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Self-Deportation


Many critics of immigration hope these and other laws and practices will make life so difficult for unauthorized immigrants that they engage in self-deportationby returning to Mexico or their other native countries. According to the Immigration Policy Center (2012), [38] however, there is little evidence that self-deportation actually occurs. A major reason for this fact is that two-thirds of unauthorized adult immigrants have been in the United States for at least ten years, and almost half are parents of children born in the United States (who, as mentioned earlier, are thus US citizens). These adults and their children therefore have established roots in American soil and simply want to stay in the United States.

Detention


The federal government has the responsibility for detaining and deporting unauthorized immigrants. The number of immigrants detained every year exceeds 360,000, with an average detention length of almost three months; more than 1,000 individuals are detained for over a year. At a cost of more than $60,000 per detainee, the annual cost of this detention system exceeds $21 billion. Most detainees are in custody for technical violations of immigrant laws, such as overstaying a visa, rather than for serious criminal behavior. As such, they do not pose a public danger.

Debate continues over the extent to which the government should carry out deportation, but critics and even immigration judges decry the conditions under which illegal immigrants are detained (Semple, 2011). [39] They say that detainees are denied basic due process rights, such as the right to have a court-appointed attorney. More than four-fifths have no legal representation at all, and those who do receive legal assistance often receive incompetent assistance.


Immigrants and Domestic Violence


Another immigration issue concerns battered women who are immigrants (Constable, 2012). [40] When women are beaten or otherwise abused by their husbands or boyfriends, it is often difficult for them to leave their abusers (see ). But abused immigrant women face a special problem in this regard. Because often they are allowed to live in the United States only because their husbands are legal residents or citizens, they fear deportation if they go to the police and their husband is deported. Other abused immigrant women who are in the United States illegally similarly fear they will be deported if they go to the police. Fortunately, federal law now allows abused immigrant women to apply for legal residency, but many women are not aware of this possibility.

Although our discussion of immigration has painted a critical portrait of many aspects of US immigration policy, the United States actually ranks fairly high among the world’s nations in how it treats its immigrants. The box discusses this international comparison in greater detail.




Lessons from Other Societies


The Status of Legal Immigrants in Western Democracies

The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) is an effort of the British Council and the Migration Policy Group, an international consortium. This index ranks the United States, Canada, and twenty-eight European nations on the extent to which legal immigrants are integrated into each nation’s political and economic life and on the path to full citizenship. It also ranks the extent to which each nation has antidiscrimination laws to protect immigrants. Overall, MIPEX consists of 148 policy indicators.

In the latest (2011) MIPEX report, the United States ranked ninth out of the thirty-one states on this index; Sweden ranked first, followed by Portugal and Canada. Summarizing one of the effort’s major findings, a news report observed that “strong U.S. antidiscrimination laws protect immigrants and guarantee them equal rights and opportunities, a model for immigration rules elsewhere.” MIPEX also ranked the United States highly on legal immigrants’ opportunities for employment, for education, and for reuniting with family members.

At the same time, the MIPEX report noted that the United States denies many immigrants several federal benefits and imposes large fees for certain immigration procedures. It also asserted that US immigration laws are unnecessarily complex and that visa availability is too limited. The relatively lower scores that the United States enjoyed in all these areas led it to lag behind the eight nations that scored higher on the index.

Reacting to the MIPEX report, the director of the Immigration Policy Center in Washington, DC, said the United States would benefit from improving its efforts to integrate immigrants, for example by better helping them learn English, and she warned that federal and state budget cuts threatened to lower the US ranking.

Although the United States, then, ranks fairly high among the world’s democracies in the status of its legal immigrants, the higher status enjoyed by immigrants in Canada and some other democracies points to directions the United States should follow to improve its ranking and create a better climate for its immigrants.



Sources: Huddleston & Niessen, 2011; Restrepo, 2011 [41]

KEY TAKEAWAYS


  • To understand changes in the size and composition of population, demographers use several concepts, including fertility and birth rates, mortality and death rates, and migration.

  • Although overpopulation remains a serious concern, many experts say the world’s food supply is sufficient providing that it is distributed efficiently and equitably.

  • Although illegal immigration to the United States has dwindled and immigrants are faring well overall, many Americans are concerned about immigration, and several states have passed very restrictive laws concerning immigration.



FOR YOUR REVIEW


  1. How concerned are you about population growth and overpopulation? Explain your answer in a brief essay.

  2. Before you began reading this chapter, did you think that food scarcity was the major reason for world hunger today? Why do you think a belief in food scarcity is so common among Americans?

  3. Do you think nations with low birth rates should provide incentives for women to have more babies? Why or why not?

  4. If immigrants seem to be faring fairly well in the United States, as the text explains, why do you think so many Americans have negative attitudes about immigration and immigrants? Explain your answer.

[1] Dzwonkowski, R. (2010, September 19). New leaders can’t shrink from Michigan realities. Detroit Free Press, p. 2A.

[2] Sutton, P. D., & Hamilton, B. E. (2011). Recent trends in births and fertility rates through 2010. Washington, DC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[3] Hamilton, B. E., Martin, J. A., & Ventura, S. J. (2011). Births: Preliminary data for 2010.National Vital Statistics Reports, 60(2), 1–14.

[4] Weeks, J. R. (2012). Population: An introduction to concepts and issues (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

[5] Wilkerson, I. (2011). The warmth of other suns: The epic story of America’s great migration New York, NY: Vintage Books.

[6] Rosenberg, M. (2012). Population growth rates. Retrieved fromhttp://geography.about.com/od/populationgeography/a/populationgrow.htm.

[7] Population Reference Bureau. (2012). World population growth, 1950–2050. Retrieved February 4, 2012, fromhttp://www.prb.org/Educators/TeachersGuides/HumanPopulation/PopulationGrowth.aspx.

[8] Gillis, J., & Dugger, C. W. (2011, May 4). UN forecasts 10.1 million by century’s end. New York Times, p. A1.

[9] Malthus, T. R. (1926). First essay on population. London, United Kingdom: Macmillan. (Oringal work published 1798)

[10] Ehrlich, P. R. (1969). The population bomb. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club.

[11] Gillis, J. (2011, June 5). A warm planet struggles to feed itself. New York Times, p. A1.

[12] Gillis, J., & Dugger, C. W. (2011, May 4). UN forecasts 10.1 million by century’s end.New York Times, p. A1.

[13] Yardley, J. (2010, August 22). India tries using cash bonuses to slow birthrates. New York Times, p. A8.

[14] King, R. (2011, June 1). Global food crisis: The challenge of changing diets. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/jun/01/global-food-crisis-changing-diets.

[15] Scanlan, S. J., Jenkins, J. C., & Peterson, L. (2010). The scarcity fallacy. Contexts, 9(1), 34–39.

[16] Scanlan, S. J., Jenkins, J. C., & Peterson, L. (2010). The scarcity fallacy. Contexts, 9(1), 34–39.

[17] Schultz, T. P. (2008). Population policies, fertility, women’s human capital, and child quality. In T. P. Schultz & J. Strauss (Eds.), Handbook of development economics (Vol. 4, pp. 3249–3303). Amsterdam, Netherlands: North-Holland, Elsevier.

[18] Brooks, D. (2012, March 13). The population implosion. New York Times, p. A25.

[19] Haartsen, T., & Venhorst, V. (2010). Planning for decline: Anticipating on population decline in the Netherlands. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic & Social Geography), 101(2), 218–227.

[20] Haub, C. (2009). Birth rates rising in some low birth-rate countries. Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau. Retrieved fromhttp://www.prb.org/Articles/2009/fallingbirthrates.aspx.

[21] Walsh, B. (2011, October 26). Why the real victim of overpopulation will be the environment. Time. Retrieved fromhttp://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2097720_2097782_2097814,00.html.

[22] Gleditsch, N. P., & Theisen, O. M. (2010). Resources, the environment and conflict. In M. D. Cavelty & V. Mauer (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of security studies (pp. 221–232). New York, NY: Routledge.

[23] Roediger, D. R. (2006). Working toward whiteness: How America’s immigrants became white. New York, NY: Basic Books.

[24] Pfaelzer, J. (2008). Driven out: The forgotten war against Chinese Americans. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

[25] Daniels, R. (2002). Coming to America: A history of immigration and ethnicity in American life. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

[26] DeFrancesco Soto, V. M. (2012, February 24). Anti-immigrant rhetoric is anti-Latino.The Nation. Retrieved from http://www.thenation.com/blog/166442/anti-immigrant-rhetoric-anti-latino.

[27] Myers, D. (2012, January 12). The next immigration challenge. New York Times, p. A27.

[28] Immigration Policy Center. (2012). Strength in diversity: The economic and political power of immigrants, Latinos, and Asians. Washington, DC: Author.

[29] Immigration Policy Center. (2012). Strength in diversity: The economic and political power of immigrants, Latinos, and Asians. Washington, DC: Author.

[30] Wadsworth, T. (2010). Is immigration responsible for the crime drop? An assessment of the influence of immigration on changes in violent crime between 1990 and 2000. Social Science Quarterly, 91, 531–553.

[31] Sampson, R. J. (2008). Rethinking crime and immigration. Contexts, 7(2), 28–33.

[32] PollingReport.com. (2012). Immigration. Retrieved February 8, 2012, fromhttp://www.pollingreport.com/immigration.htm.

[33] Archibold, R. C. (2010, April 24). Arizona enacts stringent law on immigration. New York Times, p. A1.

[34] Brown, R. (2011, May 14). Georgia gives police added power to seek out illegal immigrants. New York Times, p. A12.

[35] Berman, J. (2011, November 28). Georgia immigration law could have dire consequences for state’s economy: Study. The Huffington Post. Retrieved fromhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/2010/2005/georgia-immigration-law-economy_n_995889.html.

[36] Ott, T. (2012, February 7). Alabama’s immigration law may get a second look. National Public Radio. Retrived from http://www.npr.org/2012/2002/2007/146490508/alabamas-immigration-law-may-get-a-second-look.

[37] Lee, M. J. (2012, February 1). Alabama immigration law costs $11 billion, study shows. Politico. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72308.html.

[38] Immigration Policy Center. (2012). The real meaning of “self-deportation. Washington, DC: Author.

[39] Semple, K. (2011, December 19). In a study, judges express a bleak view of lawyers representing immigrants. New York Times, p. A24.

[40] Constable, P. (2012, February 8). For battered immigrant women, fear of deportation becomes abusers’ weapon, but 2 laws can overcome that. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/for-battered-immigrant-women-fear-of-deportation-becomes-abusers-weapon/2012/01/30/gIQAZCx3zQ_story.html.

[41] Huddleston, T., & Niessen, J. (2011). Migrant integration policy index III. Brussels, Belgium: British Council and Migration Policy Group; Restrepo, M. (2011, March 1). International study points out US immigration policy successes, failures. The American Independent. Retrieved from http://www.americanindependent.com/171724/international-study-points-out-u-s-immigration-policy-successes-failures.



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