T05P02 - The Public Administration of Immigration

Topic : Policy Formulation, Administration and Policymakers

Panel Chair : Mireille Paquet - mireille.paquet@concordia.ca

Panel Second Chair : Sule Tomkinson - sule.tomkinson@pol.ulaval.ca

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Immigration control and management is a central activity of all sovereign states. This activity goes beyond the control of borders: it includes the selection of immigrants, the management of periods of residence, the implementation of policies to support integration as well as the design of operations to deport or detain individuals. Despite a growing involvement of market actors in this vast policy sector, public administrations remain dominant actors when it comes to the design, implementation and steering of public policies related to immigration. This panel explores the contributions of public administration and public policy to migration studies.

The current refugee “crisis” as well as the convergence of states toward economically driven immigrant selection shed a renewed light on governments’ and policymakers’ capacity to design and implement immigration policies. In migration studies, governments are often treated as a black box or are represented as a series of intervening variables (institutions and policy legacies), whereas societal inputs and policy outputs and outcomes are the elements of interest. Beyond a focus on public opinion, electoral results or economic conditions, this panel asks: what can unpacking the “black box” of the state—using concepts, theories and methods from public administration—bring to the study of immigration policy and politics? We argue that immigration is not only political and politicized in electoral and societal venues, it is also the object of highly technical public policies and of inherently political administrative processes. Because of this, it is crucial to consider the role of public administrations in policy genesis, development and implementation. Bureaucrats, after all, hold technical knowledge and expertise that differentiates their actions and interests from those of elected officials. They are also permanent and stable features of most democracies, whereas politicians come and go. Simply because of these Weberian characteristics, it is possible to infer a role, albeit variegated for bureaucracies in the crafting of contemporary state responses to immigration.

Most of the work bridging immigration and public administration focuses on policy implementation. This panel welcomes contributions of this nature but also aims at creating a dialogue with contributions focused on the role of bureaucracies in decision-making, policy formulation, agenda-setting as well as in policy evaluation and policy learning. Using this broader lens allows for the development of work that addresses current blind spots in the literature, such as: the autonomous role of bureaucrats in immigration policy formulation, the mechanisms of influence of public administration on the content of immigration policies as well as the contemporary dynamics of political/administrative relations in this policy sector, the impact of different administrative structures on immigration politics and the effect of various resources at the disposal of bureaucrats in designing, steering and evaluation these public policies. Empirical analysis as well as theoretical and methodological papers addressing these themes will be considered for inclusion in this panel, on the basis of the dialogue they create between public administration and immigration studies.

Call for papers

Immigration control and management is a central activity of all sovereign states. This activity goes beyond the control of borders: it includes the selection of immigrants, the management of periods of residence, the implementation of policies to support integration as well as the design of operations to deport or detain individuals. Despite a growing involvement of market actors in this vast policy sector, public administrations remain dominant actors when it comes to the design, implementation and steering of public policies related to immigration. In migration studies, governments are often treated as a black box or are represented as a series of intervening variables (institutions and policy legacies), whereas societal inputs and policy outputs and outcomes are the elements of interest. Beyond a focus on public opinion, electoral results or economic conditions, this panel asks: what can unpacking the “black box” of the state—using concepts, theories and methods from public administration—bring to the study of immigration policy and politics? This panel aims at creating a dialogue with contributions focused on the role of bureaucracies in decision-making, policy formulation, agenda-setting as well as in policy evaluation and policy learning. Doing so, it will highlight answers to current blind spots in the literature, such as: the autonomous role of bureaucrats in immigration policy formulation, the mechanisms of influence of public administration on the content of immigration policies as well as the contemporary dynamics of political/administrative relations in this policy sector, the impact of different administrative structures on immigration politics and the effect of various resources at the disposal of bureaucrats in designing, steering and evaluation these public policies. Empirical analysis as well as theoretical and methodological papers addressing these themes will be considered for inclusion, on the basis of the dialogue they create between public administration and immigration studies.

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