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.

Download Working Paper 191

 

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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California Congressman To Propose Middle Road On Immigration Reform (KPBS)

BY JILL REPOGLE   NOVEMBER 4, 2013

KPBS News

Southern California Congressman Darrell Issa is rumored to be cooking up his own immigration reform proposal. It’s reportedly designed to find some middle ground in the contentious debate over providing legal status to the more than 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Issa’s district stretches along the coast from UC San Diego in La Jolla to southern Orange County. The district leans heavily Republican: Issa won the 2012 election with a 16-point lead.

Issa’s constituents are mostly white and largely affluent. Still, Issa isn’t immune to the demographic changes taking place throughout California and the nation. About one-quarter of Issa’s district is Latino, and close to 50 percent of his hometown of Vista is now Latino.

Polls have shown that the majority of Latinos want immigration reform with a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

The details of Issa’s plan for immigration reform are still scarce, and his office didn’t respond to numerous requests for an interview. But the plan would reportedly include a six-year period of temporary relief from deportation for undocumented immigrants.

During that time, they would be expected to find a legal way to stay here or leave.

Issa told Politico it’s “halfway between full amnesty and simply rejecting people.”

But some of Issa’s staunchly conservative constituents say that approach is too soft.

“This whole subject to me right now is about the rule of law,” said Patricia Newman, who manages her husband’s medical practice in Vista.

Newman is Mexican-American, and she thinks the government should make it easier for immigrants to come here legally. But she’s suspicious that Issa’s proposal would reward those who haven’t followed the rules, and encourage others to keep coming here illegally.

She said the Republican Party was compromising its ideals in exchange for votes.

“I really think that’s what they’re doing,” Newman said, a stylized portrait of Ronald Reagan looking down at her from her office wall.

“They’re just considering all these things just so they can get new votes. I don’t think they’re thinking it through.”

But Republicans like Issa are facing pressure from business and faith leaders — and even some GOP donors — to take action on immigration reform.

The Vista Chamber of Commerce recently joined state and national business groups in endorsing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents. They also want a temporary worker program for high and low-skilled workers, and strong border security.

“We also have businesses that have had tangible difficulties bringing talent in from outside the country when they needed people,” said Bret Schanzenbach, CEO of the Vista Chamber.

Political scientists warn the Republican party risks becoming irrelevant if it can’t appeal to the country’s growing Latino population. That warning hasn’t seemed to hold much weight for Republican congress members in districts with few Latino voters.

But the political calculations are different for Republican leaders. That likely includes Issa, saidTom Wong, a political science professor at UC San Diego.

“He not only is concerned about his electoral survival, but with eyes towards higher office, he also has to be concerned with the Republican brand as a whole and how that’s perceived nationally,” Wong said.

Several other Republican congress members have recently signed on to the House Democrats’ immigration reform bill, which includes a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

Wong said Issa’s halfway plan could help propel a real discussion on the issue among the Republican caucus.

But time is quickly running out this year to get that discussion going.

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If Vote Were Today, Immigration Reform Would Fail House (Fusion)

BY JOHN ROSMAN of FRONTERAS @ThisIsFusion   Updated OCTOBER 25, 2013

Fusion

SAN DIEGO — In 2012, statistician Nate Silver made headlines when he accurately predicted the outcomes for the presidential election in all 50 states.

While political scientists have been forecasting election results for decades, very few forecast legislation. But in San Diego, one assistant professor is doing just that. He’s forecasting the outcome for immigration reform.

Most days, you can find Tom Wong inside a boutique coffee shop in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, hunched over a Macbook Pro.

The assistant professor of political science at UC San Diego is crunching thousands of numbers.

“I’m predicting opposition and support for immigration reform among all 535 current members of congress,” Wong said.

How Does It Work?

His forecast is created in three steps. The first is a model that determines what factors create a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on immigration.

It begins in 2006. That was the year millions of immigration advocates protested in the streets across the United States, rallying against H.R. 4437, an enforcement-heavy immigration bill.

Many cite these demonstrations as the starting point for the modern immigration movement.

In step one, Wong counts every vote cast by every member of Congress on immigration since 2006. Then he pulls a ton of data — unemployment rates, education levels, ethnic makeup — from states and districts.

Wong explains his model is taking into account “the factors that previous research has identified as being important for immigration policy.”

He uses that information to create a model that predicts how a member of Congress will vote based on what their state or district looks like.

Step two is seeing if his model is accurate.

Wong looks at each member of Congress since 2006 to see whether his model accurately predicted how they actually voted on immigration bills.

“In the House we’re talking about a 94 percent match rate. And the Senate we get about 90 percent,” said Wong.

Step three is using the model as a predictor. For example, how will freshmen members of Congress vote, someone like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)?

“His state has certain demographic characteristics, certain economic characteristics and he’s a Republican,” explains Wong.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the model predicts Cruz will be voting against the bill. But what about the rest of the Senate and members of the House?

“Right now the data points to 67 to 71 ‘yes’ votes in the Senate. For the House we’re only seeing about 203 ‘yes’ votes,” Wong said.

So if voted on today, according to Wong’s model, the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill would fail by 15 votes in the House.

But, Wong wants immigration reform to pass.

Seeking Change

“My own immigration experience gives me this window into the data where the results are more than just numbers, because I see the families and the people that can potentially benefit,” he said.

When Wong was 16 years old he learned that he and his family had overstayed their tourist visas from Hong Kong. They were living here illegally.

Although they have since become legal residents, that moment is always with him.

“It is very easy for me to simply close my eyes and feel exactly how I felt as my 16-year-old self,” Wong said.

It’s a feeling that he believes is shared among many of the young immigrants who are rapidly changing the demographics of districts across the United States.

Wong is using his model to help pro-immigration reform activists locate Congress members who are poised to vote ‘no.’ But are in positions where they should be voting ‘yes.’

He uses Rep Gary Miller (R-Calif.) as an example.

“Based on the data Gary Miller will vote ‘no’ on immigration reform,” Wong said.

Miller’s voting records show’s him as a staunch opponent of immigration reform. But Wong’s model points to Miller as a candidate whose stance can, and perhaps should, change.

In 2012, Miller ran and won election in a newly formed California district in San Bernardino County. It is made up of young minority voters, and his next election is rapidly approaching.

“The young Hispanic/Latino and the young Asian population — meaning those that will turn actually 18 and become voters — will exceed Gary Miller’s 2012 margin of victory,” Wong explains.

He believes there are enough representatives in the House like Miller, who if presented with these statistics, could change their vote and change the current fate of immigration reform.

You can follow Tom Wong as he updates his data and changes model as the immigration debate conitinues. Check out the CIR 2013 Blog

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A Dream Deferred: America’s Changing View of Civil Rights (Live Science)

BY DENISE CHOW   AUGUST 29, 2013

LiveScience

Fifty years ago, on Aug. 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in front of more than 250,000 protesters in Washington, D.C., and called for the end of racial discrimination in the United States in his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The political rally, which became known as the March on Washington, and King’s speech became cornerstones of the American civil rights movement.

But the day after people celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the legacy of the civil rights movement, many minority groups, including African-Americans, are still fighting for equality, sociologists say.

“Many black people, and other people of color, are experiencing the kinds of racial inequalities that were very much present during the days of the civil rights movement,” said Aldon Morris, a professor of sociology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and co-author of “Oppositional Consciousness: The Subjective Roots of Social Protest” (University of Chicago Press, 2001).

While the civil rights movement propelled racial inequality into the national spotlight, and helped usher in landmark anti-discrimination legislation, such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the idea that Americans live in a post-racial society is a myth, Morris told LiveScience.

“I think many people wish to believe that the civil rights movement largely accomplished its goals, and that the racial nightmare is over and the dream has been achieved,” Morris said. “Yes, there has been considerable change since the heyday of the civil rights movement, but the huge problem emerges when we look at the difference between what people say or believe and what they do.”

Fifty years later

The March on Washington was officially known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedoms, and hundreds of thousands of marchers flooded the nation’s capital to demonstrate in support of civic and economic rights for African-Americans. Yet decades later, African-American communities are still struggling with issues such as unemployment, education and home ownership, said John Skrentny, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

“There has certainly been enormous amounts of progress, but African-Americans, by a lot of indicators, are still as bad off as they were 50 years ago,” Skrentny told LiveScience. “Their unemployment rate is twice as high, their incarceration rates are very high, and measures of African-American wealth are quite low.”

This is partly because in the decades since the March on Washington, the civil rights story has receded in the public eye, and the government’s focus has shifted elsewhere, he said.

“Other political issues have risen to prominence, and I think a big part of the story is that the Republican Party does not make a play for African-American votes, whereas with other groups — and I’m thinking specifically of Latinos and gays and lesbians — the Republican Party is in the game for those votes. Not to the extent of the Democrats, but in their postmortem of the 2012 election, it was something that was talked about explicitly,” Skrentny said.

This shift has thrust other issues, such as immigration reform and same-sex marriage legislation, to the forefront. And while these issues also deserve time and attention, political leaders should understand the work that catapulted inequality into the political sphere during the civil rights movement is not yet complete, Skrentny added.

“It’s really difficult to identify a single policy designed to advance the interests of African-Americans in the last 20 years,” he said.

From the foreground to the background

The political change largely began in the 1980s and 1990s, with the rise of the New Democrats, an ideologically centrist arm of the Democratic Party that gained prominence following the 1988 presidential election won by George H.W. Bush. Some members of the New Democrats felt that their party had aligned themselves too closely to African-American interests, and they tried to distance themselves from advancing policies directly targeted at African-American communities, Skrentny said.

For instance, during the 1992 presidential campaign, then Governor Bill Clinton publicly criticized rapper and activist Sister Souljah (her real name is Lisa Williamson) for racially charged remarks about violence in that year’s Los Angeles riots. The episode became known as the “Sister Souljah moment,” and was widely seen as a strategic move to court centrist voters by demonstrating that Clinton was not bound by African-American interest groups, who were perceived to be closely associated with the Democratic Party.

Even Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States, may feel even more hesitant than previous Democratic presidents to throw weight behind overtly African-American issues, for fear that his detractors might accuse him of favoring one community over others, Skrentny said.

“Political leaders discovered that if you try to do too much for African-Americans, working-class whites will say: Why are you helping these people? We have problems, too,” Skrentny said. “When it comes to big political issues, white voters who are economically insecure — and that’s not to say they’re racist, just economically insecure — typically react in a negative way.”

For things to change, Morris says people need to actively study how various forms of inequality are manifested in society. “Only when people allow themselves to be exposed to the truth about the nature of inequality in any society will they be able to engage in meaningful action to bring about change,” Morris said.

One thing the government can do is conduct detailed audits of companies to assess and manage the level of discrimination during their hiring process, Skrentny said.

“We need reliable, nonpartisan measures of how much discrimination is out there, and these types of audits are good ways to take the temperature of discrimination,” he said.

A more extensive initiative to address inequality could be to study unemployment based on the geographical distribution of different communities, Skrentny said. For instance, the government tends to use low tax rates to lure companies into more rural or suburban areas of the country. But African-Americans, in particular, tend to live in urban neighborhoods, and may be limited in their abilities to commute to jobs in other, more distant localities.

“We have to limit different geographic localities from competing with one another, because that isolates certain workers,” Skrentny said.

Fighting for rights

While anti-discrimination policies such as affirmative action have helped, more sweeping changes throughout society are needed, Morris and Skrentny said. Affirmative action aims to prevent the exclusion of individuals based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin in areas of employment, education and business.

“We spend a lot of time debating affirmative action, but fixing employment problems and incarceration problems is very difficult,” Skrentny said. “It’s easier to just make the numbers right in colleges, but it still doesn’t get at the heart of the problem.”

And while the legacy of the March on Washington should be celebrated, Americans should understand that many communities are still struggling for deep-seated change, Morris said.

“To claim that we are now in a post-racial society — to claim that skin color and so forth no longer matters, is to really engage in a myth that is soothing, but at the same time, does not address reality,” he said.

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