|Center for Comparative Immigration Studies > People > David Scott FitzGerald||
David Scott FitzGerald
CCIS Co-Director, Theodore E. Gildred Chair in U.S.-Mexican Relations, Associate Professor of Sociology, UCSD
Center for Comparative Immigration Studies
University of California at San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093-0548
Telephone: (858) 822-4447
Fax: (858) 822-4432
David FitzGerald’s research program aims to understand the laws and policies regulating international migration as a total system of interactions among actors in countries of origin and destination. He seeks to explain how and why legal norms are diffused, the social origins of policy variation across time and place, and how the application of policy is experienced by actors in daily life.
International migration, nationalism, transnationalism, comparative immigration and nationality law
Geographical Regions of Specialization
Mexico, USA, Canada, Cuba
Current Research Projects
The Asylum Paradox: Remote Control of Forced Migration to the Global North
Every day on the high seas, at land borders, and in airports, people who claim that they are fleeing persecution in their home countries ask for refuge. Most governments subscribe to the principle that people seeking asylum should not be forced back to countries where they will be persecuted. Many states grant asylum even at considerable financial and domestic political cost. Yet paradoxically, just as human rights norms became universalized in a way that legitimates bounded impingements on state sovereignty, liberal-democratic countries began concentrated efforts to keep many forced migrants at a distance, where they cannot access the full range of asylum protections of international and domestic law. All manner of “remote control” policy tools, from creating legal loopholes defining an airport arrivals terminal as outside the national territory to deploying navies hundreds of miles offshore, are used to keep asylum seekers from accessing the territory of the Global North where they can press their claims.This study aims to describe and explain policies of remote control of asylum seekers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the United States from 1967 to the present by systematically measuring the intensity and extensity of diverse types of controls.
Buffer States and Forced Migration to the Global North
Countries surrounding liberal-democratic destinations in Europe, North America, and Australia are under pressure to act as buffers to prevent asylum seekers from accessing the territory of the Global North. This project systematically examines Turkey, Indonesia, and Mexico as critical cases of buffer states that are beginning to create their own buffers as well.
Race, Immigration, and Citizenship in the Americas
Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas (Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2014) questions the widely held view that in the long run democracy and racism cannot coexist. David Scott FitzGerald and David Cook-Martín show that democracies were the first countries in the Americas to select immigrants by race, and undemocratic states the first to outlaw discrimination. Through analysis of legal records from twenty-two countries between 1790 and 2010, the authors explain a critical history of the rise and fall of racial selection in the Western Hemisphere. The United States led the way in using legal means to exclude “inferior” ethnic groups. Starting in 1790, Congress began passing nationality and immigration laws that prevented Africans and Asians from becoming citizens, on the grounds that they were inherently incapable of self-government. Similar policies were soon adopted by the self-governing colonies and dominions of the British Empire, eventually spreading across Latin America as well. Undemocratic regimes in Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Cuba reversed their discriminatory laws in the 1930s and 40s, decades ahead of the United States and Canada. The conventional claim that racism and democracy are antithetical—because democracy depends on ideals of equality and fairness, which are incompatible with the notion of racial inferiority—cannot explain why liberal democracies were leaders in promoting racist policies and laggards in eliminating them. Ultimately, the authors argue, the changed racial geopolitics of World War II and the Cold War was necessary to convince North American countries to reform their immigration and citizenship laws.
The project is funded by generous grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Sociological Association’s Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline, UC Labor and Employment Research Fund, UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, UCSD Latino Studies Research Initiative, UCSD Faculty Career Development Program, and the UCSD General Campus Subcommittee on Research.
Mexican Migration Field Research Program
FitzGerald was the Field Research Coordinator for the Mexican Migration Field Research Program from 2005-08 and its director from 2009-10. Please click on the links below to see the project’s findings.
- Mexican Migration and the U.S. Economic Crisis: A Transnational Perspective
- Migration from the Mexican Mixteca: A Transnational Community in Oaxaca and California
- Four Generations of Norteños: New Research from the Cradle of Mexican Migration
- Mayan Journeys: The New Migration from Yucatan to the United States
Media Interview Topics
FitzGerald frequently provides comment on U.S. immigration and border enforcement policy and Mexican migration to media such as the Economist, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Guardian (UK), and CBS’s 60 Minutes. He is the Co-Director of the San Diego Node of the Scholars Strategy Network and was awarded the American Sociological Association’s International Migration Section “Award for Public Sociology” in 2013.
“Emigration’s Impacts on Mexico: A Sociology of Dissimilation” in How Immigrants Impact their Homelands, edited by Susan Eva Eckstein and Adil Najam. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013.
“Migration: Policies and Politics” (with Rafael Alarcón) in Mexico and the United States: The Politics of Partnership, edited by Peter H. Smith and Andrew Selee. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2013.
“A Comparativist Manifesto for International Migration Studies” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2012.
“Citizenship à la Carte: Emigration and the Strengthening of the Sovereign State” in Politics from Afar: Transnational Diasporas and Networks, edited by Peter Mandaville and Terrence Lyons, Columbia University Press, 2012.
“Mexican Migration and the Law” in Beyond the Border: The History of Mexico-US Migration, edited by Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, pp.179-203. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2011.
“Liberalism and the Limits of Inclusion: Racialized Preferences in Immigration Laws of the Americas, 1850-2000.” (with David Cook-Martín), Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 16(1): 7-25. 2010.
A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages its Migration. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press (2009).
“Colonies of the Little Motherland: Membership, Space, and Time in Mexican Migrant Hometown Associations,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 50(1). 2008.
“Mexican Assimilation: A Temporal and Spatial Reorientation” (with Tomás Jiménez), W.E.B. Du Bois Review 4(2): 337-354. 2007.
“Inside the Sending State: The Politics of Mexican Emigration Control“, International Migration Review 40(2): 259-93. 2006.
“Towards a Theoretical Ethnography of Migration“, Qualitative Sociology 29(1): 1-24. 2006.
“Rethinking Emigrant Citizenship“, New York University Law Review 81(1): 90-116. 2006.
“Nationality and Migration in Modern Mexico“, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 31(1):171-91. 2005.
“Transnationalism in Question” (with Roger Waldinger), American Journal of Sociology 109(5):1177-95. 2004.
“Beyond ‘Transnationalism’: Mexican Hometown Politics at an American Labor Union“, Ethnic and Racial Studies 27(2): 228-47. 2004.
Negotiating Extra-Territorial Citizenship: Mexican Migration and the Transnational Politics of Community. Monograph series no. 2. La Jolla: CCIS, UC San Diego. 2000.
Ph.D. in Sociology, University of California , Los Angeles , 2005
M.A. in Sociology, University of California , Los Angeles , 2001
M.A. in Latin American Studies, University of California , San Diego , 2000
Bachelor of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin , 1995