Meeting Report

The first UCD Gifford Migration Workgroup meeting was held on Thursday November 15th, 2012 from 12-1:30pm in SSH 273. There were 16 participants consisting of UCD faculty and graduate students from several departments including Agricultural and Resource Economics, Human and Community Development, History, Ecology, Political Science and Sociology.

The meeting began with some opening remarks from Professors Luis E Guarnizo and Philip Martin. Professor Guarnizo reviewed the history of the workgroup that was started in 2011, and has since evolved with the financial support of the Gifford Center for Population Studies. The meeting proceeded with the discussion of the first paper.

Paper 1: The Limits of International Cooperation on Migration: Bilateral Readmission Agreements in the European Context

by Dr. Jeannette Money (Political Science) & Sarah Lockhart (Fordham University)
Discussants: Brian Halpin (Sociology) & Dr. Philip Martin

The paper investigates the factors that are associated with Bilateral Readmission Agreements between receiving countries in Europe and emigration sending countries.(see posted paper) Sociology graduate student Brian Halpin emphasized the problematic nature of describing immigrants as a "cost" to receiving states and found the operationalization of "costs" in the multivariate modeling was not very convincing. He also commented on the authors’ lack of attention to the benefits of migrants to receiving states in the case of labor markets and tax revenues. Professor Money acknowleded the imperfections in the data and noted that the operationalization of "costs" was directly related to the limitations of the data. Dr. Martin then proceeded with a power-point presentation which succinctly described the main arguments and findings of the paper. He concluded his presentation with a discussion of current EU policies that are moving towards border enforcement in the sending countries (before immigrants migrate to receiving societies).

Luis E Guarnizo was concerned with the overall framing of the paper, which he felt had an anti-immigrant tone; he also found problems with the quantitative modeling. Professor Money defended her framing while acknowledging the need to address remove an anti-immigrant tone.

Paper 2: Penalties for Foreign Degrees Among College Educated Immigrants

by Caren A. Arbeit (UCD Poverty Center Fellow/University of Minnesota) & John Warren (U of M)
Discussants: Ali Chaudhary (Sociology); Dr. Erin Hamilton (Sociology)

The second paper examined the effects of foreign-earned degrees on the incorpation of immigrant men and women into the U.S. labor market. Sociology graduate student Ali Chaudhary emphasized the weak theoretical framing of the paper, which overemphasized the effects of the institutions where immigrants received degrees at the expense of the modes of their incorporation and contexts of their reception in the United States. He questioned the authors’ decision to not control for race/ethnicity in the models.

Caren noted that adding race/ethnicity introduced multicollinearilty into the models, and emphasized that the paper was rooted in "demography" rather than theories of race or immigration. Professor Hamilton noted problems with the data, specifically the lack of language proficiency measures. The authors agreed that while the lack of language proficiency was a limitation, the dataset also had many strengths that made it superior to other datasets.