Humanitarianism, identity and nation: Migration laws of Canada and Australia.

Refugees are on the move around the globe. Prosperous nations are rapidly adjusting their laws to crack down on the so-called “undeserving.” Australia and Canada have each sought international reputations as humanitarian do-gooders, especially in the area of refugee admissions.

Humanitarianism, Identity, and Nation traces the connections between the nation-building tradition of immigration and the challenge of admitting people who do not reflect the national interest of the twenty-first century. Catherine Dauvergne argues that in the absence of the justice standard for admitting newcomers, liberal nations instead share a humanitarian consensus about letting in needy outsiders. This consensus constrains and shapes migration law and policy. In a detailed consideration of how refugees and others in need are admitted to Australia and Canada, she links humanitarianism and national identity to explain the current shape of the law.

If the problems of immigration policy were all about economics, future directions would be easy to map. If rights could trump sovereignty, refugee admission would be straightforward. But migration politics has never been simple. Humanitarianism, Identity, and Nation is a welcome antidote to economic critiques of immigration, and a thoughtful contribution to rights talk. It is a must-read for everyone interested in transforming migration laws to meet the needs of the twenty-first century.

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