The President and Immigration Law. By Adam B. Cox and Cristina M. Rodriguez. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. 2020. Pp. xiii, 340. $34.95.
Every scholar, writer, and observer must strive constantly to balance knowing something very well and not letting that knowledge be so confining that it inhibits understanding and wisdom. some fields of law are so complex in fact and so exceptional in reputation that they inspire and reward specialization. immigration law is such a field, but specialization brings the risk of tunnel vision and failure to appreciate fully the significance of what one comes to know. At the same time, a field as complex and exceptional as immigration law is a trap for scholars in other fields who parachute in, only to discover that their familiar conceptual frameworks find little traction or lead them into the blunders of dilettantes.
Some of the most valuable legal scholarship combines deep knowledge of an area of law with a breadth of understanding and vision that mines the broader lessons that the particular area has to offer. To be concrete, what can immigration law tell us about American public law in general, and what can American public law in general tell us about immigration law? From this perspective, The President and Immigration Law, by Professors Adam B. Cox and Cristina M. Rodriguez, is an essential example of this kind of valuable scholarship. By building a bridge between immigration law and U.S. administrative and public law more generally, it makes a major contribution in both fields.
As its title promises, the book analyzes the authority of the President of the United States to shape immigration law and policy. It is conceptually coherent and written with clarity and elegance. Even when Cox and Rodriguez cover ground that will be familiar or intuitive to many readers, they find subtlety and new meaning.
The President and Immigration Law makes two substantial contributions to scholarship and policy analysis. One contribution is its nuanced and persuasive historical account of the rise of presidential power over immigration. The other is its analysis of the current relationship between Congress and the President as "co-principals" in making immigration law (p. 193). Grounded in exhaustive research supplemented by interviews with former high-ranking executive branch officials, the book's framework and analysis are illuminating. Cox and Rodriguez offer much that is thought-provoking--even to readers who do not agree fully with the authors' historical account, analysis of the current situation, or prescriptions for the future. Virtually every page delivers arresting insights and probing questions.
The book's analytical architecture has two dimensions. The first is temporal;...