FitzGerald’s research aims to understand laws and policies regulating international migration as a total system involving interactions among actors in countries of migrant origin and destination. In his work, he seeks to explain how and why legal norms are diffused, the social origins of policy variation across time and place, and how the application of policy is experienced by actors in daily life. His areas of expertise include international migration, migrant homeland politics, and comparative immigration and nationality law. FitzGerald frequently comments on U.S. and Mexican policy in the U.S. and international media.
SSN Key Findings,
Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas (with ) (Harvard University Pres, 2014).
Questions the widely held view that in the long run democracy and racism cannot coexist. Shows that democracies were the first countries in the Americas to select immigrants by race, and undemocratic states the first to outlaw discrimination. Through analysis of legal records from twenty-two countries between 1790 and 2010, the authors present a history of the rise and fall of racial selection in the Western Hemisphere.
"Rethinking Emigrant Citizenship" New York University Law Review 81, no. 1 (2006): 90-116.
Analyzes the philosophical and historical sources of efforts to allow citizens abroad to gain a greater voice in their countries of origin.
"Transnationalism in Question" (with ). American Journal of Sociology 109, no. 5 (2004): 1177-1195.
Argues that the ability of international migrants to politically engage their countries of origin is sharply constricted by the policies of countries of immigration, and that a decline in wars between countries, rather than new technology, is driving greater cross-border connections today.
A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages its Migration (University of California Press, 2009).
Shows how the Mexican government and Catholic Church in Mexico have attempted to manage mass emigration over the last century and explains the dramatic shifts from policies attempting to dissuade emigration to policies attempting to use emigrants in the United States as a national resource for Mexico.
"Liberalism and the Limits of Inclusion: Racialized Preferences in Immigration Laws of the Americas, 1850-2000." (with ). Journal of Interdisciplinary History 16, no. 1 (2010): 7-25.
Makes the case that against the prevailing wisdom, democratic countries in the Western Hemisphere were leaders in establishing racially-discriminatory laws of immigration and nationality, and laggards in removing those restrictions.
Recession Without Borders: Mexican Migrants Confront the Economic Downturn (edited with ) (Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, 2011).
Analyzes how the global economic recession beginning in late 2007 affected migration patterns, remittances, and economic survival strategies in a small town in Mexico and among its migrants living in California.
"Emigration’s Impacts on Mexico: A Sociology of Dissimilation" in How Immigrants Impact their Homelands, edited by Susan Eva Eckstein and Adil Najam (Duke University Press, 2013).
Argues that research focusing exclusively on how different migrant groups in the United States vary in their rates of assimilation misses a more profound story about the growing differences between emigrants and those who stay behind in countries of emigrant origin.
In the News
"'Chain Migration' Doesn't Work the Way Trump Tells You it Does," David Scott FitzGerald, The Hill, February 4, 2018.
David Scott FitzGerald's research on "Donald Trump Flushes Away America's Reputation," New York Times, January 12, 2018.
David Scott FitzGerald quoted in Jean-Philippe Dedieu, "Racism Interferes Easily and Regularly in Democratic Processes" Liberation, April 23, 2017.
David Scott FitzGerald quoted in Jean Guerrero and Leo Castaneda, "Decades-Long Struggle to Secure US-Mexico Border" KPBS, November 13, 2017.
"Trump's Bid to Control Mexican Immigration," David Scott FitzGerald, Interview with Beverley O'Connor, ABC News, April 13, 2017.
"Trump’s Immigration Order is Bad Foreign Policy," David Scott FitzGerald (with ), The Conversation, January 29, 2017.
Guest to discuss the job market for Mexican-Americans in the construction sector on KPBS, David Scott FitzGerald, May 6, 2015.
David Scott FitzGerald quoted on immigrant labor on farms in Kurt Chirbas, "California Measure Would Allow Work Permits for Farmworkers Here Illegally" Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2015.
"Crime and Sanctuary: Amend Policies, Don't End Them," David Scott FitzGerald (with ), San Diego Union-Tribune, July 25, 2015.
"This Proves Donald Trump is Lying: Here are the Actual Facts on Immigrants and Crime," David Scott FitzGerald, Salon, July 7, 2015.
David Scott FitzGerald quoted on understanding the impact of immigration on California, "UC San Diego to Lead Major Project on Immigration" Imperial Valley News, March 15, 2015.
David Scott FitzGerald quoted on conditions in shelters for immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border in Jennifer Oldman, "Immigrant Children Find U.S. Support as Some Officials Oppose Help" Bloomberg News, July 23, 2014.
Guest to discuss Mexican migration to the United States 20 years after NAFTA on UCSD-TV, David Scott FitzGerald, July 7, 2014.
Guest to discuss his new book on racial discrimination in the Americas on KPBS, David Scott FitzGerald, April 22, 2014.
David Scott FitzGerald's research on the flow of undocumented migrants from Mexico into the United States, and the reasons for fluxuation in migration discussed in David Scott FitzGerald, "Border Security Faults May be Result of Poor Analysis," The Arizona Republic, July 20, 2013.
"Making San Diego an International Hub," David Scott FitzGerald (with ), U-T San Diego, July 3, 2013.
David Scott FitzGerald's research on the effects of criminal gang activity on Mexicans' attempts to cross the border into the U.S. discussed in David Scott FitzGerald, "The Ebbing Mexican Wave," The Economist, November 24, 2012.
David Scott FitzGerald's research on the effects of Canada's guest worker program discussed in David Scott FitzGerald, "Canada's Guest Worker Program Could Become Model for U.S. Immigration Changes," Washington Post, January 5, 2013.
Guest to discuss deadly danger of border crossing on CBS’ 60 Minutes, David Scott FitzGerald, May 2, 2010.
David Scott FitzGerald's research on the rising cost of border crossing (conducted at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies) discussed in David Scott FitzGerald, "Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North," New York Times, July 6, 2011.
David Scott FitzGerald's research on the educational aspirations of and opportunities for young people migrating from and around Mexico discussed in David Scott FitzGerald, "Migrants’ New Paths Reshaping Latin America," New York Times, January 5, 2012.
David Scott FitzGerald's research on what Mexican migrants know about enforcement and dangers at the border discussed in David Scott FitzGerald, "Making the Border Less Enticing to Cross," Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2012.
David Scott FitzGerald's research on the rise of “coyotes” and gang violence at patrolled border sites discussed in David Scott FitzGerald, "Young Men in Mexico Say the U.S. No Longer Offers Them a Better Future," The Guardian, April 25, 2012.