How to Legalize Immigrants?: the Case of Mercosur
Research on How Countries Can Collaborate to Legalize Intra-Regional Migrants
My research analyzes how developing countries in South America use Mercosur, a regional trade agreement, to resolve undocumented migration in a manner that protects immigrants’ rights without compromising national security. In 2002, Mercosur passed the Residency Agreements, which gives nationals of affiliated countries the ability to relocate, obtain legal residency, and access civil, economic, cultural, and social rights. Mercosur does not have the legal capacity to enforce this policy. Yet, by 2014 nine out of twelve South American countries affiliated with Mercosur had included the Residency Agreements in their national migration policy.
This project analyzes the process that led to the national implementation of the agreements in those six countries in order to identify the actors and factors that facilitated or hindered the agreement’s adaptation as national legislation. I conducted 130 in-depth interviews, created a regional and national migration policy database, and compiled an economic growth and trade indicators database for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
These findings are essential for understanding the national impact of Mercosur’s migration instruments. Moreover, the findings will inform approximately 28 other regional organizations across the world that passed regional migration policies. This project expands our understanding of how regional migration policy can serve as a tool to reform national immigration law. This project will also identify new models and strategies for addressing unauthorized migration that can inform policymakers and advocates around the world.