A Chance to Get Immigration Reform Right

Recent immigration reform proposals, such as Arizona’s SB1070, have focused on curtailing illegal immigration through increased border enforcement and deportation of unauthorized residents. But border enforcement is expensive and often ineffective. In addition, while foreign workers benefit the U.S. economy–whether they’ve entered legally or illegally–they also increase the tax burden on U.S. citizens. In Regulating Low-Skilled Immigration in the United States (AEI Press, 2010), Gordon H. Hanson, director of the Center on Pacific Economies and CCIS Research Associate, outlines principles for immigration reform that will balance these fiscal costs and benefits. Successful reform, he argues, must attract in-demand workers who have strong incentives to assimilate and be economically productive, but will not place excessive demands on public services.

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UA-linked effort looks at crossers, effect of violence

The Ford Foundation also funds the University of California-San Diego’s Mexican Migration Field Research Program, whose research is based on interviews with illegal border crossers. Researchers with that program conduct interviews in three Mexican communities with varying illegal-migration patterns and socioeconomic status.

A focus on how border enforcement is affecting migration is crucial, said Jonathan Hicken, a research associate with the Mexican Migration Field Research Program. The survey research adds a more human element missed in other, non-interview-based efforts, he said.

“It’s in our best interest for programs like this to start sprouting up everywhere,” Hicken said of the UA program.

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Reaching for a New Deal: President Obama’s Agenda and the Dynamics of U.S. Politics (Russell Sage Foundation)

Funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, John Skrentny is part of a team of political scientists, led by Theda Skocpol and Larry Jacobs, who joined forces to provide “a detailed and sweeping set of assessments of the accomplishments, limits, and political dramas of the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency during the 111th Congress.”  While Skrentny focused on immigration, other scholars analyzed a broad set of reform areas, including health care, the financial regulation, higher education, organized labor, K-12 education, energy and tax policy.

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A jumbled view of illegal immigrants (Los Angeles Times)

As with many issues, voters want it both ways on immigration, said John Skrentny, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego. Many want a small government but expansive government programs, he noted, or lower taxes but excellent schools.

“A lot of us have contradictory views on different things,” he said.

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2010 Guardian Study Guide (UCSD’s The Guardian)

One of the worst things ever invented — clocking in just after Furbies, but before fist-pumping bros — are three-hour classes. After sitting through five grueling courses, I know firsthand how tedious they can be. It takes a special kind of charm to make these gabfests into something students bother attending, but for sociology professor John Skrentny, it’s just another day at the office.

The cards seem to be stacked against him: a three-hour class that runs into the evening, lectures on the sociological nuances of law and a massive room that makes sleeping both inconspicuous and ideal. Instead, the man turned water into wine — he gestured, he chuckled, he paced, he joked. Skrentny’s teaching style is based on the Pied Piper, leading his students to their ideological destination before they even realize they’re following. Skrentny spends class time telling funny stories about his childhood, asking for students’ opinions on current sociological matters and discussing the facets of law. The man has turned teaching into a performance art.

Plenty of people will tell you his classes are easy and — true enough — it is possible to scrape by with minimal studying, which is a testament to his ability to make a complex concept seem simple. Soon, you’ll forget you’ve been watching the Piper play for the past few hours, paralyzed by his teaching finesse and ready to follow his analysis.

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Illegal immigration drops (The San Bernardino Sun)

Jose Zapata Calderon, a professor of sociology and Chicano studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, pointed to research out of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego that found fewer immigrants wanted to cross the border last year, because jobs are scarce.

“What comes into play is the economic crisis that began in 2007,” Calderon said. “They don’t leave their country just out of wanting to. They leave because of the lack of jobs and the lack of security in terms of survival.”

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The Orange County Register: Immigration and California

The Orange County Register has released the first two parts of a four part series which looks at Immigration and California.  Director Emeritus Wayne Cornelius was referenced in Part 2 of the series as shown below.

Immigration and California: The series at a glance »

Part 1: California’s addiction to immigrant labor »

California relies more on immigrant labor than any other state and almost any developed country. That’s the result of decades-long economic and demographic shifts as well as political choices.

Part2: ‘Cynical’ policy tacitly encourages illegal immigration »

More than 10 million undocumented immigrants have moved to the United States since Congress vowed a crackdown in 1986. A key reason: the government’s failure to lock them out of jobs.

Illegal immigrants surveyed by retired UC San Diego political scientist Wayne Cornelius and his students said that while most employers asked for identification, almost half of the employers knew they were unauthorized and another 11 percent probably knew.

“Current Migration Trends from Mexico: What Are the Impacts of the Economic Crisis and U.S. Enforcement Strategy?”, by Wayne Cornelius, UCSD Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, presented to congressional staff June 8, 2009. Copy provided by Cornelius to the Register. “Almost half”: 49.6 percent, according to the survey of illegal immigrants.

Part 3: Who wins, loses from mass immigration to California? »

Immigrants have driven down wages in low-skilled trades. But they’ve made life easier for middle- and upper-income Californians.

Part 4: Immigration reform: Touching the third rail of U.S. politics»

Changing U.S. immigration policy means grappling with polarizing choices – like amnesty and a national ID card.

Staying Put: One Man’s Thoughts On Crossing The Border 36 Years Later (KPBS)

… UCSD Professor Wayne Cornelius studied migration in the small Oaxacan village where Mendez is from.

He says people there and in villages throughout Mexico have been hit by the economic downturn in the U.S. and Mexico. “It’s been far more severe in Mexico than it has been in the United States. So it’s required a great deal of ingenuity to ride this out on both sides of the border,” says Cornelius. …

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The Border’s Bottom Line (KPBS)

… Just whether unauthorized immigrants cost more than they contribute is a complicated question.

“Immigration most sociologists will tell you have short term costs but long term benefits,” says John Skrentny, a UCSD sociology professor and director of The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies.

“The fiscal impact tends to be positive for the federal government and negative for localities and states,” Skrentny says. …

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