Author: Michelle Vilarino

Immigration Representation in California 40

Summary:

California 40 contains the cities of Downey, Vernon, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Los Angeles, Cudahy, and more. This district has an 88.2% Hispanic population, which has increased by 7.3 percentage points in the last 10 years, with a 39.2% foreign-born population. California 40 is a wildly Democratic district, in the last 20 years Democratic Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard has been re-elected with over 60% of the votes; meanwhile, there hasn’t been a Republican candidate since 2012. Based on the research by Casellas and Leal 2013, Wong 2014, and Rocha et al 2011, a representative of California 40 should be extremely pro-immigration and push to protect immigrants’ rights. Representative Roybal-Allard has been doing just that and she should continue her representation. I argue that a representative should even push for more liberal immigration policies. It is the responsibility of representatives to work on expansive immigration reform that will defend immigrants’ rights. They should work with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to protect the borders instead of policing the interior, reform the detainment system to be more humane, and improve the immigration system to make legal immigration easier.

Op-Ed:

In late March 2019, the LA Times reported on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) using police department information to track undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities. Undocumented immigrants are not safe, even in sanctuary cities meant to protect them. It is the responsibility of representatives to work on expansive immigration reform that will defend immigrants’ rights. They should work with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to protect the borders instead of policing the interior, reform the detainment system to be more humane, and improve the immigration system to make legal immigration easier. California’s 40th congressional district only has a small piece of Los Angeles -a sanctuary city- but the majority of the cities in the district are not sanctuary cities which means that undocumented immigrants there are at even more risk. Due to the large Democrat, Hispanic/Latino, and immigrant population in California 40, representatives in this district must work to protect immigrant rights and push for pro-immigration bills.

California 40 contains the cities of Downey, Vernon, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Los Angeles, Cudahy, and more. This district has an 88.2% Hispanic population, which has increased by 7.3 percentage points in the last 10 years, with a 39.2% foreign-born population. California 40 is a wildly Democratic district, in the last 20 years Democratic Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard has been re-elected with over 60% of the votes; meanwhile, there hasn’t been a Republican candidate since 2012. Representative Roybal-Allard votes very pro-immigration and many of her bill sponsorships are related to immigration. She calls for a reform of the immigration system by providing a pathway for the legalization of law-abiding immigrants. She also calls for more efficient border security and a cap on ICE detainment beds to focus them on detaining criminals and not innocent civilians. Her website describes her as “Original Co-Author of the Dream Act” to show that she fought for a path for legalization. This shows that immigration is an important issue for her and her constituents. I think that this representation must continue because it accurately shows the preferences of her constituents.  

A representative of California 40 should be pro-immigration because of the district’s strong support of Democrats, which Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard is. Casellas and Leal researched Congress votes to determine what factors may explain votes. They showed that “the key explanatory variables in both the House and Senate involve partisanship… Republicans were particularly favorable toward restrictive and enforcement approaches and opposed to comprehensive legislation, while Democrats took the opposite approach” (Casellas and Leal 2013). The constituents in California 40 tend to favor more comprehensive immigration legislation. Therefore, a representative for this district needs to favor comprehensive legislation, like Representative Roybal-Allard has been doing.

California 40 is a largely Hispanic district which means that a representative ought to support pro-immigration legislation. Wong researched Congressional votes on interior enforcement bills. He stated that “the size of the Hispanic/Latino percentage of the total population in a district is significantly related to a decreased likelihood of supporting legislation that tightens interior immigration enforcement for both Republican and Democratic representatives” (Wong 2014, 393). California 40 is more likely to be against tightening interior immigration enforcement. Therefore, to best represent their constituents, local representatives should be against tightening interior immigration enforcement and focus on protecting the immigrants in their district. Representative Roybal-Allard works on putting a cap on ICE detainment beds, which is a step in the right direction to restrict interior enforcement. I argue that they should even work on encouraging CBP to protect the border instead of policing immigrants already in the country, this would help to protect immigrants in the district.

Being in a mostly Hispanic district, local representatives ought to be pro-immigration to represent their constituents. Rocha et. al., researched the policy preferences of Anglos and Latinos. They state “… that Latinos in these same areas [areas with a higher proportion of Latinos] are more likely to have liberal immigration policy preferences. We further found that this result is not driven by the size of the foreign-born Latino population, but by the size of the native-born Latino population” (Rocha et al 2011, 16-17). While California 40 has a decent size foreign-born population, the majority of the population is native-born and Hispanic. This means that most of the constituents have more liberal immigration policy preferences. Representative Roybal-Allard does push for more liberal immigration policies like a pathway to legalization that would help undocumented immigrants on the inside. In addition, local representatives should support even more liberal immigration policies, for example, policies that would reform the detainment system on the border and help facilitate an easier legal immigration process.

This prior research shows that a representative of California 40 should be pushing for expansive bills and showing support for immigration. I argue that they need to be pushing for a reform of the immigration system, encouraging a more humane immigration process that will not separate families, and make it easier to enter the country legally. Representative Roybal-Allard is doing a great job of representing her constituents on the issue of immigration. It is important to be aware of the policy preferences of the constituents in California 40 because it helps representatives accurately represent their district and help the immigrants in their district. Immigration has been a large and necessary part of the United States’ history. Undocumented immigrants are an important part of our economy and are needed to fill many unwanted jobs, like jobs in agriculture, construction, and hospitality. Many undocumented immigrants even pay taxes, as seen in data provided by NewAmericanEconomy.org. They also don’t get social security benefits, even when they pay taxes. Representatives should work on helping these undocumented immigrants that are already in the country. We also need to work on facilitating legal immigration to avoid further illegal immigration. A representative in California 40 needs to protect the immigrants in their district from ICE using police department mass information to track them down because it is their duty to represent the constituents that support immigrants.

CA 40- Immigrant Interviews

Slide 1: California’s 40th congressional district is a largely Hispanic district that contains the areas of Downey, Mayhood, Vernon, East Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Bell, Bell Gardens, and more. In the last 10 years, the Hispanic population has increased by 7.3 percentage points. Due to this large Hispanic population and its increase, I predict that California 40’s immigrants are more likely to have a feeling of belonging and will be able to socially integrate better. This is based on the research from Fernández-Kelly 2019, who studied the integration paradox in Princeton (where there are lots of opportunities for immigrants but a smaller immigrant population) and in Trenton (where there are less opportunity but a larger immigrant population). Here she found that a large Latino presence can create a feeling of belonging to other Latino immigrants, this would help them socially integrate better. In the research done by Abrajano and Hajnal 2015, who studied the consequences of negative attitudes towards immigration, they state that in a large Hispanic population, whites are more likely to think immigration is a serious problem. Based on this, I also predict that whites in California 40 are more likely to think immigration is a serious issue.

Slide 2: To test my prediction I interviewed two immigrants that live in California’s 40th congressional district, Sandra Vilariño and Erick Vilariño. I asked them individually where they immigrated from and when, as well as why and what the process was like. The interview questions were as following: What are the different population or ethnic groups in the area and have you noticed any changes in them over the last 10 years, or since you arrived in the US? What impact would you say these demographic shifts have had on the community? Has this affected your daily life activities or political participation? What are the major issues immigrants face in this area? What could be done to fix this? Would you generally say there is widespread acceptance and openness to immigrants by non-immigrant or white American population? What do you think their opinion is and has it changed in the last 10 years? Do you feel represented in politics? Do you and other immigrants you know participate in voting or have high levels of participation? What would help you vote or feel better represented in your district? Do you feel you belong in your district? I believe these questions will help me see how the impact of California 40’s population change on the immigrant experience.

Slide 3: Both immigrants are from Cuba and immigrated to California 40 in 1995. Erick Vilariño said that the immigration process for him was simple because he qualified for a visa lottery and won a visa to the U.S. He wanted to come to the U.S. for better opportunities and a better life. All of his friends are immigrants. He believes that the district contains majority Hispanics and a few white non-Hispanics. In the last 10 years, he has noticed a drastic increase in the Hispanic population. He’s noticed that in the last 10 years, the district favors Democrats much more. He doesn’t think there’s any change in daily life activities or political participation, but he has noticed an increase in crime. He thinks the biggest issue immigrants must face in the district is the language barrier which he thinks there should be a better program in place so that immigrants could learn English. He thinks whites have a negative opinion about immigrants and that this has increased in the last 10 years. He sometimes feels represented in politics and he does participate in voting, he thinks that political participation has increased in the Hispanic community. He thinks that there should be more information about what’s going on in the politics of the district. He feels like he belongs in some way in the district because this is where he’s lived the longest. Sandra Vilariño said that she wanted to immigrate to the U.S. because it was her dream since she was 5 but that the immigration process was long and embarrassing because her aunt filed for family reunification since 1980 and she was only able to immigrate in 1995. She says she knows a lot of immigrants mostly Hispanic, some European and Asian. She has noticed a drastic increase in Hispanics in the last 10 years. She thinks this change is mostly negative than positive. She thinks the city is dirtier and that there’s a lot more crime, violence, and gangs. She believes that the biggest issue immigrants face in the district is that non-immigrants believe that they are all the same, criminals and gang members. She thinks whites believe that immigrants don’t belong, that immigrants steal their jobs, their cultures, and their homes. She doesn’t feel represented in politics but she does vote and have high levels of participation. She hopes to see a change and more acceptance of immigrants. She does feel like she belongs in the district because she identifies with the city, the culture, and its problems.

Slide 4: The results align with my predictions. Both immigrants have integrated politically and socially, seen in their high levels of political participation and voting as well as their participation in the immigrant community. Both immigrants feel a sense of belonging in their district. Both immigrants also feel that whites have a negative opinion of immigration and that this sentiment has increased in the last 10 years. This research is limited by only two immigrant participants but I believe that it is accurate to what is happening in the district.

California 40

California’s 40th congressional district contains the areas of Downey, Mayhood, Vernon, East Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Bell, Bell Gardens, and more. It’s a mainly Hispanic district with very few whites. In the last ten years, the Hispanic population has increased by 7.3 percentage points while the white population has decreased by 5.2 percentage points. Interestingly the second largest population is “other” which has increased by 3.2 percentage points. The foreign-born population has decreased by 5.6 percentage points but the foreign-born citizens have remained relatively the same.

Fernandez-Kelly (2019) tests the coping strategies of immigrant youth in Princeton and Trenton. She found that while Princeton has great resources for immigrant youth as opposed to Trenton, immigrant youth feel a better sense of belonging in Trenton because there is a larger immigrant population. This means that a larger Latino presence can create a feeling of belonging to other Latino immigrants which can help them socially integrate better. Abrajano and Singh (2009) test the difference in English and Spanish news coverage of immigration. They find that Spanish news has more pro-immigration attitudes and less anti-immigration attitudes. Also, Spanish news portrays illegal immigration to be beneficial to the economy. Farris and Silber Mohamed (2018) tests how national media portrays immigration by looking at how news story photos portray immigration negatively. They found that these images reinforce the Latino threat narrative by portraying immigrants as criminals or not integrating into society. Abrajano and Hajnal (2015) test the consequences of negative attitudes towards immigration. They find that white backlash could be due to a large Hispanic population and interaction making them think immigration is a serious issue. Hopkins (2010) tests why Americans connect local changes to national anti-immigration attitudes. He finds that when there’s a large increase of immigration population at the same time as national salient immigration rhetoric, negative attitudes towards immigration increases.

Based on the literature, I predict that California 40’s large Hispanic population is more likely to create a feeling of belonging and immigrants will be able to socially integrate better. California 40 has a large Hispanic/Latino population which may make other Latinos feel more welcomed and belonging and will allow them to integrate to society better. I also predict that the local Spanish news media in California 40 are more likely to portray immigration as beneficial to the economy which will make Spanish-speakers have more positive views on immigration. However, I predict that the non-Spanish speaking community is more likely to have negative views on immigration because of the Latino threat narrative on English national news outlets. I predict that the whites in California 40 are more likely to think immigration is a serious issue because of their interaction with a large Hispanic/Latino population. I also predict that there is more likely to be negative attitudes toward Latino immigrants in California 40 due to an increase of Latino immigration and the high immigration salience on national news.

I will be testing my prediction on immigrant experiences because in California 40, there is not a lot of immigration help but there is a lot of immigrants so, I’m curious to know about their experience integrating. I will reach out to one of the only immigration help organizations, the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) in South Los Angeles, and try to interview a staff member. I will ask them a series of questions including: what are immigrants biggest struggle in South LA? In your opinion, do the social class differences in South LA impede the integration of immigrants? On a scale of 1 to 10, how welcomed do immigrants feel in South LA, 10 being very welcomed. What can be done to make immigrants feel more welcomed? I think that these questions will let me know how immigrants in California 40 feel in their district as well as how they think others feel about them. It will let me know if having a large Hispanic/Latino population benefits their social integration.

 

 

CA-40 Lucille Roybal-Allard

Title: CA 40 is a largely Hispanic district (88.6% Hispanic), containing parts of Los Angeles, Maywood, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Bell, Bell Gardens, Downey and more. It’s mostly a low-income district.

Slide 1: 

Since 2008, CA 40 has only had 2 Congressional representatives. Edward Royce, a Republican, was the representative since the 2002 election until the 2012 election, and before then the representatives were mostly Republican. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat, won the 2012 election against another Democrat. The opponents since 2012 have been Democrats, Independent, or Green Party members. It’s clear that in 2012 there was a shift. This shift might have been due to the redistricting from Orange County (which has a mostly White population) to what CA 40 contains now (mostly Hispanic).

Slide 2:

Ramakrishnan and Wong (2010) studied what factors impact the proposal and passage of restrictive and pro-immigration policies. Their results showed that in the passage and proposal of policies, partisanship is the most consistent factor. In the passage of policies, the growth of the Hispanic population increases the likelihood of support for restrictive policies while recent immigrant population increases pro-immigration support. Wong (2012) studied what factors will impact the municipal government’s likelihood to request partnerships for federal immigration enforcement. He found that rapid Hispanic population growth increased the likelihood for support yet a large Hispanic population decreased the likelihood for support. Most research findings show that partisanship is what drives the representatives support restrictive immigration policies, if they are Republican, or to not support restrictive immigration policies if they are Democrats. This is seen in Casellas and Leal (2013), Ramakrishnan and Wong (2010), and Wong (2014).

Slide 3: 

Based on the research evidence, it can be predicted that Representative Roybal-Allard will not support restrictive immigration policies since she is a Democrat with a very large Hispanic population. Since there hasn’t been a rapid Hispanic population growth it is not likely that this will affect her voting behavior.

Slide 4: 

Lucille Roybal-Allard’s voting record shows that she is very pro-immigration. A total of 31% of the bills she has sponsored are related to immigration, which is the second most, Health-related bills being the most she has sponsored. Her website shows large support for immigration. Right underneath her name, she describes herself as “Original Co-Author of the Dream Act” this shows that she really cares about immigration and that it is an important topic. In her issues tab, she has a tab dedicated to immigration with six paragraphs that beg for reform of a broken system, she humanizes immigrants, and fights for citizens and noncitizens equally and to keep families together. Most of her other issues (13 other issues) have three paragraphs except Health which has seven paragraphs. In her Twitter, we can also see that immigration is very important. 35.9% of her tweets from Jan 1, 2019, to March 1, 2019, are about immigration-related topics, most of which are against President Trump’s “pointless” wall, she desires a humane immigration system as well as effective border security. All of this shows that Lucille Roybal-Allard would be against restrictive immigration policies, instead, she supports pro-immigration policies.

 

Link to slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ITF-OabwplJocLRuxTdtEJH7mfZKD6CBUudPCYropYo/edit?usp=sharing

“A Wall And Trump Immigration Policies Benefit Drug Cartels”

This week we discuss the consequences of restrictive immigration policy in the United States. Wong (2014) focuses policies after HR 4437 can be explained by the partisan divide on immigration issues and the factors related to that and Massey (2019) focuses on how policy after HR 4437 actually affected illegal immigration. Massey proves that a restrictive immigration policy actually increased the undocumented population as well increase the cost (for immigrants to come in safely and for the nation to sustain the policy) and increase the number of deaths at the border. The news article on Forbes is more connected to Massey’s argument. This article discusses how a wall on the Mexican border would actually benefit drug cartels. Drug cartels are known for loaning their smuggling tunnels to smuggle in people as well and a wall would actually raise the cost of people smuggling and make it a more lucrative business. In general, a wall would continue to be as ineffective as Massey describes restrictive immigration policy has been so far. This appears to not be a solution to an ineffective policy but just contributing to it even more.

Discussion Question

  1. If restrictive immigration policy is ineffective, what could be some effects of less restrictive immigration policy and what would that type of policy look like?

 

Anderson, Stuart. “A Wall And Trump Immigration Policies Benefit Drug Cartels.” Forbes,

Forbes Magazine, 7 Feb. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2019/02/07/a-

wall-and-trump-immigration-policies-benefit-drug-cartels/#aef51e37888b.

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