U.S. Immigration Policy: Contract or Human Rights Law?

01 January 2008

The current immigration debate often reflects a tension between affirming the individual rights of migrants against the power of a nation to control its borders. An examination of U.S. Supreme Court precedent reveals that, from our earliest immigration history to the present time, our immigration policy has functioned more like contract law than human rights law, with the Court deferring to the power of Congress to define the terms of that contract at the expense of the immigrant's freedom.