Monday, 16 March 2009

Federal agencies fail to protect migrant nannies (Toronto Star)

By Robert Cribb and Dale Brazao

Family Stories as Secret Text for Immigrants (New York Times)

March 15, 2009
By Kirk Semple

Where Education and Assimilation Collide (New York Times)

March 14, 2009
By Ginger Thompson

An article based on the recent focus on NYTimes's blog (discussed in the previous post) - thanks to Michelle for sending me the link!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Best Ways to Teach Young Newcomers (New York Times)

March 11, 2009
By the editors of the NY Times - part of the "Room for Debate" blog

First of all, this is an interesting (albeit problematic) interactive map of immigration in the US - my home-county of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, for example, had a total population of 750,096 in 2000; 52,131 were foreign-born (about 7%) and of that 7%, the largest foreign-born group was "Asia, Middle East." Right. Still, you can look at "number of residents" vs. "percent of population" across time, which gives the data an interesting visualization.

Here, you can also look at the demographics of any individual school district in the US. My school district was incredibly white and nondiverse but seems to be (slowly) changing.

The blog entry itself tackles the question: should "the children of immigrants, and who don’t speak English well" be segregated "to give them intensive support"? There are several interesting points made, and if you need further proof of how screwed up the "No Child Left Behind" act is, look no further.

For now, I'm looking forward to future installments "on how the latest wave of immigrants is affecting other American institutions."

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Workers Without Borders (New York Times)

March 9, 2009
By Jennifer Gordon (opinion piece)

So today we have two opinion pieces on temporary foreign workers - one in the US, one in Canada.

For the US, Gordon suggests something she calls "Transnational Labor Citizenship" or a transnational union. This would give temp. foreign workers fair working conditions, which she claims would both allow for greater remittances and "address the inconsistency and inhumanity of policies that support free trade in goods and jobs but bar the free movement of people." I guess this is a compromise in her view (if you don't give people US citizenship/rights, at least give them fair working conditions) which she compares to the EU (When Poland joined the EU, Britain predicted 50,000 migrants in four years; instead, more than a million arrived. However, "the influx did not take a serious toll on native workers’ wages or employment...Migrants who were not trapped in exploitative jobs flocked to areas that needed workers and shunned the intense competition of big cities. And when job opportunities grew in Poland or shrank in Britain, fully half went home again.")

But Poland <--> England migration within the EU - where a migrant has the option/possibility of settling permanently - is very different than Mexico <--> US migration where (legal) permanence is often not the case. Still, interesting idea.

She finishes with this:

"Like it or not, until we address the vast inequalities across the globe, those who want to migrate will find a way...The United States needs an open and fair system, not a holding pen. The best way forward is to create an immigration system with protection for all workers at its core."

And thus, working immigrants (that's labor, not people) remains at the core of immigration.

(By the way, on the topic of remittances, this is a great NY Times article.)

Economic crisis bears down on vulnerable immigrants (Toronto Star)

March 9, 2009
By Harald Bauder (opinion piece)

More about temporary foreign workers in Canada: first, an ironic quote, possibly by Max Frisch in reference to Germany's failed guest worker program: "We asked for workers but people came."

Bauder suggests extending the new Canadian Experience Class (currently aimed at those with Canadian degrees and Canadian work experience) to temporary foreign workers. The column is good - although still justifying that "protecting these workers is in the interest of all Canadians" rather than an issue of individual worker/human rights.

The comments following the article are depressing & scary, as expected.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Tough times hit temporary foreign workers (Georgia Straight)

March 5, 2009
By Carlito Pablo

The Georgia Straight is a Vancouver alt-weekly paper, and this was published in their paper and on their website.

Temporary "foreign" workers are always vulnerable: their labor is often desperately needed to support a country's economy, since it falls within the "3 Ds" category (dirty, dangerous, and/or demeaning - such as the construction industry or, in a slightly different way, Canada's live-in caregiver program) and citizens are unwilling to do it. Their tenuous legal status, however, creates an opportunity for exploitation - migrants are often more likely to put up with poor working conditions, pay, and workplace abuse to avoid being deported - and as an economy slumps, temporary "foreign" workers can be legally let go & deported (or illegally, if their contracts are not up) as to reduce job competition for citizens. This article does a good job of alluding to these deeper issues within any temporary "foreign" worker program as the economy brings them to the forefront.

According to [Erika Del Carmen Fuchs], many temporary workers don’t know that they have the same rights as Canadians and permanent residents in the workplace. But what bothers her more is the way these workers are regarded in general. “You need them when times are good but you don’t need them when times are bad,” she said.

Because really...

these people have become an “invisible work force” because no one has the job of identifying and serving them.