Penn Arts and Sciences

Immigration and Citizenship

Who Should be an American? The Past and Future of Immigration Policy (Mae Ngai, Tamar Jacoby, Joseph Berger, Jennifer Rodriguez)

Thu, 10/03/2013 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Co-sponsored by the National Museum of American Jewish History and the University of Pennsylvania Jewish Studies Program, with generous support from the Arlene and Stanley Ginsburg Family Foundation.

IN THIS KICKOFF EVENT FOR a year in which we will examine the many dimensions of immigration policy, and in conjunction with the National Museum of Jewish American History, Penn SSPF has brought together important perspectives on the past and future of immigration in this distinguished panel.  It ultimately explores whether, in efforts to maintain America's longstanding status as a nation of immigrants, the emphasis should be on the economic benefit for the U.S. or social justice for those who seek to live here.

Mae M. Ngai, Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies at Columbia University, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010).  Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Boston Review. Before becoming a historian she was a labor union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education.  She is now working on Yellow and Gold: The Chinese Mining Diaspora, 1848-1908, a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in the nineteenth-century California, the Australian colony of Victoria, and the South African Transvaal.

Tamar Jacoby is president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national federation of small business owners working to advance better immigration law. She is a nationally known journalist and author. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The Weekly Standard and Foreign Affairs, among other publications, and she is a regular guest on national television and radio.  She is author of Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration, and editor of Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means To Be American, a collection of essays about immigrant integration.

From 1989 to 2007, she was a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Before that, she was a senior writer and justice editor for Newsweek. From 1981 to 1987, she was the deputy editor of The New York Times op-ed page.

Jennifer Rodriguez is Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, a new city agency created in 2013 by Mayor Michael Nutter.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Boston University and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the Mayor's Office, Rodriguez managed a more than $200 million portfolio as Vice President of Financial Services with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, and served as deputy vice president at Asociación de Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) where she oversaw the nonprofit organization’s human service programs and directed its sustainable communities initiative.

Joseph Berger (Moderator) has been a reporter, editor, and columnist for the New York Times since 1984. He was a religion correspondent from 1985 to 1987, covering the Pope's trip to ten American cities, and national education correspondent from 1987 to 1990, a period when American school curricula were under attack as too European-focused. From 1990 until 1993, he covered New York City's schools and colleges, when there were bitter controversies over condom distribution and AIDS instruction. He was the recipient of the 1993 Education Writers Association award for exposing abuses in bilingual education. In September 1999, he was appointed deputy education editor, and regularly writes a column on education. Prior to joining the Times, Mr. Berger worked as Newsday's religion writer, where he three times won the Supple Award given by the Religion Newswriters Association, its highest honor. Mr. Berger also worked at The New York Post, covering such assignments as the 1973 Middle East War and Watergate. From 1967 to 1971, he was an English teacher at a Bronx junior high school.

Berger is the author of several books, including Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust (2001), a memoir about his family's experience as refugees in New York in the 1950s and 1960s. The book was chosen as a notable book of the year byThe New York Times. His most recent book is The World in a City: Traveling the Globe through the Neighborhoods of the New New York (2007).

Berger was born in Russia in 1945, spent the postwar years in displaced persons camps in Germany and, after immigrating to the U.S., grew up in Manhattan and the Bronx. He is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, City College, and the Bronx High School of Science.

The New Refugees: Seeking Haven in Post-Cold War, Post-9/11 America (Maria Cristina Garcia)

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 4:30pm - 6:00pm

THE END OF THE COLD WAR altered the ideological lens that for half a century shaped U.S. definitions of – and policies toward – refugees and asylum-seekers. During the Cold War, the vast majority of the refugees resettled in the United States came from communist countries, but today “refugees” and “asylees” receive protection on a much wider range of religious, political, social, and gender-related grounds. Foreign policy, concerns about homeland security, and humanitarian obligations continue to influence who is admitted to the U.S. and in what numbers, but non-governmental actors and the courts are playing an ever greater role in shaping U.S. refugee policy.  Prof. Garcia examines these developments, as well as the implications of these changing definitions for both immigrant and host societies.

“Thus, Mexico, the United States, and Canada have two parallel and competing goals in the new century: facilitate the free movement of capital while controlling the movement of ‘undesirables.’  Decades of immigration restriction measures have demonstrated the difficulties of controlling unwanted migration.  Visas, fines on airlines and shipping companies, increased border security personnel, criminal penalties on smugglers, streamlined detention and deportation procedures, and multinational ‘crackdowns’ on illegal immigration may temporarily reduce the number of immigrants and refugees in a given year, but only until new entry points, transportation networks, and legal loopholes are discovered. . . . Unfortunately, refugees are now subsumed under this general category of ‘undesirables.’  The goal of these three countries, as well as others in the region, should be to create and reinforce procedural safeguards that respect the safety and human rights of all migrants.”
– From Seeking Refuge

Maria Cristina Garcia is the Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies at Cornell University.  She studies refugees, immigrants, exiles, and transnationals in the Americas. Her first book, Havana USA (1996), examined the migration of Cubans to the United States after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. Her second book, Seeking Refuge (2006), is a study of the individuals, groups, and organizations that responded to the Central American refugee crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, and helped shape refugee policies throughout North America. Garcia has been chosen as a fellow for 2013-14 by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Her project as a Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow in residence will be “Refuge in Post-Cold War America.”

Getting Comprehensive Immigration Reform Right (Demetrios Papademetriou)

Fri, 12/13/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

UNTIL THE RECENT SHOWDOWNS IN WASHINGTON brought other policy initiatives to a standstill, movement on immigration reform was significant, even astounding. It is unusual for a divisive issue to jump from the near oblivion of repeated legislative failures to the center of the political and policy stage as quickly as immigration reform had done since the beginning of the year. And the broad policy prescription on which both a bipartisan group of eight senators and the president appeared to agree was nothing short of audacious. In fact, a mere few months earlier, virtually all congressional Republicans and a fair number of Democrats would have pronounced the plan dead on arrival.  And now, as pressure for legislative accomplishment compels a return to immigration reform, Papademetriou provides a clear and incisive look at the various proposals, their virtues, and their potential pitfalls.

“Although we passed substantial legislation in 1986, focusing on illegal immigration, and 1990, focusing on labor migration, we have been unable to reorient policies since then in ways that reflect and adapt to the vast changes in the U.S. and global economies. . . . Some may see this stasis as standing by the 1965 legislation’s commitment to American families and American workers. Most, however, see it as it is. First, as a system whose commitment to family reunification is a false promise for all but the closest family members of U.S. citizens (spouses, minor children, and parents). Second, as a system that is still struggling with how to protect the jobs of U.S. workers (that is, everyone with the legal right to work in the U.S.) but gives little thought to their broader interests, which include more and better jobs that smart immigration policies can help generate. [And] third, as a system that turned a blind eye to illegal immigration and to the large-scale settlement of illegally resident immigrants and, as a result, vastly expanded low-wage sectors and flattened the wages in such sectors even more.”
– From “The Fundamentals of Immigration Reform,” The American Prospect

Demetrios G. Papademetriou is President and Co-Founder of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a Washington-based think tank dedicated exclusively to the study of international migration. He is also President of Migration Policy Institute Europe, a nonprofit, independent research institute in Brussels that aims to promote a better understanding of migration trends and effects within Europe; and serves on MPI Europe’s Administrative Council.

Papademetriou has published more than 250 books, articles, monographs, and research reports on migration topics and advises senior government and political party officials in more than 20 countries. He is co-author and co-editor of Migration and the Great Recession: The Transatlantic Experience (2011), and co-author of Immigration Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany: Negotiating Membership and Remaking the Nation (2010) and Immigration and America's Future: A New Chapter (2006).

Brotherly Love? Diversity, Community, Trust, and Civic Engagement among Immigrant and Native-Born Philadelphians (Michael Jones-Correa)

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

AS IMMIGRANT GROUPS HAVE SETTLED in an increasingly wide variety of places – including small cities, suburbs and rural areas – their successful integration into American life has depended on the attitudes and actions of the communities receiving them.  A number of organizations, including Welcoming America and the Receiving Communities Initiative, have emerged over the past decade to address this issue – even in cities, such as Philadelphia, which have long histories of immigration.  Professor Jones-Correa has been at the forefront of studying the growth and success of this movement, as well as the policies that best promote integration. During his SSPF talk, he will present new findings on how Philadelphians in an array of neighborhoods have welcomed new immigrants.

“Engaging the native born in immigrant integration results in a better outcome for both newly arrived immigrants and their citizen children, as well as for the residents of the communities in which they reside. Bringing new and old residents together around a set of common interests and the common task of immigrant integration shows promise in making the foreign born a part of the larger American society and assuaging tensions between newcomers and longer-term residents. . . . While deciding who is allowed to pass through our borders is a matter of national policy, the process of integration is at root profoundly local, and it is what receiving communities do – developing leadership, fostering contact between immigrants and other residents, engaging public and private actors to work together in coalitions, and reframing debates to highlight the importance of immigrant integration – that makes immigrant integration work smoothly and well.”
– From All Immigration is Local

Michael Jones-Correa is Professor of Government at Cornell University. He is the author of All Immigration Is Local: Receiving Communities and Their Role in Successful Immigrant Integration, a report for the Center for American Progress. He is also a co-author of Latino Lives in America: Making It Home (2010), the author of Between Two Nations: The Political Predicament of Latinos in New York City (1998), the editor of Governing American Cities: Inter-Ethnic Coalitions, Competition and Conflict (2001), and the author of more than two dozen articles and chapters on immigration, race, ethnicity and citizenship in the United States.

In addition to his work on receiving communities, Professor Jones-Correa's recent projects include an examination of the increasing ethnic diversity of suburbs and its implication for local and national politics; and a multi-authored analysis of the 2006 Latino National Survey, a national state-stratified survey of Latinos in the United States for which he was a principal investigator.

He has been a visiting fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University. In 2004-2005 he served on the Committee on the Redesign of US Naturalization Test for the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 he was elected vice president of the American Political Science Association.

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