Immigrant Incorporation in East Asian Democracies, Erin Aeran Chung
Pandemic-related policies worldwide have highlighted differences in noncitizens' ability to cross national borders or access social safety net benefits and vaccines. Erin Aeran Chung's new book about citizenship rights and immigrant incorporation in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan is thus highly relevant. Immigrant Incorporation in East Asian Democracies meticulously documents how civil society advocacy for immigrants has shaped incorporation patterns and contributed to the emergence of noncitizen hierarchies, in which certain categories of immigrants obtain privileged status, rights, and benefits. Already before the COVID-19 pandemic, East Asian democracies' similarly aging populations and low birthrates attracted attention to shifting immigration policies as potential remedies for shrinking workforces. The puzzlingly divergent reform trajectories in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan—despite their analogous demographic crises, historically restrictive immigration policies, and descent-based citizenship rules—motivate this excellent book.
Chung argues that civil society actors, including immigrants themselves, and the “civic legacies” of past struggles for political incorporation best explain why immigrant incorporation varied. While Taiwan kept relatively exclusionary policies, Korea adopted sweeping reforms, including local
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