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What's In a Name? The Many Characterisations of Irregular Migrants under International Human Rights Law

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Abstract:

Last year saw hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of Los Angeles with placards proclaiming “no human is illegal”. Such public pronouncements seem urgent in light of the fact that, as Linda Bosniak has written, international human rights law traditionally has taken a very ambivalent stance towards the protections due to irregular migrants (those who are present in a country without state sanction).

However, of late, emerging jurisprudence in regional and international human rights forums has articulated more progressive doctrines protecting the rights of irregular migrants, notwithstanding their breach of the territorial sovereignty of their host state. This paper examines the different formulations of these stronger protections. Recent opinions and judgments issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, UN Human Rights Committee and European Court of Human Rights characterise the migrants not as unauthorised intruders but, correspondingly, as workers, absorbed persons and even de facto citizens.

It will be argued that these characterisations matter. They hold value not only rhetorically, as preferable alternatives to derogatory labels such as ‘illegal alien’. Instead, the labels which attach to the migrants in this jurisprudence also function to delineate the precise capacity in which they are accorded rights. In other words, they cast light on the contours of the fraught relationships between these irregular migrant claimants and the political community in which they reside.
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Name: The Law and Society Association
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http://www.lawandsociety.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p187224_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Berg, Laurie. "What's In a Name? The Many Characterisations of Irregular Migrants under International Human Rights Law" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, TBA, Berlin, Germany, Jul 25, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p187224_index.html>

APA Citation:

Berg, L. , 2007-07-25 "What's In a Name? The Many Characterisations of Irregular Migrants under International Human Rights Law" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, TBA, Berlin, Germany <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p187224_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Last year saw hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of Los Angeles with placards proclaiming “no human is illegal”. Such public pronouncements seem urgent in light of the fact that, as Linda Bosniak has written, international human rights law traditionally has taken a very ambivalent stance towards the protections due to irregular migrants (those who are present in a country without state sanction).

However, of late, emerging jurisprudence in regional and international human rights forums has articulated more progressive doctrines protecting the rights of irregular migrants, notwithstanding their breach of the territorial sovereignty of their host state. This paper examines the different formulations of these stronger protections. Recent opinions and judgments issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, UN Human Rights Committee and European Court of Human Rights characterise the migrants not as unauthorised intruders but, correspondingly, as workers, absorbed persons and even de facto citizens.

It will be argued that these characterisations matter. They hold value not only rhetorically, as preferable alternatives to derogatory labels such as ‘illegal alien’. Instead, the labels which attach to the migrants in this jurisprudence also function to delineate the precise capacity in which they are accorded rights. In other words, they cast light on the contours of the fraught relationships between these irregular migrant claimants and the political community in which they reside.

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