United States Foreign and Immigration Policies toward Lebanon: 1975-2011 By LERC


May 24, 2012

United States Foreign and Immigration Policies toward Lebanon: 1975-2011

New research publication by Clairissa Radyko, United States Foreign and Immigration Policies toward Lebanon: 1975-2011, LERC Graduate Students Paper Series/LERC, No. 1/2012, Lebanese Emigration Research Center (LERC), Notre Dame University (NDU), Lebanon, May 2012, website address: http://www.ndu.edu.lb/Lerc and URL: http://www.ndu.edu.lb/Lerc/researchpaperseries/usmigrationpolicy.pdf

The author analyzes American migration policy toward Lebanon as it changed in tandem with the events that have unfolded in Lebanon since 1975 in order to understand what impact each factor played in shaping present Lebanese migration to the United States. Certain events particular to Lebanon have served as push factors affecting Lebanese migration to the United States, but American immigration policy has also played a prominent role in determining the levels of present migration. The result of these factors on the emigration process is not straightforward.  There are periods when the intensity of war-related violence peaked emigration, for example during the civil war period and the wars with Israel. On the other hand, periods when diplomatic stress was low saw both high and low levels of yearly immigration. Prima facie, there seems to be no clear explanation for these differences in emigration. Possibly, drastic changes in the numbers of those applying for admission across all categories were connected with other internal Lebanese factors, or factors having to do with the perception of American immigration policy. Perhaps, American policy goals shifted during the period under study because it was being used as a soft political tool in the service of overall American foreign policy.

We can map three distinct U.S. foreign policy focuses that emerge in American migration policy toward Lebanon since 1975. The first focus was defined by the cold war mentality of power politics, with the U.S. attempting to maintain power in the region through military and strategic avenues, and granting lawful permanent resident status and asylum status relatively due to larger strategies during political strain intervals. The second policy focus was defined by humanitarian relief, which prioritized the issues of asylum and granting temporary protected status. The third and most recent focus is defined by terrorism and security. These issues were brought to the front by the events of 9/11, coupled with Hezbollah’s expanding role in Lebanon and the 2006 war with Israel.

Notre Dame University (NDU), Louaizé, Lebanon

P. O. Box 72 Zouk Mikhayel

Tel. 961-9-218950

Website: www.ndu.edu.lb/lerc

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