Undocumented No More: A Nationwide Analysis of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Seminar to be held on Wednesday, October 2nd at 12:00 pm

On June 15, 2012, the White House introduced the program of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA represents a major shift in the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement priorities, as it provides an estimated 1.76 million undocumented youth with relief from deportation and two-year renewable work permits. In the first of its kind, this study analyzes over 450,000 individual DACA applications submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

We obtained individual-level records via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Using these data, we provide a comprehensive account of DACA applicants with an eye towards whether any particular racial/ethnic or national origins group is systematically under-represented in the pool of DACA applications. We then present a preliminary analysis of the determinants of DACA applications. What explains the patterns of DACA applications that we observe by race/ethnicity, national origins group, and region?

wongTom K. Wong 
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of California, San Diego

 

 

Angela García
Ph.D. Candidate
University of California, San Diego

Elizabeth Aguilera
Senior Reporter for Immigration
U-T San Diego

Carolina Valdivia
Staff Research Associate
University of California, San Diego

A Dream Deferred: America’s Changing View of Civil Rights (Live Science)

BY DENISE CHOW   AUGUST 29, 2013

LiveScience

Fifty years ago, on Aug. 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in front of more than 250,000 protesters in Washington, D.C., and called for the end of racial discrimination in the United States in his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The political rally, which became known as the March on Washington, and King’s speech became cornerstones of the American civil rights movement.

But the day after people celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the legacy of the civil rights movement, many minority groups, including African-Americans, are still fighting for equality, sociologists say.

“Many black people, and other people of color, are experiencing the kinds of racial inequalities that were very much present during the days of the civil rights movement,” said Aldon Morris, a professor of sociology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and co-author of “Oppositional Consciousness: The Subjective Roots of Social Protest” (University of Chicago Press, 2001).

While the civil rights movement propelled racial inequality into the national spotlight, and helped usher in landmark anti-discrimination legislation, such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the idea that Americans live in a post-racial society is a myth, Morris told LiveScience.

“I think many people wish to believe that the civil rights movement largely accomplished its goals, and that the racial nightmare is over and the dream has been achieved,” Morris said. “Yes, there has been considerable change since the heyday of the civil rights movement, but the huge problem emerges when we look at the difference between what people say or believe and what they do.”

Fifty years later

The March on Washington was officially known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedoms, and hundreds of thousands of marchers flooded the nation’s capital to demonstrate in support of civic and economic rights for African-Americans. Yet decades later, African-American communities are still struggling with issues such as unemployment, education and home ownership, said John Skrentny, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

“There has certainly been enormous amounts of progress, but African-Americans, by a lot of indicators, are still as bad off as they were 50 years ago,” Skrentny told LiveScience. “Their unemployment rate is twice as high, their incarceration rates are very high, and measures of African-American wealth are quite low.”

This is partly because in the decades since the March on Washington, the civil rights story has receded in the public eye, and the government’s focus has shifted elsewhere, he said.

“Other political issues have risen to prominence, and I think a big part of the story is that the Republican Party does not make a play for African-American votes, whereas with other groups — and I’m thinking specifically of Latinos and gays and lesbians — the Republican Party is in the game for those votes. Not to the extent of the Democrats, but in their postmortem of the 2012 election, it was something that was talked about explicitly,” Skrentny said.

This shift has thrust other issues, such as immigration reform and same-sex marriage legislation, to the forefront. And while these issues also deserve time and attention, political leaders should understand the work that catapulted inequality into the political sphere during the civil rights movement is not yet complete, Skrentny added.

“It’s really difficult to identify a single policy designed to advance the interests of African-Americans in the last 20 years,” he said.

From the foreground to the background

The political change largely began in the 1980s and 1990s, with the rise of the New Democrats, an ideologically centrist arm of the Democratic Party that gained prominence following the 1988 presidential election won by George H.W. Bush. Some members of the New Democrats felt that their party had aligned themselves too closely to African-American interests, and they tried to distance themselves from advancing policies directly targeted at African-American communities, Skrentny said.

For instance, during the 1992 presidential campaign, then Governor Bill Clinton publicly criticized rapper and activist Sister Souljah (her real name is Lisa Williamson) for racially charged remarks about violence in that year’s Los Angeles riots. The episode became known as the “Sister Souljah moment,” and was widely seen as a strategic move to court centrist voters by demonstrating that Clinton was not bound by African-American interest groups, who were perceived to be closely associated with the Democratic Party.

Even Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States, may feel even more hesitant than previous Democratic presidents to throw weight behind overtly African-American issues, for fear that his detractors might accuse him of favoring one community over others, Skrentny said.

“Political leaders discovered that if you try to do too much for African-Americans, working-class whites will say: Why are you helping these people? We have problems, too,” Skrentny said. “When it comes to big political issues, white voters who are economically insecure — and that’s not to say they’re racist, just economically insecure — typically react in a negative way.”

For things to change, Morris says people need to actively study how various forms of inequality are manifested in society. “Only when people allow themselves to be exposed to the truth about the nature of inequality in any society will they be able to engage in meaningful action to bring about change,” Morris said.

One thing the government can do is conduct detailed audits of companies to assess and manage the level of discrimination during their hiring process, Skrentny said.

“We need reliable, nonpartisan measures of how much discrimination is out there, and these types of audits are good ways to take the temperature of discrimination,” he said.

A more extensive initiative to address inequality could be to study unemployment based on the geographical distribution of different communities, Skrentny said. For instance, the government tends to use low tax rates to lure companies into more rural or suburban areas of the country. But African-Americans, in particular, tend to live in urban neighborhoods, and may be limited in their abilities to commute to jobs in other, more distant localities.

“We have to limit different geographic localities from competing with one another, because that isolates certain workers,” Skrentny said.

Fighting for rights

While anti-discrimination policies such as affirmative action have helped, more sweeping changes throughout society are needed, Morris and Skrentny said. Affirmative action aims to prevent the exclusion of individuals based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin in areas of employment, education and business.

“We spend a lot of time debating affirmative action, but fixing employment problems and incarceration problems is very difficult,” Skrentny said. “It’s easier to just make the numbers right in colleges, but it still doesn’t get at the heart of the problem.”

And while the legacy of the March on Washington should be celebrated, Americans should understand that many communities are still struggling for deep-seated change, Morris said.

“To claim that we are now in a post-racial society — to claim that skin color and so forth no longer matters, is to really engage in a myth that is soothing, but at the same time, does not address reality,” he said.

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FitzGerald Given Award for Public Sociology

asa logoCCIS Associate Director David FitzGerald was recently given the 2013 award for public sociology from the international migration section of the American Sociological Association. The award is given annually to scholars whose work addresses immigration and related issues in ways that apply scholarly knowledge directly in public work, generate knowledge for public use, or otherwise contribute to improving the lives of migrants or refugees.

Making San Diego an international hub (UT San Diego)

BY DAVID FITZGERALD & JOHN D. SKRENTNY   JULY 3, 2013

UT San Diego

An effort to dramatically increase spending on U.S. border enforcement was a key reason for Senate passage of immigration reform and will be key to bipartisan support in the House. The debate has focused on walling off the border rather than thinking of it as a conduit. Yet border states such as California, and cities such as San Diego, have the unique opportunity to leverage proximity to Mexico to generate jobs and bolster economic growth for the themselves and the United States as a whole. By further integrating with its Mexican sister city, Tijuana, San Diego could become an international trade hub of more than 5 million people in a binational, regional metropolis.

The economic challenges of recent years have aroused fear and skepticism in the United States around global trade and outsourcing. While moving manufacturing outside the United States can cost American jobs, not all trade and outsourcing is equal. Mexico’s shared border with the United States mitigates the costs associated with trade and maximizes the benefits. Many goods imported from Mexico are actually coproduced on both sides of the border, creating jobs for American workers. In fact, according to a report from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 40 percent of the value of imports from Mexico was actually created in the United States by American workers — about 10 times the level of value created in the United States for goods imported from China. Coproduction keeps jobs in North America that might otherwise be lost altogether overseas.

A further benefit of trade from Mexico compared to transoceanic trade is environmental. While all transport of goods relies on the burning of fossil fuels, trade within North America has a smaller environmental footprint and thus produces less pollution and greenhouse gases than transoceanic transport.

The benefits of integration are clear, but many barriers stymie its full potential.

A 2007 study by the San Diego Association of Governments found that border wait times cost the regional economy $7.2 billion in lost economic output and more than 62,000 lost jobs. The hassle of crossing is a major deterrent to mobility. Improvements underway at the San Ysidro crossing and the upgrading of state Route 905 to Otay Mesa are a good start, but more could be done. Programs like FAST (Free and Secure Trade Program) and SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) that speed crossing for businesses and individuals who have undergone background checks could be expanded. Additional spending authorized by a new immigration bill could ease the logjam, with more agents dedicated to processing travelers and goods, rather than further militarizing a border between two friendly countries.

Old and limited-capacity border infrastructure is another impediment. On the Tijuana side, the design of roads feeding into the border crossing area is confusing and aggravating for drivers. A faster trolley service from downtown San Diego to the border would spur tourism in both directions. An expansion of the San Diego port could export goods coproduced in San Diego and Baja California. To his credit, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has identified border development as a top priority. Yet the mayor faces an uphill battle, as much of the problem with border infrastructure is resolved at the federal level.

Although San Diego has been a border-crossing city as long as there has been a border, the city’s rail, freeway and air links historically made it a southern spur of Los Angeles rather than an important link for the entire state. A more robust partnership between San Diego and Tijuana would re-center the region. Rather than San Diego being the end of the line, it would be a major hub linking the two Californias. The immigration reform now being debated in Congress provides the opportunity to make this dream a reality.

FitzGerald and Skrentny are co-directors of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego, and co-leaders of the San Diego Scholars Strategy Network.

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Vanesa Ribas – The Meanings of “Moyo”: Shop Floor Racial Talk as Symbolic Boundary-Making among Latina/o Migrant and African American Workers in the American South

 

Seminar to be held on Monday, June 3rd in ERC 115 at 12:00 pm.

This presentation draws on ethnographic research primarily conducted while I was employed as a regular production worker in a North Carolina meatpacking plant for sixteen months between 2009 and 2010. As part of a larger project that attempts to explain the character of social relations between Latina/o migrants and their chief counterparts in the workplace – African Americans – I trace the categories and meanings of shop floor racial talk with parallel attention to the diverse ethnoracial panoramas in Latina/o migrants’ origin countries. How are the terms moyo, negro, and moreno used at work? What does this suggest about how Latinos view African Americans as a group? And how does this language relate to pre-migration ideas about blacks and blackness? I find that the use of ethnoracial forms of identification is much more prevalent among Latina/os towards African Americans than the converse, and I examine the features of one particularly salient designation of African Americans as moyos, a term whose valence is indefinite and situational, but frequently acquires pejorative significance. I trace the transnational origins of this identification, finding that its adaptation and propagation occurs within the transnational spaces that Latina/o migrants occupy. Ultimately, I argue that Latinos’ deployment of bold symbolic boundaries expresses racialized resentment, reflecting and reinforcing their perception that they are the most oppressively exploited workers and that African Americans occupy a privileged position in the workplace.

ribas_ucsdVanesa Ribas received her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012. Her research has appeared in the American Sociological Review (with Neal Caren and Raj Ghoshal), Social Science and Medicine (with Janette Dill and Philip Cohen), Teaching Sociology (with Raj Ghoshal et al.), and is forthcoming in Sociological Perspectives. She is working on a book based on her study of Latina/o migration to the American South, labor exploitation, and race relations in a large meatpacking plant.