Professor, student examine global immigration issues

The presentation will focus on various countries’ “openness” to immigration.

From 2000 to 2005 the United States accepted approximately 1.6 million immigrants. By 2005, foreign-born residents represented 12 percent of the U.S. population, according to the United Nations Population Division.

Today, Katherine Fennelly, a professor from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs will discuss how these immigration issues in the United States compare with those in other countries at a seminar titled “Measuring Governmental Openness to Immigration.” It will be held at the Andersen Library at 3:30 p.m.

Fennelly and public policy graduate student Crystal Myslajek will compare the United States with other members of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development – an international alliance of countries that has existed for more than 40 years.

Most members of the OECD are wealthier nations and more likely to receive immigrants than other countries. That’s why Fennelly is basing her discussion on 17 of the organization’s 30 member countries, Myslajek said.

“The purpose of this talk is to discuss several possible measures of openness to immigration and to evaluate these 17 countries on those measures,” Fennelly said.

She and Myslajek will present a variety of categories of data that can be used to compare different countries’ immigration policies. They will discuss factors like the percentage of foreign-born populations in each country and naturalization processes, and then use the information to gauge each country’s openness to immigration.

Still, the process of comparison is full of ambiguities because each country defines immigration differently. In some countries, like the United States, citizenship is granted by birthright while in others it isn’t, Fennelly said.

“Creating a framework to compare (countries) allows us to establish what works and what doesn’t work,” Myslajek said. “Countries can learn from each other’s policies.”

Today’s seminar is part of a new lecture series that began this school year called “Global Race Ethnicity Migration.” It is sponsored by the University’s Institute for Global Studies and the Immigration Research History Center.

Global REM is an initiative “designed to strengthen an existing cluster of interdisciplinary research centers, departments, programs and faculty,” according to the Global REM Web site.

Donna Gabaccia is the director of the IHRC and a faculty leader of Global REM.

“The goal of the seminar series is to call attention to the international expertise on race ethnicity and migration,” Gabaccia said, and “to the fact that race, ethnicity and migration are not just a concern of this country but (of) many countries around the world.”

Each week faculty members involved in Global REM meet to discuss their curriculum. As part of the initiative, professors are planning on adding additional courses focusing on Global REM topics, Gabaccia said.

“We are not the only country in the world that attracts migrants,” said Gabaccia. “In fact many countries have much higher portions of immigrants living among the natives than we do.”

Freelance editor Marni Ginther welcomes comments at [email protected]