Calls for Papers

The Impact of Immigrant Legalization Initiatives: International Perspectives

The ILR Review is calling for papers for a special issue on the impact of immigrant legalization initiatives. We seek innovative international and U.S.-sited research from a broad array of disciplines––including sociology, political science, economics, industrial relations, and law––that advances our understanding of the processes, outcomes, and policy implications of different approaches to the regularization of unauthorized immigrants. Submitted abstracts may reflect a range of methodologies, including surveys, qualitative or quantitative fieldwork, experiments, or the use of historical/archival data. The guest editors of this special issue are Maria Lorena Cook (, Shannon Gleeson (, Kate Griffith (, and Lawrence Kahn ( Prospective contributors are encouraged to consult any of the guest editors regarding preliminary proposals or ideas for papers.

The legalization, or regularization, of unauthorized immigrants has become an important and contentious policy issue in the United States and in countries around the world. While the United States is fairly unique in its long periods of legislative inaction regarding unauthorized immigrants, policies in other countries present a range of responses. In Europe, several countries have enacted periodic mass regularization programs or have provided for ongoing adjustment of status on a case-by-case basis. Traditional immigrant-sending countries in South America and Africa have recently instituted legalization programs as they become immigrant-destination countries as well. In the United States, temporary legalization measures, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), provide further examples of limited deportation relief and work authorization.

These legalization initiatives around the world raise a number of questions. What are the impacts of regularization programs on immigrant workers, their families, and the communities in which they live? How does acquisition of legal status affect immigrants’ workplace conditions (health and safety, employment, wages, occupational mobility)? How do legalization programs affect the work and employment conditions of those who are excluded from such programs or who do not participate and retain their unauthorized immigration status? How does loss of legal status affect workers and their families?

This special issue of the ILR Review will be among the first to examine the impact of legalization initiatives on immigrant workers across the globe. We are interested in the effects of legalization programs on the working lives of unauthorized immigrants, as well as those in temporary legal statuses, and of unauthorized immigrants who remain outside the scope of these initiatives. We invite papers that analyze different worker outcomes: labor force participation, employment, wages, workplace health and safety, discrimination, organization, social and occupational mobility, and rights mobilization, among others. We are especially keen to receive papers that address these issues in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as papers that compare national origin groups within a country or legalization initiatives and their impacts across countries or over time. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Comparative impact of legalization programs. How do the structures of legalization programs affect employer practices and worker outcomes (employment, wages, working conditions, organization, access to legal protections)? What can we learn from different national and regional models of labor integration? Does the legal status “bump”––the gap between authorized and unauthorized workers––look different from place to place?
  • Comparative impact of legal status. How have different categories of legal status––including temporary and liminal legality––shaped worker outcomes and the well-being of families and communities? Do guest worker and other temporary programs necessarily produce better outcomes relative to those of unauthorized individuals? What are the lasting impacts, if any, of unauthorized status for workers? Does legal status matter more for some outcomes and processes than others? How does legal status intersect with other attributes and identities (race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexuality) to shape worker outcomes?
  • Immigration enforcement impact. How do changes in immigration regimes affect a national labor force over time? How have increases in deportations affected worker outcomes? How have sub-national (region, state, province, municipality) immigration enforcement policies affected unauthorized workers? To what extent do changes in immigration law affect workers’ rights enforcement efforts?
  • Legal mobilization and worker rights. What is the relationship between immigration status and workers’ willingness to demand, either individually or collectively, improved working conditions? How do changes in immigration status affect workers’ willingness to confront employers, speak to coworkers, or pursue formal channels of restitution when their rights are violated? How does immigration status affect workers’ willingness to participate in organizing efforts, including but not limited to union activity?

Anticipated Timeline: Prospective contributors should submit a detailed abstract of their research to no later than January 31, 2016. The abstracts should include the research question(s), theoretical argument, contribution to the literature, detailed methodology, and anticipated empirical findings. The editors will review the abstracts and invite selected contributors by March 31, 2016. Full papers will be due by September 15, 2016. All papers will undergo the normal peer review process.