What difference does law make in immigration policymaking? Since the 1970s, networks of progressive attorneys in both the U.S. and France have attempted to use litigation to assert rights for non-citizens. Yet judicial engagement – while numerically voluminous – remains doctrinally curtailed. This study offers new insights into the constitutive role of law in immigration policymaking by focusing on the legal frames, narratives, and performances forged through action in court. Challenging the conventional wisdom that "cause litigation" has little long term impact on policymaking unless it produces broad rights-protective principles, this book shows that legal contestation can have important radiating effects on policy by reshaping how political actors approach immigration issues. Based on extensive fieldwork in the United States and France, this book explores the paths by which litigation has effected policy change in two paradigmatically different national contexts.
This is the first scholarly history of contemporary immigrant rights litigation. It is based on a unique combination of archival research and more than sixty in-depth interviews with litigators and government attorneys in two national settings. It explicitly decenters the American experience of legal activism, allowing scholars and practitioners to consider alternative models. (outline from cambridge.org)