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This article identifies and explores the dilemma of migrant advocacy in advanced industrial democracies, focusing specifically on the contemporary United States. On the one hand, universal norms such as human rights, which are theoretically well suited to advancing migrants’ claims, may have little resonance within national settings. On the other hand, the debates around which immigration arguments typically turn, and the terrain on which advocates must fight, derive their values and assumptions from a nation-state framework that is self-limiting. The article analyzes the limits of human rights arguments, discusses the pitfalls of engaging in national policy debates, and details the challenges for advocates of advancing the cause of policy reform and shifting the frame for thinking about migration over the long term.


Suggested Citation
Cook, M. L. (2010). The advocate’s dilemma: Framing migrant rights in national settings [Electronic version]. Studies in Social Justice, 4(2), 145-164.

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© University of Windsor. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.