Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cuatro Mucho Bueno Immigration Websites

I would like to highlight some important research work that has been published recently by four institutions that do U.S. immigration-related research with strong enmphasis on Mexican/Hispanic issues.

The first one is the Pew Hispanic Center. Its section of Publications on Immigration offers the most updated and accurate research work on Hispanic immigration in the United States. This section focuses “specifically on trends in migration flows, the characteristics of the foreign-born population and attitudes towards immigration policy issues.”

Recent research include: After the Great Recession: Foreign Born Gain Jobs; Native Born Lose Jobs; Illegal Immigration Backlash Worries, Divides Latinos; Hispanics and Arizona’s New Immigration Law; Latinos and the 2010 Census: The Foreign Born Are More Positive; Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 2008; Mexican Immigrants: How Many Come? How Many Leave? and Mexican Immigrants in the United States, 2008.

The Migration Policy Institute, which defines itself as an “independent, non partisan, nonprofit think tank dedicated to the study of the movement world wide,” offers a whole set of intelligent and objective works that bring highly valuable information and analysis into the U.S. immigration debate.

Recent research include: Migration and Immigrants Two Years after the Financial Collapse: Where Do We Stand?; Still an Hourglass? Immigrant Workers in Middle-Skilled Jobs; The Demographic Impacts of Repealing Birthright Citizenship; DREAM vs. Reality: An Analysis of Potential DREAM Act Beneficiaries; The Impact of Immigrants in Recession and Economic Expansion; and Protection through Integration: The Mexican Government's Efforts to Aid Migrants in the United States. Not to mention Francisco Alba's Mexico: A Crucial Crossroads.

In the Urban Institute’s “Immigrants” section you may find the work of immigration experts who have “analyzed immigrants' contributions to the labor force and the economy, tracked fast-growing immigrant communities, studied the effect of No Child Left Behind on immigrant children and English Language Learners, and surveyed foreign-born households’ health, well-being, and economic mobility.”

Recent research include: Metrotrends: Immigration and Employment; Five Questions: Rosa Maria Castaneda on immigration raids and their effects on children and communities; Children of Immigrants: 2008 State Trends Update; Decision Points 08: Unauthorized Immigrants; and Thumbs Off the Scale: Evidence-Based Studies of the Impacts of Immigration.

Finally, in the website of the International Network on Migration and Development you may find high quality research on Mexican migration in the United States from a multidisciplinary perspective. Highly recommended its books and journal sections; material can be found in English or Spanish. You may even find little wonderful jewels, like Steven Vertovec’s Migration and other Modes of Transnationalism: Towards Conceptual Cross-Fertilization, for example.

With exception of the Pew Hispanic Center and the Urban Institute websites, you really need to have developed browsing skills to deal with the other two websites. If you do not have them, no problem, this is a great and fun opportunity to develop them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Strategies? Do You Really Want to Learn About Strategies? Let´s Talk About the Center for Immigration Studies.

Talking points of the presentation of Dr. Gustavo Cano in the Foro Nacional para la Construcción de una Política Migratoria Integral y Democrática en el México del Bicentenario. Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. September 24, 2010.


* The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) defines itself as an “independent, non-partisan, non-profit, research organization,” that provides “immigration policymakers, the academic community, news media, and concerned citizens with reliable information about the social, economic, environmental, security, and fiscal consequences of legal and illegal immigration into the United States.”

* It was founded in 1985, and in the last 25 years it has gone from an average anti-immigrant organization to the most influential conservative, anti-immigrant think tanks in the United States.


* Other way to define the CIS is an anti-immigrant organization that is very well organized, well financed, and that has very well defined targets, that chooses its battles in a very smart way, that plans in a very meticulous way how to affect migration-related public policies, and most important of all: the CIS tells you “how you should think about and approach the issue.”


1.- The CIS defines very well its targets: Congressmen, members of the Senate, the academy, the donors, the media, and the people, mostly U.S. citizens.

2.- The CIS uses certain tactics and “mantras” to push over its speech all over the place, all the time:

** The CIS tends to cover their anti-immigrant aims through a persuasive pro-immigration speech.

** The CIS’ position in its writings is that of a minority taking the position of the majority.

** For the CIS the American future and present are both in danger because of immigration flows and policies. Indeed, the future can be solved in the present, with the right kind of anti-immigrant policies.

** Illegal immigration is a crime, period.

** There is a master use of the U.S. media to touch average U.S. minds about all the negative aspects of immigrant population living in the U.S.

**The CIS makes no distinction between “consequences” and “potential consequences” of the immigrant’s presence in U.S. soil.

**The CIS makes a constant emphasis about the “Mexican immigrant” component, whenever referring to illegal immigration.

3.- The following could be labeled as the CIS’ main strategic virtues in its struggle against immigration:

** The CIS is consistent about the negative aspects of immigration, all the time, all the topics, all the way up.

** It is very clear to them that everything is “about location, location.” They have their headquarters in Washington D.C., and they take advantage of that in every single way.

** They exert in a skillful way something called strategic, outcome oriented, thinking.

** They have full time personnel and researchers.

** They have full time targets.

** They have clear goals.

** They have a well established and stable flow of financial resources.

** They give follow up to everything, every issue, every actor, every news, every law initiative, every action from any major pro-immigrant group or think tank… Generally in a timely fashion.

** They are forming a school of followers among U.S. undergraduate and graduate students.

** They use the media in a masterful way to spread half-truths and half-lies about immigration in the U.S.

** They know very well how the political system and its relationship with the media work.

** They have become a XXI Century Anti-Immigrant Talking Points Machine.

4.- The CIS processes reliable information into new information that seeds the doubt about the credibility of reliable information sources. The logic is beautiful: our stuff is valid because it came up from reliable, public, sound information. This new information, which offers new perspectives on immigration issues, contradicts information that otherwise would be considered reliable information. The doubt is born. Naïve migration scholars, mostly the young and even the foreign, take the new information as is, without further verification, and consider it as a 100% reliable information. The job is done.

5.- The CIS has a very complete agenda of immigration issues, practically nothing escapes to the black hole: they defend the Arizona’s anti-immigrant law; they label immigration as a security threat to the U.S.; they also assert that immigration is a threat to U.S. national identity; they state that the struggle against immigration is the equivalent to a Second U.S. Civil War; they are against giving U.S. citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants (“illegal immigrants”); they use frequently all-inclusive remarks to expose their arguments: “Everyone agrees that Arizona has a huge illegal immigration problem;” they assert that immigrants steal jobs to the youth and low-skilled workers; immigration costs are more expensive than benefits to the government and society, in the present and in the future; immigration is not sustainable in fiscal terms; the Mexican consular ID is a shield that protects criminal activity in the United States; etc.


Indeed, very successful the compadres from the CIS.

* CIS flow of half-truth/half-lies information shows strong progress in dividing the academic community in the U.S. regarding the discussion about the true advantages and disadvantages of legal and illegal immigration. It’s like creating two sets of truths, that of the CIS and that of real, scientific work in the Social Sciences.

* I have the impression that the CIS is little by little making significant progress in the media battle with other serious research centers or think tanks, like the Pew Hispanic Center, the Migration Policy Institute, the National Immigration Forum, or the American Civil Liberties Union.

* CIS’ information circulates among influential decision makers in Washington D.C. The mission is two folded: first, the CIS offers “bold” data for anti-immigration conservatives to make their points in the legislative work in the U.S. government and, second, the CIS seeds the doubt among the center-liberal/conservative group in the legislative branch. Center-Republicans and Conservative Democrats are the main target here. Every Congressman or Senator that pays attention to whatever the CIS has to say is touched in a meaningful way. The Directors of the CIS also testify at House hearings, by the way.

* The results of the CIS work are amazing if we consider that what they offer, at the end of the day, is nothing more and nothing less than half-truths and half-lies. They just master the media and have a very clear and efficient strategy to spread their stuff in the minds of the average politician, the average scholar, and the average citizen of the United States.

What can Mexican immigrant organizations learn from all this?

* Everything, with exception of making their point through a strategy of half-truths/half-lies. Here what matters is precisely the “how.”

* It is important for organized Mexican immigrants to understand that, in order to survive in this information war and to deal with a growing anti-immigration wave in the U.S., they have to create full time organizations, with well defined targets, stable funding resources, and have a well defined media strategy.

* I personally think that all that immigrant coming and going among local, state and federal Mexican authorities bring poor political results to the Mexican community that lives in the United States; in the sense that if the community wants to do progress in the U.S. (to live the Mexican Dream in the United States, and certainly not the American Dream), they need to address their problems in the United States, they need to solve their problems with all the set of tools that are available to them in the United States, they need to understand how the political system and society work, they need to take the bull by the horns in U.S. soil. Nobody can deal better with the issues of Mexican undocumented immigrants than organizations of undocumented immigrants, not even Mexican American or Chicano organizations. Certainly these organizations should be part of the effort (as well as other non profit pro-immigrant American organizations), but the solution and the strategy must come from the Mexicans themselves, the ones who live and work in the United States.

* Yes we can.

What’s New in the "Immigration Research Now" Website?

There have been some changes in the last 12 months in the Immigration Research Now website. Here you have a brief update of the changes:

Weekly News
Here you can find the most important immigration news from various sources, grouped by week, from January to April, 2010. It includes Spanish and English news from American newspapers.

LINKS: U.S. Immigration
LINKS: The European Perspective
Here you can find updated links to websites related to U.S. and European immigration. First by alphabetical order, then by subject: Government agencies / institutions, immigration news, organizations, research centers and think thanks, research sources and resources, and workshops and working groups.

Here you can find a transnational approach to the U.S. – Mexico transnational crime dynamics. Mostly articles focused on the drug war from both sides at the same time. Transnational crime in English (the U.S. perspective), and Crimen transnacional in Spanish (the Mexican perspective).

Dream TeamThis is the gallery of collaborators. A terrific group of Mexican and international students that are making this project a vibrant reality.

The institutional sponsors of this academic effort are the Mexico-North Research Network (Washington D.C.) and the Universidad de Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico).