American lawmakers, jurists, and scholars are vigorously debating the future direction of immigration regulation in the United States. Following the passage on July 27, 2013 of Senate Bill 744, some kind of comprehensive reform seems increasingly likely. Immigration law is inherently inter-jurisdictional and transnational, but thus far the conversation about immigration reform has failed to look beyond our own national borders for alternative models or practices.
This Article seeks to broaden the immigration regulation debate by contrasting recent developments in immigration regulation in the United States with those in other countries with federal systems. In three federal nations that traditionally had widely divergent approaches to immigration regulation — Germany, Australia, and Canada — strikingly similar multi-tiered, multi-governmental systems of immigration regulation have emerged in recent years.
This Article proposes that the future direction of immigration regulation in the United States should consider the German, Australian, and Canadian models of immigration law and policy to shed light on a range of potentially desirable legislative, regulatory, and policy options. The German, Australian, and Canadian experiences strongly suggest that any reform of our own immigration laws should permit states and localities to play a greater role in immigrant selection, a continued role in immigrant inclusion, and more limited role in the enforcement of immigration laws that exclude immigrants from the country.