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Symbolic refugee protection: explaining Latin America’s liberal refugee law

Hammoud Gallego, Omar and Freier, Luisa Feline (2022) Symbolic refugee protection: explaining Latin America’s liberal refugee law. American Political Science Review. ISSN 1537-5943 (In Press)

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Abstract

What drove an entire region in the Global South to significantly expand refugee protection in the early 21st century? In this paper, we test and build on political refugee theory via a mixed-methods approach to explain the liberalization of refugee legislation across Latin America. First, we use data from the new APLA Database, which measures legislative liberalization over a 30-year period and test both general and region-specific immigration and refugee policy determinants through a series of nested Tobit and linear spatial panel data regressions. Our models do not support some key predictors of policy liberalization identified by the literature, such as immigrant and refugee stocks, democratization, and the number of emigrants, but offer statistical evidence for the importance of leftist government ideology and regional integration. We then shed light on the causal mechanisms behind these correlations for two extreme but diverse cases: Argentina and Mexico. Based on process tracing and elite interviews, we suggest that the reason that leftist political ideology matters for policy liberalization, rather than institutional democratization and number of emigrants, is that Latin American executives embarked on symbolic human and migrant’s rights discourses which ultimately enabled legislative change.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: School of Public Policy
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Government
Date Deposited: 20 May 2022 10:09
Last Modified: 23 May 2022 10:09
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/115168

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