A study by two Harvard professors for the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that people in Western countries, including the United States, have succumbed to many restrictionist myths. The study, conducted by Political Economy Professor Alberto Alesina and Economics Professor Stefanie Stantcheva, administered online questionnaires to 24,000 respondents in six countries — the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden — to study legal, not illegal, immigration. On literally every count — the levels of immigration, the composition and basic characteristics of immigrants — negative stereotypes abound.
Here is the abstract of the study:
"We design and conduct large-scale surveys and experiments in six countries to investigate how natives perceive immigrants and how these perceptions influence their preferences for redistribution. We find strikingly large misperceptions about the number and characteristics of immigrants: in all countries, respondents greatly overestimate the total number of immigrants, think immigrants are culturally and religiously more distant from them, and are economically weaker -- less educated, more unemployed, and more reliant on and favored by government transfers -- than is the case. Given the very negative baseline views that respondents have of immigrants, simply making them think about immigration before asking questions about redistribution, in a randomized manner, makes them support less redistribution, including actual donations to charities. Information about the true shares and origins of immigrants is ineffective, and mainly acts as a prime that makes people think about immigrants and reduces their support for redistribution. An anecdote about a "hard working'' immigrant is somewhat more effective, suggesting that when it comes to immigration, salience and narratives shape people's views more deeply than hard facts."
One finding of the study is especially interesting in light of recent policy changes in the United States, such as the new public charge rule:
"where restrictionists have succeeded most spectacularly is in depicting immigrants as welfare queens. The Harvard researchers presented respondents with a scenario in which two individuals, one with a foreign-sounding name like Mohammad or Jose and another with a standard native name like Jack, are identical in every respect — age, qualifications, jobs, and families — each with three young children — except that Jack is a native and Mohammad or Jose is an immigrant who legally moved to America five years ago. The respondents were asked whether they believed Mohammad or the person with the immigrant-sounding name would pay more, the same, or less in taxes than Jack and whether he would receive more, the same, or less in government help. In America, over 25 percent of respondents said the person with the immigrant-sounding name would pay less in taxes than he collected in welfare compared to Jack — even though immigrants are barred from collecting most means tested federal benefits for five years. This reveals that about a quarter of the American public is outright biased against foreigners just because they are foreigners and not because they are illegal or poor or for any other objective reason." (emphasis added).
The U.S. labor market will be buffeted by major changes in the next few decades, such as an aging population, automation that displaces workers and requires skill adjustments, and increases in independent or informal work and "fissured" workplaces. These forces will likely raise worker productivity over time while also raising inequality, reducing labor force participation and creating worker shortages in high-demand industries. In this context, immigration will help reduce costs in key high-demand industries (like health care and elder care), raise labor force and economic growth, and contribute somewhat to the nation's fiscal balance. Highly-educated immigrants will notably contribute to economic productivity and dynamism; but less-educated immigrants may substitute for native-born non-college workers and thereby further contribute to earnings inequality. Reforms should therefore modestly increase overall immigration over time, while shifting its composition somewhat toward more-skilled and labor-market-driven migrants. These reforms should occur within the broader context of "comprehensive" reform that also raises enforcement efforts against illegal immigrant flows while establishing a path to citizenship for the currently undocumented. These changes should also be tied to a range of efforts to raise earnings among all non-college workers.
A couple weeks ago, ImmigrationProf posted an announcement of the release of the book American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Cummins received a huge seven figure advance for the book, which is a fictional account of a book store owner and her young son who flee the drug cartels in Mexico after the massacre of her family.
American Dirt was released with some rave reviews. Oprah Winfrey announced that that the book was selected by her much-watched book club. (Winfrey since has acknowledged the need to discuss the issues at the core of the controversy of the book.).
After the high flying release buzz, American Dirt has generated considerable controversy.
"There’s a book you might have heard of by now. It’s called American Dirt, and it’s the much-hyped new novel from author Jeanine Cummins that was released this week.
It’s the story of a Mexican woman named Lydia and her 8-year-old son Luca, who flee their home and undertake a harrowing journey to the U.S. border after gunmen from a local drug cartel kill most of their family. It’s been hailed as `a Grapes of Wrath for our times.' In fact, that quote is on the cover of the book.
And that is one of the many problems with American Dirt, according to several critics. There have been tweet threads and essays, all arguing that the book deploys harmful stereotypes. Even a hashtag — My Latino Novel — has popped up on Twitter, where people are writing their own parodies. But there is so much more to say about race and identity in publishing, about who gets to tell what stories and which of those voices are elevated in the mainstream culture.
Los Angeles Times writer Esmeralda Bermudez has been one of the most vocal critics of American Dirt. `In 17 years of journalism, in interviewing thousands of immigrants, I’ve never come across anyone like American Dirt’s main character,' Bermudez says."
Seattle Review of Books on #AmericanDirt: When a novelist identifies as white until she writes a book about Mexican migrants in order 2 give a face 2 the “faceless brown mass” @ the border, trouble follows, dirt is raised, caca is thrown. & for good reason https://t.co/luuMjS5XwI
"It is important for Americans to view Mexico fairly and accurately, as a country both wealthy and unequal, facing enormous social and political challenges, but also a complex society with a rich and diverse culture. Yet “American Dirt” is a reminder of the deep ignorance regarding Mexico and Mexicans in U.S. culture. As a scholar of Mexican culture, I witness how little Americans, even those with access to top educational opportunities, know about the country. It is often misrepresented as a violent and poor hell against which the United States is a promised land.
This stereotype forms the premise of `American Dirt.'”
Here is a particularly harsh -- perhaps over-the-top -- review of American Dirt.
I just completed the book. The story it tells certainly is not what I understand to be the common story of migration from Mexico to the United States. It read to me like a mystery/suspense/adventure novel, something akin to a James Patterson book (but with much longer chapters, descriptions, and introspection). I am far from a literary critic but I found American Dirt to be engaging and interesting. In terms of depicting the modern experience of migration through Mexico, most people in my opinion would learn more from Luis Urrea's The Devil's Highway or Sonia Nazario's Enrique's Journey. In reading Cummins' book, I never got the sense that I was reading the work of someone who deeply understood Mexican culture, including the complex view of death among Mexicans, discrimination based on skin color in Mexican society, or the basics of a quinceanera (which is important to the opening plot).
I keep thinking about the new State Department rule establishing that "travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a B nonimmigrant visa." As explained further on, the rule does this by creating "a rebuttable presumption that a B nonimmigrant visa applicant who a consular officer has reason to believe will give birth during her stay in the United States is traveling for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child."
Here's a critical piece of the puzzle. In many cases, B1/B2 visas have a 10 year lifespan. Check out the image with this post that I snagged off the interwebs. It was issued in 2010 and good through 2020. I know that time period has been common for B1/B2 visas issued out of Tijuana and likely is common in many places around the globe.
So, wouldn't a smart woman, intent on birth tourism, seek a B1/B2 visa before getting pregnant, then actually utilize then visa when pregnant to have their child stateside?
How is the agency going to prevent such conduct? Will they issue B1/B2 visas with shorter lifespans (less than 9 months) for any woman of potentially fertile age? Will men continue to be eligible for 10 year visas while women will not?
Another way things might shift is if CBP starts denying entry to any visibly pregnant woman, regardless of the validity of their issued visa so long as they believe that the current travel is for impermissible birth tourism. But, then again, while expensive, wouldn't the work-around be to come while not super pregnant? Say, 4 months and hiding well?
President Trump reportedly plans to announce an expanded travel ban this week, Jonathan Swan reports for Axios, restricting immigration from seven additional countries: Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania. Looking at the data, The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart writes: “The travel ban suggests he’s adding a new target, just in time for the 2020 elections: Africans.”
Since August, at least 16 Iranian students have been detailed and turned away at airports, losing their chances to study at prestigious universities, amid new tensions between the U.S. and Iran. These are a few of their names and faces, as published in the New York Times.
The students are largely being detained or deported on the visa revocations on the basis of national origin, which is a permissible factor for consideration.
Protests of individual cases of returned international students and related advocacy for Iranian-Americans being stopped in airports from coast-to-coast are emerging, but many of these stories are overlooked in the midst of so many immigration-related news developments.
Kim Bellware for the Washington Post reports that a Ohio trial court judge told several news outlets that he calls up Immigration and Customs Enforcement when he suspects that a defendant in his courtroom is undocumented. Judge Robert Ruehlman acknowledged he acts on a hunch when he calls ICE. He stated that he focuses on people who need interpreters or speak Spanish, have international connections, or are accused of serious drug crimes. The Judge's comments trouble civil liberty and immigration advocates in Ohio. The Trump administration has focused on tougher immigration enforcement.
Judge Ruehlman has given several interviews confirming and defending his actions. “I don’t see where the outrage is,” Ruehlman said in a Friday interview with WLWT in Cincinnati. “Number one, they’re an illegal alien. They’re not supposed to be here, so they’re breaking the law. Number two, they’re in front of me for a felony. ”
Judge Ruehlman's admissions came after Cincinnati TV station WCPO broke the news that ICE officials were entering the Hamilton County Courthouse to detain undocumented immigrants.
Newsweek reportsthat Judge Ruehlman denies that his reliance on hunches and Spanish language use amounted to racial profiling
Judge Ruehlman has been the subject of controversy in the past. In 2016, the editorial board of the Cincinnati Enquirer said that it was time for voters to remove him from the bench:
"Hamilton County voters should take a closer look at one Common Pleas Court race this year: that of incumbent Judge Robert Ruehlman vs. challenger Darlene Rogers. The Enquirer editorial board doesn’t typically weigh in on judicial races, but we feel compelled to do so in this one.
Ruehlman has been in the news a lot this year, and not in a good way. His rulings have been strongly criticized by two higher courts, and now concerns have arisen about his criticism of alleged rape victims."
It has been said before but it is worth saying again. Aviva Chomsky for the Nation reminds us that a number of President Trump's immigration policies are rooted in those of Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. As Chomsky puts it,
"In many ways, Donald Trump is only reiterating, with more bombast, ideas and policies pioneered under Clinton, that then became a basic part of Barack Obama’s approach to immigration. Those policies drew directly on racist `tough on crime' and antiterrorism police tactics that also helped foment white racial fears."
"Discover the history and contributions of Chinese Americans to California from the Gold Rush to the present day in `Gold Mountain: Chinese California Stories.'
This all-new signature exhibition explores how Chinese immigrants came to California in search of a better life, then stayed and helped to build the modern state. In so doing over the last 150 years, they triumphed over racism and other obstacles with ingenuity and perseverance.
In their stories, visitors will see the contributions that Californians of Chinese descent have made to our state’s economy, governance, and culture, and recognize the strength that comes from the state’s rich diversity.
The `Gold Mountain' Grand Opening today has a special Lunar New Year celebration featuring free admission with advance registration and an afternoon of exhibit-related programming."
Happy lunar new year! In recognition of this significant holiday, here are two stories about Asian and Asian American culture - one celebratory and one mournful.
The Asian-American Canon Breakers (Exclude Me In in the print edition of the New Yorker) profiles writer-activists who forged a cultural identity through their writings. Four writers known as the "four horsemen" -- Frank Chin, Jeffery Paul Chan, Shawn Wong, Lawson Fusao Inada -- founded the Combined Asian American Resources Project in order to mark a literary movement that distinguished between Chinese Americans who had lived in Chinatowns for multiple generations and recent immigrants to the Chinatowns who tended to be the focus of outsider writing. As Chin wrote, "“If the purpose of BRIDGE [a Chinatown magazine] is to bind me to the immigrants,” Chin wrote, “I’m not interested in being bound.”
Their writing style was colorful and irreverant. Some examples appear in the anthologies Yardbird and Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers. Some of the authors had appeared in anthologies before “Aiiieeeee!,” such as Kai-yu Hsu and Helen Palubinskas’s “Asian-American Authors” (1972) and David Hsin-fu Wand’s “Asian-American Heritage” (1974), but the style and political tone of the new movement is distinct. The New Yorker article by Hua Hsucontains detailed analysis of the specific essays within the anthologies and mentions further examples from more modern times. Definitely worth a read.
The mournful story is about a fire that likely extinguished nearly every artifact in the collection of the New York City Chinatown's Museum of Chinese in America. The 85,000 objects were kept in storage within a building at 70 Mulberry Street that serves as a cultural hub and houses a senior center, the Chen Dance Center and a number of community groups. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to facilitate recovery.
Joe Patrice at Above the Law reports that the Georgetown Law dean's office sent around an email informing students that, among other things, the school is considering changing law school policies to allow for the punishment of students, faculty, or staff who disrupt speakers.
As been blogged about here, the Trump administration this week moved to address "birth tourism." Some news reports make it seem that visitors are coming to the United States to give birth to U.S. citizens in large numbers. The data does not support that assertion.
"Currently, it is not illegal to come to the United States with the intention of giving citizenship to a child. There are also no definite, specific statistics as to the number of people coming to the country with that intention. However, the U.S. Center for Disease Control ("CDC") reported 7,955 births by non-residents in the year 2012, the last year this data was available, which may serve as a very rough indication of the number of individuals who come to give birth in the country." Matthew D. Kugler, Current Developments in Immigration Law: The Debate Surrounding "Birth Tourism", 32 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 321, 321 (2018) (footnote omitted).
Reuters and the Associated Press report that Mexican authorities yesterday adopted tougher measures against Central American migrants, detaining 800 of them who had entered Mexico from Guatemala intending to reach the border with the United States. Mexico is under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to contain migrants crossing through Mexico on their way to the United States.
he National Migration Institute (INM) said it had transferred 800 migrants, some of them unaccompanied minors, to immigration centers where they would be given food, medical attention and shelter. If their legal status cannot be resolved, they will be returned to their home countries.
The authors talk about the federally-administered CODIS or Combined DNA Index System. As of January 6, it's being used in a way it's never been before -- to "warehouse the genetic data of people who have not been accused of any crime, for crime detection purposes." Yikes.
Collecting DNA in this manner, the authors posit, "puts us all at risk."
Well, "once you break the norm requiring criminal conduct for inclusion in CODIS, it is difficult to re-establish." This brings us closer towards the creation of a dystopian "genetic database that will ultimately encompass anyone within United States borders, including ordinary Americans neither convicted nor even suspected of criminal conduct." And that should be concerning. Because "the more complete the information database, the more suffocating, dehumanizing — and potentially totalitarian — the society."
"What if the United States government took the DNA of vast numbers of Americans for use without their consent? The Trump administration has just brought us one step closer to that dystopia. On January 6, the federal government began collecting DNA from any person in immigration custody — previously, it had required only fingerprints. With this move, the federal government took a decisive step toward collecting and tracking large numbers of its citizens’ genetic information too."
Continuing the thread (and here) on travel restrictions for pregnant passengers: The State Department has told US embassies across the world to deny visas to people they suspect are coming to the US to give birth, according to diplomatic cables obtained by Vox. The cable, sent Wednesday afternoon, says that the new policy goes into effect on Friday, January 24.
The policy would create a barrier for pregnant people seeking a short term visa from a consulate abroad, such as the B visas that is which offered for tourists, business travelers, and people seeking urgent medical care. According to the cable, a US consular officer can’t ask a visa applicant if they are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. However, “if you have reason to believe the applicant will give birth during their stay in the United States, you are required to presume that giving birth for the purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship is the applicant’s primary purpose of travel,” the cable reads. The presumption can be overcome if if the passenger demonstrates “a different and permissible primary purpose of travel.”
The cable also says that a visa applicant “seeking medical treatment in the United States must demonstrate to the consular officer’s satisfaction that they have both the means and the intent to pay for all treatment-related costs.”
The apparent goal is to clamp down on foreigners giving birth to children in the US who become American citizens by birth. Immigration advocates and medical experts worry that the broad discretion given to consular officers could prove dangerous to pregnant people seeking medical care. The government does not track how many pregnant travelers come to the US on B visas, but 2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the new guidance would likely affect roughly 10,000 people annually.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the cable, drafted by a staffer who works on consular affairs. The State Department didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment about these concerns.
Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. Her family fled Somalia to escape the war and spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. After first arriving in New York in 1992, Omar's family secured asylum in the U.S. in 1995 and lived for a time in Arlington, Virginia, before moving to and settling in Minneapolis. Omar became a U.S. citizen in 2000.