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Love Thy Neighbour: Family Reunification and the Rights of Insiders

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image of European Journal of Migration and Law

This article looks at the extent and way in which the European Court of Human Rights takes the interests of insider spouses (citizens or permanent residents) into account in Article 8 ECHR cases (right to family life). It uses Caren's three moral principles for family reunification policies as an analysing tool for the evaluation of the Court's first admission and expulsion cases, and looks at the underlying notions of gender and ethnicity. The author concludes that insiders' interests play only a marginal role in the case law and offers several explanations. Although the Court has acknowledged that family reunification is about insiders, it has not taken the consequences of such a position into account. It does not look at the ties of the insider spouse to his or her country of citizenship or residence. It sees the relationships of insider women with migrant partners as a more serious threat to restrictive immigration policies than relationships of insider men with migrant women. Furthermore, the Court thinks of nation-states as closed units to which migrants may be admitted as an exception to the rule, and does not acknowledge that insiders develop family relations with outsiders either within or outside the nation-state.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Centre for Migration Law/Institute for Sociology of Law, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands


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