CAMBRIDGE, MA – Despite America’s history and reputation as a “melting pot,” immigration continues to polarize policy-makers and is at the top of the agenda as Congress returns to Washington following the July 4 recess. The Summer 2013 issue of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, examines the origins and characteristics of new immigrants and considers their reception in the United States, with regard to both public policies and private behavior. The issue, “Immigration and the Future of America,” is guest edited by American Academy Fellow Douglas S. Massey (Princeton University), a leading expert in the sociology of immigration.
Whereas immigration to the United States during the half-century from 1915 to 1965 was small by historical standards, the four decades from 1970 to 2010 witnessed a remarkable revival of population flows from abroad. By 2010, the percentage of foreigners in the United States had rebounded to nearly 13%, much closer to its historical peak of 14.7% in 1910. Most of the new entrants hailed from Asia and Latin America.
Unlike past immigrants, many foreigners living in the United States today are present without authorization. According to estimates, roughly one-third of these individuals are undocumented, and although Hispanics and Asians now account for around 20% of the total population, they make up nearly a third of all births. Thus, the future of the United States is very much tied to the status and welfare of immigrants and their children.
Guest editor Douglas Massey notes in his essay, America’s Immigration Policy Fiasco, that mass illegality is now the greatest barrier to the successful integration of Latinos; a pathway to legalization represents a critical policy challenge. If U.S. policy-makers wish to avoid the failures of the past, he argues, they must shift from a goal of immigration suppression to one of immigration management within an increasingly integrated North American market.
“Immigration policies implemented in 1965 and thereafter were not founded on any rational, evidence-based understanding of international migration. Instead, they were enacted for domestic political purposes and reveal more about America’s hopes and aspirations – and its fears and apprehensions – than anything having to do with immigrants or immigration per se. When policies are implemented for symbolic political purposes, and massive interventions are undertaken with no real understanding of how they might affect a complex social system such as immigration, the results are not only likely to be unanticipated, but counterproductive.”
The essays in this issue provide a strong overview of the immigration landscape, ranging from Nancy Foner’s (Hunter College, City University of New York) comparative approach in her essay Immigration Past and Present; to Richard Alba’s (Graduate Center, City University of New York) analysis of a specific sector in his essay Schools and the Diversity Transition; to Michael Jones-Correa (Cornell University) and Els de Graauw’s (Baruch College, City University of New York) critique of the overemphasis on undocumented status and enforcement in their essay The Illegality Trap: The Politics of Immigration and the Lens of Illegality.
Print copies of the new issue can be ordered here; Kindle copies can be ordered here.
Essays in the Summer 2013 issue of Dædalus:
- Douglas S. Massey (Princeton University): America’s Immigration Policy Fiasco: Learning from Past Mistakes
- Nancy Foner (Hunter College, City University of New York): Immigration Past and Present
- Charles Hirschman (University of Washington): The Contributions of Immigrants to American Culture
- Marta Tienda (Princeton University) & Susana M. Sánchez (Pennsylvania State University): Latin American Immigration to the United States
- Victor Nee (Cornell University) & Hilary Holbrow (Cornell University): Why Asian Americans are Becoming Mainstream
- Audrey Singer (Brookings Institution): Contemporary Immigrant Gateways in Historical Perspective
- Mary C. Waters (Harvard University) & Philip Kasinitz (Graduate Center, City University of New York): Immigrants in New York: Reaping the Benefits of Continuous Immigration
- Helen B. Marrow (Tufts University): Assimilation in New Destinations
- Frank D. Bean (University of California, Irvine), Jennifer Lee (University of California, Irvine) & James D. Bachmeier (Temple University): Immigration and the Color Line at the Beginning of the 21st Century
- Rubén G. Rumbaut (University of California, Irvine) and Douglas S. Massey (Princeton University): Immigration and Language Diversity in the United States
- Richard Alba (Graduate Center, City University of New York): Schools and the Diversity Transition
- Alejandro Portes (Princeton University) & Adrienne Celaya (University of Miami): Modernization for Emigration: Determinants and Consequences of the Brain Drain
- Michael Jones-Correa (Cornell University) & Els de Graauw (Baruch College, City University of New York): The Illegality Trap: The Politics of Immigration and the Lens of Illegality
- Karen Manges Douglas (Sam Houston State University) & Rogelio Sáenz (University of Texas at San Antonio): The Criminalization of Immigrants and the Immigration-Industrial Complex
- Cristina M. Rodríguez (Yale Law School): Immigration, Civil Rights, and the Evolution of the People
NOTE: Please credit Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, when citing this editorial material.
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