Meeting Report

The UCD Gifford Migration Workgroup met February 24, 2013, and 17  faculty and graduate students from Economics, Human and Community Development, Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Cultural Studies, and the Law School participated.

Co-director Luis Guarnizo emphasized the importance of fostering a migration research community at UCD, and noted that Migration Workgroup meetings allow faculty and students to receive supportive comments and critiques of their research.

Policy Report: Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals in Review

by Daniel Jacob Leraul (UCD School of Law)

The policy report began with the current status of DACA applications, noting the sharp decline in  a DACA applications since the re-election of President Obama in November 2012. Unauthorized foreigners who are at least 15 and under 31, arrived in the US before age 16, and have been in the US at least five years can pay $465 for a two-year work permit. Those eligible for DACA must be in school or have graduated from high school or been honorably discharged from the US Armed Forces.

Over 368,000 applications were filed between mid-August and mid-December 2012, an average of over 4,400 a day. Mexicans filed almost 70 percent of the DACA applications, followed by four percent from Salvadorans and three percent each from Hondurans and Guatemalans. About 27 percent of DACA applications were filed in California, followed by 15 percent in Texas and six percent in New York.

Paper 1: Do Protected Areas and Conservation Outreach Attract Human In-migration in Tanzania?

by Jonathan D. Salerno et al (Graduate Group in Ecology)
Discussants: David Kyle & Zeke Baker (Sociology)

Salerno noted that his paper was part of a larger dissertation project looking at migration decision-making Tanzania families. There is debate about the impacts of people tropical protected areas, and Salerno’s paper examines the benefits and costs of migration to protected areas.

One hypothesis is that people move to areas bordering protected areas to access conservation outreach benefits. A counter-argument maintains that protected areas hurt local residents, so that outreach initiatives, even if successful, would not attract migrants. Salerno analyzes these arguments with multilevel models and data from Tanzania, and finds no support for either hypothesis. The research demonstrates the importance of multilevel modeling to account for the contextual/environmental factors associated with in-migration.

Baker’s primary concern was Salerno’s framing of the question, since the paper was framed for a conservation biology audience. Kyle discussed the 5 components of causality in the paper. The ensuing discussion focused on the logic used to model decision making and the implications for general migration scholars. Other comments questioned whether the research adequately engaged migration literature or theories. 

Paper 2: Not a Typical Indian : Sub-national Identity in Immigrant Toolkits

Sanghamitra Niyogi, Phd (sociology)
Discussant: Jabou McCoy (sociology)

Niyogi explained that her paper was part of a her dissertation and intended for a theoretical journal. Niyogi’s research examines how two ethnic groups (Bengalis & Sikhs) from India negotiate national and sub-national identities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Drawing on 80 in-depth interviews, Niyogi explains how both groups use a variety of cultural strategies to incorporate themselves into U.S. society. While the two ethnic groups share many similarities with respect to their racial identities, Niyogi explains how pre-migration history and cultural solidarity lead to different experiences for both groups in the U.S. Niyogi’s seeks to understand how contemporary immigrants use “cultural toolkits” to balance national, ethnic and cultural loyalties in integration.

McCoy discussed the limits of Anne Swidler’s toolkit approach that was used by Niyogi, and suggested she should use some of the qualitative data from her dissertation.

The discussion that followed noted theoretical ambiguities and the need to use an established sociological theory to interpret findings. Guarnizo noted that both papers were data-driven and lack theoretical sophistication. Chaudhary suggested that Niyogi use theories of citizenship or assimilation to frame her paper, and that her data could be used to challenge the universality of citizenship or assimilation in the U.S. context.

The author answered many of the criticisms by describing the importance of the data and the need to emphasize the how identities are  flexible for many immigrants in America.