What we're getting wrong about the migration debate
August 1st, 2014
06:39 PM ET

What we're getting wrong about the migration debate

By Kevin O’Donnell

GPS intern Kevin O’Donnell speaks with Justin Gest, assistant professor of public policy at the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs at George Mason University and the author of ‘Apart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West’ and the forthcoming ‘Crossroads of Migration: A Global Approach to National Policy Differences’. The views expressed are his own.

When we talk about migration, we often talk about push factors and pull factors – things that drive people from a country, that pull them to another. We’ve seen over the past five years a rapid increase in migration by children. Is this driven more by factors in their home countries, or by a new understanding of opportunities in the United States?

Well I think it’s important off the bat to clarify that the young people who are coming to the United States border right now aren’t coming for economic opportunities, they’re not coming – initially at least – to unify with their families, they’re not coming because of the United States' university system or educational opportunities. They’re coming because they’re desperate. They’re coming because they’re trying to escape dire circumstances in their countries of origin.

So while the pull factors in the United States are important, they’re not a determinant here. One way of actually noticing this is by looking at the net migration from Mexico and Central America over the last five to seven years since the economic decline of the United States. It has declined, at one point to zero. So this is taking place at a time when we haven’t seen a lot of draw by the American economy, which further substantiates the idea that this is truly push-factor oriented. FULL POST

May 20th, 2014
04:55 PM ET

America's linguistic melting pot

For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Here at GPS, we love deep data dives. We also revel in the fact that America continues to be the melting pot that it has always been. So we were interested to see a piece on Slate.com last week analyzing the most common languages spoken in each state using U.S. census data.

This first map is predictable – other than English, Spanish is the most spoken language in almost all U.S. states. But watch what happens when you remove Spanish from the equation. Now there is the melting pot.

In Michigan, Arabic clocks in as the third most commonly spoken language.

In Minnesota, it's Hmong.

In Oregon, it's Russian.

It's Vietnamese in four states – Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Washington.

It's a Filipino language called Tagalog in Hawaii, California, and Nevada.

FULL POST

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Topics: GPS Show • Immigration • Last Look • United States
April 25th, 2014
09:41 AM ET

Dominican Republic 'committed to inclusive immigration policy'

By Aníbal de Castro, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Aníbal de Castro is ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the United States. This article is a response to an opinion piece from Amnesty International published earlier this week. The views expressed are his own.

The Dominican Republic is taking proactive steps to tackle the complex issue of immigration by implementing a policy for registering both national and immigrant citizens, while protecting everyone’s fundamental rights. And the challenges the Dominican Republic is facing to adopt these policies are not much different than those confronting the United States and other nations.

But, as lawmakers around the world have learned – there are no easy solutions.

Last September, the Constitutional Court ruled that the government of the Dominican Republic was required to launch a proactive process to implement a fair and transparent immigration policy, one that respects each person’s contribution to Dominican society and gives clarity to an outdated system. This marks a historic moment in the country’s 170-year history, and will enhance the security and prosperity of the Dominican Republic and island of Hispaniola at large.

FULL POST

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Topics: Immigration • Latin America
Migrant health key in TB fight
March 24th, 2014
03:14 PM ET

Migrant health key in TB fight

By Martin Cetron and Davide Mosca, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Martin Cetron MD is director of the Centers for Disease Control’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. Davide Mosca is director of the Migration Health Division, International Organization for Migration. The views expressed are their own.

Today’s ease of travel means more people are on the move than ever before – more than 232 million people across the globe are considered migrants, playing an important role by filling jobs in sectors that face a shrinking national workforce. In the process, they frequently enrich societies with their skills, entrepreneurship, and cultural diversity.

Unfortunately, many also originate from countries that have high rates of tuberculosis and fewer health resources. World TB day, being marked today, offers an important moment to take stock of where we stand – and why this is a problem not just for developing countries, but also for rich nations including the United States.

Of the nine million people around the world who get sick with tuberculosis each year, a third do not get treatment. It is this reality that forms the basis of this year’s theme – reaching the “three million,” through a TB test, treatment and ultimately a cure for all.

The challenge, of course, is that many of the missing three million live in the world’s poorest, most vulnerable communities, nations that often don't have the resources to fight TB. These migrants frequently face high exposure to TB infection because of overcrowded and unhealthy living and working conditions in their home countries. As a result, tuberculosis rates are high among foreign-born groups in many industrialized countries, including here in the U.S.

FULL POST

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Topics: Health • Immigration
February 14th, 2014
11:56 AM ET

The party of gridlock

By Fareed Zakaria

I have been described as a centrist. And I freely admit to believing that neither side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on wisdom or virtue. But sometimes, reality points firmly in one direction. Watching the machinations in Washington over the last two weeks, it is now impossible to talk about how both political parties are to blame for the country’s gridlock.

Consider what just happened on immigration, an issue ripe for resolution. A majority of Americans support granting citizenship to illegal immigrants — by 81 percent in the most recent CNN poll — as well as enhanced border controls. The leadership of the Republican Party in Congress talked about a comprehensive reform package that would create a lengthy waiting time for citizenship — 13 years — and couple this with tougher enforcement. Most Democrats were willing to accept this compromise.

But it became clear to the Republican leadership that even this would be unacceptable for many tea party Republicans.

Read the Washington Post column

 

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Topics: Immigration
Can world prevent more Lampedusas?
December 30th, 2013
01:24 PM ET

Can world prevent more Lampedusas?

By Kevin Duffy, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Kevin Duffy is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard and a member of the Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist Working Group. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. government.

At the conclusion of a summit of European leaders earlier this month, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso called the plight of migrants crossing the Mediterranean an “urgent and complex situation.” He went on to say that the European Union planned to address that situation through a 50-million euro emergency fund, an effort to work with countries of origin in the Middle East and Africa in addressing the causes of migrant flows at their source, increased security patrols, and a comprehensive migrant resettlement policy.

Europe’s policymakers appear now to be recognizing just how much the solution to the “urgent and complex” migrant situation will require a coordinated international effort, rather than reliance on individual countries to respond on their own.

In explaining the urgent tone of his remarks, President Barroso directly referenced Lampedusa, a rocky outcrop that is much closer to North Africa than it is to mainland Italy. The waters around that island were the scene of repeated, massive maritime disasters and rescue efforts in October: on the third of that month, more than 350 people died in a single shipwreck, with 150 more being rescued; a week later, more than 30 people perished and over 200 were saved when their boat capsized; on October 17, a U.S. Navy ship picked up over 120 imperiled migrants; in a remarkable single night at the end of the month, Italian and Maltese boats saved 700 people from five separate vessels.

FULL POST

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Topics: Europe • Immigration
This Thanksgiving, remember today's refugees
November 26th, 2013
09:28 AM ET

This Thanksgiving, remember today's refugees

By Alice Farmer, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Alice Farmer is a children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch who has done extensive research on unaccompanied migrant children around the world. The views expressed are her own.

This week kicks off one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Millions will set out for Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates how refugees from religious persecution found freedom in a new land. I’ll be one of those traveling. And while I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends, I’m not looking forward to the hassle: long flights, cramped seats, and the difficulty of finding a taxi at 3 a.m.

Of course, I’ll be travelling legally, with the right paperwork. Most of us can't imagine how much harder it is to cross international borders if you can’t get your papers in order. Yet millions of people fleeing war and instability, or fearing persecution from their own government, don’t have the luxury of applying for passports and waiting for visas. Without paperwork, they can’t move through border crossings legally. So they travel in other ways, often with no other choice but to resort to smugglers.

FULL POST

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Topics: Human Rights • Immigration
Is tide turning over immigration views?
November 6th, 2013
09:45 AM ET

Is tide turning over immigration views?

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.

Americans now appear ready for a new approach to immigration policy. A CBS News survey last month found that three-quarters of the public favors “a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. if they met certain requirements including a waiting period, paying fines and back taxes, passing criminal background checks, and learning English.”

But even as the debate intensified the past week as hundreds of conservative leaders converged on Washington to press for broad immigration reform, the issue looks like it might be about to take another twist as the sharp decline in the U.S. population of unauthorized immigrants that accompanied the 2007-2009 recession bottoms out. Indeed, the number may be rising again.

As of March 2012, 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States, according to a preliminary Pew Research Center estimate based on U.S. government data. The estimated number of unauthorized immigrants had peaked at 12.2 million in 2007 and then fell to 11.3 million in 2009, breaking a rising trend that had held for decades. Now this trend may be reversing itself.

FULL POST

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Topics: Immigration • Mexico • United States
May 7th, 2013
09:54 AM ET

The economic case for immigration reform

By Global Public Square staff

The latest numbers show slow growth in the United States. That's bad for jobs, income – it's even bad for those worried about the deficit because it means lower tax revenues. And it has prompted a revival of the partisan debate about what to do about it.

Well, there's one idea out there that could have support from both parties. A study out last week suggests there is one very simple way to increase tax revenue, expand GDP, and create jobs – all at the same time. What's more, Congress is already weighing it: it's called immigration reform.

How and why? Well, a new paper from the left-leaning Center for American Progress actually calculates the economic impact of immigration reform. Take a look.

FULL POST

Americans divided over immigration reform
April 3rd, 2013
01:00 PM ET

Americans divided over immigration reform

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.

For those Indians, Chinese and others with advanced degrees who have been waiting years for a U.S. employment-based visa, the prospect of American immigration reform this year may yet prove a siren call. The fact is that despite the political rhetoric emanating from Washington, and press reports of an immigration deal shaping up in the U.S. Senate, U.S. immigration reform is not a priority for many Americans – especially some in the Republican Party.

“The time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said U.S. President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address in February. Many Republican Congressional leaders now see the need for liberalizing visa requirements, after once opposing such measures, as a self-preservation move for their party, which is losing ground among Hispanics and Asian Americans. Organized labor and the business community have apparently struck a deal on work permits. And the public would like to see change in principle. The trouble is there is just no consensus on the details, which are devilishly complicated.

FULL POST

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Topics: Immigration • United States
Denmark’s unnecessary clash of civilizations
March 1st, 2013
11:55 AM ET

Denmark’s unnecessary clash of civilizations

By Fabrizio Tassinari and Mona Kanwal Sheikh, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Fabrizio Tassinari is Head of Foreign Policy Studies at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Mona Kanwal Sheikh is a post-doctoral researcher at the same institute. The views expressed are their own.

It may have escaped most people’s attention, but Denmark is in the midst of a clash of civilizations. And while it may not be an actual war, the perceived fight among some Danes is hardening the lines of conflict between Islam and the West.

It all started a few weeks ago, with a failed attempt to kill one of the country’s staunchest critics of Islam, Lars Hedegaard. Despite the fact that there still is no trace of the gunman, and that the police have not yet established the motive behind the incident, politicians from across the political spectrum, including Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, quickly framed the tragic attack as a possible blow against the principle of freedom of expression.

Last Thursday, in a hastily arranged meeting at the country’s parliament, influential politicians and opinion makers echoed the view that free speech is under siege and needs to be defended.

FULL POST

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Topics: Immigration • Islam
Is enforcement key to fixing America's immigration system?
February 15th, 2013
09:49 AM ET

Is enforcement key to fixing America's immigration system?

By Andrew R. Morral and Peter Brownell, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Andrew Morral is a senior behavioral scientist and associate director of RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment, and Peter Brownell is an associate social scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. The views expressed are their own.

As President Obama reiterated in his State of the Union address, immigration reform will likely entail some combination of easing the path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and increasing border control and immigration law enforcement. Given that the U.S. already spends about a quarter more on immigration enforcement and border control than on all other federal law enforcement activities combined, it’s worth considering where the country could improve enforcement without breaking the bank.

A rapid expansion of personnel and technological resources over the past decade has improved border control chiefly by identifying and targeting areas with historically high volumes of illegal crossings. But building this system out further would be costly, and offer progressively lower returns on investment.

FULL POST

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Topics: Immigration • United States
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