immigration
10
Jan

Why is U.S. Hispanic suicide rate so low?

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There is some good news and bad news about suicides in the U.S. Across the country, suicides have increased nearly 30 percent since the turn of the century. That’s the bad news.  But there’s good news for Hispanics, at least in California. Although Latinos face economic disadvantages and other stress in their lives, their suicide rate is less than one-third that of non-Hispanic whites, according to research compiled by Kaiser Health News

In California, the suicide rate for whites was 19 per 100,000 people in 2016, and the rate for Hispanics was 5.5 per 100,000, according to the state Department of Public Health. (Hispanics can be of any race.) The overall suicide rate in California in 2016 was 10.9 per 100,000.

Why?

Experts attribute the relatively low suicide rate among Latinos to the culture’s strong family and community support systems, which appear to bolster emotional resilience.

Latinos in California and across the U.S. face obstacles that can affect their health and well-being. They earn less than non-Hispanic whites, and are more likely to lack health insurance coverage. And recent immigrants face the stresses of moving to a new country, and, though there is no research to gauge how this affects them, an Administration hostile to immigration.

It’s practice of “colectivismo,” the or relationships built through extended family, work colleagues and friends, that gives Latinos an emotional safety net, experts say.

But that’s not the whole story. As Latinos become more assimilated, the more their risk of suicide goes up. A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that suicidal thoughts and attempts increased as Latinos spent more years in the U.S. and started losing fluency in Spanish and connections to Latino social networks and identity.

17
Jan

Pew: Asians outnumber Hispanics among immigrants

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While the discussion over immigration, legal and illegal, devolves further into a cesspool of anti-hispanic rhetoric and tantrums over building a wall on our southern border, a shift in who is coming to the U.S. has been in effect for a few years. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows a long-term trend is continuing: that is, more Asians are migrating to the U.S. than Hispanics.

More than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year. In 2016, the top country of origin for new immigrants coming into the U.S. was India, with 126,000 people, followed by Mexico (124,000), China (121,000) and Cuba (41,000).

By race and ethnicity, more Asian immigrants than Hispanic immigrants have arrived in the U.S. each year since 2010. Immigration from Latin America slowed following the Great Recession, particularly from Mexico, which has seen net decreasesin U.S. immigration over the past few years.

Asians are projected to become the largest immigrant group in the U.S. by 2055, surpassing Hispanics. In 2065, Pew Research Center estimates indicate that Asians will make up some 38% of all immigrants; Hispanics, 31%; whites, 20%; and blacks, 9%.

But you don’t hear any anti-Indian or anti-Chinese rhetoric coming out of the President’s mouth or fast little twitter fingers. Not yet, anyway. And while there’s been no polling on it that we can see, it’s a safe bet that most Americans assume that the overwhelming majority of immigrants are coming from Mexico and Central America. There may be several reasons for this. First, the media, just by reporting utterances by the President (and others of his ilk) that the U.S. is being swamped by Hispanics/Latinos on the southern border, without pushing back, reinforces this myth.

And it is a myth. Perhaps it’s an undocumented issue, and far more immigrants from Mexico and Central America are undocumented than from elsewhere. Actually, no. Here, again, from Pew:

The number of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border has sharply decreased over the past decade, from more than 1 million in fiscal 2006 to 408,870 in fiscal 2016. In the first two quarters of fiscal 2017, which started Oct. 1, there have been about 199,000 border patrol apprehensions at the Southwest border, compared with 186,000 for the same period in 2016. Today, more non-Mexicans than Mexicans are apprehended at the border. In fiscal 2016, the apprehensions of Central Americans at the border exceeded that of Mexicans for the second time on record.

Maybe Latino/Hispanic immigrants just have an image problem, made worse by rhetoric by the President (and others of his ilk). Because while nearly two thirds of Americans see immigrants as a boost, rather than a burden to the country, when you break down perceptions of the race of immigrants, the picture is different. From Pew:

Americans also hold more positive views of some immigrant groups than others, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center immigration report. More than four-in-ten Americans expressed mostly positive views of Asian (47%) and European immigrants (44%), yet only a quarter expressed such views of African and Latin American immigrants (26% each). Roughly half of the U.S. public said immigrants are making things better through food, music and the arts (49%), but almost equal shares said immigrants are making crime and the economy worse (50% each).

Interesting to note that Americans view immigration in general far more positively than they view any particular group of immigrants, even the most “popular” immigrant group, Asians. It would be fascinating to dig deeper into these attitudes and where they come from and how they’re reinforced.

There’s much more fascinating immigration data in the Pew report.

28
Jan

John McCain’s complicated history with race

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mccain_obit_061114gn_lead

Photo credit Greg Nash

 

The U.S. Senate has lost one of its lions, and, predictably, the coverage of John McCain’s death ranges from hagiography to screed to everything in between.

That middle ground is most interesting. For those who aren’t familiar with McCain’s long Senate career, they’re surely aware of his 2008 Presidential run against Barack Obama. And a now-iconic moment involves pushing back against a racist woman who called Obama an Arab town hall.

McCain grabbed the microphone from her, cutting her off. “No, ma’am,” he said. “He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that just I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what the campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

He could have added, “and even if he were an Arab, or a Muslim, he’s still an honorable American, because Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans can be decent family men too.” But that’s a bit of a quibble. Especially considering how toxic the political environment has become in the past decade. And considering we have an open racist in the White House now.

You may remember the Reverend Wright controversy in the 2008 campaign. That’s where video of Obama’s longtime reverend surfaced with him saying “God damn America,” but lacked the context of why Wright said this in a sermon (Wright was denouncing America’s foreign intervention and its original sin, slavery). Campaign watchers point out that in 2008 McCain declared it verboten to mention Reverend Wright or anything about Obama’s religion. He wouldn’t play the religion card. He wouldn’t play the race card. It’s the decent and statesman-like stance to take, but can you imagine that happening in a Presidential campaign today?

But McCain had other, more complex – and some might say troubling – conflicts regarding race. During his first run for the Presidency, in 2000, the Confederate flag was a controversial issue in the pivotal South Carolina primary. At first, McCain said that the flag was a symbol of “racism and slavery,” but it up to each state to determine whether to display it or not. His rival, George W. Bush, had essentially the same position, without excoriating it as a symbol of slavery and racism. McCain lost that primary to Bush, for a variety of reasons, including a smear campaign against him suggesting he had fathered a bi-racial child. After the race, he went back to South Carolina and clarified his position and apologized for putting political interests ahead of candor.

“I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary,” the Arizona senator who named his campaign bus “The Straight Talk Express,” said at a luncheon in the state’s capital city. “So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth.”

His Confederate forefathers in Mississippi, McCain said, “fought on the wrong side of American history.”“I don’t believe their service, however distinguished, needs to be commemorated in a way that offends, that deeply hurts, people whose ancestors were once denied their freedom by my ancestors,” he continued.

He didn’t have to make that statement. It didn’t gain him anything. But it shows that, when political considerations are put aside, McCain was more likely to be progressive in terms of race.

But he was a Republican, running in a state with a very conservative base (Arizona). So, sometimes politics won. Like in the 2010 primary, where he was facing a challenger from the right. He responded by releasing a TV ad blaming immigrants for home invasions and saying the U.S. needed to “complete the danged fence” on the border.

This is the same man who co-authored – with another Senate lion, the liberal Ted Kennedy – a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2005. The bill failed, scuttled by hardliners in his own party. But it remains the benchmark for immigration reform efforts, still.

We could assume that the real McCain was the bipartisan reformer he showed in the immigration bill efforts, rather than the “complete the danged fence” angry old man of 2010, at least when he didn’t have to face his base.

In 1983, as a new Congressman, he voted against making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday. Years later he said he changed his position, he evolved.

So, a complicated history. But he was willing and able to admit when he was wrong. This is something that stands in stark contrast to his party today, and the leader of his party.

09
Jan

Do Americans really like Trump’s immigration policies?

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News-Press

If you are one of the people who rolls their eyes when they see a juxtaposition of “Trump” and “reelection” – because he can’t run for office from jail – just take a minute and consider an alternate scenario. A scenario where not only is he not sentenced for conspiracy, but also one where a majority of Americans actually like some of his policies, whether they’ll admit it or not.

Consider this op-ed from the San Francisco Chronicle, which posits that his cruel and obviously racially motivated will not deter people from voting for him in 2020, but will make them more inclined to vote for him:

As far as Trump’s Democratic and progressive opponents are concerned, they have failed to understand that as righteous as it is to attack Trump’s positions on immigration, they are playing right into his hands by engaging him on one of the few public policy issues in which public opinion is clearly to the right of the elite consensus of both parties.

If you pull together a focus group of Democratic voters and ask them to design a new immigration system from scratch, they will very likely design one far more restrictive than our current immigration system. In the Harvard/Harris poll of January 2018, 72 percent of Democratic voters support scrapping our legal immigration system and moving to one that emphasizes skills over family reunification. The poll found 31 percent of Democratic voters support cutting down legal immigration levels by more than 75 percent, from 1 million a year to fewer than 250,000 immigrants a year. And, when it comes to the infamous Trump barrier/border wall, 30 percent of Democrats (along with 54 percent of independent voters) support its construction.

The article suggests that Americans are angry at politicians of both parties for abandoning citizens while inviting in immigrants. In other words, you’ve got to put your house in order before inviting over company. The article also centers on one key poll, and as we know with polls, it all depends on how you frame the question.

For example, there is also a recent poll showing three quarters of Americans believe immigration is a net-plus to the nation.

But it’s worth considering that just as Americans are, and have been since forever, conflicted about race, we’re also conflicted about immigration, which is, of course, tied up in race. Possibly we could take a look at what’s happening in Europe. Progressives in the U.S. were shocked that Brexit passed in 2016 – in many ways it was a precursor to the (electoral college) victory of Trump. Many English people outside London still favor Brexit, though many Londoners are horrified by it.

What if this article is correct, and there are parallels in Europe? I and many of my colleagues and friends think immigration and multiculturalism are beneficial to a country’s economy and quality of life. Others do not. The question is the relative sizes of the two sides. It’s hard to get an idea of the size of each group because we all naturally surround ourselves with people who share our views. And, it is difficult to tell how many Americans hide their true anti-immigrant feelings because they feel that their viewpoints are not acceptable outside of their political or social groups. Like I said, Americans are conflicted.

Two years is an eternity in politics. And, you know, there may be indictments coming. But leaving Trump out of the picture, I would be saddened to think that a majority of Americans are eager to scapegoat immigrants because they feel – accurately – that the middle class, even in this time of full employment, continues to fall behind. If that is the case, then it should leave an opening for a smarter and more humane politician than Trump to take on real immigration reform (not Trump’s immigration reform), and, just as importantly, some of the issues that really trouble the U.S.

22
Jan

U.S. Latino population growth slows, U.S. Asian population soars

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There are some unmistakable trends in the latest Pew Research Center Study, which analyzes U.S. Census Bureau data.

- Asian-American population is now the fastest growing segment of the U.S., overtaking the growth rate of U.S. Latinos.

- U.S. Hispanic population slowed, growing annually on average by only 2.8 percent between 2007 and 2014. In the years between 2000 and 20007, the rate was 4.4 percent.

- The Asian/American population has been growing at a steady 3.4 percent between 2007 and 2014.

- The growth rate of Asian/Americans was driven by increased immigration from Asian countries, especially from South Asia and China.

Pew had some conclusions about why this shift is happening. First is immigration: The Immigration rate from Latin America has slowed substantially compared to the highpoint of Latino immigration in the 1980s and 1990s (though you wouldn’t know that from the heated anti-immigrant political rhetoric). In fact immigration from Mexico has now reversed: there are now more people moving to Mexico from the U.S. than coming north.

Right now main driver of Latino population growth is U.S. births. But even there, a change is afoot. Throughout much of the early 2000s birth rates of Hispanic women ages 15 to 44 were about 95 births per 1,000 women, reaching a peak of 98.3 in 2006. However, since the onset of the Great Recession, their birth rates have declined, steadily falling to 72.1 births per 1,000 Latino/American women ages 15 to 44 in 2014.

Unlike Hispanic population growth, the growth of Asian-Americans is still driven by immigration. Since 2000, more immigrants were coming from Asia than from Latin America.

According to the U.S. Census, the Asian/American proportion of the total U.S. population is is around 6 percent. The largest ethnic groups represented in the census were Chinese (3.79 million), Filipino (3.41 million), Indian (3.18 million), Vietnamese (1.73 million), Korean (1.7 million), and Japanese (1.3 million).

19
Jan

Census: white Americans may fall below 50% sooner

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It’s not due to a sudden surge of non-white births, or increasing immigration. In fact, Mexican-Americans are starting to move back home to Mexico in larger numbers.

The drop in white Americans will be due to what the Census considers “white.”

In the past, “white” was the only racial option available to Arab-American respondents, a classification that didn’t truly reflect their social standing and hurt efforts for their political empowerment in post-Sept. 11 America, said Samer Khalaf, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

“If you are going to classify me as white, then treat (me) as white,” Khalaf said. “Especially when I go to the airport. So yeah, it’s inaccurate.”

For years, many U.S. Latinos also checked the “white” box because options were limited, said Lorenzo Cano, associate director of the Center of Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston. But many Latinos are now opting to check “American Indian” to identify with their links to indigenous populations in Latin America.

Overall, “these changes could reduce the number of people who identify as white,” Cano said.

The proposed changes are not set in stone, though. We hope the changes do happen.

A substantial number of American Latinos have long been flummoxed by the mandate that they identify as white on the Census forms. Adding some granularity, if that is the right word, to Census race identification, could give a clearer view of who makes up America, and allow Americans to more accurately say who they identify as.

02
Jan

How the 1965 immigration law changed America

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“This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions,” President Lyndon Johnson said at the signing ceremony of the Immigration and Nationality Act fifty years ago today.

“It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives or add importantly to either our wealth or our power.”

Johnson’s statement couldn’t have been more wrong, and maybe knew this at the time. After all, he was a pretty savvy politician. He might have downplayed the significance of the bill in order to garner support for it, or at least ease the fears of white America that they would one day face a much more diverse America.

Well, here we are.

A little history: by the 1960s Greeks, Poles, Portuguese and Italians were complaining that immigration quotas discriminated against them in favor of Western Europeans. The Democratic Party took up their cause, led by President John F. Kennedy, who called the system of quotas “intolerable.”

After Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson took up the cause and signed the Immigration and Naturalization Act after it sailed through Congress (Johnson, a power player, had to do some arm twisting). The Act was written to level the playing field and give an equal chance for newcomers from every corner of the world.

A 2006 NPR piece suggests that it was Congress that was short-sighted in not seeing the potential power of the Act. There was a provision gave preference to professionals with skills in short supply in the United States.

“Congress was saying in its debates, ‘We need to open the door for some more British doctors, some more German engineers,’” Klineberg says. “It never occurred to anyone, literally, that there were going to be African doctors, Indian engineers, Chinese computer programmers who’d be able, for the first time in the 20th century, to immigrate to America.”

America’s foreign-born population now numbers nearly 41 million, or around 13 percent of the total population, not far off the historical high of nearly 15 percent in 1890. But in 1890 the vast majority of immigrants were from Europe, as they were for centuries, and they settled in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago.

Since 1965 immigration from Latin America and Asia has grown enormously, and they are just as likely to settle in Phoenix, Atlanta, and Houston as they are in Boston. Perhaps more likely.

No group has benefited more from the ’65 Act than Asian immigrants, as a commentator from Zocalo Public Square points out.

After decades of being separated from loved ones, Asian immigrants sponsored family members in such large numbers that the 1965 Act was nicknamed the “brothers and sisters act.” Many are also recruited to work in certain industries, such as the high-tech sector. Asian immigrants receive about three quarters of H-1B visas granted to highly skilled “guest workers” today, and Chinese are now the single largest group of new arrivals coming into the country.

On the other hand, the new restrictions on immigration from the Western Hemisphere dramatically reduced other immigrants’ access to the United States. The 20,000 spots granted to Mexico were just a fraction of the more than 400,000 immigrants and temporary workers who had been admitted into the U.S. each year from Mexico in the decade prior to 1965. Mexicans could still apply for admission through the family reunification clause, but demand outweighed supply. The waiting list for visas grew quickly and was soon years-long for applications of Mexican citizens. Nowadays critics of unauthorized immigration complain that immigrants need to stand in “line” like others, without necessarily acknowledging that the line is almost 4.5 million people long.

That writer also points out the contradictory legacy of the Act, which remains the cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy today. While immigration is inclusive for some today, it remains more exclusionary for others and that we have not yet achieved President Johnson’s goal of establishing an immigration law that helps the United States create “a world without war [and] a world made safe for diversity, in which all men, goods, and ideas can freely move across every border and every boundary.”