De Paisano a Paisano: Mexican Immigrant Students and their Transnational Perceptions of U.S. Schools (Working Paper #119)

Carmina Brittain, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Introduction: Due in part to their demographic significance (Ruiz-de-Velasco & Fix, 2001), students of Mexican origin continue to warrant the attention of the American educational community. The experiences of Mexican students in the United States have been well-documented thoughtout the years, but the bulk of the studies have failed to recognize the importance of the sustained links some of these students have with Mexico. Most of the current research on immigrant students has focused on the experiences that are directly related to the cultural and linguistic discontinuities they experience with the American mainstream culture (Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-
Orozco, 1995; Valdes, 1997; Olsen & Jaramillo, 2000). This article provides an alternative yet important view on the study of Mexican immigrants in American schools by taking into consideration transnational influences that can shape their academic and social participation in American schools.

The article proposes that the educational experiences of Mexican immigrant students are not only influenced by events related to their daily experiences in the United States, but also by experiences that link them with Mexico and that can be transnational in nature. While some of these experiences may be geographically localized in the United States, they are symbolically localized across borders, creating social spaces in the U.S. that link these immigrant students with Mexico. Further, the interaction of these Mexican students with more established Mexican immigrants prior to coming to the U.S. also influences their perceptions of life in the U.S.

The article is based on the data collected for my qualitative study entitled “Transnational Messages and the Role of Co-Nationals in the Experiences of Immigrant Children.” This studyaimed to document how immigrant children interacted with co-nationals1 and exchanged information about their experiences in American schools. The study conceptualized that the experiences of some immigrants in the United States were closely tied to their interactions with co-nationals who resided either in their country of origin or in the new locality in the United States. These interactions were considered to be transnational because they often brought individuals who lived in different nation-states together in a social exchange. Most of the current empirical investigations of transnationalism has addressed the participation of adults in labor markets, community advocacy, and the political arena, but has not significantly addressed the participation of children and its impact on education. My study aimed to also contribute to this gap in the transnational literature by investigating if first-generation immigrant children were also part of these transnational connections.

Working Paper #119»

Strategies for Survival: Migration and Fair Trade- Organic Coffee Production in Oaxaca, Mexico (Working Paper #118)

Jessa M. Lewis, University of California – San Diego

Abstract: Coffee growers throughout southern Mexico have been negatively affected by low world coffee prices coupled with a steady scaling-back of government support to the agricultural sector. Considerable anecdotal evidence suggests that a major response to the coffee price plunge starting in 1997 has been increasing migration for employment to the United States from southern coffee regions. Another response among some cooperatives in southern Mexico has been to differentiate their coffee by certifying it as high-quality, organic, and/or socially beneficial (Fair Trade). This thesis examines the links among the coffee crisis, migration, and certified production, drawing on a case study conducted in Summer 2004 by the author in a high-migration, Fair Trade-organic coffee-producing community of Oaxaca, Mexico. International migration from the community has existed to some extent for decades, but its acceleration beginning in the late 1990s can be linked at least in part to the historic drop in coffee prices that affected producers worldwide. Although remittances from migrants are currently helping to finance coffee production in the community, migration brings with it a series of transformations in the community and in the region at large that serve to decrease the economic, social, and cultural viability of coffee production—including certified ‘sustainable’ coffee production. The case study findings raise doubts about the sustainability of the Fair Trade-organic coffee model in the face of migration.

Working Paper #118»

Determinants of Naturalization: The Role of Dual Citizenship Laws (Working Paper #117)

Francesca Mazzolari, University of California – San Diego

Abstract: Dual citizenship is now tolerated under U.S. law and practice. As the granting of dual nationality by sending countries has spread, however, the relationship between dual citizenship and immigrant integration has emerged as an issue of debate. This paper explores whether or not recognition of dual nationality by sending countries positively a¤ects the U.S. naturalization rate of immigrants from those countries. The empirical analysis draws on data from the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Censuses and examines immigrants from the countries of Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mexico, all of which changed their laws to permit dual citizenship in the 1990s. A utility maximizing framework predicts that, everything else being equal, immigrants coming from a country that has recently allowed dual citizenship should be more likely to naturalize because of the decrease in a major cost of naturalization, speci…cally the need to forfeit rights in the country of origin. The analysis shows that older cohorts of immigrants from five of the six Latin American countries that have changed the law averaged higher naturalization rates in 2000 compared to other countries. Evidence for more recent immigrants is mixed and appears to be related to the rate of illegal immigration by the origin country.

Working Paper #117»

“Domestic Slavery” versus “Workers Rights”: Political Mobilizations of Migrant Domestic Workers in the European Union (Working Paper #116)

Helen Schwenken, University of Kassel

Abstract: In all countries of the European Union domestic work performed by migrant women, often in an irregular legal status, is increasing. Many workers face poor living and exploitative working conditions. Over the last decades, migrant domestic workers and advocacy organizations have developed multi-level strategies to improve those living and working conditions. In the contribution different and sometimes contradicting strategies of how a European network of migrant domestic workers and other actors mobilize will be identified and analyzed. It will be argued that the resonance the network achieved in the European Union was ambivalent and encompassed unintended consequences: On the one hand it allowed structural access to EU policy makers but on the other hand it narrowed down the political opportunities due to a fusion of migration policies and security policies.

Working Paper #116»

Faithfully Providing Refuge: The Role of Religious Organizations in Refugee Assistance and Advocacy (Working Paper #115)

Stephanie J. Nawyn, University of California – San Diego

Abstract: The majority of voluntary agencies that resettle refugees in the U.S. are faith-based organizations. Although the federal government prohibits resettlement agencies from spending federal dollars on religious activities, faith-based resettlement agencies still find ways to incorporate religion in their organizational activities and to mobilize religious resources for refugee rights and services. Based on research with 36 refugee resettlement and assistance organizations in four cities, this paper explores the ways in which religious discourse and religious networks are incorporated in refugee resettlement and will also suggest possibilities for expanding the role of religion in advocating for greater refugee rights.

Working Paper #115»

Domestic Insecurities: Female Migration from the Philippines, Development and National Subject-Status (Working Paper #114)

Robyn M. Rodriguez, University of California – Berkeley

Abstract: Since 1974 when labor export was first institutionalized by the Philippine government as a developmental policy, it has benefited politically by providing jobs to its citizens and economically through the remittances sent by migrants earned from employment abroad. As the out-migration of women working mostly as domestic workers and entertainersbegan to rival and even outpace that of men, however, the state’s highly profitable program faced a crisis or what might be termed “domestic insecurities”: insecurities felt by its populace about labor export, prompted mainly by domestic worker migration; insecurities which threatened the legitimacy of a major domestic developmental policy. Ordinary Philippine citizens, migrant advocates and migrants themselves began to contest labor export. Many believed labor export exposed women migrants to harsh forms of sexual violence. Others believed that the out-migration of women was weakening the Philippines’ social and moral fabric and still others, believed that the out-migration of Filipinas as domestic workers and entertainers threatened the Philippine state’s subjectstatus on the world stage. Contestations over labor export culminated into a crisis state with the hanging of a Filipina domestic worker by the Singaporean government in 1995 compelling the Philippine state to introduce major migration reforms in order to salvage the labor export program on which it had come to critically depend. This paper track’s the emergence of the gendered crisis of migration in the Philippines, the state’s response to it and its impacts on Filipina migrants. It aims to critically engage with the gender and development literature to illustrate the different ways gender, the specific experiences of gender by individuals as well as gendered representations and symbolism on different scales, shapes developmental interventions of postcolonial states and impacts women in both empowering and disempowering ways.

Working Paper #114»

Mexican Immigrant Political and Economic Incorporation (Working Paper #113)

Frank D. Bean, University of California – Irvine

Susan K. Brown, University of California – Irvine

Rubén Rumbaut, University of California – Irvine

Introduction: As the United States begins the 21st century, it remains the world’s leading immigration country. Almost 35 million legal and unauthorized migrants lived in the United States in 2000 (the latest year for which migration data are available on a global basis), a figure 2.7 times larger than the number in any other country (United Nations 2002). Although other nations have higher proportions of foreign-born residents (e.g., nearly 25 percent in Australia and 20 percent in Canada), the globally dominant position of the United States in regard to numbers of new immigrants reinforces its self-image as a “nation of immigrants,” as does the fact that immigration is generally seen as contributing to the country’s economic and demographic strength (Smith and Edmonston 1997). However, over the past three decades, more and more new arrivals possessing non-European origins (more than four-fifth are Asian and Latino), relatively low levels of education, and illegal statuses at entry have come to the country. These changes have fueled public concerns and led to heated debates over whether U.S. admissions and settlement-related policies ought to be modified.

Such disputes have tended to center on three broad issues: (1) Are too many (and the wrong kinds of) immigrants coming? (2) Are those coming negatively affecting the employment and earnings prospects of either natives or earlier immigrants? And, (3) are those coming less likely to become an integral part of mainstream America compared with earlier waves of immigrants, either owing to insufficient educational preparation for today’s post-industrial economy or to less inclination to integrate, especially socioculturally (Bean and Stevens 2003)? Of these questions, the one hardest to answer (and thus, the most controversial) is the last, mostly because it is still too soon to tell how the children and grandchildren of the newcomers are going to fare in the United States. Most of the new immigrants have arrived so recently that many of 2 their children, let alone their grandchildren, have yet to reach adulthood. If it takes at least a couple of generations for new immigrant groups to become fully involved in the American mainstream, not enough time has elapsed to discern how the descendants of the new groups are turning out economically, culturally, or politically.

Working Paper #113»

Does Policy Matter? On Governments’ Attempts to Control Unwanted Migration (Working Paper #112)

Eiko Thielemann, London School of Economics

Abstract: Public policy making on asylum takes place in an environment of intense public scrutiny, strong institutional constraints and international collective action problems. By assessing the relative importance of key pull factors of international migration, this article explains why, even when controlling for their differences in size, some states receive a much larger number of asylum seekers than others. The analysis of 20 OECD countries for the period 1985-1999 further shows that some of the most high profile public policy measures—safe third country provisions, dispersal and voucher schemes—aimed, at least in part, at deterring unwanted migration and at addressing the highly unequal distribution of asylum burdens have often been ineffective. This is because the key determinants of an asylum seeker’s choice of host country are historical, economic and reputational factors that largely lie beyond the reach of asylum policy makers. The paper argues that the effectiveness of unilateral policy measures will be further undermined by multilateral attempts to harmonise restrictive policies and that current efforts such as those by the European Union consolidate, rather than effectively address, existing disparities in the distribution of asylum burdens.

Working Paper #112»

Language Assimilation Today: Bilingualism Persists More Than in the Past, But English Still Dominates (Working Paper #111)

Richard Alba, University of Albany

Summary: Because of renewed immigration, fears about the status of English as the linguistic glue holding America together are common today. In a very different vein, multiculturalists have expressed hopes of profound change to American culture brought on by the persistence across generations of the mother tongues of contemporary immigrants. In either case, the underlying claim is that the past pattern of rapid acceptance of English by the children and grandchildren of the immigrants may be breaking down.

Using 2000 Census data, the Mumford Center has undertaken an analysis of the languages spoken at home by school-age children in newcomer families in order to examine the validity of the claim. We find that, although some changes have occurred, it greatly exaggerates them. English is almost universally accepted by the children and grandchildren of the immigrants who have come to the U.S. in great numbers since the 1960s. Moreover, by the third generation, i.e., the grandchildren of immigrants, bilingualism is maintained only by minorities of almost all groups. Among Asian groups, these minorities are so small that the levels of linguistic assimilation are scarcely different from those of the past. Among the Spanish-speaking groups, the bilingual minorities are larger than was the case among most European immigrant groups. Nevertheless, English monolingualism is the predominant pattern by the third generation, except for Dominicans, a group known to maintain levels of back-and-forth travel to its homeland.

Some of our specific findings are:

● Bilingualism is common among second-generation children, i.e., those growing up in
immigrant households: most speak an immigrant language at home, but almost all are
proficient in English. Among Hispanics, 92 percent speak English well or very well,
even though 85 percent speak at least some Spanish at home. The equivalent percentages
among Asian groups are: 96 percent are proficient in English and 61 percent speak an
Asian mother tongue.

● In the third (and later) generation, the predominant pattern is English monolingualism:
that is, children speak only English at home, making it highly unlikely that they will be
bilingual as adults. Among Asians, the percentage who speak only English is 92 percent.
It is lower among Hispanics, but still a clear majority: 72 percent.

● The very high immigration level of the 1990s does not appear to have weakened the
forces of linguistic assimilation. Mexicans, by far the largest immigrant group, provide a
compelling example. In 1990, 64 percent of third-generation Mexican-American children
spoke only English at home; in 2000, the equivalent figure had risen to 71 percent.

● Much third-generation bilingualism is found in border communities, such as
Brownsville, Texas, where the maintenance of Spanish has deep historical roots and is
affected by proximity to Mexico. Away from the border, Mexican-American children of
the third generation are unlikely to be bilingual.

Working Paper #111»

Development of National Migration Regimes: Japan in Comparative Perspective (Working Paper #110)

Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak, St. Olaf College

Abstract: This paper offers three linked arguments. First, it argues that Japan alone amongst the industrialized democracies avoided importing guestworkers for decades due to the legacies in its experience of decolonization. The rapidity and abruptness of decolonization in Japan led to an extremely rigid entry control policy, which was closed to economic concerns. Second, the paper argues that the comparative study of immigration politics is ripe for the development of a theoretically grounded typology based on the institutional logics embedded in national migration regimes. Three ideal types are proposed: (1) decolonization (or post-colonial) regimes; (2) demographic regimes; and (3) economic (labor-market) regimes. The third argument is that “convergence” between national migration regimes exists in the layering of logics. That is, over time, most states have moved from regimes that are closer to one of the three ideal types to regimes that layer, or mix, multiple regimes.

Working Paper #110»