14 Colum. J. Eur. L. 99 (2007 – 2008)

Lauren Gilbert, Associate Professor of Law, St. Thomas University School of Law; J.D., University of Michigan Law School, 1988; B.A., Harvard University, 1983.

This article contrasts the efforts currently underway in the European Union to develop a harmonized system for admitting and integrating immigrants with the repeated failure of immigration reform in the U.S. and the absence of a policy for immigrant integration. After examining recent obstacles to immigration reform in the U.S., Part II discusses different integration models and experiences in the U.S. and the European Union. Part III then considers the extent to which these different approaches can be explained by i) domestic law and legal norms; ii) different discourses on integration; iii) the connection between national and supranational forms of belonging and identity; and iv) the relationship between citizenship and immigration policy. I argue that despite encouraging efforts underway in Europe, ultimately the U.S. stands the best chance of succeeding in effectively integrating newcomers into society. For integration of immigrants to be truly successful, EU member states must learn that successful integration depends not just on having a comprehensive integration policy with benchmarks but on providing meaningful access to citizenship. In the U.S., in turn, integration policy must be defined not only in terms of eligibility for naturalization; it must ensure that residents enjoy, as far as possible, the same legal protections as U.S. citizens.