Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Immigration Articles of the Day: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: What We Can Learn from the Banking and Credit Habits of Undocumented Immigrants and Survival in the Face of Scarcity: The Undocumented Immigrant Experience by Natalie Martin


Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: What We Can Learn from the Banking and Credit Habits of Undocumented Immigrants by Nathalie Martin, University of New Mexico - School of Law, 2015 Michigan Law Review 989 UNM School of Law Research Paper 2015-08

Abstract: Undocumented immigrants currently make up more than 5% of the U.S. labor force and 7% of school-age children. Numbering over eleven million, undocumented immigrants unquestionably comprise a significant segment of the population, yet most lack financial security and stability on multiple fronts. In addition to the everyday risk of deportation, many risk being taken advantage of on the basis of their immigration status, in both employment and debtor-creditor relationships. While some of these financial conditions are well-chronicled, this Article describes the first empirical study of the debtor-credit relationships of undocumented immigrants. Through live interviews, this Article recounts the general financial impediments undocumented immigrants face in trying to work, pay taxes, raise children, participate in the U.S. economy, and simply survive.

Among other topics, this Article explores whether undocumented immigrants use traditional financial institutions or more informal ones, and whether predatory lenders such as payday and title lenders have made inroads into immigrant communities. It further explores our study participants’ perception of and attitudes toward various forms of credit, with the hope of using this sample to gain more generalized insights into the credit uses and attitudes of undocumented Americans as a whole in today’s consumer credit economy.

Through our study, we were able to uncover a few of the grim realities of living in the financial shadows, with only precarious means of financial support, distanced from social safety networks at home, at legal disadvantage, and without a place at any policy-related table. Indeed, we conclude that the financial condition of many undocumented immigrants is far more precarious than one might imagine, as shown through our data that 74% of the persons interviewed would not be able to cover a $100 emergency if it came up. We also discovered fear of and disdain for credit among many undocumented persons, demonstrating sensible ideas about credit, which many of us in the mainstream population could learn from.


Survival in the Face of Scarcity: The Undocumented Immigrant Experience by Natalie Martin, Arizona Law Review, Download 58arizlrev103

In this article, Professor Martin attempts to build an empathy bridge between readers and a group of undocumented immigrants living in the American southwest, applying original qualitative research to scarcity theory. The article describes scarcity theory and then describes the laws and policies that affect scarcity for undocumented immigrants. In some cases, as with both immigration and weak consumer protection laws, these policies exacerbate scarcity. In others, such as employment laws, these protections should keep financial scarcity at bay by preventing an employer from taking advantage of a worker’s undocumented status.

The article describes the laws in these contexts, noting how immigration laws preclude the undocumented from becoming employed in the United States, while federal and state employment laws allow the undocumented to get paid, like anyone else who works. These laws send mixed messages to the undocumented, many of whom do not seem to know that they have any rights at all.

The article then applies these laws to the comments of participants relating to workplace protections. Overall, the data show that, despite protective laws, people still feel taken advantage of due to their undocumented status, both in the context of employment and consumer credit use. The article then describes a rather obvious, but often-overlooked reason why remedies among the poor can be hollow: Undocumented people are usually unwilling to use the courts to right these wrongs, even when there are laws available to protect them.




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