Administrative Law Through the Lens of Immigration Law
Immigration law does lag behind in the advancement of public law, but not in all respects. While immigration law is idiosyncratic in many ways, this Article finds immigration law in the administrative law mainstream when it comes to its troubles with nonlegislative rules (sometimes called guidance documents). There are concerns throughout administrative law that agencies use such rules to bind regulated parties practically, even if not legally, without the procedural protections of notice and comment.
This Article analyzes immigration troubles with nonlegislative rules and makes three main contributions. First, it casts new light on the negative effects of guidance documents by viewing administrative law through the lens of immigration law. In immigration law, the cons of guidance documents play out in the context of some of life’s most fundamental questions: where and with whom to live and to work. Second, by showing how administrative law manifests in immigration law, this Article concludes that immigration law’s troubles cannot be divorced from the mainstream administrative law debate over nonlegislative rules. Third, this Article also evaluates a procedure new to immigration law: the draft memorandum for comment. Through the draft memorandum for comment procedure, the public may comment on draft guidance documents, but is not afforded the full protections of notice-and-comment rulemaking. While the new procedure is a pragmatic and positive step for immigration law, this Article highlights that nonlegislative rules are not the only administrative tool available and argues for greater priority for notice-and-comment rulemaking in immigration law.