Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What will shift in Congress mean for immigration?

The one area where I see the shift of the US House of Representatives to Democratic control possibly resulting in a genuine shift in US policy direction might be immigration. House Republicans were behind the more draconian immigration bill earlier this year, with the President and the Senate supporting so-called "comprehensive" immigration reform (though it never looked so comprehensive to me).

With Dems controling the US House, Republicans' Senate power diluted and Bush supporting broader reforms, I could see Congress enacting more comprehensive, less draconian immigration laws in the next two years, especially if President Bush seizes the opportunity and pushes for it as a lame duck, as a lot of his business backers want him to do.

What do you think? Will control of the House by Democrats and Speaker Pelosi result in less draconian, more results-based US immigration policy? Are there any other areas (especially related to criminal justice) where the shift might facilitate improved policymaking, or will a split Congress mostly, as I fear, mean even worse gridlock?

UPDATE: More in this vein from Reuters. Also, Ruben Navarette has more detail on the exit poll numbers.

NUTHER UPDATE: With Dems in control of both houses of Congress instead of just the House of Representatives, does this change the analysis? Will Dems who might have cooperated with moderate Senators now cooperate instead with the President? I don't know. I think immigration might have fared better with the chambers split, but that's just a hunch. Que sera sera.


Anonymous said...

Feeling optimistic this morning, are we? Why not? :)

Anonymous said...

American immigration policy confuses me. When Texans talk about immigration, I get the feeling you actually mean Mexicans, and when folks in say Michigan talk about immigration, they seem to mean Canadians (though ask any Canadian and they'll look at you as if you've grown 2 heads and ask why the hel they would want to live 'down there').

But how do you all feel about, hypothetically, a white European person who has a degree and other skills wanting to live and work in America? Are there any employment sectors that America is short in (for example, New Zealand needs electricians, and the UK will take nurses from just about anywhere)?

When you say immigration, do you really mean racism? And what are the figures for Americans emmigrating each year? In the UK, those going out roughly match those coming in.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

For me, I don't mean racism, I mean expanding the quotas to meet US labor demand. And while I certainly focus on Mexico more than Europe, I have no problems with Europeans coming here, either.

It's also a lot easier for white European with skills to emigrate to the US - the quotas aren't nearly as strict.

On the other hand, most of Texas' fighting over immigrants revolves around Mexican immigration, because that's where most of our immigrants come from. Not all, though, by a longshot, and you're right the debate is too focused on race instead of policy.

I don't know the total figures, though I'd suggest poking around the website of the Migraton Policy Institute. They'll have it. Best,

Anonymous said...

I think the mexicans already in america need help before we import more. Resources are finite, and so is the resources that can be allocated to help the poor.

See this UC Irvine study that shows we have people here to worry about first:

Study sheds light on how young adult children of immigrants assimilate

Largest, longest study of children of immigrants reveals certain groups are left behind

Irvine, Calif., October 4, 2006

While the vast majority of young adult children of immigrants experience upward economic and social mobility, a new study finds that a significant minority are suffering from lower levels of education, lower incomes, higher birth rates and higher levels of incarceration. Furthermore, it is the U.S.-born children of Mexican, Haitian and West Indian immigrants who experience these problems in the largest proportions.

The study, led by sociologists Rubén G. Rumbaut of UC Irvine and Alejandro Portes of Princeton University, appears online this week in the Migration Information Source. The largest and longest-running study of children of immigrants yet conducted, the study also confirms the critical importance of education.

“The greatest educational disadvantage is found among children of Mexican immigrants and Laotian and Cambodian refugees in our sample – close to 40 percent of whom did not go beyond a high school diploma,” said Rumbaut. “Education is the key to successful upward mobility among children of immigrants, so the discrepancies that emerge in educational achievement among immigrant groups tend to persist in trends for income, employment and incarceration.”

The researchers also point to the influence of human capital (the skills and education of immigrant parents) as well as family structure, racial prejudice and government policies toward certain immigrant groups – particularly the undocumented – that influence this “downward assimilation” process.

The researchers found that children of Laotian and Cambodian Americans as well as Haitian Americans had the lowest median annual household income at just over $25,000. They were followed closely by Mexican American families, which had a median annual household income of about $30,000. On the other end of the spectrum, children of upper-middle-class Cuban exiles in Southern Florida reported a household income of more than $70,000, and Filipino Americans in Southern California had more than $64,000, followed by Chinese immigrants.

Furthermore, the study found that the most educationally and economically disadvantaged children of immigrants were most likely to have children of their own at a young age, compounding their difficulties at pursuing higher education. When surveyed at the average age of 24, none of the Chinese Americans had children, while in contrast 25 percent of Haitians, West Indians, Laotians and Cambodians did, as did 41 percent of Mexican American young adults.

Differences in arrest and incarceration rates are also noteworthy, particularly among second-generation, U.S.-born, males. While only 10 percent of second-generation immigrant males in the survey had been incarcerated, that figure jumped to 20 percent among West Indian and Mexican American youths.

“Unfortunately, these trends perpetuate the racial and ethnic stereotypes that contributed to their situation in the first place,” Rumbaut said. “On the positive side, we see that children of immigrant families with little money and low human capital can move forward positively in American society. But there is clearly a minority segment among the native-born children of some immigrant groups that is getting caught in a cycle of downward mobility, and we need to understand the trends that drive this process.”

There are more than 30 million U.S.-born children of immigrants. Rumbaut is continuing to explore the major events influencing the social outcomes of the immigrant second generation, focusing on early childbirth for women and incarceration among men.

About the Study: The surveys were conducted over more than 10 years with random samples representing 77 different nationalities originally drawn in 1991 in San Diego, Calif., and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., of more than 5,000 respondents who were then in junior high school, The most recent surveys were conducted from 2001 to 2004 when the respondents were between the ages of 23 and 27. The surveys are part of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study, which was designed to examine the in-depth interaction between immigrant parents and their children and the evolution of the young from adolescence into early adulthood. Results from the CILS surveys provide the most compelling current evidence to date of how the second generation adapts – from education and income to unemployment, family formation and incarceration. The study was funded with support from the Russell Sage Foundation. More:

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.3 billion. For more UCI news, visit