Oct 8-11: ASA Annual Meeting in Toronto

PANEL: “North of Misery: Migration, Affect, and Action” 
American Studies Association Annual Meeting
Oct. 8-11, 2015. Toronto, Canada

The large number of Central American refugees who crossed the Rio Grande in 2014 arrived with harrowing stories about current conditions in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, as well as the dangerous journey through Mexico. Their arrival in the U.S. also generated a range of emotional responses and demands for action, from anti-immigrant protests to calls for humanitarian aid and economic development to the swift militarization of the border. Building from this moment, this panel will explore the relation between affect and action within the longer history of immigration in North America. How have those in the Global North imagined suffering in the Americas and their relation to it? What do their responses to migrants (and to migrant narratives) reveal about the political efficacy of emotion?

Proposals from all disciplines are welcome. Potential papers might consider: affect in the debate over immigration; representations of migrants in literature, visual art, performance and film; activism and theatricality; expressions of empathy, sentimentality, and/or moral outrage; structures of feeling in the “North”; the evolving symbolic role of the North/El Norte; the historic and contemporary role of Canada as refuge.

Please send abstracts (200-300 words) and brief CV by Jan. 5 to Stephen Park (stephen.park@utb.edu). Inquiries before that are welcome.

 

Feb 20: Sixth Annual UC International Migration Conference

The Sixth Annual UC International Migration Conference
“Immigration Policy at Varying Scales”

to be held at the University of California Riverside School of Public Policy
Friday, February 20, 2015

CALL FOR PROPOSALS FOR THE SIXTH ANNUAL
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION CONFERENCE

Despite the lack of Congressional legislation on immigration policy, there have been significant policy developments on immigrant integration and immigration enforcement at the national, state, and local levels. Immigration policy has also been an important area of activity in other countries, and in the work of international organizations.
How are we to make sense of all this?
The Sixth Annual UC conference on international migration is pleased to welcome scholarship on immigration policy, at any level of analysis, on any topic, and from any social science discipline. The focus on policy is especially timely, as UC Riverside launches its new School of Public Policy. In addition to paper presentations, we plan to have a keynote speaker on immigration policy in California (to be announced).
Those interested in presenting should email ucmigrationconference@gmail.com with a title and abstract of 150-200 words. We will provide free accommodations and travel subsidies (up to 100%) for all presenters at the conference.Please note the following criteria and deadlines, and please share widely.
ELIGIBILITY: Ph.D. candidates and faculty members in the University of California who are paper authors or coauthors
DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACT SUBMISSIONS: December 31, 2014
NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCES: January 9, 2015

 

New Study by UCSD’s Tom K. Wong: Significant Percentage of Unauthorized Immigrants May Be Eligible for Permanent Status

Tom K. Wong, UCSD Assistant Professor of Political Science and CCIS Research Associate, has published a study in the Journal on Migration and Human Security: “Paths to Lawful Immigration Status: Results and Implications from the PERSON Survey” (with Donald Kerwin, Jeanne M. Atkinson, and Mary Meg McCarthy).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a significant percentage of unauthorized immigrants are potentially eligible for some sort of immigration relief, but they either do not know it or are not able to pursue lawful immigration status for other reasons. However, no published study the authors are aware of has systematically analyzed this question. The study attempts to answer the question of the number of unauthorized immigrants who, without knowing it, may already be potentially eligible for lawful immigration status.

Click here for the official press release from the Center for Migration Studies with link to the full article.

Oct 13 – Symposium on the Mexican Diaspora in San Diego

 Monday,  October 13th  – Symposium starts at 12:30pm

Malamud Room at the Weaver Center, Institute of the Americas – UC San Diego

Please RSVP here through Eventbrite

The half-day symposium will begin with Lunch at 12:30 PM with Ernest De Lucas,  Director of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME); Andrew O’Brien,  Special Representative from the US Department of State; and Mexico’s Consul General in San Diego, Remedios Gómez Arnau. Panels on the CaliBaja cross-border business community and the Oaxacan diaspora in San Diego will follow.

There will also be remarks from UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and Former Senator Denise Moreno Duchen,  with a reception to close the day. See the full agenda here.

This event is sponsored by the Institute for Mexicans Abroad and is co-hosted by the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, the Institute of the Americas and the Scholars Strategy Network. It is part of a larger series of events that aim to include university campuses in the efforts of the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance to highlight the role of diaspora communities and to engage with them in collaborative efforts with the private sector, civil society and public institutions to support economic and social development.

 

 

Sept 18 – “Seeking Asylum in North America” w/ Judge Rico Bartolomei

Thursday, September 18, 2014

12:10 p.m. @ Room 2G

350 Cedar Street Building, California Western School of Law

Judge Rico Bartolomei, the third highest ranking judge in the U.S. Immigration Court, will be the lead off speaker for the twelve annual joint speakers series, co-sponsored by California Western School of Law’s International Legal Studies Program and the Institute of International, Comparative and Area Studies at UC San Diego.  The speakers series title is Seeking Asylum in North America.

For more information, please contact Prof. James Cooper by email or by phone at 619-525-1430. There is ample city and private parking, for more information please click here.

Rico J. Bartolomei was appointed as an ACIJ in April 2012, based in San Diego. Judge Bartolomei received a bachelor of arts degree in 1983 from the University of Notre Dame and a juris doctorate in 1986 from Georgetown University Law Center. From January 2009 to April 2012, and again from September 1994 to October 2006, Judge Bartolomei served as an immigration judge at the San Diego immigration court. From October 2006 to January 2009, Judge Bartolomei served as an assistant chief immigration judge in San Diego. From 1991 to 1994, he served as a staff attorney for the Board of Immigration Appeals. From 1987 to 1991, he worked as an attorney with the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Judge Bartolomei is a member of the Massachusetts and District of Columbia Bars.

Implications of Deportation on Health & Well Being – Sept 10

 

 Wednesday,September 10, 12:30pm

Biomedical Research Facility, School of Medicine, Conference Room 5A03

*Lunch will be provided

The United States has expelled nearly 2 million persons since 2009.  Relatively little research exists on the potential ramifications of this unprecedented event on health and well being.  This talk will highlight notable findings relating to understanding deportation in the context of the northern US-Mexico border and southern Mexico-Guatemala border regions. Research is being conducted by three leading researchers in the field of migration and health and it features the potential health vulnerabilities that deported migrants may experience in the context of converging social forces including drug trafficking, sex tourism and poverty.

Speakers:

Victoria Ojeda is an Associate Professor in the Division of Global Public Health in the Department of Medicine at UCSD. She conducts qualitative and quantitative research on substance use, HIV/AIDS, and mental health issues, with a focus on Latino deportees, and injection drug users.

 

Kimberly Brouwer is an Associate Professor in the Division of Global Public Health in the Department of Medicine at UCSD.  She researches the spatial and molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases, studying the dynamic between the host and environment, and how this relates to susceptibility to and spread of infections.

 

 

Shira Goldenberg is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Gender and Sexual Health Initiative of the Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the Division of AIDS in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. She conducts qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research on social and structural factors shaping HIV/STI risk among mobile, vulnerable populations in Canada and Latin America.

 

For arrangementsto accommodate a disability, contact theOffice for Students with Disabilities at deaf-hohrequest@ucsd.edu or (858)534-9709(TTY).

Statistical Analysis Shows that Violence, Not U.S. Immigration Policies, Is Behind the Surge of Unaccompanied Children Crossing the Border

Tom K. Wong is Assistant Professor of Political Science at UCSD, tomkwong@ucsd.edu, @twong002

Download a PDF version here.

An earlier version of this article appeared on July 8, 2014 via the Center for American Progress.

A humanitarian refugee situation at the U.S. southern border has been unfolding over the past few years and dramatically intensifying over the past several months, as tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are fleeing their homes in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In search of a safe haven, these children embark on dangerous journeys, arriving in the United States and neighboring countries throughout Central America. Indeed, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, asylum applications from children are up by 712 percent in the neighboring countries of Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has argued that “many of the children apprehended at the border are fleeing unspeakable violence in their home countries.”

Even as the Obama administration struggles to deal with the situation, including finding adequate shelter and protection for the kids, some in Congress have attempted to score political points by arguing that the increased numbers are the result of the administration’s own immigration enforcement policies, such as the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in 2012, which grants eligible unauthorized youth a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), for example, called on President Barack Obama to end the DACA program and begin deporting those with the status to send a message to prospective child refugees that they should not come to the United States. A recent Congressional hearing also placed the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) at the center of the current increase in unaccompanied minors. However, a close statistical evaluation of the available data suggests a very different dynamic that is leading children to leave their Central American homes. It is not U.S. policy but rather violence and the desire to find safety that is the impetus for these children’s journeys.

An analysis of the available data suggests that:

  • Violence is among of the main drivers causing the increase. Whereas Central American countries that are experiencing high levels of violence have seen thousands of children flee, others with lower levels of violence are not facing the same outflow. This trend holds even when accounting for poverty and distance to the United States.
  • By contrast, the evidence does not support the argument that DACA, the TVPRA, or lax border enforcement has caused the increase in children fleeing to the United States.

 

Violence is driving children to flee Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador

How can it be determined that violence is a primary factor causing children to flee? One way is to use the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC, data on homicides and homicide rates by country. Coupling this data with that of the number of children arriving each year allows us to examine the relationship between violence and children arrivals.

Figure 1 shows how violence affects the flow of children. The relationship is positive, meaning that higher rates of homicide in countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are related to greater numbers of children fleeing to the United States.

Another way to examine the relationship between violence and unaccompanied children is to use the data on security levels in Latin America compiled by FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. The annual index ranges from 1 (safe) to 5 (very dangerous) for each country, and data are available from 2009 to 2014. Here again, the relationship is positive, meaning that more dangerous security conditions are related to greater numbers of unaccompanied children. Using the FTI Consulting index data provides an even more strongly statistically significant result, suggesting an even clearer link between violence and children fleeing.

Not only do countries with the highest rates of homicide have the largest numbers of unaccompanied children fleeing, but the data also make clear that countries in Latin America with lower rates of homicide are not sending large numbers of unaccompanied children.

In 2012, the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico accounted for 41,828 homicides, at a rate of 28 per 100,000 people. Exclude Mexico and the murder rate jumps to 54 per 100,000 people. The president of Honduras has gone as far as calling the children refugees from “war” in his country. By contrast, other countries in the region, such as Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama had a total of just 1,881 murders, at a rate of only 13 per 100,000. Nicaragua is particularly useful as an example: It is the second-poorest country in the region—behind only Haiti—and yet, with far lower rates of violence than the three main sending countries, it has not seen an uptick in unaccompanied children leaving.

These findings reinforce a report released by DHS that shows that many of the unaccompanied minors who have recently arrived come from some of the most dangerous cities in Central America.

I also note here that including all Latin American countries in the analysis adds leverage (increases the n) so that other factors can simultaneously be analyzed. The main finding about violence holds when also accounting for economic conditions and distance to the United States.

 

DACA, the TVPRA, or lax border enforcement is not to blame

DACA

In fiscal year 2009, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, encountered slightly fewer than 20,000 unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. So far in FY 2014, more than 51,000 children have entered, with the increase almost entirely coming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala (see Figure 2).

The sharp increase during FY 2012 has been used by senators such as Ted Cruz (R-TX) to argue that the creation of the DACA program in June 2012 is the reason “that we have seen the number of children taking the incredible risks entailed with coming across the border grow exponentially.”

There are two problems with this line of thinking. For one, the increase in unaccompanied children began well before 2012. CBP estimates that between FY 2008 and FY 2009, for example, there was a 145 percent spike in unaccompanied children arrivals, jumping from 8,041 to 19,668.

But even more importantly, the U.S. fiscal year starts on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following year. This means that FY 2012 actually started in October 2011 and ended in September 2012. Considering that applications for deferred action could only be submitted starting on August 15, 2012, it is highly unlikely that DACA caused an increase in children. Data on monthly border apprehensions—which admittedly do not distinguish between unaccompanied children and all others caught at the border—show that the number of people caught at the border actually slowed in the months after DACA was announced.

It also stands to reason that if DACA is causally related to the increased flow of unaccompanied children, the national origins profile of these children should potentially be as diverse as the profile of DACA recipients themselves—in other words, the dramatic increase in unaccompanied minors would not, as the data currently show, be limited to only a few countries. This, in the language of causal inference, means the absence of unit homogeneity. In other words, if DACA were in fact incentivizing the flow of unaccompanied children, Nicaraguans and Panamanians would feel this just as Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans, which would mean dramatic upticks across the board. However, this is clearly not the case.

TVPRA

The TVPRA, which was signed into law by former President Bush at the end of 2008, includes core provisions that are germane to the current political debate over unaccompanied minors. To begin, the TVPRA makes a distinction between non-contiguous and contiguous countries to the U.S. For unaccompanied minors from non-contiguous countries, the TVPRA requires that they be given “safe and secure placement” under the supervision of the Department of Health and Human Services, or HSS, in order to protect them from “traffickers and other persons seeking to victimize or otherwise engage such children in criminal, harmful, or exploitative activity” (see Section 235(c)(1)), and that they have access to legal counsel “to the greatest extent practicable” (see Section 235(c)(5)). This by no means is a “free pass,” as these unaccompanied children are also placed in removal proceedings pending the hearing and adjudication of their cases. The TVPRA also allowed the U.S. to negotiate “child repatriation agreements” with contiguous countries (see Section 235(a)(2)). As a result, unaccompanied Mexican minors are to be treated in the manner described above unless they agree to “voluntarily return,” a process that can lead to their return to Mexico in as little as 48 hours. As the UNHCR notes, most Mexican unaccompanied minors are promptly returned to Mexico under the voluntary return procedure after no more than 1-2 days in U.S. custody. And while data are currently not publicly available on the percentage of children who are returned under this procedure, the fact that only 3% of all unaccompanied minors who were transferred to HSS custody during FY 2013 were from Mexico suggests that the vast majority of unaccompanied Mexican minors are in fact being promptly returned.

It is important to note that the general treatment of unaccompanied minors under the TVPRA is consistent with U.S. obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention (as well as our own Refugee Act of 1980). However, some such as Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), argue that these provisions are contributing causal factors to the flow of unaccompanied minors.

If the TVPRA had a causal effect upon its enactment, one would expect the number of unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. from non-contiguous countries (i.e., Central American countries south of Mexico) to increase from 2008 to 2009. However, the data show that unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras decreased by 12%, 20%, and 39%, respectively, from FY 2008 to FY 2009. Moreover, as noted earlier, while CBP estimates an overall increase in unaccompanied children between FY 2008 and FY 2009, the data show that this increase is driven exclusively by unaccompanied minors from Mexico—to recall, the TVPRA allowed the U.S. to immediately deport unaccompanied Mexican minors under expedited return procedures. This suggests that the expedited return of unaccompanied Mexican minors has not deterred children from Mexico from attempting to enter the U.S. I note here that during this period, Mexico experienced one of its largest year-to-year increases in deaths as a result of its drug war, jumping 141% (an increase from 2,837 deaths to 6,844).

Of course, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are currently at the center of the political debate over unaccompanied minors. Does this mean that the TVPRA has a lagged causal effect? This does not seem to be the case. If the TVPRA is causally related to the recent increase in unaccompanied children, it also stands to reason—given the TVPRA distinguishes between contiguous and non-contiguous countries—that the national origins profile of unaccompanied minors would include fewer Mexican children (as a contiguous country whose children are subject to expedited return), and a broader range of Latin American countries (as non-contiguous countries whose children are provided basic protections under the legislation). This is not the case. Unaccompanied minors from Mexico have held largely steady over recent years. Moreover, and to reiterate, the recent increase in unaccompanied minors remains limited to only three countries. As with DACA, this again, in the language of causal inference, means the absence of unit homogeneity.

Border enforcement

Arguments such as those of Sen. Cruz connecting DACA to the increase in unaccompanied children also cite lax border security by the Obama administration as an additional contributing factor. But these arguments, such as those about DACA, are equally unsupported by the data. To give just a few examples:

  • Under the Obama administration, funding for the Border Patrol has reached record levels, increasing from $2.3 billion at the end of the Bush administration in 2008 to $3.5 billion in FY 2013—an increase of 52 percent.
  • The number of Border Patrol agents in general, and at the southwest border, now stand at record levels (see Figure 3).

If lax border security were contributing to the increase in children arriving, we would expect to see a negative relationship between border security metrics and the number of unaccompanied children entering the United States. To put it another way, we would expect more children to arrive as border security efforts decrease. Instead, the opposite has occurred: As the United States has ramped up its border enforcement, more children have come (see Figure 4).

To be clear, this should not be interpreted to mean that more border security means more unaccompanied children—again, we only have a handful of observations to analyze. Rather, the data suggest that the recent increase in unaccompanied children is not the result of lax border security, but is occurring despite record levels of border security spending and staffing.

And from recent press reports, it is clear that our border security policies are working exactly as intended: Numerous stories note that the Border Patrol is apprehending these kids upon entry, or soon after. Here too, the evidence is clear that border enforcement policies are not driving the surge in unaccompanied children.

 

Conclusion

Instead of attempting to repeal programs such as DACA or the TVPRA, the United States should—as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has suggested—ensure that these children are safe and secure, go after the smugglers and traffickers bringing them here in the first place, often luring them by spreading misinformation, and seek solutions that help quell the violence in these children’s home countries. The data show that this situation is a humanitarian and refugee issue, not an immigration issue, and all sides must not lose sight of the children themselves who are at the heart of the matter.

 

Notes

Notes to Figure 1. Violence and the annual percentage change in unaccompanied minors from 2009 to 2013. For example, Honduras’s homicide rate of 90.4 per 100,000 people in 2012 was associated with a 125% increase in unaccompanied minors from 2012 to 2013. The result is only weakly statistically significant (p = .094), which is expected given the fact that the data covers only a few years. UNODC data are only available through 2012; still, the data are helpful in explaining the relationship between violence and childhood arrivals. Violence is measured using UNODC data on homicide rates—lagged so that cause comes before effect—and unaccompanied children are measured using the annual percentage change in unaccompanied children. Source: Author’s calculation of UNODC and CBP data. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Global Study on Homicide, 2013” (2013), available at https://www.unodc.org/documents/gsh/pdfs/2014_GLOBAL_HOMICIDE_BOOK_web.pdf. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Southwest Border Unaccompanied Alien Children,” n.d., available at http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-border-unaccompanied-children (last accessed July 2014).

Notes to Figure 2. Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Southwest Border Unaccompanied Alien Children,” n.d., available at http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-border-unaccompanied-children (last accessed July 2014).

Notes to Figure 3. Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “United States Border Patrol: Border Patrol Agent Staffing by Fiscal Year,” n.d., available at http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/U.S.%20Border%20Patrol%20Fiscal%20Year%20Staffing%20Statistics%201992-2013.pdf (last accessed, July 2014).

Notes to Figure 4. Author’s calculations based on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Southwest Border Unaccompanied Alien Children,” n.d., available at http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-border-unaccompanied-children and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “United States Border Patrol: Border Patrol Agent Staffing by Fiscal Year,” n.d., available at http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/U.S.%20Border%20Patrol%20Fiscal%20Year%20Staffing%20Statistics%201992-2013.pdf (last accessed July 2014).

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

By Claire Adida – June 3rd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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