Latino Independents and Identity Formation Under Uncertainty (Working Paper #89)

Zoltan Hajnal, University of California – San Diego

Abstract: Since the 1950s, there has been roughly a two-fold rise in the proportion of Americans who identify as political Independents. We argue that the ethnic and immigrant experiences of Latinos shed new light on why and how individuals self-identify with a political party. For Latinos, we argue, party identification is defined by social and political identity formation under uncertainty. We argue that for immigrant-based ethnic groups like Latinos, identification as Independent is a rationally adaptive strategy given uncertainty and ambivalence about one’s social group attachments, one’s core political predispositions, and the benefits of political and civic involvement to pursue the individual and group interests of Latinos in the US. Absent home-grown and wellgrooved habits, the category of Independent affords a safe harbor for many Latinos from which to bank experiences and impressions about political life in the US. We test our account using data from 1989-1990 Latino National Politics Study, the 1993-1994 Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality and the American National Election Studies.

Working Paper #89»

Population Politics: Benjamin Franklin and the Peopling of North America (Working Paper #88)

Alan Houston, University of California – San Diego

Abstract: This paper sketches the terrain. It is not a finished portrait, but a preliminary outline. I begin with a discussion of Franklin’s status as “the first American,” and the need to situate him in a broader social, political, and intellectual context. I then turn to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century arguments regarding the causes and consequences of population growth, and Franklin’s distinctive contributions to them. In the final sections of the paper I turn to Franklin’s reflections on race and ethnicity in colonial life. Throughout this paper I seek to emphasize the politics of population. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between population and the construction of commercial society.

Working Paper #88»

Language Skills and Evidence: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants (Working Paper #87)

Hoyt Bleakley, University of California-San Diego

Aimee Chin, University of Houston

Abstract: Research on the effect of language skills on earnings is complicated by the endogeneity of language skills. This study exploits the phenomenon that younger children learn languages more easily than older children to construct an instrumental variable for language proficiency. We find a significant positive effect of English proficiency on wages among adults who immigrated to the U.S. as children. Much of this impact appears to be mediated through education. Differences between non-English-speaking origin countries and English-speaking ones that might make immigrants from the latter a poor control group for non-language age-at-arrival effects do not drive these findings.

Working Paper #87»

¿“Estado de oro” o “Jaula de oro”? Undocumented Mexican Immigrant Workers, the Driver’s License, and Subnational Illegalization in California (Working Paper #86)

Hinda Seif, U.C. Institute for Labor and Employment

Abstract: Scholarship on the efforts of undocumented immigrants for recognition in receiving countries focuses on national legal identity. Yet the restoration of access to a driver’s license has emerged as a key struggle of undocumented immigrants across the US. What does the driver’s license represent to Mexican immigrants? What may we learn about changes in the enforcement of immigration laws from the driver’s license struggle? I outline the history of driver’s license legislation and enforcement in California based on participant observation, interviews and document collection at the California state legislature and Southeast Los Angeles conducted between 1999 and 2001. I focus on the imposition of new requirements to prove legal residency and provide a valid social security number to obtain a California drivers’ license during the immigration restriction movement of the early 1990s, and subsequent changes in the enforcement environment made possible by information technologies. As the lives of immigrants are increasingly regulated through anti-terrorist activities of the Department of Homeland Security, undocumented Mexican immigrant workers are also policed by local law enforcement through the monitoring of drivers. Through the story of the Ramirez family, we see how unlicensed immigrant drivers and immigrant communities are caught in a web of laws, fines, and deepening criminalization that impacts the safety of all Californians on the roads.

Working Paper #86»

The Dynamics of Repeat Migration: A Markov Chain Analysis (Working Paper #85)

Amelie Constant, University of Pennsylvania and IZA

Klaus Zimmerman, Bonn University, IZA and DIW Berlin

Abstract: While the literature has established that there is substantial and highly selective return migration, the growing importance of repeat migration has been largely ignored. Using Markov chain analysis, this paper provides a modeling framework for repeated moves of migrants between the host and home countries. The Markov transition matrix between the states in two consecutive periods is parameterized and estimated using a logit specification and a large panel data with 14 waves. The analysis for Germany, the largest European immigration country, shows that more than 60% of the migrants are indeed repeat migrants. The out-migration per year is low, about 10%. Migrants are more likely to leave again early after their arrival in Germany, and when they have social and familial bonds in the home country, but less likelywhen they have a job in Germany and speak the language well. Once out-migrated from Germany, the return probability is about 80% and guided mainly by remittances and family considerations.

Working Paper #85»

Constructing the Criminal Alien: A Historical Framework for Analyzing Border Vigilantes at the Turn of the 21st Century (Working Paper #83)

Kelly Lytle, University of California-San Diego

Abstract: What I want to contribute to this conversation today is to provide a historical framework for the eruption of anti-immigrant vigilante activity along the US-Mexico border at the turn of the 21st-century. Beginning with the South Carolina Regulator Movement of 1767-1769, there have been at least 500 vigilante movements throughout the United States. Like all other vigilante movements, including what’s going on in Arizona today, the South Carolina Regulators were organized in response to a sense among elite community members that there was of a lack of adequate law enforcement. Like the American Border Patrol, Ranch Rescue and the Civilian Homeland Defense, the South Carolina Regulators believed that social order was under attack by crime and chaos. The regulators, therefore, took the law into their own hands to control a very specific criminal threat and disbanded when that criminal threat had been extinguished. This is a pattern that has been played and replayed throughout US history. The border vigilantes are just the newest incarnation of an old theme.

Working Paper #83»

Is Spanish Here to Stay? Contexts for bilingualism among U.S.-born Hispanics, 1990-2000 (Working Paper #81)

April Linton, Princeton University and University of California-San Diego

Abstract: This analysis uses data from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses to explore individual and contextual factors that influence U.S.-born Hispanic adults to maintain Spanish alongside English. Cuban of Puerto Rican ancestry, living with a Spanish-dominant person, having children in one’s household, and working in a service- or health-related job all increase the odds of bilingualism. Contextual incentives – growth in a state’s Hispanic population, bilinguals’ status, and Hispanics’ political influence – also positively influence the odds of bilingualism. By showing a positive relationship between upward mobility, political participation, and bilingualism, my findings suggest that it is possible for Hispanics in the U.S. to maintain selected characteristics of their origin culture while becoming American.

Working Paper #81»

Non citizens, Voice, and Identity: the Politics of Citizenship in Japan’s Korean Community (Working Paper #80)

Erin Aeran Chung, Harvard University

Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between citizenship policies and noncitizen political behavior, focusing on extra-electoral forms of political participation by Korean residents in Japan. I analyze the institutional factors that have mediated the construction of Korean collective identity in Japan and, in turn, the ways that Korean community activists have re-conceptualized possibilities for their exercise of citizenship as foreign residents in Japan. My empirical analysis is based on a theoretical framework that defines citizenship as an interactive process of political incorporation, performance, and participation. I posit that the various dimensions of citizenship—its legal significance, symbolic meaning, claims and responsibilities, and practice—are performed, negotiated, and restructured in a triangular interactive relationship between the state, citizens, and noncitizens.

I address a puzzle that is both specific to Koreans in Japan and generalizable to foreign permanent residents in other advanced industrial democracies: Given their high levels of cultural assimilation, why does citizenship remain the last vestige of identity within the Korean community in Japan? Unlike previous studies that have focused on stringent citizenship policies at the level of the state alone, this paper explores the interactive process between institutions and communities. Based on their legal status, we would expect social movements in Japan’s Korean community to center around the quest for citizenship acquisition. Yet, the findings of this paper demonstrate that Korean organizations have concentrated their efforts on securing the community’s foreign citizenship status. I argue that postwar Japan’s ethnocultural citizenship policies both shaped Korean political identity in Japan and structured political opportunities for Korean activists to negotiate the terms of their community’s incorporation. Especially in recent years, new generations of Korean activists have reinterpreted the meaning of Korean citizenship as identity and practice in movements to democratize Japanese society. Rather than naturalize and become a small section of the voting population, Korean activists have increasingly used their noncitizen status as their “voice” to express their opposition to state policies. Based on ethnographic research conducted in Tokyo, Kawasaki, and Osaka over a twelve-month period, this paper explores how citizenship policies affect the political identities, claims, and strategies of noncitizen communities.

Working Paper #80»