John Skrentny and Micah Gell-Redman present their paper, “Obama’s Immigration Reform and the Dynamics of Statutory Entrenchment,” at the Republic of Statutes Conference at Yale Law School, December 10-11, 2010.
Center for Comparative Immigration Studies
John Skrentny and Micah Gell-Redman present their paper, “Obama’s Immigration Reform and the Dynamics of Statutory Entrenchment,” at the Republic of Statutes Conference at Yale Law School, December 10-11, 2010.
Seminar to be held in ERC 115 at 2:00 pm.
Abstract for Professor Weil’s talk coming soon!
Patrick Weil is a Visiting Professor of Law and Robina Foundation International Fellow at Yale Law School and a senior research fellow at the French National Research Center in the University of Paris, Pantheon-Sorbonne. Professor Weil’s work focuses on comparative immigration, citizenship, and Church States law and policy. His most recent publications are How to be French? A Nationality in the Making since 1789, from Duke University Press, “Why the French Laïcité is Liberal, Cardozo Law Review, June 2009, Vol. 30, Number 6, 2699-2714 and (with Son-Thierry Ly), “The Anti-racist Origins of the American Immigration Quota System.” Social Research, Volume 77, Number 1 (Spring 2010) pp.45-79.
Dr. Weil has worked extensively with the French government including participation in a 2003 French Presidential Commission on secularism, established by Jacques Chirac, and preparation of a report on immigration and nationality policy reform for Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 1997 which led to the implementation of new immigration laws adopted the following year. Dr. Weil also holds an appointment as Professor at the Paris School of Economics.
BY ED YONG NOVEMBER 22, 2010
Meet Khadija Diouf. She is 24 years old, she’s single, she lives in France and she has spent the last three years working in secretarial and accounting jobs. Her surname tells us that she’s descended from Senegalese immigrants, and her first name strongly suggests that she’s Muslim. Hundreds of employers across France will have seen Khadija’s name and none of them would have known the most important thing about her: she doesn’t exist.
Khadija is one of three fake women invented by Claire Adida from the University of California, San Diego. They are all part of a clever experiment that reveals how the French job market is rife with discrimination against Muslims. Adida found that in at least two sectors, a Muslim candidate is around 2.5 times less likely to get a job interview than a Christian one, with all else being equal. These results were backed up by a large survey, which showed that among second-generation Senegalese immigrants, Muslim households earn far less than Christian equivalents.
To some, this won’t come as a surprise, for modern Europe doesn’t exactly seem like a welcome place to be a Muslim. In France, the Senate voted almost unanimously to ban women from wearing Islamic face-veils in public, a move that drew widespread support from other countries. Swiss voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban the construction of new minarets on mosques. In the UK, ridiculous headlines in so-called newspapers regularly portray Muslims as an identically-minded group, out to distort ‘traditional’ values, kill people and generally cause trouble. Negative opinions are growing everywhere.
These examples of religious discrimination are obvious and blatant, but others – such as prejudice in the workplace – are harder to uncover. Adida did it by focusing on France’s Senegalese community, which includes a mix of both Muslims and Christians. To see how they would compare on the job market, Adida created three imaginary CVs. All were single, 24-year-old women, with two years of higher education and three years of experience in secretarial or accounting jobs. Only their names, and small details about past employers, differed.
Khadija Diouf had a well-known Muslim first name and an obvious Senegalese surname and had worked with Secours Islamique, a humanitarian organisation. Marie Diouf had worked for its counterpart Secours Catholique and had an obvious Christian first name. And Aurélie Ménard had a typical French name with no religious connotations and had only worked for secular firms.
In the spring of 2009, Adida collected ads for secretarial and accounting jobs from the French national employment agency and grouped them into pairs, matched for area, sector, company size and position. For each pair, both received Aurélie’s CV while one received Khadija’s and one received Marie’s.
The results were striking. Marie Diouf got a positive response on 21% of her applications; she was clearly an employable (if fictional) young woman. But Khadija Diouf – her exact equal in virtually every respect – got callbacks from just 8% of her applications. For every 100 interviews that Marie was called for, Khadija was summoned for just 38. Even after Adida included a photo on the applications (the same one, showing a woman who was clearly not North African), she found the same bias.
It was impossible to send both Marie and Khadija’s CVs (which were virtually identical) to the same recruiter, given that they were identical except for a few names. Alarm bells would have rung. Nonetheless, it’s clear that Adida matched pairs of recruiters as well as possible, given that Aurélie’s odds of getting interviews were the same no matter which employer read her CV.
Adida essentially did the closest possible thing to a randomised trial (the gold standard in medicine), by assigning identical ‘people’ to be either Christian or Muslim and seeing how they fare. In her own words, “This experiment thus provides a clear indication that in at least one sector of the French labor market… there is significant religious discrimination.”
The strength of Adida’s experiment lies in isolating the effects of religion from the package of cultural traits that accompany it. That’s far from easy. In European countries, Muslim immigrants tend to come from the same place. In the UK, they largely hail from South Asia. In France, they mostly come from northern Africa.
If Muslims in these countries suffer socially and economically, religious discrimination is just one possible explanation. Others include racial or geographical discrimination (north Africa, for example, has a history of conflict against French imperialism), or differences in education, language or culture in one’s home country. An experiment that tries to look at religious discrimination needs to somehow hold all of those other factors equal. That’s exactly what Adida managed to do.
She also found that the discrimination that her fake applicants faced can directly affect the lives of real Muslims. She relied on a survey done in 2009 by David Laitin, looking at issues of integration among 511 second-generation Senegalese Muslims. Notably, the survey only looked at two ethnic groups – the Joolas and Serers – who have Christian and Muslim members in equal measure. Both groups arrived in France in the 1970s, so neither enjoyed an economic headstart, although the Christians were slightly better educated.
The survey’s data revealed that the Muslim households were significantly poorer than their Christian counterparts, even after adjusting for their initial educational advantage. They’re more likely to fall into poorer income groups and they make around 400 Euros less per month, around 15% of the average monthly salary in France.
If anything, this just scratches the surface of anti-Muslim discrimination in France. There is a common view in France that Senegalese Muslims aren’t “real” Muslims because they have know little Arabic and because they socialise with Africans of all religions. The level of discrimination faced by groups that are more clearly linked with Islam might be even greater. The big question now is why, and it’s something that Adida plans to explore in future studies, using interviews, psychological games and more.
For the moment, her current study stands as a rare treat among research into discrimination. Some research goes on in the lab and benefits from careful experiments, but it’s unclear if their results apply in the real world, with all its complexities and vagaries. On the other hand, real-world experiments often struggle to isolate a single factor like religion, from the many others than entangle it. Adida’s work – inspired by a classic experiment on racial discrimination in America – combines both approaches: a careful, real-world experiment that does its best to unveil the effect of religion, with all else being equal.
Co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida
November 18 2010, 8:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The conference will include two roundtables, the first offering a macro analysis of immigration-related enforcement policies at the national level, the second focused on the experiences of communities throughout the country, where 287 (g) agreements and the Secure Communities program have been implemented. Speakers will include: Maria Hinojosa, senior correspondent, NOW on PBS; David Venturella, executive director, Secure Communities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Don Kerwin, Vice President for Programs, Migration Policy Institute; Jen Smyers, Associate for Immigration and Refugee Policy, Church World Service; Daniel Hernández Joseph, Director General, Protection of Mexicans Abroad, Foreign Relations Ministry (Mexico); Michele Waslin, Senior Policy Analyst, Immigration Policy Center; Chris Newman, National Day Labor Organizing Network; Marty Rosenbluth, North Carolina Immigrant Rights Project; Adelina Nichols, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights; Leni González, Virginia Latino Advisory Board; and, Brian Stout, Federal Government Liaison, Arlington County (Virginia).
12:00-12:30 p.m.: Presentation on local-level immigration enforcement in Nashville, TN by Amada Armenta, doctoral candidate, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, and a Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego.
A live Webcast will be available at the link below:
BY CHRIS COLLINS NOVEMBER 18, 2010
Vanessa, an illegal immigrant, has harvested fruit in Kerman, Huron and Madera for four years. Until this summer, she had never seen a white face in the fields.
Then one day, four teenagers showed up at a cherry orchard. They didn’t speak Spanish, and they didn’t seem to know what they were doing.
“Everybody was surprised to see them there,” Vanessa said.
It didn’t go so well for the newcomers. Within an hour, all four had quit.
At the heart of the debate over illegal immigration is a question that burns as hot as the afternoon sun hovering over the Central Valley: Are illegal immigrants doing the work that no one else wants, or are they stealing jobs from Americans and dragging down their wages?
To some extent, both are true.
As Vanessa’s story shows, some jobs might go unfilled — even in tough times — without illegal immigrants.
But there are drawbacks. Illegal immigrants push down wages for legal workers in food-processing, factory and service jobs, economists say. Because illegal immigrants will work for almost any wage, employers have little reason to pay other workers more. Sometimes jobs that low-skilled Americans would be willing to do, such as washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms, are instead taken by illegal immigrants.
Illegal immigrants help the nation’s private-sector economy by providing cheap labor — something that is especially critical for the Central Valley. But their competition with low-skilled American workers and their strain on local government budgets cancel out that boost for that nation’s overall economy, some economists say.
In the end, illegal immigration in the Valley means businesses are big winners while many blue-collar workers lose out.
Farmworker groups have tried to prove that we need illegal immigrants. In 2006, as Congress was considering immigration reform, immigrant workers around the country either stayed home or joined protests for the May 1 “Day Without Immigrants” economic boycott.
In the central San Joaquin Valley, the United Farm Workers of America estimated that tens of thousands of field workers didn’t show up for work. Restaurants, landscape contractors, food manufacturers and growers all struggled to make it through the day with skeleton crews.
With immigration reform again on Congress’ agenda, the UFW has tried to bring attention to the role of illegal immigrants, which it says account for half a million farmworkers. It launched a campaign in June called TakeOurJobs.org that invited anyone to sign up online for a farming job.
The campaign was mostly meant to grab headlines — and it did. UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez was invited to appear on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” to talk about the campaign.
“Americans do not work in the field because it’s very difficult work, requires a lot of expertise and the conditions are horrid,” he told host Stephen Colbert.
More than 10,000 people registered on the website; only 11 people actually went out to work in the fields — including Colbert.
Economists say illegal immigrants play a key role in the nation’s economy: Their willingness to work for low wages helps keep American businesses competitive and lowers the cost of goods and services.
But their economic benefit is very small. One researcher estimated that it represents only the slightest fraction of the country’s gross domestic product — 3 cents for every $100 the economy generates. That means that most businesses are only marginally more efficient thanks to illegal immigrants, although some businesses that rely heavily on them — including those in agriculture — benefit greatly.
Illegal immigrants also offer another advantage: They are much more mobile than legal immigrants, who often have more family ties or are required by law to work for the employer who sponsored their visas. They follow the booms and busts in the construction industry and are “much more responsive to changes in the economy,” said Michael Fix, senior vice president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.
From 2002 to 2006, the number of illegal immigrants living in the country increased each year by about 500,000 during the economic boom, climbing from 9.3 million to 11.6 million; but from 2007 to 2009, during the height of the recession, the total decreased by more than 1.5 million. During the 1990s, the illegal immigrant population grew the most in the mountain states and Southeast — places where job growth was strongest.
The role of illegal immigrants has become even more critical because Americans are, on average, much more educated now than half a century ago. The economy needs immigrants to fill the low-skill jobs, some economists say.
In an ideal world, the United States would let in enough foreign workers to do the jobs unwanted by most U.S.-born workers, said Gordon Hanson, an economics professor at the University of California at San Diego, who grew up in Fresno.
But America’s restrictive immigration system doesn’t allow that. So illegal immigrants fill in the gaps by being the first to enter the country when there are jobs and the first to leave when jobs dry up.
Many economists say illegal immigrants have hurt the wages of low-skilled U.S.-born workers. One economist, Harvard University’s George Borjas, concluded that wages fall by 3% to 4% for every 10% increase in the number of workers in a particular skill group.
In other words, more competition for jobs means lower pay. He found that the average wage of U.S.-born high-school dropouts decreased by 5% to 8% from 1980 to 2000 because of competition with immigrants.
This trend has been especially true in industries that have increasingly employed illegal immigrants. Since 1980, for example, the average wage for meatpackers has dropped 45%, adjusted for inflation, according to government data.
The Center for Immigration Studies found that one company had to raise its pay after being forced to fire illegal workers. In 2006, federal immigration agents arrested 1,300 employees at six meat-processing plants owned by Swift & Co., where an estimated 23% of the workers were illegal immigrants. After the raids, the company advertised heavily for new workers and paid employees bonuses if they recruited others.
Within five months, the plants were running at full capacity again — a sign that the company could operate without illegal immigrants, according to the report. Meanwhile, wages increased slightly at two of the plants and four offered signing bonuses.
Some experts say employers pay illegal immigrants less than other workers because they are less willing to demand a raise or draw attention to their legal status — and that drives down the wages for all workers. Researcher Anita Alves Pena, an economics professor at Colorado State University, found in a study earlier this year that illegal immigrant farmworkers earn 5% to 6% less in hourly wages than legal immigrant workers.
Gerardo Gomez, who crossed the border with his future wife in 1989 and now lives in Madera, spent years working in the fields because other employers wouldn’t hire him without a real Social Security card and green card.
“If there was a job, I was willing to do it — it didn’t matter what,” Gomez said. “But the jobs that paid more money required documents. Just to clean and work in the hospital required documents.”
Finally, in 1994, he got a job working for a small construction company that built fireplaces. His boss paid him about $7 an hour while the other workers — all of them legal immigrants or U.S.-born — were paid $10 an hour. When Gomez asked for a raise, his boss said, “OK, but first bring me your papers.” Gomez knew he couldn’t complain.
Not all economists agree that illegal immigrants hurt American workers. Giovanni Peri, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis, contends that when the economy is growing, the employment of low-skilled immigrants creates jobs that are typically filled by U.S.-born workers. A construction company that hires five new roofers may promote one of its U.S.-born workers to supervisor — a job that requires English proficiency — or hire a U.S.-born clerical worker.
Peri noted, however, that the recession has made it more difficult for U.S.-born workers to compete with illegal immigrants for jobs.
Some American workers are fighting back.
A class-action lawsuit against the SK Foods tomato-processing plant in Lemoore claims the company knowingly hired hundreds of illegal immigrants over several years to save millions of dollars a year in labor costs. The Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit, Howard Foster, estimated that the so-called “illegal immigrant hiring scheme” depressed the wages of other workers by at least 15% and made it easier for the company to get away with “deplorable working conditions” because illegal immigrants were less willing to complain for fear of losing their jobs.
Foster has filed similar lawsuits across the country in the past decade with some success — and said he will likely file many more.
“Workers call me and e-mail me almost every day asking, ‘Can you help me? Can you represent me?’ ” Foster said, noting that many of the calls are from the Central Valley, where he said the food-processing industry is “rife with illegal workers.”
The lawsuit says SK Foods’ management knew it was hiring illegal workers because many couldn’t speak English, presented documents that were obviously fake or had previously been hired by the company under a different name. Company CEO Scott Salyer denies that illegal immigrants were hired, according to his attorney.
So what would happen if there were no illegal immigrants? Because the central San Joaquin Valley is heavily dependent on them, a mass deportation would certainly hit the agriculture industry hard, at least in the short term. But it would also be easier for other less-educated, U.S.-born workers and legal immigrants to find jobs, and their wages could improve.
“The truth be told, if we were to eliminate illegal immigration over the next five years, the impact on the economy wouldn’t be that large,” Hanson said. “But it would hit parts of the country very hard, particularly Fresno. The farmers would have to change what they do and some would go out of business or would have to move toward much less-labor intensive crops.”
Some economists say employers need to do just that: change. They say farmers have become addicted to cheap labor rather than shift to less labor-intensive crops and invest in technology that would reduce the need for fieldworkers.
In the 1970s, after the end of the Bracero program that brought in thousands of seasonal Mexican workers, farmers were forced to grow tomatoes with thicker skins that could be harvested with machines, reducing labor costs. Soon they were picking twice as many tomatoes with half as many workers, Camarota said.
Philip Martin, an immigration and farm labor expert at the University of California at Davis, offered another example: Farmers in the Central Valley used to always be “screaming about a labor shortage” needed for the raisin grape harvest. Now a method called dried-on-the-vine harvesting allows them to use fewer workers.
Without illegal immigrants, similar changes would have to happen — although they would inevitably have some consequences.
“Would some farmers go out of business? Yeah, but we would see a restructuring of that industry,” Camarota said.
Some economists also say that if farmers paid better wages, more U.S.-born workers would be willing to work in agriculture.
Experts also say the cost of food would rise only slightly if wages increased. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates, for example, that the wages for production workers account for only 7% of retail beef prices and 9% of pork prices.
“Illegal immigration is not necessary for the functioning of a modern economy,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “But certain industries have gotten accustomed to it, and they benefit from it.”
Not everyone agrees increasing wages would work. Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League, an association of agriculture businesses in the Western U.S., said farmers would have to dramatically increase wages to convince U.S.-born workers to take a job in the fields — and even if they did, many would probably work just long enough to make a little money and then quit.
Cunha said that raising wages would hurt growers, whose No. 1 cost is labor. Grocery chains would turn to foreign countries to buy cheaper food, he said.
Besides, he said, most workers born here are unwilling to work mind-numbing food-processing jobs or do back-breaking fieldwork — no matter what they’re paid. According to government data, 98% of farmworkers in California are immigrants.
Some experts say there’s also a cultural stigma to working in the fields that would be difficult to overcome if farmers had to depend on U.S.-born workers.
“They’re doing a lot of jobs other people simply won’t do,” said John Hernandez, executive director of Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “I’m not going to go in there and slaughter a cow.”
Alfred de la Cerda, a pastor in Orosi, said that when his U.S.-born son was 18 and waffling on whether to go to college, he suggested his son try fieldwork. Every day, the teenager came home exhausted. After two weeks, he quit the job and enrolled in Reedley College instead.
Said de la Cerda: “The truth is, no one born here will go out in the fields.”
Illegal immigrants still help the economy because their cheap labor drives down the cost of products and services, an issue The Bee will examine Thursday. But those savings are canceled by the cost to government services, at least on a national level, some economists say.
In the Central Valley, their positive and negative impacts are amplified because of our dependence on them. Businesses benefit in a big way while taxpayers cover the costs.
“Residents have to pick up the tab, and employers get away with paying those workers less,” said Gordon Hanson, an economics professor at the University of California at San Diego and CCIS Research Associate.
Even though many are paid under the table for housecleaning, yard work and day labor, most work for companies that deduct taxes from their pay. Illegal immigrants also pay sales taxes and property taxes.
Several research organizations estimate that about 55 percent of illegal immigrants are paid on the books, with taxes withheld. The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies found that 75 percent of illegal immigrants in 2006 were taxed.
Development: On 11 November the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a report on the prices illegal Mexican immigrants pay to get into the US.
Significance: The DHS working paper argues that the effort and expense the US has put into reinforcing its southwestern border between 1993 and 2006 has pushed up the price illegal migrants have to pay to get into the US. The DHS reckons that the price illegal migrants have to pay people traffickers jumped from US$600 a head in 1993 to US$1,500 in 2007. Pregnant migrants usually pay even more. The DHS working paper found that 95% of first-time crossers used people smugglers in 2006.
The DHS admits that its estimate of the cost of being smuggled into the US is at the lower end of the spectrum. The Mexican Migration Field Research and Training Program survey (MMFRP) puts the 2006 price at well over US$2,250.
What is fascinating about the DHS working paper is how tentative its conclusions are. It points out that there is little evidence on whether people smugglers have tried to lower their unit costs by smuggling other goods (such as drugs) into the US alongside people.
The links the DHS does make are pointed: it cites an academic study which suggests that a 10% decline in Mexican wages compared with US wages leads to a 6% increase in border apprehensions. In the past 12 months border apprehensions have dropped by 17%, year-on-year, to 473,000. This suggests that potential Mexican migrants now calculate that the risks of crossing into the US are higher than the potential rewards.
The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies is dedicated to fostering the study of European history, politics, culture and society at Harvard. Through our graduates, who go on to teach others about Europe and to many other roles in society, the Center sustains America’s knowledge base about Europe, an important contribution to international understanding in difficult times.
Friday, November 5, 2010
2:15 PM – 4:00 PM, Cabot Room, Busch Hall
Professor of Sociology
University of California-San Diego
Exclusion and Inclusion in an Expanded Europe Study Group
NOVEMBER 3, 2010
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, 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.
Hanson outlines three broad choices policymakers must make concerning the mechanisms that govern immigration:
When the Obama administration addresses immigration reform, as it has promised to, it “should seek first to do no harm,” Hanson writes. “Constructive reform requires allowing low-skilled immigration to occur under a legal framework that respects market mechanisms and treats immigrants as individuals with the potential to contribute to U.S. society. Unless Congress recognizes and understands the successes and failures of low-skilled immigration policy to date, we risk losing another chance to get reform right.”
Gordon H. Hanson is director of the Center on Pacific Economies and a professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego.
Gary Lee and John Skrentny present “Korean Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective” at the “Multiethnic/Multicultural Korea Workshop,” at the Center for Korean Studies, University of California-Berkeley, October 29, 2010.
Learn more about the Center for Korean Studies»
Center for Comparative Immigration Studies
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0548
La Jolla, CA 92093-0548