The New York Times mentions “Culling the Masses”

Day 38: Hard Truths and Surprises

ABOUT THIS SERIES Join Damien Cave and Todd Heisler as they travel up Interstate 35, from Laredo, Tex., to Duluth, Minn., chronicling how the middle of America is being changed by immigration.

REPORTED FROM THE END OF INTERSTATE 35

From the hot sun of Laredo, Tex., and the first on ramp for Interstate 35 to the chilly fog here in Duluth, Minn., at the highway’s end; from a city that’s 96 percent Hispanic and struggling to integrate new immigrants, to one that is 90 percent white and longing for the energy young foreigners bring — The Way North has come a long way.

The project began with an ambitious goal: to chronicle immigration’s impacts in the middle of America, at the local level where immigrants and established residents collide. Far from the gridlock of Washington, in the schools, churches and neighborhoods of a half-dozen states, how have new neighbors been getting along?

The results, discovered through 4,072 miles traveled up and around I-35, along with hundreds of interviews, are hard to categorize. Definitive conclusions may not arrive for decades as illegal (and legal) immigration continue to stir up strong emotions, from rage to romanticism. But along I-35 — ground zero for what experts describe as a historic demographic shift, with immigrants settling in new locations — certain patterns, hard truths and surprises emerged.

THE SMALL STUFF MATTERS

Who knew that a bottle of Bud Light — or a lack thereof — could be so important? Not Nathan Hill. When he turned an old Mexican bar on Austin’s rapidly gentrifying east side into a hipster country music venue, he failed to serve the beer of choice for the bar’s former regulars, a sometimes surly but loyal band of immigrant laborers. He never intended to offend them, but his beer selection of local microbrews struck them as exclusionary; they saw it as a sign that they were no longer wanted, and as a result, they stopped showing up.

In many other cities and towns, small slights and misunderstandings have made the challenge of integration even harder; or they’ve exemplified the struggle.

In north Wichita, for example, Francene Sharp found herself bothered by what she considered a lack of neighborliness. A former physical education teacher, she lives in a home her father built in the 1940s, in a neighborhood that has become predominantly Mexican. And while she remains friendly to all, she said she was bothered by a group of Mexican men living next door several years ago because they sometimes urinated outside when they had been drinking.

“This is America, we have indoor bathrooms,” she told them.

She said she also wished that another family down the block would abide by local laws that limit yard sales to two a month. “They’re out there every weekend,” she said. “That really bothers me.”

And in many ways, Austin and Wichita reflected a pattern of conflicting expectations. Established residents sought ways to make immigrants abide by laws regarding quality of life while immigrants — especially legal immigrants often wrongly thought to be here illegally — sought respect and a clear welcome.

Especially farther north in the Midwest, in regions previously settled by German immigrants, the clash between immigrants and longtime residents often involved the rules and routines of daily life, like parking. Several communities tussled over a tendency among Mexican immigrants to park on the lawns of the homes they bought or rented. But more broadly, such local struggles seemed to reflect what Mark Krikorian, an advocate for reduced immigration, has described as the basic challenge of integrating large numbers of immigrants in new places.

“What we need to teach is this basic insight that you are now part of this club and not part of another club,” he said. “It’s the idea that we’re all in the same boat.”

BRIDGE BUILDING REQUIRED

Cities and towns that have managed to reconcile their differences with immigrants, along with individual immigrants who have rapidly assimilated into American life, can all point to one important factor: bridge figures. People, that is, who are comfortable in both the immigrant and American worlds, and who translate and explain the frustrations, values and misunderstandings of each.

In Austin, it was Eddie Costilla, the owner of La Perla, a bar near what Mr. Hill calls his “honky tonk,” the White Horse. With Mr. Hill and others, Mr. Costilla explained the underlying concerns of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans being pushed out of east Austin by rising rents and upscale night life. Now the White Horse serves Bud Light, and it has given over Sunday afternoons to a Mexican band, Conjunto Los Pinkys.

In Minneapolis, Mohamud Noor, a candidate for state representative, spends most of his days trying to help Somali immigrants coming into the Somali social services agency where he works as interim director. One recent afternoon, that involved assisting a family seeking hospice care for a dying relative. The next morning, he met with parents concerned that the charter school their children attend lacks teachers and officials who speak Somali.

“People think I can fix everything,” Mr. Noor said, laughing. “A lot of times people come in and they want to fight something. I tell them no, we want to build something instead. It’s not about talking negatively; it’s about finding a solution.”

Mr. Noor, like many other immigrants who have become unofficial ambassadors for their communities, also emphasized the need for role models — immigrants who exemplify what is possible in the United States, making it obvious that effort and education will be rewarded.

Miguel Castillo, the principal of Antonio M. Bruni Elementary in Laredo, said he often tells students that he grew up like them, poor, an immigrant born in Mexico, but that he achieved because a friend helped him figure out how to go to college. “I try to provide them with the same kind of guidance,” he said, adding that he constantly tells them: “I could be looking at the next president of the United States, or an astronaut who goes to Mars.”

He added: “It takes a lot to break the poverty cycle. Once you go to college and graduate, that sets an example for the rest.”

DEEPER RIFTS REMAIN

But not all issues are minor, or so easy to reconcile with conversation or the example of a single high-achiever. Many Americans, young and old, Democrats and Republicans, including legal immigrants, would like to see more effort from immigrants — to learn English, to understand and participate in American democracy, to stem crime or gang membership in their communities.

Immigrants, meanwhile, would like to be treated as less of a threat, and to be more appreciated for the hard work they put in, whether building businesses or revitalizing neighborhoods that might otherwise be sliding into disrepair. Even those who lack legal status, like Ignacio, a roofer in Tulsa, often feel that they are doing everything they can to contribute.

“People ask why we don’t take long breaks,” he said. “Our culture is work.”

The debate over legalization for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally remains a delicate topic for nearly everyone. Immigrants, here legally and not, tend to see the inaction in Washington as an effort to keep them in the shadows and vulnerable to criminals and family separation through deportation.

Nonimmigrants (and some legal immigrants) argue that legitimizing lawbreakers will only bring more, and they point to the thousands of mothers and children showing up at the border from Central America now as proof of what happens when enforcement weakens.

But at the core of this dispute lie deeper anxieties about economics, competition for work and culture. Immigration has a long history of stirring up angst and dread. In a new book called “Culling the Masses,” David Scott FitzGerald and David Cook-Martín show that even before there were nation-states, people erected fences, walls and boundaries to keep out the unwanted.

And though the United States proclaims itself a nation of immigrants, lawmakers have been excluding certain ethnic groups since 1790, when Congress started passing laws that prevented Africans and Asians from becoming citizens on the grounds that they were inherently incapable of self-government.

“It’s often about resources, and not just economic resources,” said Mr. Cook-Martín, a sociology professor at Grinnell College in Iowa. “It’s the resource of belonging. We want to be careful with that, and so we erect borders.”

For some, the economic slide of the past few years has intensified outrage as immigration has become woven into broader complaints about globalization and the way the economy works for the benefit of big businesses, at the expense of the middle and working class. Despite a wide range ofindependent studies showing that immigrants do not simply take American jobs — they also create jobs with their demand for goods and services — many people feel that immigrants are partly to blame for widening inequality and their own falling fortunes.

Shannon Woolard, 42, who sells T-shirts celebrating Irish and Czech heritage in Central Texas, for example, said her husband was now making about $35,000 as an oil and gas technician, a sharp decline from when he made around $100,000 as a construction worker before the housing bust. And while she acknowledged that the bad behavior of bankers contributed to his job loss, she said immigrants in the country illegally also made it harder for her husband to find work, by accepting lower wages and shipping off their earnings to relatives back home.

“On a I weekly basis I go into the convenience store and there are people sending money to Mexico,” she said. “The money is not staying here.”

Experts note that remittances sent to Mexico have been falling, with the economy still sputtering and as immigrants are becoming more settled here. And in many communities, a new attitude of accommodation has emerged with time, as people see immigrants raising families, and adding vibrancy with new businesses — in St. Paul, Minn., in Kansas City, Mo., and inDenison, Iowa, to name just a few.

The question now is whether people will look toward the positives that immigrants bring, or to the past and what they want to preserve. As William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said, the question remains: “To what extent do people in these places realize that these people, these immigrants, are a big part of their growth for the future?”

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Why Children are Migrating North Alone (UT San Diego)

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The influx of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. from Central America via Mexico raises a pressing question: What to do with them now? It’s an acute concern, given that shelters are overcrowded and the tide isn’t slowing.

Experts from an array of disciplines who convened Friday at the University of San Diego said another key question should be: What is the long-term solution? The crisis’ roots are deep and its tail will be long, they said.

“This is a regional, complex and multifaceted problem with no quick fix,” M. Aryah Somers, a lawyer and consultant on children’s issues, wrote in her presentation to the attendees of a daylong campus conference on the subject. The event was organized by the university’s Trans-Border Institute.

Unaccompanied migrants who are younger than 18 when they arrive in the United States aren’t eligible for amnesty or eventual citizenship, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said this week in reminding the public about federal immigration laws. They’re typically sent back to their families abroad or put in long-term foster care arrangements while awaiting deportation.

This year, an estimated 90,000 such children are expected to reach the United States. The long-term annual average is 5,000 per year, according to U.S. officials.

The recent surge has sent U.S. immigration leaders scrambling to shelter and find temporary sponsors for these children, most of whom have sought entry at the Mexican border with Texas because that’s the shortest route from Central America. The White House has called for $1.6 billion in additional funding to house and process the youngsters, along with $166 million in related funds for more Homeland Security staffing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Friday, some panelists at the conference discussed resources such as foster care and legal representation. Others addressed challenges in providing services to traumatized children. Still others outlined the systemic conditions causing children to flee their homeland.

They cited previous waves of child migration as a precedent for what could happen if these youngsters remain in limbo for years, only to be ultimately deported.

Their messages overlapped in one regard: Child migration is a complex topic that defies being wrapped up in sound bites and headlines.

Speakers at the conference said beyond looking at the immediate needs of these youngsters, officials must consider the need for holistic and long-term solutions.

They stressed that like previous waves of migration from Central America, the current exodus stems not only from poverty but also a broad set of geopolitical factors. Some of the children are sent northward by their parents or other relatives for a variety of reasons. Others are fleeing violence that has killed many people in their villages or towns, including their family members.

Somers, the child immigration lawyer, presented a Venn diagram of interlocking rings that portray the assortment of reasons for child migration. Researchers who have interviewed these youngsters said it’s usually a combination of causes that spur the northward journeys.

For example, a look at the economic history of El Salvador offers one perspective on why children there are heading to the United States.

David Pedersen, an associate professor of anthropology at UC San Diego, explained Friday that traditionally, El Salvadoran immigrants send remittances to their families back home — typically $200 to $300 per month. This money goes toward the purchase of staples such as food and clothing.

Some households don’t have a relative in the United States, he said, so they try to compensate by sending their children from the countryside to the cities to earn money as domestic workers. These jobs sometimes expose the minors to rape or other forms of exploitation.

Over the years, some of those underage workers have fled north. Or they have become adults and saved enough money to send their own children to pursue a better life in the United States, Pedersen said.

He said the roots of today’s child-migrant crisis originated in the 1950s, when El Salvador exploited all of its arable land for a cash-crop boom. Coffee and cotton were in high demand at the time, especially in Japan.

“Space for growing staples contracted massively,” leading to a drop in the quality of life in rural areas. The countryside migrants who left during that generation are the people now sending remittances from the U.S., he said.

Once the unaccompanied child migrants present themselves at the U.S.-Mexico border, customs and human-services officials try to determine if the minors have parents or adult guardians. Speakers at the Friday conference said it can be a challenge to verify whether the so-called uncle coming to pick up a 12-year-old girl is or isn’t a human trafficker. And even if he is an uncle, they said, how do officials ensure that he won’t neglect, abuse or later abandon the child?

Also difficult is the process of obtaining relevant information from each arriving youngster.

“Imagine talking to an 11-year-old about being raped by her father. It’s not going to happen in a one-hour interview, and sometimes that’s all I have,” said Matthew Cannon, director of the children’s program with Casa Cornelia Law Center. Fear of authorities and frightening memories are reasons why some children clam up. Others are coached by coyotes to tell a false story and stick to it.

Whatever the circumstances, Cannon said, dealing with these cases “breaks my heart.”

The Washington Post contributed to this report. roxana.popescu@utsandiego.com (619) 797-6312 Twitter: @roxanapopescu

UCSD Faculty in the News – Scapegoating Africa’s Immigrants (The Washington Post)

By Claire Adida – June 3rd

Kim Yi Dionne: Claire Adida is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California San Diego. This post draws from her book, “Immigrant Exclusion and Insecurity in Africa: Coethnic Strangers,” which was recently published by Cambridge University Press.

Two months ago, after explosions killed at least six people in Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb, Kenyan police launched Operation Usalama Watch, arrested hundreds – some say thousands – in the ethnically Somali neighborhood, and crammed them intoKasarani Stadium outside the capital city, where many continue to live today. (Twitter, with its #KasaraniConcentrationCamp hashtag, remains the best source of information on this topic.) The official word from Kenya’s State House was that the operation aimed to clean Nairobi of terrorists and illegal immigrants. The problem: Many of those arrested are Kenyan citizens.

We know very little about the fate of immigrants in Africa, a region known for sending migrants elsewhere, not for hosting them. Immigration debates and scholarly work focus overwhelmingly on south-to-north migration, the flow of people from developing to industrialized countries. And when we do turn our attention to migrant flows within the developing world, we typically think of refugees, people fleeing wars and famine. Yet close to half of all international migrants settle in the developing world, including 10 percent in Africa. These are not refugees: In 2013, an estimated14.6 million immigrants lived in Africa compared to fewer than 3 million refugees.

In many African countries, “immigrant” is more an identity predicated on ethnic heritage than a legal status.  As a result, many ethnic minorities face scapegoating and violence. This is true for Kenya’s ethnic Somalis today, who have been scapegoats for the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Kenya by Somalia’s al-Shabaab. It is pervasive throughout South Africa, where black African immigrants – derogatorily called “makwerekwere” – are blamed for the country’s economic hardships. And it has characterized Côte d’Ivoire’s recent civil war, where economic and political competition spurred the Ivoirité movement, an attempt to disenfranchise the country’s northern Muslims.

Individual case studies of immigrant scapegoating in Africa are common. My book, “Immigrant Exclusion and Insecurity in Africa: Coethnic Strangers” not only investigates the prevalence of immigrant scapegoating in sub-Saharan Africa but also explains why some immigrant groups face greater exclusion than others. I collected and analyzed data on mass immigrant expulsions in sub-Saharan African countries, from their year of independence to 1999. The analysis shows that African leaders regularly rely on mass immigrant expulsions (see map below), and that they tend to do so following economic hardship (see figure below). Idi Amin’s notorious expulsion of over 70,000 Asian Ugandans in 1972 comes to mind, but this was hardly the only or most egregious example of immigrant scapegoating.

Frequency of mass immigrant expulsions, from independence to 1999. Map by Claire Adida, shared courtesy of Cambridge University Press.

Frequency of mass immigrant expulsions, from independence to 1999. (Map by Claire Adida, courtesy of Cambridge University Press)

GDP growth around the time of a mass immigrant expulsion. Figure by Claire Adida, shared courtesy of Cambridge University Press.

GDP growth around the time of a mass immigrant expulsion. (Figure by Claire Adida, courtesy of Cambridge University Press)

In 1969, Ghana’s prime minister, Kofi Busia, facing an economic and popularity crisis, decreed his Alien Compliance Order. The executive order gave all aliens in Ghana two weeks to regularize their stay or face expulsion. An official countdown was aired every day on the radio, creating chaos and fear. Eventually, 500,000 people left. The victims of this executive order were, for the most part, ethnic Yorubas who had been living in Ghana for generations. But as members of an ethnic group indigenous to land now located in Nigeria and Benin, not Ghana, and as successful traders in Ghana’s urban centers, they became easy scapegoats.

How do these immigrants protect themselves from such scapegoating? Answering this question required a deeper exploration into the lives and integration strategies of immigrants in Africa. In 2007, I spent a year following two immigrant ethnic groups from Nigeria – the Hausas and the Yorubas – in three West African cities: Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), and Niamey (Niger) (see map below). I interviewed their leaders and surveyed their community members as well as their hosts in the urban centers in which they settle. I also sought out and interviewed victims of Ghana’s 1969 expulsion; though many have passed away, a number are now living in Ogbomosho (Nigeria). What I found is that immigrants find economic success and security by notintegrating into their host societies, a strategy reminiscent of Southeast Asia’s ethnic Chinese or Europe’s Jews.

Research sites in "Immigrant Exclusion and Insecurity in Africa: Coethnic Strangers." Map by Claire Adida, shared courtesy of Cambridge University Press.

Research sites in “Immigrant Exclusion and Insecurity in Africa: Coethnic Strangers.” (Map by Claire Adida, courtesy of Cambridge University Press)

The immigrant groups I studied settled generations ago into their urban host societies as informal traders and rely heavily on leaders in their own communities for key resources, such as access to loans, customers and supplies.

They also seek and find in these leaders greater security. When local police raid neighborhoods and round up immigrants, immigrant community leaders bail them out. This is possible because these leaders strike bargains with local police. They monitor their own, turn in the bad apples, and in return are recognized as a legitimate authority. In sum, they expend considerable time and energy organizing their members and ensuring they remain identifiable… as immigrants.

The very same strategy that gives immigrants in sub-Saharan Africa the best chances for economic success and physical safety also appears to be what keeps them vulnerable. By eschewing integration, immigrants both protect themselves against scapegoating and ensure that the threat remains.

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April 10 – Foreign Detachment: The Making and Unmaking of Cross-Border Ties – Research Seminar

Thursday, April 10th, 12:30pm
Social Science Building, Room 101

This event is jointly sponsored by the UCSD Sociology Department and CCIS.


Roger Waldinger is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at UCLA. He has worked on international migration throughout his career, writing on a broad set of topics, including immigrant entrepreneurship, labor markets, assimilation, the second generation, high-skilled immigration, immigration policy, and public opinion. The author of six books, most recently, How the Other Half Works: Immigration and the Social Organization of Labor (University of California Press, 2003), he is a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow; his research has been supported by grants from the Ford, Haines, Mellon, National Science, Sloan and Russell Sage Foundations.

May 12-18: The Summer Course on Refugee and Forced Migration Issues

The Summer Course on Refugee and Forced Migration Issues is an internationally acclaimed seven-day, non-credit course for academic and field-based practitioners working in the area of forced migration. It serves as a hub for researchers, students, practitioners, service providers and policy makers to share information and ideas.  The Summer Course is housed within the Centre for Refugee Studies, York University. All participants who complete the full course receive a York University Centre for Refugee Studies Summer Course Certificate.

Dates: May 12-18, 2014
Location: York University, Toronto, Canada Course Fee: $1400 CAD +13%HST (until April 1, 2014)

2014 Summer Course topics will include:

  •  Forced displacement: International case studies
  • Legal approaches to refugee studies
  • UNHCR, the Convention and the international refugee regime
  • Humanitarian aid: a comparative perspective
  • Refugee resettlement policy
  • Urban refugees
  • Internally displaced populations
  • Age, gender and diversity mainstreaming in forced migration
  • Sexual minority claims
  • Environmentally-induced displacement
  • Externalization of asylum
  • Transitional justice
  • Detention practices

 

For more information, and to apply, please visit our website at http://crs.yorku.ca/summer/

Mar. 5: Understanding Return Migration to Mexico

Understanding Return Migration to Mexico:
Towards a Comprehensive Policy for the Reintegration of Returning Migrants

with Dr. Miryam Hazan
Washington Director of Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT) 
Fellow with the Tower Center for Political Studies at the Southern Methodist University.

March 5, 2014 from 12:30pm – 2:30pm

at UCSD, Institute of the Americas, Deutz Room
*Free to Public; Registration Required & Lunch Provided (First Come, First Served).
Please Follow Link to Register

Dr. Miryam Hazan is the author of numerous blogs, journal articles and book chapters on Latino politics, immigration and U.S.-Mexico issues, and is currently working on a book manuscript titled “Mexican Immigrant Politics in America” (Cambridge University Press).

An expert on U.S., Mexican and Central American migration policies, and Spanish immigration policies, Dr. Hazan has held research and scholarly positions at Demos, Ideas in Action, the Migration Policy Institute, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, and the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Texas, Austin.

Dr. Hazan has media experience across the Americas, including working for six years at El Financiero in Mexico City.

Co-sponsored by