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America First: Improving a Recalcitrant Immigration and Refugee Policy
Tennessee Law Review (2017)
  • Akram Faizer
Forthcoming -- accepted for publication in the Summer 2017 issue.

This paper will discuss the need for developed and mature democracies such as the United States to take in substantially more refugees and economic migrants in view of the demand surge for international migration and the obvious humanitarian imperative. It will then argue that this will not happen under the current paradigm, whereby rich-world democracies that allow refugees and economic migrants to settle fail to take adequate measures to ensure safe repatriation and resettlement to migrants’ countries of origin. This failure leads to unconsented permanent residency and subsequent naturalization that fuels a backlash by nativists and social conservatives, as evidenced by the Trump, Le Pen and Brexit phenomena.[1] The fact that migration to rich world countries almost invariably leads to permanent residency, has the perverse consequence of placing undue pressure on rich world governments, including the U.S., to do their utmost to exclude both refugees and economic migrants. The current commitment to exclude third-world migrants, as evidenced by the maltreatment of Syrian and Rohingya refugees and economic migrants from Latin America, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and sub-Saharan Africa has everything to do with the failure to repatriate these migrants when feasible. This failure also untethers migrants from their countries of origin, which undermines long-term economic growth and democratization in the developing world.[2] The Trump Administration could take the lead in global migration issues by changing the U.S.’s current immigration and refugee resettlement program by substantially expanding access to temporary residency in lieu of immigration and permanent residency. By doing so, the U.S. and other rich countries that might follow, will be able to address the migration demand to improve global well-being while being responsive to the legitimate needs and concerns of their own citizens.

[1] Ronald F. Inglehart & Pippa Norris, Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism: Economic Have-Nots and Cultural Backlash (Harvard Kenney School, Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP16-026, 2016).
[2] William J. Carrington, Brain Drain Revisited; The Economic Impact of Immigration, Harvard Int’l Rev., Aug. 30, 2013,
  • immigration,
  • refugees
Publication Date
Summer 2017
Publisher Statement
Forthcoming, accepted for publication
Citation Information
Akram Faizer. "America First: Improving a Recalcitrant Immigration and Refugee Policy" Tennessee Law Review (2017) ISSN: 0040-3288
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