Research & Policy

Legalization in Other Countries

1. Amanda Levinson, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford, Regularisation Programmes in Portugal, The Regularisation of Unauthorized Migrants: Literature Survey and Country Case Studies (2005).
"Portugal has only recently emerged as an immigrant-receiving society, having been throughout most of its history an emigrant-sending country. Indeed, there are an estimated 4.3 million Portuguese origin living abroad. Nonetheless, in the 1970s emigration slowed as a result of the European economic crisis and the end of the dictatorship in 1974." Download this document

2. Amanda Levinson, Migration Policy Institute, Migration Information Source: Why Countries Continue to Consider Regularization, Migration Policy Institute (Sept. 1, 2005).
"Of all the schemes that countries have devised to manage undocumented immigration, perhaps none are as controversial as regularization programs. Also referred to as ‘amnesty,’ ‘normalization,’ or ‘legalization,’ few immigration policies inspire such fervent debate in the media, among lawmakers, and within civil society."  Download this document

3. Benelux: Amnesty, Soccer, 7 Migration News No. 4 (Feb. 2000). 
"During the first several days of a three-week government amnesty, thousands of illegal migrants who had "lasting social ties," defined as having lived in Belgium since October 1, 1993 (or 1994 for migrants with school-aged  children), applied for legal residence. Also eligible are migrants who have not received a final order of deportation,  those from "risk countries" to which returns have been suspended, for example, Afghanistan and migrants who are  seriously ill." Download this document

4. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration, Statistical Paper Series M, No.58, Rev. 1 (1998).
"Since 1976, when the United Nations adopted the previous set of recommendations on statistics of international migration (United Nations, 1980a), the worldwide importance of international migration flows has increased markedly, with the result that international migration issues have gained prominence in the international agenda." Download this document

5. Italy and Greece: Legalizations, 7 Migration News No.4 (March 2000).
"Many southern European nations have had legalization programs that granted some unauthorized foreigners temporary legal work and residence rights. The general result seems to be that legalization helps individual foreigners, but only temporarily reduces rising stocks of illegal immigrants." Download this document

6. Joaquin Arango and Maia Jachimowicz, Migration Policy Institute, Migration Information Source: Regularizing Immigrants in Spain: A New Approach, Migration Policy Institute (September 1, 2005).
"Although similar in some ways to past experiences, the 2005 regularization program has several unique and noteworthy components. Most importantly, Spain's latest regularization program is part of a larger, more comprehensive approach to combating illegal immigration and employment." Download this document

7. Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants, Recognising rights, Recognising political realities: The case for regularizing irregular migrants (July 2006).
"Official figures suggest the UK has an irregular migrant population of up to 570,000 (Home Office: 2005). It is varied in character consisting of among others clandestine or trafficked migrants, failed asylum seekers and overstayers. What they all have in common is that they have entered or remained in the UK in an unregulated immigration capacity. Living in fear of deportation, they are consequently without means to enforce their rights, and are one of the most disadvantaged and exploited segments of the population." Download this document

8. Malaysia Extends Migrant Amnesty, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4228531.stm (Feb. 2, 2005).
"Home Minister Azmi Khalid said this did not mean the crackdown would not go ahead, but that migrants would be given one last chance to leave first. He said the decision had been made on the request of tsunami-hit Indonesia, where most of the migrants are from. Malaysia has blamed illegal migrants for rising crime in the country. Some 380,000 migrants left Malaysia ahead of the latest deadline to avoid punishment, but at least 400,000 are believed to remain." Download this document

9. Migrant amnesty "not ruled out," BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/politics/5076546.stm (June 14, 2006).
"Liam Byrne told MPs he had asked for a report on the issues around a possible amnesty, saying it was "too early" to rule out the controversial idea. There is no official estimate of illegal immigrant numbers. Unofficial estimates vary from 310,000 to 870,000." Download this document

10. Nancy H. Chau, Strategic Amnesty and Credible Immigration Reform, 19 Journal of Labor Economics no.3, 604-634 (2001).
"Why do countries that impose employer sanctions to deter the illegal entry of foreign workers nevertheless grant amnesty to illegal immigrants? In this article, I provide a positive theory of amnesty provision in a model where the constrained optimal immigration reform, involving the joint use of employer sanctions and border interdictions, is time-inconsistent. In particular, my framework demonstrates that host countries of immigration can enhance the credibility of their immigration reforms by ‘binding their own hands’ and strategically granting a socially excessive amount of amnesty to illegal workers." Download this document

11. Nieves Ortega Perez, Migration Policy Institute, Migration Information Source: Spain: Forging an Immigration Policy, Migration Policy Institute (February 2003).
"Immigration became part of the Spanish government's agenda in 1985, but it was not until the mid-1990s that it became a matter of vital importance to political elites and in the eyes of the public. The sharp increase in the number of foreign residents in the last years, the recent polemical debate surrounding the reform the immigration law, the establishment of a political immigration framework known as the Plan Greco, and the shortcomings of the 2002 labor quota program have made immigration one of the most hotly contested issues in the media, and the second most important "national" issue for Spaniards after terrorism." Download this document

12. Philip L. Martin, Germany: Reluctant Land of Immigration, 21 German Issues, 1-66 (1998).
"Germany is a reluctant land of immigration: it receives but does not "want" the 350,000 to 400,000 newcomers who arrive each year, in the sense that neither public opinion nor German law embraces this level of immigration.  This monograph explains the role of foreigners in Germany, and Germany’s migration policy options for the twenty-first century." Download this document

13. Sebastian Sunderhaus, Regularization Programs for Undocumented Migrants, 4 Migration Letters no.1, 65-76 (April 2007).
"This paper is a summary of a study that describes and analyzes the features and outcomes of regularization programs (also referred to as amnesty or legalization) for undocumented migrants in 16 countries distributed among all continents." Download this document

14. Spain and Portugal: Legalization, 7 Migration News No.4 (March 2000).
"Spain had three legalizations – in 1985, 1991 and 1996, some 110,113 foreigners were legalized and 18,015 amnesty applications were rejected. A third of the applicants were from Morocco and Algeria and a third from South America. Many of those applying for amnesty were employed in agriculture, construction and services such as hotels and restaurants. An April-August 1996 legalization allowed 20,000 unauthorized foreigners –many of whom had once been legal- to attain legal status." Download this document


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