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Undocumented Migrants and the Failures of Universal Individualism

PDF · Jaya Ramji-Nogales · May-30-2014 · 47 VAND. J. TRANSNAT'L L. 699 (2014)

In recent years, advocates and scholars have made increasing efforts to situate undocumented migrants within the human rights framework. Few have examined international human rights law closely enough to discover just how limited it is in its protections of the undocumented. This Article takes that failure as a starting point to launch a critique of the universal individualist project that characterizes the current human rights system. It then catalogues in detail the protections available to undocumented migrants in international human rights law, which are far fewer than often assumed. The Article demonstrates through a close analysis of relevant law that the human rights framework contains significant conceptual gaps when it comes to the undocumented. It concludes by suggesting three alternate approaches—substantial reform of the current human rights system state-based political responses, and social movements—to protect undocumented migrants and other vulnerable populations.

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