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

Slate interview on Culling the Masses

Scarily, the potential congressman’s credo is nothing new. Here’s the truth on America’s racist immigration policy

BY ELIAS ISQUITH   JUNE 12, 2014

David Brat

David Brat (Credit: AP/Steve Helber)

While Speaker of the House John Boehner seems to want the media (or at least GOP donors) to think otherwise, most observers of American politics believe any chance of comprehensive immigration reform coming out of Congress this year is vanishingly small. The politics on the issue for the GOP are brutal, with the Tea Party on one side and the business wing on the other, and most Republicans see no need to create internal strife in advance of a midterm election in which they’ve got, according to Nate Silver, about even odds to retake the Senate.

Yet while it’s tempting to lambast the modern-day Republican Party — with David Brat now taking the political world by storm — as a frightful and xenophobic aberration from the welcoming, pluralistic and multicultural values embodied by the Statue of Liberty and symbolized by the metaphor of a “melting pot,” the truth may be that the most vocal opponents of immigration are the ones with a stronger claim on the model of American history. At the very least, that’s what Grinnell College professor David Cook-Martín and University of California, San Diego, professor David Scott FitzGerald argue in their new book, “Culling the Masses.” Rather than tell a story of a nation of immigrants, “Culling the Masses” is an in-depth look at how the history of immigration policies in the U.S. and all over the world challenge the general belief that democracies naturally tend toward welcoming policies of equality and anti-racism.

In order to better understand this contrarian and disturbing argument, Salon recently called up Cook-Martín to discuss the book as well as how his findings influence his view of immigration politics in the U.S. today. Our conversation is below, and has been edited for clarity and length.

Could you explain not only what your book is about, but also why you were inspired to write it?

In terms of what inspired me to write the book, after finishing a project in which I looked at citizenship laws in multiple countries … I was left with a lot of questions about how countries were selecting immigrants by race. I knew that they were selecting obviously by skills or in terms of abilities and so forth, but I had questions about how they were selecting by race or ethnicity. I was talking to the person who became the co-author of this new book about what he had found in the Mexican case. He had studied emigration from Mexico also in the long perspective and had been dealing with some of the same questions as he read some historical and legal sources on how Mexico itself was selecting immigrants by race in their immigration laws, even though they didn’t really have a lot of immigration.

So we had these questions and we thought, “Well, look, let’s just go out, do a little bit of research, and just find that book that tells about how immigration laws selected in different countries in the Americas.” The reason we wanted to look at the Americas is that most of what we had read compared the U.S. to Western Europe or countries within Western Europe, and if you do that, you get little variation in terms of different kinds of political regimes. So we wanted a little bit of variety in terms of liberal democracies, more authoritarian kinds of countries and so forth. That’s why we were looking at the Americas, because by looking at those kinds of countries you get a little more variation in that sense. We looked for that book that would do this, and we didn’t find it, so we decided — maybe foolishly; I don’t know — we decided we would do this and set out to write that book.

What we ask in the book is, “What explains the different patterns that we see in immigration and citizenship laws with respect to selecting either immigrants or prospective members or citizens?” And like anyone else, we had notions of democracy that meant that, y’know, we thought that democracies would treat everyone equally regardless of race — which appealed of course to our own political sensibilities — and, of course, we knew that there were exclusionary policies; we both are experts in immigration policy; but we didn’t realize how systematic this was, and what we saw on the ground, in terms of what actually happens with immigration laws, is that the most democratic countries — the most liberal, democratic countries — have the longest uninterrupted periods in which they selected immigrants by race.

Let’s talk about the United States. What do you think is the common understanding of the U.S. when it comes to immigration policy? Does your research challenge or complicate that conventional narrative?

With respect to the point that I mentioned earlier about the coexistence of liberal democracy on the one hand and racism in immigration law on the other hand, I think the conventional narrative is: Yes, of course, there were things like slavery, and, of course, there was racial selection; but that was just a matter of an immature liberal system, and liberal democracy over time had to work out its own internal kinks. So [racism] is sort of a passing aberration. The problem with that narrative — especially when it comes to immigration law — is that that passing aberration lasted for at least 220 years.

Let me put some dates to that: As early as 1790, with respect to nationality, the U.S. was already excluding non-whites. With respect to immigration, per se, in the 1850s, the U.S. was already saying, “No, we don’t want ‘coolies’ transported on American vessels.” And certainly by 1882, when the Chinese Exclusion Act began, you had a very overt exclusion against the Chinese that lasted in immigration law pretty much all the way through 1865 (although that changes when it comes to citizenship law) … From 1790 through 1952, most Asians could not naturalize, simply because they were Asian.

I think the preponderance of the historical evidence is in the direction of [racist immigration policy] not being a passing aberration or something that needed to [be] worked out. It was part and parcel of democracy — hence the title of our book.

What you just said sort of reminds me of Thomas Piketty and how his book also challenges a traditional understanding of America that is, in fact, the product of an aberrant period. For Piketty, he’s showing that the roughly 30-year period of relative economic equality following World War II is outside the norm and that the U.S. economy has usually been defined by great inequality. Your book makes a similar argument; you’re saying that the period most Americans think of when they think of U.S. immigration policy — the late 19th century until the early 1920s — was also aberrant and that the U.S. usually didn’t have such a welcoming official stance toward the rest of the world’s population.

The period between 1880 and let’s say the first World War … that period of time is often thought of as a golden age of immigration. But if you look not only at the U.S. but at most countries, whether they’re countries of immigration or emigration, it’s also a period of time at which states are building the capacity to control who comes and goes. So over time they gained more capacity and they did use it. By the time of World War I, arguably, the stem in the flow of migrants had more to do with both economics and war, but also states had built up the legal infrastructure and the administrative infrastructure to control who came and went. The closer you got to the 1930s, the more control states actually had. If that’s where you were going with it.

Can I follow up on a point that you made that I think actually contributes to the kind of analogy or link that you were drawing to Piketty’s work?

Of course.

You’re right: We have sort of judged immigration law on the postwar period, and from that perspective, the U.S. is very egalitarian … whereas both Canada and the U.S. were actually, over the long-term, extremely exclusionary, as suggested earlier. But not only that, when it [changes] around the time of World War II, it was not the U.S. and Canada saying, “Hey, let’s get right with our liberal democratic principles and change immigration so that it’s more egalitarian and doesn’t select based on race or ethnicity.” That’s not what happened. What happened is that there was sort of a series of geopolitical moments that drove the major world powers in that direction, of doing away with those kinds of exclusionary laws — and it was actually countries in the global South, Asian countries, Latin American countries, and a little later, African countries, who pushed this agenda on the world stage of anti-discrimination in immigration policy and other public policy. I think that’s another finding that some folks have found surprising, that it didn’t come from the enlightenment of the Global North but rather that that shift away from discrimination in immigration law came by advocacy from below, from some of these weaker countries.

OK, so fast-forward to today and the ongoing debate about immigration reform. Do you see any continuities with the past in terms of how the debate about immigration is conducted today?

On the continuity end, I want to say … that one of our findings is that the more open the political process is to a diversity of voices, the more likely you’re going to have some sort of exclusionary policy come from that. There are big historical qualifiers to that, but that’s a major finding. I wish that were not the case, as someone who is democratically inclined; but that’s what we find. By the way, it happens not only in democracies, but also in populist regimes that are open, at least rhetorically, to voices from below.

If I could interrupt for just a second, I want to underline the point you just made because it’s pretty counterintuitive and important. You’re saying that the more pluralist or democratic a country is, the more likely it is that its immigration policies will be exclusionary?

Yes. I don’t want to emphasize the number as much as I want to emphasize the plurality of interests represented. So let me make this more on the ground: If you were to think of a primary process happening in California in the 1870s and ’80s, [it was] very open, very democratic … because you had all these people at the table. But that led very directly to exclusions against the Chinese in California and, subsequently, that became part of federal policies … Similarly today, in those [countries] in which the political process is open to local voices, you have more of a tendency towards exclusion. The best example of that is probably SB 2070 in Arizona (and then subsequent iterations of that in different states) and in this trend to [make] immigration policy local, as opposed to the long-term trend of it being a federal domain.

Does that mean that if someone wants more inclusive, open immigration policy, they should push for a federal rather than state-by-state response?

Yes, I think so. I can add one other element to this: the higher you go up the political structure, the more there are other constraints on what actors can do. So, at the federal level, there’s one major constraint that we talk about in the book, and that’s geopolitics. It’s much harder for the executive today — let’s say Obama were to say, “We’re going to ban Mexicans by virtue of their origins; we’re just going to ban Mexicans.” Can you imagine the reputational fallout of that, and the multilateral institutions that would be involved and so forth? I’m not making a case for the fact that the U.S. is or is not answerable to these transnational intergovernmental organizations; I’m just saying they, at the federal level, are much more aware of geopolitics than Sheriff Arpaio. He’s not constrained by that so much.

Didn’t something along these lines happen in the early 20th century with then-President Teddy Roosevelt and Japan? Something about how he had to go over there and try to repair the relationship that was damaged by California’s anti-Japanese restrictions on immigration?

That’s a very astute example, actually. That’s a great example of how these geopolitics play out. So why did we sign — we meaning the U.S. — why did we sign an agreement with Japan [to] exclude Japanese immigrants as we had with Chinese immigrants? Well, partly because Japan was an empire at the time, a powerful empire, who had just upset the Russians in a war and were sort of seen as a very heavy player in the region. So it would have been very difficult to outright exclude the Japanese, and hence you end up with the gentlemen’s agreement [which was] essentially a bunch of internal memos that went back and forth between the U.S. and Japan that said Japan would take measures to self-regulate on emigration. That’s where geopolitics comes in.

The idea that there’s a divergence in priorities the higher up you go in the political hierarchy reminds me of the current dynamic within the Republican Party over immigration, in which the party’s more business-minded, elitist and educated wing — the country club Republicans, basically — want immigration reform while the more populist, salt-of-the-earth Republicans — Tea Partyers, basically — are intensely against anything they deem “amnesty” (which encompasses a lot). Considering we live in such a time of political and economic inequality, though, do you think immigration reform might happen soon because the GOP elites are more influential than the Tea Party?

I think what you pointed out about the disjuncture between conservatives on this particularly issue … I don’t think that that’s that different from what we’ve seen in the long-run. [In the past], you also had labor adamantly against immigration, basically of everyone, but it was also racialized at one point. So this issue has traditionally been one that has made for some pretty interesting bedfellows. You’ve had people like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce aligned with some left-wing folks and progressives on the immigration issue for very different reasons; and you also had the alignment in terms of division among the more conservative types, but also people who have made arguments against immigration on more environmental grounds and population grounds … you’ve had strange alliances in the past.

I think that’s because what happens with immigration is that it has two main contrasting and sometimes colliding orientations. One is to focus on issues that have to do with labor, and labor’s economic interests, and what a country needs in terms of its labor market to function as a competitive, capitalist economy. On the other hand, you have matters of the heart — or of identity, so to speak. These things, these kinds of different interests, have become more or less salient depending on context. At times, and often times, elites won on this issue of getting cheap labor, which is what they wanted … But sometimes this ideological side — what I refer to as matters of the heart and identity — sometimes that comes to the fore in such a way that even elites can’t ignore [it]. So you might find elites sometimes supporting exclusionary immigration policies even when it probably went against their own economic interests.

That makes me think immigration reform is bound to win. Not only do elites have economic interest in cheap labor, but the “heart” of America is, at least on the surface, so devoted to ideas of pluralism and diversity and the melting pot and so on, that a more ideological argument against reform — the kind you hear from Tea Party types who worry immigrants are moochers who are changing the national character — won’t be able to have mainstream appeal.

Right. Economic and also demographic imperatives … What do I mean by demographics? I’m sure you’re more than aware of the shifts that have happened in the U.S. with the growth of Latino and non-majority populations … so this is sort of a fact on the ground. What’s going to happen is that the political structure is going to have to come to terms with that. The Republicans are kind of between a rock and a hard place because … to make overtures to Latinos is going to take some time at this point, and we all know that the political game is sort of a two-year game … So on the one hand, Republicans want to please Latinos; but on the other hand, they have … the Tea Party crowd that is against immigration, and they’re the crowd you want to please for your short-term game. But on the other-other hand, they know that the long-term game is one in which they will have to engage the Latino electorate. I think that was already clear in the last election; it will be more clear as time goes on. So what do they do? I think that’s the dilemma for Republicans at this point.

Right, and the Democrats are all too happy to exploit this internal contradiction by trying to make the most controversial opponents of immigration reform — like Rep. Steve King or Sheriff Joe Arpaio — the face of the GOP on the issue. Anyway, to take a step back from the nitty-gritty of politics and look at the issue of immigration — and how liberal democracies haven’t lived by their supposed values in that regard — I wanted to ask you what this discovery meant to you on a more personal or philosophical level? Was it just kind of surprising and unexpected and interesting, or was its effect on you more significant?

It really kind of shook my assumptions about how much [racist immigration policy] was something that was just sort of an historical interest or something … that really [shook] the way I think of what’s going on today. What exactly do I mean by that? If you think of some of the very strong racist or borderline-racist rhetoric that’s out there — or even more insidiously, some of the rhetoric that purports not to be racist but is making the same kind of selections, and using the same kinds of rationales to make distinctions among people — if you think of [that] today, and the way that [it's] sort of the very violent flailing of people who are losing privilege … I was really struck by the immediate postwar [era] in that sense.

Great Britain and Canada … now purport to be these multicultural paradises, and the U.S. [claims] to be a post-racial place; all of those [self-descriptions] really contrasted with the way that they went kicking and screaming into a period of doing away with these exclusionary laws. And they did it mostly, I think, because there were outside, big political constraints, and they wanted something [else] more than they wanted to … keep their privilege. But I don’t think that they fully comprehended the long-term consequences of, for example, opening up migration to a greater diversity of people … The U.S. is a clear example of [this] transformation, so that now you have constituencies of those very people who for over a century had been excluded, [and] they have become major political players. That really shook my world in the sense that it made me rethink now and the past; those two came into a conversation that I had not paid enough attention to.

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NYT, HuffPo, KPBS and others cover work by Tom K. Wong – In Their Own Words: A Nationwide Survey of Undocumented Millennials

Click here to download the survey In Their Own Words: A Nationwide Survey of Undocumented Millennials by Tom K. Wong with Carolina Valdivia The_New_York_Times

Click here to read the NYT Article – “Young Immigrants Growing Disenchanted With Both Parties” by Julia Preston
huffpo

Click here to read HuffPo article “Dreamers Keeping A Close Eye On Immigration To Determine Their Politics” by Elise Foley

LAtin TImes

Click here to read the Latin Times – “DACA News: 70 Percent Of Young Undocumented Began New Jobs After Receiving Deportation Deferral, Says New Survey” by David Iaconangelo

atl journal

Click here to read AJC – “Survey: More young immigrants without papers identify with Democrats” by Jeremy Redmon

 

arizona republic

Click here to read “Survey: 70% of ‘dreamers’ got jobs under Obama work program” by Daniel Gonzalez

fusion

Click here to read Fusion’s “Young Undocumented Immigrants Aren’t Tied to Either Party, Poll Says” by Ted Hesson

kpbs

Click to read the KPBS article “Survey Finds ‘Dreamers’ Are Politically Engaged And Benefitting From Temporary Legal Status” by Jill Replogle

In Their Own Words: A Nationwide Survey of Undocumented Millennials (Working Paper # 191)

 

Tom K. Wong, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UCSD

with Carolina Valdivia, PhD Student, Harvard

About The Survey

In Their Own Words: A National Survey of Undocumented Millennials is one of the largest surveys to date on any segment of the undocumented population in the U.S. The survey provides new insights related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, life after DACA, and the experience of “coming out” as undocumented, as well as a first-of-its-kind look at the civic engagement and political incorporation of undocumented youth, among several other important topics. Please visit www.undocumentedmillennials.com for more information.

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John Skrentny’s Op-Ed in The New York Times

Only Minorities Need Apply

By JOHN D. SKRENTNY   MAY 6, 2014

NewYorkTimesLogo

SAN DIEGO — THIS year is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which among other things prohibits the use of race in deciding whom to hire, fire, promote or place in the best and worst jobs.

But while the overt discrimination of 1964 is now rare, a more subtle form of bias is emerging: Both public and private employers increasingly treat race not as a hindrance, but as a qualification — a practice that, unchecked, could undermine the basic promise of the act.

For example, corporations often match African-American, Asian-American and Latino sales employees to corresponding markets because of their superior understanding of these markets, or because customers prefer to see employees of their own race, or both.

This is not affirmative action: Such “racial realism” is not intended to guarantee equal opportunity or compensate injustice, but rather to improve service and deliver profits for employers.

Racial realism is common in many sectors. Hospitals, supported by progressive foundations, racially match physicians and patients to improve health care. School districts place minority teachers in schools with large numbers of minority students because they supposedly understand their learning styles better, and serve as racial role models. Police departments try to reduce crime and police brutality by racially matching officers and neighborhoods.

Film producers manipulate audience reactions by displaying the right races in the right roles. This may be motivated by artistic goals — obviously, a film like “12 Years a Slave” required actors of particular races in particular roles. More often, these are business decisions. Whites in starring roles are thought to generate more box-office revenue, though adding nonwhites can broaden appeal.

Such practices are legally dubious. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charged with enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, states that the Civil Rights Act “does not permit racially motivated decisions driven by business concerns.” Nor may race or color ever be a “bona fide occupational qualification.”

Courts have long supported this position. The Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education held that hiring and placing teachers to be racial role models was discrimination, even linking it “to the very system the Court rejected in Brown.”

In 1999, the 11th Circuit Court considered a telemarketing firm that matched employees’ race with those of the customers they called, and ruled that the company’s belief that this produced better responses was based on a stereotype and was “clearly” discrimination.

Meanwhile, the Seventh Circuit rejected Chicago’s contention that minority firefighters were needed for credibility and cooperation in minority neighborhoods; separately, it ruled that hiring black counselors to deal with black disadvantaged youths was illegal because it catered to discrimination by clients and their parents.There are only two areas where courts have authorized racial realism. Some courts have argued that law enforcement creates a compelling interest — “operational needs” — in communication and legitimacy with nonwhites, justifying racial realism in the hiring and placement of police officers. And there have been some exceptions made for artistic license: In 2012, a Tennessee district court, in a case regarding the reality show “The Bachelor,” stated that casting only whites in the lead roles was expression, akin to speech, and protected by the First Amendment.

Not only is racial realism legally unjustified, but it often hurts the people who, in the short term, would seem to benefit from it. Studies by the sociologists Elijah Anderson and Sharon Collins have found that nonwhite employees who are promoted to fill racially defined roles have trouble leaving them.

Moreover in jobs where part of an employee’s salary is based on sales volume, assigning nonwhites to nonwhite market sectors — which tend to be lower income — can mean significantly smaller paychecks. In 2008, Walgreens agreed to pay $24 million to black managers who objected to being placed in black neighborhoods, which typically had lower sales and thus lower compensation.

Nevertheless, racial realism is too slippery, and too widely used, to stamp out completely. And so rather than trying to end racial realism, we need to make sure that it doesn’t block opportunities for minorities. For one thing, we could require more transparency and verification. If employers think race is a legitimate qualification for a job, they must rely on evidence, not stereotypes.

And in cases where racial-realist hiring and placement is justified, like after a series of racially fraught police incidents, there should be opt-outs and time limits.

This was the position of a New York district court when black police officers sued to limit Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s ability to force them to work in a dangerous precinct after the 1997 beating of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, by white police officers. Mayor Giuliani argued that the presence of black officers was necessary to ease racial tensions, and the court agreed — but also held that the placements had to be temporary.

America has changed significantly since the Civil Rights Act. But we are still a long way from the day when race no longer plays a role in society. Racial realism may be unavoidable for the time being, but we must still be wary of its excesses, lest it lead us back down the road toward racial discrimination.


John D. Skrentny, a professor of sociology and the director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, is the author of “After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace.”

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Making the border less enticing to cross



CCIS Associate Director David FitzGerald comments on what migrants in Mexico know about enforcement and dangers at the border.


U.S. Border Patrol agents are taking a more proactive tactic to deter migrants: asking Mexican and Central American TV and radio stations and newspapers for the opportunity to tell of the dangers of crossing illegally.

BY PALOMA ESQUIVEL, Los Angeles Times   APRIL 8, 2012

The federal government has tried just about everything to stop the flow of migrants crossing the border illegally. It boosted the number of Border Patrol agents, made punishment harsher, deployed drones and motion sensors, built and rebuilt fences. For years it has even quietly funded the dissemination in Mexico of songs and mini-documentaries about dangers at the border.

Now it is using a more proactive tactic: Since last year, agents in Arizona have called Mexican and Central American television and radio stations and newspapers, asking for the opportunity to tell of the dangers of crossing illegally, particularly through the Sonoran Desert.

The outreach, which was initially greeted with skepticism, is being embraced.

Newspapers in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Michoacan have run stories based on their accounts. Outlets in El Salvador and Guatemala have followed suit. Some ran photos provided by the Border Patrol of packed safe houses and emergency rescues.

“Immigrants are mistreated, assaulted, lied to, made fun of and women are often raped,” was the lead to one story in El Diario de Hoy, a daily newspaper in El Salvador.

The efforts are considered successful enough that this year the agents expanded them to U.S. cities with large immigrant communities, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Seattle and Atlanta. The goal on this side of the border is to persuade residents to warn family members back home about treacherous conditions, particularly along the Arizona border, agents said.

“Our message is: If you do decide to come, don’t come through Arizona,” said Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame. “We’re seeing a big increase in smuggler abuse; robberies with AK-47s and pistols, knives; rapes of women, more physical abuses — not only in the desert but in safe houses where people are tied up with duct tape.”

What effect the public relations effort will have on migrants is unclear. The number of apprehensions at the border is already down dramatically. There were 340,000 last year, compared with 1.6 million in 2000, a drop many experts attribute to fewer migrants attempting to cross.

And many of the threats are already well known. For years, the Mexican government and media have warned migrants about the danger posed by extreme temperatures, crime and U.S. enforcement.

Since 2004 the Border Patrol has spent about $1.1 million annually to anonymously fund the dissemination of musical corridos, mini-documentaries and other public service announcements depicting tragedies at the border.

The campaign, called No Mas Cruces, is not openly sponsored by the U.S. government, in part to make “the message more palatable for the intended audience,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Kerry Rogers.

Some critics have denounced the program for lack of transparency. But government officials consider it successful. One of the songs was nominated for a Latin Grammy. And this year, the program will include an art exhibit of tragedies and dangers that will travel to several small towns in Mexico, Rogers said.

David Fitzgerald and others at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego have spent the last several years researching what migrants in Mexico know about enforcement and dangers at the border and how that knowledge affects whether they decide to come to the U.S.

“People are aware that it’s extremely dangerous and that a lot of people are dying,” he said. “They have very high levels of knowledge in terms of what’s going on at the border.”

The researchers found evidence to suggest that people who think the U.S. economy is bad and that the border is very dangerous were less likely to migrate.

Still, the vast majority of people polled who tried to cross illegally into the country succeeded, he said. More than 95% eventually made it through, even after they were apprehended multiple times.

Adame, the Border Patrol agent, and Chris Leon, a Customs and Border Protection official involved in the efforts, said the outreach provides crucial information to migrants. Since October there have been 83 deaths at the Arizona border. Routes are more dangerous now, they said, in part because of increased enforcement.

In their experience, many migrants rely on information provided by people who crossed the border several years ago.

“A lot of times they’ll contact someone who is already here and they’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, five years ago I came through. It was easy,’ ” Adame said. “A lot has changed in those last five years, including enforcement being tougher so smugglers are having to take the migrants out further.”

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‘After Civil Rights’ explores ‘racial realism’ in the workplace (Florida Courier)

CCIS co-director John Skrentny’s book “After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace” is discussed in the Florida Courier.


BY DR. GLENN C. ALTSCHULER
SPECIAL TO THE COURIER

Over two decades ago, Harvard Law Professor Martha Minow described “the dilemma of difference.” When does treating people differently “stigmatize or hinder them on that basis,” she asked. “And when does treating people the same become insensitive to their difference and likely to stigmatize or hinder them on that basis?”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided one answer to these questions.  An affirmation of classical liberalism, Title VII declared any action based on an individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin that adversely affects the terms and conditions of employment to be unlawful.  Nor does Title VII permit racially motivated decisions driven by business concerns, including the preferences of clients or customers.

Less prominent in law, affirmative action infused race with significance in employment.  Politically charged and controversial, it is tolerated, if at all, as a temporary fix that does not replace color-blind policies – and is confined to situations where imbalances in the composition of the workforce can be authoritatively attributed to past discriminatory practices.

Making assumptions
Both approaches, John Skrentny, a professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego, points out, are out of sync with actual workplace practices.  In “After Civil Rights,’’ Skrentny demonstrates that in many, many fields, ranging from media to marketing, meatpacking and medicine, employers use perceived or actual racial abilities in recruitment, hiring, and on the job assignments.

“Racial realism,” Skrentny argues, can open doors of opportunity; it can also “freeze in place” racial – and racist – assumptions.  Too widespread to be rolled back, he emphasizes, race-conscious employment dynamics should not “run unchecked as it does today.”

Employment practices
“After Civil Rights’’ makes a compelling case for the pervasiveness of race-conscious employment practices.  Presidents take race into account when making appointments.  Patients express greater satisfaction with the quality of their health care when they are treated by physicians who share their racial or ethnic background.

News organizations hire African-American anchors to attract Black viewers – and assign Latino journalists to cover the Latino community (“the taco beat”).  Retailers admit to race matching sales personnel to their client base.  And many low-skilled jobs go to immigrants because employers deem them more likely to work hard, without complaints and for lower wages, than African-Americans or Whites.

It is by no means clear, however, that “racial realism” in employment produces positive results.  While police officers of different races vary in their knowledge of neighborhoods, Skrentny notes, studies have found little evidence of different behavior.  And a nationwide study showed that the race of teachers did not have an impact on how much students learned.

Mended, not ended
Nonetheless, the advantages of policies based on market realities and employer discretion are obvious.

After all, some would argue, the Harlem Globetrotters and the producers of “Othello’’ should confine their searches to Blacks. And yet, as Skrentny observes, legitimizing race-based BFOQ (“bona fide occupational qualifications”) exceptions to anti-discrimination laws would not only be difficult to draft and expensive, but could be used to defend the preferences of racist customers.

What, then, should be done?  Skrentny suggests that “racial realism” be mended, not ended.  To start the conversation, he advocates multi-cultural training programs in areas where employers believe race is a qualification; interpreting laws to give “breathing room” to initiatives designed to benefit members of minority groups; requiring validation of practices predicated on “racial abilities” and “racial signaling;” and more responsible corporate behavior in locating firms, setting wages, employing immigrants, guaranteeing workplace safety, and taking responsibility for displaced workers.

“After Civil Rights’’ leaves no doubt that current workplace realities – and practices – have diverged from statutes and constitutional interpretations of them.  The “strategic management of racial differences” may or may not always be necessary “to achieve a wide variety of goals in a wide array of contexts.”

But, as Skrentny urges, for now, and for the foreseeable future, we must do a better job of aligning workplace practices “with our values and our laws.”

Dr. Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He wrote this review for the Florida Courier.

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