liberalism has pushed labor markets to globalize and has enshrined international human rights into national immigration legislation, while the political logic of liberal-democratic nation-states, dominated by electoral objectives, is one of closure and immigration restrictions. This leads to a situation in which discourses about immigration are often more restrictive than policies in practice. Relatively independent from potential popular anti-immigration sentiment, and not bound by existing legal frameworks and path dependency to the same extent as consolidated democracies, fundamental policy shifts are easier to enact.

While this can favor more liberal migration policies, it also increases the vulnerability of these liberal policies and the risk of a sudden backlash - as has been observed, for instance, in Libya after A final limitation is that this discursive openness towards immigration is not always followed-through in practice because autocratic states are often prone to corruption, the weak rule of law throughout the territory and an arbitrary implementation of policies.

Thus, discourses about immigration are often more liberal than enacted policies - creating an exact opposite situation as the one described by Hollifield and his liberal paradox.


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Second, to abandon homogenizing understandings of the state and to recognize its internal fragmentations - regardless of the political system in place. Third, to take existing immigration policy theories not as mutually exclusive explanations, but to see to what extent they can be combined, consolidated or adapted to the empirical material at hand - following a theory-building rather than theory-testing approach. Starting from the empirical puzzle on the dislocation between the magnitude of immigration, the politicization of immigration and political developments in twenty-first century Morocco and Tunisia, this paper suggested a two-dimensional categorization of immigration policy processes.

Three features of immigration policy-making that are indeed prone to a regime effect can account for the fact that, in reaction to economic or diplomatic priorities, autocratic regimes have more leverage to enact liberal immigration policies in relative autonomy from potential societal demands for restriction: i Most notably, the weight of the electorate and political parties - highlighted by the domestic politics approach - is by definition much lower in more autocratic systems, and reduces the pressure of popular demands on decision-makers.

Next to segments of the political and economic elites, CSOs can influence autocratic decision-making processes decisively, even if their role is expected to be either more indirect, passing through external support, or more central than in liberal democracies, acting as a replacement for formal democratic processes. As part of my Ph.

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Instead, they will hopefully serve as starting points for further discussions about and refinement of migration policy theory. Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Comparative Migration Studies.

Comp Migr Stud. Published online Mar 1. Katharina Natter. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Katharina Natter, Email: ln. Corresponding author. Received Sep 7; Accepted Jan Associated Data Data Availability Statement Qualitative interview material and primary documents collected for the purpose of my Ph. Abstract How do political systems shape immigration policy-making?

Introduction Setting the scene Over the past three decades, research on immigration policy-making has flourished. Table 1 Categorizing immigration policy-making theories. Open in a separate window. Immigration policy and political transformations in Morocco and Tunisia A double paradox Morocco and Tunisia are two theoretically critical cases to study immigration regimes beyond the usual scope of immigration policy theories.

Case study methodology This article draws on my Ph. Morocco: Drivers and limits of immigration policy shifts In , Morocco passed its first immigration law since independence in Tunisia: Democratization as opportunity and challenge In Tunisia, the two main laws regulating immigration today date back to and and are waiting to be reformed. Rethinking theory Bridging political sociology, public policy, and migration research Before confronting my empirical analysis with existing immigration policy theories, I would like to highlight three insights from political sociology and public policy research that are key for the theorization of immigration policy-making regardless of the political system in place.

Issue-specific immigration policy processes Four of the theoretical lenses outlined in the introduction provide insights into immigration policy-making that seem valid regardless of the political system in place, as they capture dynamics inherent to the issue of immigration. Regime-specific immigration policy processes This paper also identified three immigration policy theories that are prone to a regime effect, as they rely on essential features of the liberal democracy that are absent in more authoritarian regimes.

Availability of data and materials Qualitative interview material and primary documents collected for the purpose of my Ph. Notes Competing interests The author declares that she has no competing interests. Turning the immigration policy paradox upside down? Populist liberalism and discursive gaps in South America.

International Migration Review. International Migration. Revisiting Moroccan migrations. The Journal of North African Studies.

Fighting for Foreigners: Immigration and Its Impact on Japanese Democracy

The power and morals of policy makers: Reassessing the control gap debate. International Affairs. Theorizing migration policy: Is there a third way? Rossetto Eds. Paris: Editions Karthala. Boubakri H. Revolution and international migration in Tunisia. Politics in Morocco — Executive monarchy and enlightened authoritarianism. New York: Routledge; States and their expatriates: Explaining the development of Tunisian and Moroccan emigration-related institutions.

Global migration and political regime type: A democratic disadvantage. British Journal of Political Science. Non-democratic regimes: Theory, government, and politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; Citizenship and nationhood in France and Germany.

Associated Data

Cambridge: Harvard University Press; The logic of political survival. Cambridge: MIT Press; Paris: Presses de SciencesPo. Cassarino J-P. Channelled policy transfers: EU-Tunisia interactions on migration matters. European Journal of Migration and Law. The factors that make and unmake migration policies. Immigrant workers and class structure in Western Europe.

New York: Oxford University Press; La vie politique au Maroc [Political life in Morocco]. Paris: L'Harmattan.


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Population and Development Review. Elections without democracy: Thinking about hybrid regimes. Journal of Democracy. Transit migration: A blurred and politicised concept. Population, Space and Place. Foreign pressure and the politics of autocratic survival. Oxford: Oxford University Press; FitzGerald DS.

Fighting for Foreigners Immigration and Its Impact on Japanese Democracy

Inside the sending state: The politics of Mexican emigration control. Culling the masses: The democratic origins of racist immigration policy in the Americas. Modes of immigration politics in liberal-democratic states. The emigration state and the modern geopolitical imagination. Political Geography.


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