Can Immigration Policy be Both Liberal and Democratic?


Wednesday, March 3, 2010, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


Pop Center, 9 Bow Street, 1st Floor Conference Room

Gary Freeman, University of Texas, Austin

About the Seminar
Are liberal immigration policies compatible with democratic policymaking? Contemporary migration to Western countries has well-known implications for their ethnic and religious compositions but less well-known implications for democratic governance. In no Western country, with the exception of Canada, are current immigration policies supported by majorities. Countries with liberal policies (the United States) rarely enjoy broad support for their programs; countries with more democratic policy processes (Switzerland) run the risk of having their liberal policies scuttled by the voters. The immigration that has turned Europe into a destination region and has recently approached historic magnitudes in traditional immigration countries is driving the most far-reaching social transformation of Western countries since the industrial revolution. That such portentous changes are taking place without unambiguous popular consent and persist in the face of significant opposition identifies a serious democratic deficit at the heart of Western political systems.

About Gary Freeman
Gary Freeman is a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the department. He specializes in the politics of immigration and comparative social policy in western democracies. He is currently working on the question of the linkage between immigration and support for the welfare state, integration policies in federal systems, the politics of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S., and interest groups and immigration politics. Recent publications include “National Models, Policy Types and the Politics of Immigration in Liberal Democracies,” West European Politics (2006); “Disaggregating Immigration Policy: The Politics of Skilled Labor Recruitment in the U.S.” (with David Hill), in Smith and Favell, eds., The Human Face of Global Mobility (2006); “Politics and Mass Immigration,” in Goodin and Tilly, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis (2006); “Political Economy and Migration Policy” (with Alan Kessler) Journal of Ethnic and Migration Policy (2008); and Immigration and Security (edited with Terri Givens and David Leal, 2008).

Democracy Seminar Series
The Democracy Seminar Series brings distinguished speakers to Harvard Kennedy School for the academic year to address critical challenges facing democratic governance.