Mexico-U.S. Migration and Labor Unions: Obstacles to Building Cross-Border Solidarity (Working Paper #79)

Julie Watts, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Abstract: Despite persistent Mexican migration, deepening North American economic integration, and the recent predominance of migration on the U.S.-Mexico bi-national agenda, cross-border labor union efforts to collaborate on immigration policy and migrant worker rights have been sporadic, reactive, and lacking in concerted action. Based on recent interviews conducted with U.S. and Mexican labor union representatives, migration scholars, immigrant advocacy groups, and government officials, Watts examines the historical, political, and institutional obstacles to cross-border labor union solidarity on migration issues.

Working Paper #79»

Mobilizing in the Barrio: Conflicting Identities and the Language of Politics (Working Paper #78)

Emmanuelle Le Texier, Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales (CERI), Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies

Abstract: American ghettos and barrios have been overlooked because of their low capacity for mobilization and political participation. In particular, barrio residents have been considered to be either culturally or structurally unable to participate in American politics. The use of such concepts as the “sub-culture of poverty” or the “underclass” has maintained a vision of these segregated spaces as non-political. Indeed, low voter registration and turnout, the lack of party campaigning, and a large proportion of disenfranchised individuals may characterize the barrio. However, although the barrio is not at the core of electoral politics, it is a paradigmatic urban arena where the use of social capital transforms a non-political space into a political one. The narratives of San Diego Barrio Logan residents show that conflicting identities and strategies are elaborated both to preserve the Barrio as a specific place and to participate in the definition of “Latino politics.” Not only are forms of mobilization present within the Barrio, these narratives are a performative discourse that provides the conditions for articulating and claiming citizenship rights and a self-definition of the common good.

Working Paper #78»

A Tale of Two Borders: The U.S.-Mexico and U.S.- Canada Lines After 9-11 (Working Paper #77)

Peter Andreas, Brown University

Abstract: In this paper I trace the changing practice and politics of North American border controls and analyze the implications of these changes for cross-border relations and continental integration. More than ever, I suggest, North American relations are driven by the politics of border control. I first examine U.S. border control initiatives before 9-11, and argue that these were politically successful policy failures: they succeeded in terms of their symbolic and image effects even while largely failing in terms of their deterrent effects. I then highlight the border-related economic, bureaucratic, and political repercussions of 9- 11. I show why the task of border control has become significantly more difficult, cumbersome, and disruptive in the post-9-11 era, with significant ramifications for the North American integration project. I conclude by outlining three possible future border trajectories.

Working Paper #77»

Crossing Borders in the School Yard: The Formation of Transnational Social Spaces among Chinese and Mexican Immigrant Students (Working Paper #76)

Carmina Brittain, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Abstract: This presentation analyzes how first generation immigrant students from China and Mexico experience American schooling within a transnational social space that is formed as immigrant children receive and share information about U.S. schools with their co-national (individuals born in their country of origin who reside in multiple localities across borders). This socialization with co-nationals crosses and overlaps boundaries in important and symbolic ways, establishing transnational social spaces in American schools. Framed as advice to immigrant children received from their co-nationals at three specific points in time: prior to immigrating, upon arrival to the U.S., and after a few years of living in the U.S. and attending American schools. Issues related to academic demands, teachers’ and culture emerged as the “do’s and don’ts” for immigrant children. This presentation concludes by arguing that immigrant children’s adaptation to American schools is not only influenced by experiences localized in the United States, but also by experiences that link immigrants with their countries of origin.

Working Paper #76»

Identity Projects at Home and Labor from Abroad: The Market for Foreign Domestic Workers in Southern California and Santiago, Chile (Working Paper #75)

Kristen Hill Maher, San Diego State University and Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Abstract: What kinds of perceptions, attitudes and cultural logics underlie the growing markets for foreign domestic workers in industrializing and post-industrial states? Drawing from field research in both Southern California and in Santiago, Chile, this presentation examines the growing popularity of migrant women as household workers in these two regions. Despite their vast differences in the histories of migration and domestic service, their markets for foreign domestic workers share a number of critical similarities. Maher focuses particularly on common narratives about “the Mexican maid” and “la nana Peruana” among employers and job placement agencies and argues that there are a series of identity projects or ideological agendas that are served when women from less developed states provide domestic labor.

Working Paper #75»

Lessons from a Protracted Refugee Situation (Working Paper #74)

Nathaniel H. Goetz, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Abstract: When refugees seek out the protection of another country, they often wish to eventually return home. However the number of protracted refugee situations around the world is increasing. In addition, the needs of refugees caught in such unfortunate circumstances also change over time. While refugee camps seek to grant basic human rights and protections, refugees living in protracted situations experience much difficulty. One way to alleviate such problems is to provide refugees with a means of economic self-sufficiency and eventual social integration. This presentation looks at the causes, consequences, and responses to protracted refugee situations. By analyzing first-hand documents from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) archives, Goetz explores the development and implementation of self-sufficiency and integration programs for Rwandese refugees in Burundi during the 1960s. He examines the lessons learned from this historical case and how they can be used to improve current refugee assistance programs.

Working Paper #74»

Human Rights and Citizenship: The Case of Mexican Migrants in Canada (Working Paper #72)

Tanya Basok, University of Windsor

Abstract: According to several scholars, the emergence of supra-national human rights institutions have caused a fundamental shift from national citizenship (a nation-based notion of rights) to post-national citizenship )a more individual-based universal conception of rights based on an international human rights regime). The notion of “postnational citizenship” has been challenged by many researchers who have argued that universal principles of human rights cannot be implemented and enforced without the consent of nation-states. Although nation-states have demonstrated a certain degree of respect for universal principles, their commitment to the ideas of post-national citizenship are based on a conception of citizenship rooted in membership in a particular bound community. The two notions of citizenship–one linked to inclusive universal rights and the other to membership in an exclusive community–are at times contradictory. Using the case of Mexican migrants working in Canada, this presentation will emphasize the difference between rights as a set of principles and laws on the one hand, and their actual practice and implementation on the other. Basok will argue that whereas legal access to economic rights has been extended to non-citizens residing in the national territory of sovereign nation-states, membership in the national community has often been denied to them, thus precluding them from exercising the rights to which they have been granted legal access.

Working Paper #72»

Eurostars and Eurocities: Towards a Sociology of Free Moving Professionals in Western Europe (Working Paper #71)

Adrian Favell, University of California – Los Angeles

Abstract: Despite an economic union premised on free movement across Europe, population statistics consistently show that a very low percentage of Western Europeans migrate and settle permanently in other European countries. Middle class Europeans show a remarkable propensity to stay put in their native countries. One can only conclude that the European economic and social system functions in ways that scarcely resemble its founding principle of the free movement of peoples. This presentation reports on qualitative research in Brussels and Amsterdam which has sought to understand the choices, career trajectories, and personal problems faced by professionals who have chosen the path of free movement within Europe. The study reveals the deep-seated national organization of life in even the most internationalized-or Europeanized-of cities, particularly concerning housing, child education, and political participation. Favell focuses on the difficult struggle for “quality life” that is and always has given the advantage to a rooted “bourgeois” conception of accumulation and social power. In a Europe where the declining welfare state and the all-powerful international economic system would seem to be overwhelming the nation-state, Favell suggests that these hidden barriers to free movement in Europe lie at the heart of the resilience of the national as the dominant form of social organization on the continent.

Working Paper #71»

Prostitutes and Picture Brides: Chinese and Japanese Immigration, Settlement, and American Nation- Building, 1870-1920 (Working Paper #70)

Catherine Lee, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and University of California – Los Angeles

Abstract: By examining the historical period from 1870-1920, this presentation will explore why most Chinese women were excluded from immigrating to the United States because they were assumed to be prostitutes while many Japanese women were allowed to immigrate as picture brides. Lee argues that the U.S. did not pass the Page Law of 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 or issue the Gentlemen’s Agreement in 1907 for geopolitical reasons alone, as some scholars have argued. Using archival evidence, she contends that attempts to resolve the competing logics in “settling the west,” which called for cheap labor and the permanent settlement of families on the West Coast, explain why the United States responded to the immigration of Chinese and Japanese women differently. These discrepant responses were a product of geopolitics, economic conditions, and class relations in the U.S, along with state and national fears over miscegenation and desires to maintain the imputed racial purity of a “white” national identity. In turn, U.S. immigration laws and policies helped to determine permanent settlement of immigrant communities and the racial and gendered character of the nation. This presentation suggests that nation-building is not simply the “imagining” of a community but is instead a negotiated process involving geopolitics, political economy, and cultural meanings of gender, race, and ethnicity.

Working Paper #70»