Adam Cox

Lawrence R. Grove Visiting Professor of Law

Fall 2017

Griswold 211

617-998-1534

Assistant: Anna Kim Reilly / 617-495-3117

Biography

Adam Cox, Robert A. Kindler Professor of Law at NYU, is a leading expert on immigration law, voting rights, and constitutional law. His writing has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Journal, Journal of Law and Economics, and many other scholarly publications, and has been covered by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others. He is currently writing a book about the President’s power to shape immigration law.

Areas of Interest

Adam B. Cox & Cristina M. Rodríguez, The President and Immigration Law Redux, 125 Yale L.J. 104 (2015).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Immigration Law
,
Executive Office
,
Congress & Legislation
Type: Article
Abstract
In November 2014, President Obama announced his intention to dramatically reshape immigration law through administrative channels. Together with relief policies announced in 2012, his initiatives would shield nearly half the population of unauthorized immigrants from removal and enable them to work in the United States. These events have drawn renewed attention to the President’s power to shape immigration law. They also have reignited a longstanding controversy about whether constitutional limits exist on a central source of executive authority: the power to enforce the law. In using the Obama relief policies to explore these dynamics, we make two central claims. First, it is futile to try to constrain the enforcement power by tying it to a search for congressional enforcement priorities. Congress has no discernible priorities when it comes to a very wide swath of enforcement activity—a reality especially true for immigration law today. The immigration code has evolved over time into a highly reticulated statute through the work of numerous Congresses and political coalitions. The modern structure of immigration law also effectively delegates vast screening authority to the President. Interlocking historical, political, and legislative developments have opened a tremendous gap between the law on the books and the law on the ground. Under these conditions, there can be no meaningful search for congressionally preferred screening criteria. Far from reflecting a faithful-agent framework, then, immigration enforcement more closely resembles a two-principals model of policymaking—one in which the Executive can and should help construct the domain of regulation through its independent judgments about how and when to enforce the law. Second, when exploring limits on the enforcement power, we should focus not on who benefits from enforcement discretion but on how the Executive institutionalizes its discretion. The Obama relief initiatives are innovative: they bind the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to a more rule-like decision-making process, constrain the judgments of line-level officials by subjecting them to centralized supervision, and render the exercise of enforcement discretion far more transparent to the public than is customary. These efforts to better organize the enforcement bureaucracy ultimately advance core rule-of-law values without undermining deterrence or legal compliance, as some critics have worried. Moreover, while our focus on discretion’s institutionalization requires contextualized judgments that may rarely translate into clear doctrinal rules to govern the enforcement power, we believe it is generally unnecessary and unwise to use constitutional law to limit the President’s authority over how to organize the enforcement bureaucracy.
Adam B. Cox & Eric A. Posner, The Rights of Migrants: An Optimal Contract Framework, in Law and Economics of Immigration 739 (Howard E. Chang ed., 2015).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Immigration Law
,
Refugee & Asylum Law
Type: Book
Abstract
Why do migrants enjoy some of the rights associated with citizenship? Existing accounts typically answer this question in terms of obligation—of a duty on the part of states to confer citizenship. Moreover, scholars tend to lump together the rights conventionally associated with citizenship when they answer this question. In contrast, this Article disaggregates the rights associated with citizenship, asks what both states and migrants want, and inquires into how the suite of rights associated with citizenship might advance those interests. States want to encourage migrants to enter their territory and to make country-specific investments, but states also have an interest in being able to remove migrants or make their lives less comfortable if circumstances change. However, migrants will not enter and make country-specific investments if the state can easily remove them or change the conditions in which they live. Accordingly, the optimal "migration contract" between the state and the migrant reflects the trade-offs between commitment and flexibility. We discuss ways in which basic rights to liberty and property, political rights including voting, and other rights may embody the optimal contract in different circumstances.
Thomas J. Miles & Adam B. Cox, Does Immigration Enforcement Reduce Crime? Evidence from 'Secure Communities', 57 J.L. & Econ. 937 (2014).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Immigration Law
,
Empirical Legal Studies
,
Law & Economics
Type: Article
Abstract
Prior research investigates whether immigrants commit more crimes than native-born people. Yet the central policy used to regulate immigration--detention and deportation--has received little empirical evaluation. This article studies a recent policy innovation called Secure Communities. This program permits the federal government to check the immigration status of every person arrested by local police and to take the arrestee into federal custody promptly for deportation proceedings. Since its launch, the program has led to a quarter of a million detentions. We utilize the staggered rollout of the program across the country to obtain differences-in-differences estimates of its impact on crime rates. We also use unique counts of the detainees from each county and month to estimate the elasticity of crime with respect to confined immigrants. The results show that the Secure Communities program has had no observable effect on the overall crime rate.

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Griswold 211

617-998-1534

Assistant: Anna Kim Reilly / 617-495-3117