Theories, Frameworks and Models Assimilation, Acculturation and Integration
Questions: A Framework for Analysis • How do you explain the distinctive patterns of immigration control that have prevailed for long periods of time in US history? • What forces have sustained certain immigration policies over time? • How do you account for the, apparent, sudden shifts in major policy? • What propels innovation in policy changes? • How do you make sense of the overall direction of immigration policy over time? American Immigration Policy: The Long View
1) Sweeping immigration restrictions require new forms of intervention by the state in a culture that is uneasy with invasive government power • 2) Restrictionist policies fly in the face of powerful interests: business, labor and religion • 3) Liberal immigration policies have come into existence despite consistently anti-immigrant public attitudes Contradictions and Paradox
Models of economic causation often dominate the popoular and academic analysis of immigration politics and policy: • High growth economy acts as a crucial motor for policy change: • Social reform in the Progressive Era • Great Society in the 1960s • Contradiction: New Deal of the 1930s Economic Determinism
Economic decline is the chief impetus for policy change: • The New Deal was quickly slowed down by the continuing recession – backpedaling and retrenchment eliminated many of the programs instituted • ‘Stagflation’ in the 1970s severely limited and cut spending programs and innovation • Contradiction: Current state of stalled policy making in the face of the largest recession since the 1930s Economic Determinism – cont’d.
Immigration (restrictive or expansive) is driven by business cycles: • Chinese Exclusion Act: labor market stress in California • Great Depression: immigration severely restricted • Bracero Program: 1940s – needed replacement workers during wartime • 1965 – height of economic boom – national origins quotas removed • 1994 – Prop 187 – California experienced severe recession – immigrants access to benefits restricted • 2005 – Economic ‘bubble’ – immigration reform focuses on ‘roads to citizenship’ for the undocumented Economic Determinism – cont’d.
Contradictions: • In 1917 during an economic boom period, many restrictions were placed on immigrants to specifically weed out ‘undesireables’ • 1952 Internal Security Act – placed new and more restrictions on immigrant labor despite protests from business • 1973-1975 – height of energy crisis and resultant recession – vast expansion of Indochinese immigration • 1980 – economic crisis that brought down the Carter Administration – immigration caps were raised to an all-time high • 1990 – recession – Immigration Act of 1990 expanded immigration opportunities Economic Determinism – cont’d
Policy analysis based strictly on economic reductionism has flaws: • Obscures other factors that influence policy-making – especially the role of political actors, special interest groups • How immigration is restricted or expanded is just as important as how much it is Economic Determinism
Social interest theories with a pluralistic perspective assume that policy outcomes reflect a balanced compromise among groups possessing varied power resources and that government serves as a neutral referee. • ‘Rational choice’ models Social Interest Frameworks
Social interest theorists with a class-conflict perspective often highlight the disproportionate influence of business/industrial interests in shaping immigration policy. For them immigration policy serves business interests by exporting the cost of labor reproduction to sending countries and by securing a ready supply of cheap, exploitable immigrant labor • Marxist, neo-Marxist models Social Interest Frameworks
A weakness of these frameworks is that they usually assume the government has a relatively neutral role – in fact the outcome of immigration policies often suggests that government institutions distribute power unevenly across social groups. • Pluralisms’ belief that government processes are ‘open’ ignores structural and systemic barriers encountered by disadvantaged groups: especially nonwhite newcomers who don’t speak English • When the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed the Chinese immigrants were not passive – they mobilized and vigorously attempted to mount legal challenges to this Act – they failed Social Interest Frameworks
Class conflict theorists tend to paint the picture in absolutes – there are often grey areas: • Chinese Exclusion Act was passed despite opposition by businesses that valued cheap Asian labor • Agricultural growers were unable to have the Bracero Program renewed in the 1960s • In 1986 business was unable to forestall employer sanctions • Since 1965 family reunification has trumped employer labor market preferences in the allocation of immigrant visas • There are numerous examples of shifting alliances around race, ethnicity and gender that have overshadowed immigration policy Social Interest Frameworks
National values: • Policy choices are made in the context of powerful values rooted in American culture: • Liberal consensus • Unfettered markets • Shared devotion to the ‘promised land’ • Political freedom • Civic culture that celebrates diversity Other Models of Policy Analysis
Electoral Realignment: • New policies emerge from cyclical shifts in the partisan alignment of voters: neo-conservative rise to power in the 1980s; red/blue states in 1990s; ‘Tea-Partiers’ in the 2010s are good examples • Focus on the surge of highly ideological and partisan activism that infuses policy making processes Other Models of Policy Analysis
Most policy analysis models tend to be ‘state centered’ in their approach, i.e., the U.S. is the center of the analysis International perspectives are rarely introduced into the federal, state and local policy debate Fail to take into account the larger mega-processes that are occurring in the world – industrialization and now globalization Critical analysis