Founding & History

Wayne Cornelius, Founder

Wayne Cornelius, Founder

The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies was established in March 1999 under the leadership of Dr. Wayne Cornelius. Initially, CCIS operated as a program under the auspices of UCSD’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies. Working with the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies over the next three years, CCIS developed its Visiting Research Fellowship Program for predoctoral and postdoctoral scholars working in all of the social sciences and history. In 2000, the Center launched its research seminar series. Open to the campus and the general public, it continues to this day to provide the opportunity for Visiting Fellows, Guest Scholars, UCSD faculty, and non-local guest speakers to present and receive feedback on their most recent work. In this same year, CCIS also began its publication program.

CCIS and the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies continued to collaborate extensively over the next two years to host Visiting Fellows, conduct research seminars, conferences, and public outreach activities. In addition to hosting the annual meeting of the systemwide University of California Immigration and Integration Program, CCIS also held three large-scale, international research conferences during this period, one focusing on highly-skilled/professional migration to the United States and Canada, another comparing immigration control policies and policy outcomes in eleven industrialized countries, and another examining local struggles for immigrant rights and citizenship in recent countries of immigration. All three of these conferences eventually resulted in the publication of major edited volumes.  In 2002, CCIS became an independent research unit at UCSD and a 12-member Faculty Advisory Board was constituted.

With independence, CCIS began to grow its outreach and research dissemination capabilities. The Center’s global network of research associates expanded to over 200 researchers and 19 institutional affiliates. CCIS established a website in 2002 and the working papers posted on it quickly became an important way for researchers to receive feedback on their work in progress and for the dissemination of information to the general public. CCIS academic staff and Fellows also became much more active participants in the local and national media discourse on immigration issues, making themselves available for dozens of newspaper, radio, and television interviews.

CCIS moved into new, permanent space in the Academic Administration Building of Eleanor Roosevelt College in 2003. In 2004, CCIS collaborated to establish unique academic programs focusing on migration for undergraduate and graduate students. The minor in International Migration Studies, designed to provide undergraduate students with an understanding of the causes, politics, and social consequences of international migration from a broad comparative perspective, is only the program of its kind in the United States. That same year, CCIS collaborated with the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies to establish an interdisciplinary M.A. Program in Latin American Studies with specialization in International Migration. Both academic programs involve participation in the Mexican Migration Field Research Program, providing students the opportunity to be trained in research methods and publish the results of their research.

CCIS continues to fulfill its mission of supporting comparative research with grants from several foundations that support work on Latin American/North African migration to Spain. This work solidly launches CCIS’ program of research and training focusing on the contemporary European immigration experience.  Together with the Center’s ongoing work on Latin American immigration to Japan and Mexican migration to the United States, these Europe-based projects gave CCIS’ research portfolio truly global scope. In recent years, CCIS has concluded collaborative research and student training agreements with 11 universities and research institutions abroad, including five in Mexico and six in Spain.

CCIS completed its first ten years of operation in 2009 and was evaluated by a panel of outside reviewers and the relevant UCSD Academic Senate committees. The report of the evaluation committee was highly positive and provides support for CCIS to continue its work on international migration flows throughout the world.