Safe Haven: International Norms, Strategic Interests, and U.S. Refugee Policy (Working Paper #40)

Idean Salehyan, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Introduction: There are over 14 million refugees and asylum seekers in the world today (Figure 1, U.S. Committee for Refugees 2000). These are people who have crossed national boundaries – not in search of economic opportunities – but because they fear political persecution or violence in their countries of origin. Recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, and Colombia, among others, have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safe haven elsewhere (table 1). Receiving countries, for their part, face substantial burdens when large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers turn up at their borders. Most refugee flows are between developing countries in which states facing their own political and economic hardships must provide for unexpected migrants. In more industrialized countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, political asylum has become an issue of intense debate as the number of asylum seekers rose sharply during the 1990’s (Keely and Russell 1994).

This paper seeks to understand why states admit refugees and asylum seekers and why they fund international refugee aid agencies. What are the primary reasons that states engage in refugee protection efforts? While some researchers have argued that the influence of human rights and humanitarian norms have greatly impacted governmental decision making, I will argue that refugee policies have more to do with material and strategic interests than global norms.

Working Paper #40»

When Institutional Boundaries Meet New Political Ideas: Courts, Congress and U.S. Immigration Policy Reform (Working Paper #38)

Valerie F. Hunt, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Introduction: How different domestic governing institutions interact to shape U.S. immigration policy is an under-examined area in political science. To this end, this study turns to the institutional agenda-setting approach for investigating how the courts can and do get involved in the immigration policy process. This study addresses the question “do shifts in the relationship between federal governing institutions influence policy change in U.S. immigration policy during the post World War II era?”

Recent research by institutional agenda-setting scholars in political science have demonstrated empirically that significant changes in policy are, in part, a function of the changing boundaries between the national governing institutions about decision-making authority over old and newly emergent issues (Flemming, Bohte and Wood 1997, Flemming, Wood and Bohte 1999; Jones, Baumgartner and Talbert 1993; Jones and Strahan 1985; Kingdon 1984). Institutional jurisdictions are defined as the organizational locations within which binding decisions are made (King 1997). I argue that a change in the relationship between the judiciary and the legislature regarding jurisdictional authority over immigrant rights increased the likelihood for changes in U.S. immigration policy. Overlapping jurisdictional authority of the Court and Congress set the stage for opportunities for changes in the
structure of the immigration policy process and in the composition of policy outcomes. This jurisdictional overlap resulted from new issues involving the rights of immigrants in regards to naturalization and citizenship emerging in the U.S. national political arena. The emergence of these new issues shifted the Court’s attention from evaluating all issues of entry and exit of migrants as a matter of national sovereignty (and thus governed by plenary power deference to Congress) to redefining some particular issues of entry and exit as a matter of remedying violations of immigrant rights as protected under the equal protection clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Working Paper #38»

Farm Labor in California: Then and Now (Working Paper #37)

Phillip Martin, University of California – Davis

Introduction: Farmers are pressing for a new guest worker program that would eliminate: (1) the US Department of Labor’s role in certifying the need for foreign workers to fill vacant US farm jobs; (2) the Adverse Effect Wage Rate; and (3) the need to provide free housing to out of area workers (farmers could provide a housing allowance instead of housing). One way to eliminate DOL’s role in certifying a farmer’s need for guest workers is a registry, a computer system to be operated by the Employment Service in each state. ES offices would verify the right of workers willing to be dispatched to fill farm jobs by seeking to be registered. Employers would submit job offers to the ES registry in their state. If an employer requested 100 workers from the registry, and ES had only 40 registered workers willing to report to that employer, the ES would issue a “shortage report” that would affirm that DOL agrees the farmer needs 60 foreign farm workers.

Some versions of a new guest worker program for agriculture include a conditional amnesty for unauthorized workers. Under one proposal, unauthorized foreigners who can prove that they did at least 150 days of US farm work within the past 12 months could became temporary legal US residents and workers. If they do an additional 180 days of farm work a year in five of the next seven years, they could apply for legal immigrant status.

Working Paper #37»

Globalization, the State, and the Creation of Flexible Indigenous Workers: Mixtec Farmworkers in Oregon (Working Paper #36)

Lynn Stephen, University of Oregon

Introduction: While differences between Mexican migrant households have frequently been discussed in terms of income, race, place or origin, and patterns of migration, little work has focused on stratification within migrant households based on gender, legal status, and age. We cannot assume joint decision-making and internal democracy in the households of migrant laborers. If gender, age, and legal stratification affects the experience of migrants outside the household, why wouldn’t it have an impact inside? In the discussion that follows, the experiences of Oaxacan Mixtecs in Baja California, California, and Oregon are explored to underline the heterogeneity of the migrant experience in the U.S. and to establish the importance of exploring inequality within migrant households, particularly in relation to gender and the co-existence of different legal statuses within the same household. The case study of Mixtec migrants is also used to explore how the flexibility of capital is supported by states through free trade agreements and immigration and labor policies. These actions on the part of states continue to affect the cultural logic and construction of gender, ethnic, labor, and family relations–the contexts in which flexible citizens live.

Working Paper #36»

Frontier Hybridization or Culture Clash? Transnational Migrant Communities and Sub-national Identity Politics in Andalusia, Spain (Working Paper #35)

Gunter Dietz, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Introduction: As part of a larger project on the role played by local civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the design and implementation of specific integration policies for migrant communities in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia 1, in this paper the support activities the Andalusian voluntary associations and NGOs have been realizing for the last years in the domain of non-EU immigration are analyzed in the context of increasing xenophobic and muslimophobic tendencies observable inside Andalusian society. Currently, these recently emerging muslimophobic movements, which tend to combine narrowly localist and Spanish nationalist identity horizons with an emphasis on Catholicism as a decisive “ethnic marker” of Spanish-ness, are being countered by Andalusian regionalist strategies of muslimophilia, which claim that a “return of Islam” and/or the pluri-religious legacy of Al-Andalus will empower the region’s ongoing search of a supra-local, but sub-national and non-Castilian common identity.

As a point of departure, in the following the dilemma of the currently predominant dualized identity theories is sketched and dimensions for a comparative analysis of processes of migrant as well as non-migrant identity construction are briefly presented. Building upon these dimensions, the specific context and problematics of migrant community formation is illustrated for the Andalusian region, which is then contrasted with the “identity politics” of the non-migrant Andalusian host society and its struggle for increasing and stabilizing regional autonomy inside the Spanish state. The subsequent, contemporary ethnization of intercultural conflicts resulting from native versus migrant identity politics in Andalusia is illustrated with the emergence of muslimophobic and muslimophilic movements inside the region. Finally, the increasingly important role of Andalusian NGOs as intercultural mediators and spaces of cultural hybridization is analyzed with regard to its political and societal as well as theoretical consequences for the study of identity politics.

Working Paper #35»

Immigration Policy, Assimilation of Immigrants, and Natives’ Sentiments Towards Immigrants: Evidence from 12 OECD Countries (Working Paper #33)

Thomas K. Bauer, CEPR, London, Bonn University and Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn

Magnus Lofstrom, Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn

Klaus F. Zimmermann, Bonn University, DIW, Berlin, CEPR London and Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn

Abstract: As in the U.S. and Canada, migration is a controversial issue in Europe. This paper explores the possibility that immigration policy may affect the labor market assimilation of immigrants and hence natives’ sentiments towards immigrants. It first reviews the assimilation literature in economics and the policy approaches taken in Europe and among the traditional immigration countries. Second, a new analysis of individual data from the OECD countries studies sentiments concerning immigration and the determinants of these sentiments is presented. Natives in countries that receive predominantly refugee migrants are relatively more concerned with immigrations impact on social issues such as crime than on the employment effects. Natives in countries with mostly economic migrants are relatively more concerned about loosing jobs to immigrants. However, the results also suggest that natives may view immigration more favorably if immigrants are selected according to the needs of the labor markets. Possible benefits of such a policy are that it may moderate social tensions in regards to migration and contribute to a better economic performance of the respective countries.

Working Paper #33»

From Barrio to the ‘Burbs: Immigration and Urban Sprawl in Southern California (Working Paper #32)

Enrico A. Marcelli, University of Massachusetts – Boston and Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies – UCLA

Abstract: Research on the spatial distribution of U.S. immigrants has given scant systematic attention to how regional-institutional factors (e.g., welfare availability, cultural affinity, labor market conditions, and the housing market) influence settling initially in the suburbs.  Connecting (1) 1990 PUMS, (2) 1980-90 Dun and Bradstreet, (3) 1983-90 Consolodated Federal Funds Report, and (4) 1990-98 INS data at the PUMA level for the five-country southern California region, this paper finds that (1) although the proportion of recent immigrants having settled initially in suburbs rose during the 1990s, approximately two-thirds continued to settle first in urban areas; and (2) both individual demographic characteristics and regional-institutional factors influenced immigrant residential choice.  Results challenge the emphasis placed on individual-level determinants in Massey’s (1985) original spatial assimilation model, and it is argued that employment and housing, rather than immigration or welfare, policy instruments are more likely to influence whether immigrants settle initially in the suburbs.

Working Paper #32»

Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers from Illegal Immigration? (Working Paper #31)

Gordon H. Hanson, University of Michigan and National Bureau of Economic Research

Raymond Robertson, Macalester College

Antonio Spilimbergo, International Monetary Fund

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the impact of enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico border on wages in U.S. and Mexican border regions. The U.S. Border Patrol polices U.S. boundaries, seeking to apprehend any undocumented entrants. It concentrates its efforts on the Mexican border. We examine labor markets in border areas of California, Texas, and Mexico. For each region, we have high-frequency data on wages and person hours the U.S. Border Patrol spends policing the border. For a range of empirical specifications and definitions of regional labor markets, we find little impact of border enforcement on wages in U.S. border cities and a moderate negative impact of border enforcement on wages in Mexican border cities. These findings are consistent with two hypothesis: (1) border enforcement has a minimal impact on illegal immigration, or (2) illegal immigration from Mexico has a minimal impact on wages in U.S. border areas.

Working Paper #31»