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The Comparative Politics of Immigration: Policy Choices in Germany, Canada, Switzerland, and the United States, Antje Ellermann

Reviewed by Ariane Chebel D'appollonia

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In this book, Antje Ellermann seeks to explain a puzzling trend in the variety of immigration policies adopted by democratic governments: why states confronting comparable immigration challenges often adopt different policy solutions, ranging from openness to certain groups of immigrants to restrictionist immigration policies. This trend, Ellermann argues, raises two questions that structure her comparative study of the politics of immigration policymaking in liberal states.

The first question relates to the direction of policy change: “Under what conditions will policy reform move toward greater openness as opposed to tighter closure?” (p. 19). Building on historical institutionalist arguments, Ellermann contends that policy decisions vary according to the pressures confronting policymakers in four arenas: executive, legislative, electoral, and judicial. Policy outcomes are influenced by policymakers' ability to manage conflicting demands from the general public, interest groups, sending states, and migrant communities that have already settled in receiving states. The capacity of policymakers to implement liberal or restrictive measures is framed by three distinct types of political insulation: popular, interest group, and diplomatic.

Ellermann's second question relates to the magnitude of policy change: “Under what condit

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