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Saturday, October 29, 2011

The GOP and Immigration

Interesting article in today's New York Times on GOP positions on immigrants:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/us/politics/tough-stance-on-immigrants-questioned-by-some-in-gop.html?_r=1&hp -- perhaps they are realizing they are alienating a large and growing proportion of the electorate? 

I have given a few talks on immigration policy in the last few weeks, and it is clear that comprehensive immigration reform is the logical way forward.  We need to look at the fact that we have 10-12 million undocumented immigrants as an important issue.  Why wouldn't we want to be able to document and track these people? (except for the fact that they provide cheap labor, etc...)  It's time to start changing the discourses around our broken immigration system and look at why we need to provide more visas. The situation in Alabama is a clear indicator of the problems inherent with our current situation.  Situations where families have children who are citizens and yet have to live in the shadows, or legal immigrants fear harassment.  We can and should do better.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Muslim integration issues -- from the New York Times

Today's column by John Vinocur raises several important points -- in the broader context of the Euro crisis, European politicians have chosen to avoid the issue of Muslim immigrants and immigrant integration:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/world/europe/18iht-politicus18.html?pagewanted=1&ref=europe.  Vinocur references to two recent studies, one by Gilles Keppel in France and the other by German researchers, examining issues related to Muslim integration.  These are important issues, and despite the urgency of the Euro crisis, it will be interesting to see if and how these issues play out politically, particularly with the upcoming French presidential elections.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

On the Euro Crisis

Although this blog is focused on immigration, I have been following the crisis in Europe and will also start sharing some of my thoughts on this issue.  As I tell my students on a regular basis, what happens in the next few months will have ramifications for European integration, global markets, and Transatlantic politics for the foreseeble future. Europe is in the process of dragging the U.S. and other parts of the world into a double-dip recession.
After reading various analyses and following the economic and political manuevers over the last two years it has become clear to me that two underlying factors are important to unerstanding the current situation:

1) the political scene and type of political leadership has shifted dramatically since the passage of the Maastrich Treaty at the end of the 1990s.  This shift began with the election of mostly conservative governments in the early 2000s.  These leaders came to power at a time when voters were rejecting an EU constitution, and a backlash against immigration, multiculturalism, and issues about national identity were driving policy.  European integration was taking a backseat to a revival of nationalist sentiment, often embodied in the rise of far right politicians like Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen.  Parties like the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) embodied rising Euroskepticism.

It also doesn't help that the most important politician in this developing drama, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, has proven undecisive, and unwilling to take bold measures when needed.  She has left the situation for the IMF, ECB and European Commission to play out, dragging out the Greek default so they can prepare the ground for bailing out the banks that will be damaged.

2) A blind pursuit of integration in late 1990s and early 2000s led European leaders to ignore major warning signs from Greece, even before they joined the Euro.  Others have done a good job of chronicling this mess, and I recommend Michael Lewis' new book Boomerang (and the interview on Fresh Air).  Without any means of sanctioning governments who weren't meeting convergence criteria, the Eurozone left itself open to exactly the scenario we are seeing today, a country which will have to default because there was no fiscal discipline.  I do believe Greece will have to default and leave the Eurozone, but it will be a long drawn-out process, which will leave Europe in an economic mess for years to come.

More later...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Paul Scheffer, 'Immigrant Nations"

Here is a short excerpt from my review of Paul Scheffer's new book Immigrant Nations which will be published in Ethnic and Racial Studies  in the Spring:

Paul Scheffer (translated by Liz Waters), IMMIGRANT NATIONS, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011, 390 pp., £19.99 (paper).
As Paul Scheffer notes in his Epilogue, this book is the result of many years of discussion, literature review and analysis after the publication in 2000 of his controversial article “The Multicultural Drama” (‘Het multiculturele drama’, in NRC Handelsblad, 29 January 2000).  Those who don’t know of Scheffer’s role as public intellectual in the Netherlands may want to start by reading the Epilogue.  However, this background is not necessary to gain a great deal from what is clearly an in-depth and well researched book on the way that recent immigration is impacting Europe and the U.S. In this book, Scheffer attempts to reconcile the many conflicting forces that influence both the nature of immigrant integration, and the fundamental issue of citizenship in a global society.