For four years, Italian-born Gabriele Stabile photographed refugees in airports across the nation on the nights they first arrived on American soil. They came from Somalia and Ethiopia, from Burundi and Bhutan, from Iraq, from Burma. They were fleeing war, rape, torture. Their destinations were mysterious places called Alabama, North Dakota, and Texas. But before they settled into their new homes, entered their first megamalls, or celebrated their first Fourth of Julys, they met Stabile and his camera.
Their faces — bewildered, vulnerable, joyous — passed before his lens, and then disappeared from him forever. Or so he thought. In 2010, he met Juliet Linderman, now a reporter at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who suggested the two track down Stabile’s subjects and gather their stories. A project was born.
See more. [Images: Gabriele Stabile]
As many as 800,000 young immigrants could avoid deportation under a new policy President Barack Obama plans to announce Friday, granting work permits to those who entered the country illegally as children.
Read more at The Atlantic Wire. [Image: Reuters]
Immigration is a big part of what distinguishes the U.S. from, say, the EU. Immigration makes us younger. That’s what you see from the graph above. Immigration makes us smarter. Half of all Silicon Valley start ups have a co-founder no more than one generation separated from an immigrant. Immigration makes us work. The U.S. fertility rate is below 2.1, so it’s immigration that pushes us above replacement level growth.
But don’t gloat. There are cracks our armor.
One in three U.S. immigrants today was born in Mexico, making it the “biggest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States,” according to the Pew Hispanic Center. But that wave hit a wall. Thanks to a weak U.S. economy, a growing Mexican economy, and a handful of other policies, net flow of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. has possibly reversed for the first time in several decades.
At the same time, “highly educated children of immigrants to the United States are uprooting themselves and moving to their ancestral countries,” the New York Times reported just two weeks ago. The factors aren’t all the same, but they rhyme. India is getting stronger relative to the United States, and, once again, public policy is getting in the way of immigration. We don’t block foreign-born students at the Texas border. We kick them out if they can’t marry, find a job, or snag one of a limited number of visas. In the race for human capital, this is a deliberate losing strategy.
There are reasonable arguments for using government laws and resources to limit immigration and protect jobs for American-born workers. But the broader picture is that the U.S. is failing to recognize a free and automatic virtue of being America: People want to move here and work in exchange for money.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
When he reaches for his earliest memories, Nico Lopez recalls clenching his small fists around his seat belt buckle and straining to listen to the smiling flight attendant’s directions for take-off. As he watched Guatemala City disappear beneath him, he pulled his feet onto the seat, wrapped his arms around his knees, and quietly began to cry. It was 2001, and Nico was seven years old.
Now a tall, quietly confident young man with dark hair and green eyes, Nico will soon graduate with honors from a public high school in Stamford, Connecticut. Despite having grown up in a neighborhood where gunfire is likened to the doorbell ringing — you hear it all the time and don’t really think much of it — he is the leader of the student government, often the only non-white member of his AP classes, and, in his spare time, an English tutor for recent immigrants.
You know how the rest of the American dream story is supposed to go: Nico receives a merit-based scholarship to college and finds a job that helps him support his mother, who has worked as a housekeeper for the past 17 years. He gets married, has second-generation kids, and serves as a shining example of how any American can succeed if he tries hard enough.
Except Nico isn’t technically American. He overstayed his tourist visa as a seven-year-old and is now one of over 2 million immigrant youthwho entered the United States as minors and now live here illegally. Federal law prohibits Nico from going to college at a public university, while, somewhat counterintuitively, Connecticut state law gives Nico access to in-state tuition though not financial aid.
Read more. [Image: Connecticut Students for a DREAM]
About 51 percent of foreign-born U.S. residents live in the suburbs of large metropolitan areas, a slight jump from 48 percent in 2000. And the percentages in metro areas with the largest foreign-born populations—New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and Houston—saw their numbers drop from a total of 43 percent in 2000 to 38 percent in 2010. Those hotspots are getting a little less hot.
Why should we open the door to newcomers at a time when American citizens are struggling to find work? That’s the question National Journal’s Ron Brownstein puts to Obama’s domestic policy advisor in this clip from the opening ceremony of the Aspen Ideas Festival.
See more from the Aspen Ideas Festival.
In April 2008, I was part of a Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings a year earlier. Lolo died a year earlier, so it was Lola who called me the day of the announcement. The first thing she said was, “Anong mangyari kung malaman nang tao?”
What will happen if people find out?
I couldn’t say anything. After we got off the phone, I rushed to the bathroom on the fourth floor of the newsroom, sat down on the toilet and cried.
Most immigrants have to find a place for themselves in a different but already-existing social and national culture that, on at least some level, expects them to adapt and adopt that culture as their own. Indeed, there is often little tolerance for anything less than full and uncritical acceptance and admiration of their new land. But for many immigrants—even those who become citizens and love their new country—the equation is far more complicated.
In some ways, the demarcation line of loyalty for naturalized citizens is clear. You have to swear loyalty to your new home over your native land, even in case of war. But it’s easier to switch a passport than an identity. And while we may want immigrants to view their departure from their country of origin as a never-look-back divorce, I think the process of immigration and changing citizenship is more akin to a single person marrying into an existing family—with all the issues that come with that kind of blended family relationship."
— In anticipation of Thanksgiving, Lane Wallace ponders America’s post-Pilgrim immigration balancing act.