(thanks to Johann Roldan for translating from English to Spanish)
...and here's the English version
The Politics of Immigration – Introduction
Terri E. GivensWhy is an African-American political scientist writing a blog on immigration politics for Latino Voices? The main reason is that it is an issue about which I am both knowledgeable and passionate. For my first blog post, I thought it would be helpful to provide some background on me and my interest in immigration politics. My interest began when I was growing up in Eastern Washington State, where seasonal workers were an important part of the agriculture-based economy. Although I went on to study International Relations as an undergraduate at Stanford University, my interest in the politics of immigration continued as I learned how immigration had impacted French politics during a study abroad program in 1986. When I went on to get my Ph.D. at UCLA, immigration was a hot topic in California. Proposition 187 went on the ballot in 1994, during my second year of graduate school. Despite thousands of protestors marching in the streets, the proposition was passed, and then subsequently invalidated after five years of political and legal wrangling. It amazed me at the time, that few in political science were studying the politics of immigration.
For over 20 years I have been a student of immigration policy and politics, both in the U.S. and Europe. I have lived in Border States (California and Texas) that have taken very different approaches to the issues of both legal and illegal immigration. I have taught literally thousands of students about immigration policy in the U.S. and Europe. I have read countless books, conducted hundreds of interviews and spent time in Washington, DC and European capitals trying to gain insights into the factors that were influencing the behavior of political elites. As I have watched Congress and the President wrestle with issues around immigration reform I have developed my own theories around our current deadlocked politics and want to share them from my perspective as an African-American political scientists and a comparativist who has become a leading scholar in the study of immigration and immigrant integration.
From my perspective, it is clear that comprehensive immigration reform is needed to deal with a variety of issues that we are facing. There is also a clear need for the passage of the DREAM act. Temporary measures like Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are a move in the right direction, but don’t begin to deal with the need for long-term solutions, from those who have gotten an education here to seasonal workers and the employers whose labor needs are driving undocumented immigration. It is an understatement to say that our immigration system is broken, with estimates of 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, increasing numbers of deportations, and states passing laws in the face of inaction at the federal level. The dilemma for politicians is how to address the issue in a way that can actually lead to solutions while keeping from feeding into the fears that immigration raises in the general population. Politicians have painted themselves into a corner by focusing on border security while being unwilling to pursue or compromise on policies that would deal with the immigration problem that is already inside of our borders.
With this blog, I will track developments in immigration politics and provide examples of potential solutions for our current deadlock over immigration policy. Politicians have been able to compromise in the past, and there will hopefully be compromise in our future. Stories from the state and local level can also provide the basis for potential solutions to our current impasse. America has been and will continue to be a country of immigration, it is in our best interest to find strength in our past to build a better future.