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 Garciais 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.”
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).
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.