American Immigrant Policy Portal
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In This Issue

Research to Inform Policy and Practice   
on Migration-Related Issues
Policy-related reports, studies, and information about the challenge and promise of immigrant integration. Materials organized by collection topic.
FeatureResearchFeatured Research

Report from the National Foundation of American Policy provides an overview of the current U.S. legal immigration system and challenges some of the myths advanced by immigration restrictionists
Understanding America's Legal Immigration System,

National Foundation for American Policy, December 2017,
19 pp.
Author: Stuart Anderson

This paper very briefly describes the U.S. immigration system, explains why immigration is important to the country, and addresses many of the myths prevalent in the immigration debate of today. In the context of current proposals to cut legal immigration, the author explains the importance of Immigration for the growth in our workforce. He also notes that immigrants are disproportionately entrepreneurs, and immigrants who've come on family visas start many of America's small businesses. Immigrants have also made many important contributions in the fields of science and medicine. Temporary immigrants, too, are important to the U.S. economy, and the author runs through the alphabet soup of temporary worker visas and their purposes. As to the myths being repeated by advocates of lower immigration levels, the author notes that the number of new immigrants coming to the U.S. today is lower than it was in the early 1900s relative to total population, and that since 2001, the annual level of immigration has remained about the same. This contradicts those who say that "chain migration" is resulting in ever-greater migration. The author notes there are no visa categories for "extended" family members, and the wait for some close family members-brothers and sisters, for example-may be 20 years due to the limited number of visas available and per-country limits on visas awarded. The question of immigration's impact on native-born workers is also addressed, and there is little evidence for the idea that immigrants adversely impact native-born workers in any way. Finally, the author focuses on a topic that has so far received little press: education levels of new immigrants have been rising, and they are now, on average, higher than that of natives. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Report explores how to frame the advantages of bilingualism to counter arguments based on the "zero sum game cultural model"  
The FrameWorks Institute is a nonprofit think tank that advances the nonprofit sector's communication capacity by framing the public discourse about social problems. In an effort to develop "powerful strategies to change how people think about and understand language development," a group of three foundations (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation) commissioned the FrameWorks Institute to identify the key concepts to be communicated to the public, the nature of the resistance to those concepts, and strategies for overcoming that resistance. Through one-on-one interviews with experts in the field, the researchers identified the "big ideas" that need to be communicated to the general public, including the benefits of learning more than one language in early childhood, the facility with which children can learn two languages without suffering any kind of cognitive overload, and how school systems can effectively support dual language learners. These concepts often run up against deeply embedded cultural assumptions that challenge their validity. One such assumption is the "zero-sum game cultural model," which posits that a person's brain is like a container that has a limited amount of room for knowledge or skills.  Any gain in second language fluency is thought to come at the expense of English fluency.  This cultural model is often extended to the nation as a whole, rendering bilingualism suspect because it endangers the primacy of English as the nation's quasi-official language. Two other powerful cultural assumptions are that the family bears primary responsibility for the development of home language, not the school, and that second language ability is a nice "extra," but not something that should be a central feature of the school curriculum.  The report concludes with a list of six "key reframing tasks," including making it clear that the benefits of bilingualism accrue to society as a whole, not just to bilingual individuals. (Nicholas Montalto, Diversity Dynamics)
NewResearchAdditional Public Policy Research and Reports
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Education (Pre-K to 12)

Global Perspectives

lcLatest Commentary
A selection of recent OpEds from immigration researchers and major opinion leaders

January 23, 2018
Spanish use is steady or dropping in US despite high Latino immigration
Phillip M. Carter, The Conversation

January 15, 2018
Know-Nothings for the 21st Century
Paul Krugman, The New York Times

January 13, 2018
Curbing immigration means curbing job creation
John Arensmeyer, The Hill

January 8, 2018
Trump's crackdown on legal immigration is hurting America
Anastasia Tonello, Fox News

January 8, 2018
A Counterproductive Approach to a Broken Immigration System
Michael Shifter & Ben Raderstorg, The New York Times

January 2, 2018
Here's What To Expect On Immigration In 2018
Stuart Anderson, Forbes

January 2, 2018
On immigration, Trump is positioned to do what Obama and Bush couldn't
Ali Noorani, USA Today

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The Portal is a project of Diversity Dynamics, LLC, in association with the Center for International Social Work, School of Social Work, Rutgers University, and the Immigrant Learning Center, Inc., Public Education Institute, Malden, MA. Please send content suggestions for the Portal, including events of interest, to: No endorsements implied for research, opinions, resources or events featured on the Portal.