LAO 334, POL 334, Spring 2021

Category: Op-Eds

Climate change doesn’t care about borders, and neither should we

LAO334 Final Op-Ed

Hanne Borstlap

05/09/2021

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Word count: 846
Audience: the entire population of the United States

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Climate change doesn’t care about borders, and neither should we

When you search for images of the country ‘Kiribati’ on Google, what pops up are pictures of an idealistic looking island with blue water and white beaches. However, what these pictures don’t show you is that this island, located about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, is about to completely disappear due to rising sea levels. This will leave the approximately 118,000 residents with two options: drown or seek asylum elsewhere. However, while the second option obviously sounds the most logical, it is not as easy as it sounds.

When Ioane Teitiota and his wife fled Kiribati in 2013 and applied for asylum in New Zeeland, their case got rejected. While New Zeeland didn’t dispute high tides pose a risk to Kiribati, they didn’t have any laws in place that dealt with climate refugees and thus the court had no choice but to deport the couple. (1) Unfortunately, this is not just the case in New Zeeland. As of today, not a single nation offers asylum or other legal protections to people like the residents of Kiribati, who are forcibly displaced specifically because of the effects of climate change. Considering that the effects of global warming are only expected to get worse, it is high time for developed nations, who are also the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and thus largely responsible for global warming, to step up to their moral and ethical obligations and protect the human rights of climate-displaced persons.

A recent report by the World Meteorological Organization found that since 2010, severe droughts, floods, rising sea levels and other extreme environmental disasters have forced about 23 million people per year to relocate, a number that is only expected to increase. (2) It is predicted that in 2050, climate change will force the relocation of as many as 143 million people, the majority of which come from regions most vulnerable to climatic changes such as sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America and small islands. (3)

Since most of these regions also heavily depend on agriculture as a form of survival, extreme weather patterns do not only threaten their homes and safety but also their main source of income. About 320,000 Hondurans apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border from 2012 to 2019 cited the drought and hunger as a result of the failed crops as their reason for leaving the country. (4) Ironically, compared to developed nations in regions less affected by climate change, the nations that end up being disproportionally affected like Honduras emit a negligible amount of greenhouse gases. For example, over the past 100 years, the United States has emitted about 700 times more carbon dioxide than all Latin American countries combined. (5)

Every good parent teaches their children that if they make a mess, its their responsibility to clean it up. The principle is very simple, and should make intuitive sense to anyone raised to take responsibility for their actions. However, the United States so far seems to have done an excellent job at ignoring their responsibility towards climate refugees. During his presidency, Donald Trump did not only decrease the eligibility for asylum seekers (6), he also publicly denied climate change and rolled back about 109 environmental protection regulations, thereby significantly increasing the U.S. emissions and making the effects of climate change in already disproportionally affected regions worse. And while current president Biden has promised a more humane approach towards immigration as well as climate action, he has yet to propose any legal infrastructure that would classify and process climate refugees.

The question that therefore arises among both climate activists and immigration advocates is, how do we get this to change? In their paper about the politics behind immigration policies in America, Tichenor and Rosenblum argue that the fate of immigration reform is largely a function of the issue: ‘how do political elites see the issue affecting their electoral prospects, and how does the issue in fact affect electoral outcomes’? (7) In other words, if we as citizens want something to change, we have to show the politicians we care. This is where another problem arises. While members of the Democratic party tend to largely agree that it is our duty to help refugees as well as mitigate climate change, members of the Republican party have historically used a strong anti-refugee and anti-climate change rhetoric that has provided them with an alibi to close the doors on refugees and refuse action climate change. (8) It is thus the job of climate activists and scientists, and maybe even the job of weather, to show Republicans the severeness of climate change and hopefully generate some empathy and a sense of responsibility.

It is clear to everyone that changing the legal systems to include climate refugees would be expensive, inconvenient and complicated. However, what is even more clear is that ignoring the problem does not make it go away. In 50 years, the island of Kiribati will be completely underwater, and if the United States and other developed countries don’t start taking action now, its residents and their rich culture will sink together with the island.

 

Sources cited

  1. Weiss, K. (0247, January 01). The making of a Climate Refugee. Retrieved May 08, 2021, from https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/28/the-making-of-a-climate-refugee-kiribati-tarawa-teitiota/
  2. World Meteorological Organization. (2021). State of the Global Climate 2020 (WMO-No. 1264). WMO.
  3. Rigaud, Kanta Kumari; de Sherbinin, Alex; Jones, Bryan; Bergmann, Jonas; Clement, Viviane; Ober, Kayly; Schewe, Jacob; Adamo, Susana; McCusker, Brent; Heuser, Silke; Midgley, Amelia. 2018. Groundswell : Preparing for Internal Climate Migration. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/29461 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO
  4. Bermeo, S., & Leblang, D. (2021). Honduras Migration: Climate Change, Violence, & Assistance. Duke University.
  5. Each country’s share of co2 emissions. (n.d.). Retrieved May 08, 2021, from https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions
  6. Pierce, S., Bolter, J., & Selee, A. (n.d.). U.S. ImmigratIon PolicyUnder Trump: Deep changes and lasting Impacts. Transatlantic Council on Migration.
  7. Tichenor, Daniel & Rosenblum, M.R.. (2012). Poles Apart: The Politics of Illegal Immigration in America. 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195337228.013.0025.
  8. Jason P. Casellas & David L. Leal (2013) Partisanship or population? House and Senate immigration votes in the 109th and 110th Congresses, Politics, Groups, and Identities, 1:1, 48-65, DOI: 10.1080/21565503.2012.758588

No Such thing as an Illegal Being

The stereotype of the immigrant as a criminal is ubiquitous in the media, and different ways to label immigrants as criminals have been used in the past to connect immigrants to criminality. The labels have changed in recent years but remain just as poignant to the hearts and minds of immigrants today. For example, it was not until this year that the Biden administration deemed that the label “illegal alien” is no longer an acceptable way to address undocumented immigrants who enter the country (The Guardian). That label implies that the immigrant is inherently a threat to the county; by labelling someone as an “illegal alien”, the government had chosen for so long to see immigrants as a part of an invasion into the country, as a threat. Despite the label no longer being in use, there are issues with how it has taken this long to be removed from the nation’s vernacular surrounding immigration. The use of the label does not make the public acknowledge how immigrants have contributed and continue to contribute to the nation’s economy; it instead forces the narrative that being an immigrant is synonymous with being a criminal. However, there is nothing inherently criminal about moving in order to find better opportunities for oneself as well as one’s family. Additionally, the label of “illegal alien”, ignores the fact that immigrants have always been an intrinsic part of American history. In the wake of the pandemic and the recent presidential election, officials and community organizations in Tennessee have been taking action with the growing need to change the climate created by dehumanizing rhetoric against the growing immigrant population.
Ultimately, there is nothing alien about immigrants entering the United States because of the history of the relationship between the nation’s development and immigrant labor. Immigrants were a major component in the development of the nation from when the Mayflower landed on the coast to current day where they account for about 1 in every 5 people in the total United States essential workforce (FWD). At different points in American history, the nation’s leaders have welcomed immigrants with open arms. There are times when the quote on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (ABCNews), is embraced, and then there are times when children and families are put in cages (HRW). The warm welcome is always out of convenience. Attitudes shift when the political and economic climate dictate it to be so, and the mandate on whether immigrants are victims or criminals depends on which extreme the shift lands on.
Despite the capricious way of handling immigration issues, the nation has benefited immensely from the immigrants themselves. Immigrants help support the economy today in ways that are crucial for the state of the nation. It is estimated that undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients are amongst the largest groups in the immigrant essential workforce, totaling to almost 5.2 million workers (FWD). During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the nation depended on the services of essential workers, and, even now as the economy struggles to recuperate, the essential workforce is an invaluable part of the nation. There is also the looming threat of the ratio of the working to non-working population in the near future. The 2020 census suggests that the slow population growth we are experiencing now will lead to a serious shortage of workers needed to maintain the economy stable while supporting the retired and elderly populations (Los Angeles Times). In the near future, more than ever, immigrants will be a crucial part of restabilizing and maintaining a stronger economy.
Despite this, there is lingering sentiment targeting immigrants as people who “invade” and people who “steal” jobs because of the political climate we are attempting to come out of.
Donald Trump’s presidency enforced the view that immigration had to be curtailed with a focus that had not been seen in the years leading up to his term (Pierce et al. 3). Through his efforts to build a barrier between the United States and Mexico, hire 15,000 additional border and interior enforcement officers, and abolish sanctuary cities, Trump created a climate focused on targeting and eliminating immigrant presence and voice (Pierce et al. 3). The xenophobic sentiment in the wake of Trump’s presidency played a role in the portrayal of immigrants as the “outsiders” in the nation, as “criminals”. In actuality, only 7 percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States have criminal records (Abrego et al. 694). However, by employing the “threat narrative”, Trump succeeded in injecting paranoia and xenophobia into the nation (Farris et al. 814). This xenophobia also ties into a different argument as to whether immigrants can inherently be called criminals for crossing country borders. Beyond the nationalistic argument that justifies putting up barriers to entry, criminalizing immigration when humans have migrated throughout history is pointless.
Here in the state of Tennessee, the United States Representative of the 12th Congressional district of Tennessee, Jim Cooper, is known for being a moderate “who seeks bipartisanship on fiscal matters and other issues in [our] polarized political climate” (Cooper 2021). Cooper’s outright rejection of Trump’s hateful rhetoric towards immigrants is an important asset to the nation and the community he represents (Cooper 2021). Organizations like the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Catholic Charities of Tennessee have dedicated their efforts to help immigrants assimilate into American society, and these organizations report that the immigrant population is only growing in Tennessee (CCTENN). These two organizations work towards similar goals, most notably assisting immigrant individuals and families in finding housing, employment, and improving fluency with the language (CCTENN). The combination of these efforts is imperative for the immigrant community in Tennessee, and similar programs are needed across the country. Such efforts, however, need to exist alongside changes being made in the language used to refer to immigrants.
Therefore, despite “illegal alien” no longer being a part of our vernacular to label undocumented immigrants, there is still much to do to make the public acknowledge how immigrants have contributed and continue to contribute to the nation’s economy. The need for progress is evident in how the “threat narrative” still dictates that the term immigrant is synonymous with being a criminal. There is nothing inherently criminal about migrating in order to find better opportunities for oneself and one’s family. Immigrants have long been an intrinsic part of American history and wealth. Thus, the label of “illegal alien”, ignores the positive impact immigrants have had on the nation and dehumanizes them. We ought to remember that there is no such thing as an illegal human being.
This work is in accordance with the Princeton Honor Code.
Works Cited
Abrego, Leisy, et al. “Making Immigrants into Criminals: Legal Processes of Criminalization in the Post-IIRIRA Era.” Journal on Migration and Human Security, vol. 5, no. 3, 2017, pp. 694–715.
Bayoumi, Moustafa. “The Biden Administration Has Ended Use of the Phrase ‘Illegal Alien’. It’s about Time.” The Guardian, 22 Apr. 2021.
Catholic Charities of Tennessee, 23 Apr. 2021, cctenn.org/.
Chavez, Linda. “Op-Ed: Want to Expand the Economy and Add Jobs? Increase Immigration.” Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2021, www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-05-11/immigration-reform-biden-jobs-plan-economic-growth?fbclid=IwAR27lsP12DC5eMZ5Rws3p8hOmfAywcJZIVQOWKWI_-6EI0tdkXygoSmt2uI.
“Cooper Introduces Three Bills as 117th Congress Begins.” 3 Jan. 2021, cooper.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/cooper-introduces-three-bills-as-117th-congress-begins.
Farris, Emily, and Heather Mohamed. “Picturing Immigration: How the Media Criminalizes Immigrants.” Politics, Groups, and Identities, vol. 6, no. 4, 2018, pp. 814–824.
“Immigrant Essential Workers Are Crucial to America’s COVID-19 Recovery.” FWD, 16 Dec. 2020, www.fwd.us/news/immigrant-essential-workers/.
Long, Clara. “Written Testimony: ‘Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border.’” Human Rights Watch, 11 July 2019, www.hrw.org/news/2019/07/11/written-testimony-kids-cages-inhumane-treatment-border#.
Pierce, Sarah, et al. “U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY UNDER TRUMP: Deep Changes and Lasting Impacts.” TransAtlantic Council on Migration: A Project of the Migration Policy Institute, July 2018.
Owen, Quin. “ICE to Stop Using the Term ‘Illegal Alien’ Referring to Immigrants.” ABC News, 19 Apr. 2021, abcnews.go.com/Politics/ice-stop-term-illegal-alien-referring-immigrants/story?id=77165043.
Sherman, Arloc. “Immigrants Contribute Greatly to U.S. Economy, Despite Administration’s ‘Public Charge’ Rule Rationale.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 15 Aug. 2019, www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/immigrants-contribute-greatly-to-us-economy-despite-administrations.
Zaru, Deena. “The Story behind ‘The New Colossus’ Poem on the Statue of Liberty and How It Became a Symbol of Immigration.” ABC News, 14 Apr. 2019, abcnews.go.com/Politics/story-colossus-poem-statue-liberty-symbol-immigration/story.

South Florida’s Opportunity to Achieve a New Approach to Immigration Reform

Intended Audience: The Miami Herald’s Undecided voters on immigration reform

We might think comprehensive immigration proposals seeking to address several issues at once are the answer to fixing America’s immigration issues, but that rarely works. In fact, the last comprehensive immigration reform occurred in 1986 with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) (1). Regardless of the inability to pass comprehensive legislation since then, it has still been the main route to immigration reform (2). A scholarly research review from immigration scholars Daniel Tichenor and Marc Rosenblum indicates that the compromises between rivaling partisan interests in IRCA proved ineffective in addressing issues regarding undocumented immigration (3). For example, these compromises led to “watered-down employer sanctions” for the hiring of undocumented immigrants but were difficult to enforce against “noncompliant employers” (4). President Joe Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 represents yet another attempt at comprehensive reform by addressing a wide range of issues such as a pathway to citizenship, immigrant integration, improved labor resources, border enforcement, and reforming the asylum process (5). Yet, even after the bill’s passage in the House of Representatives, it is unlikely to be supported by Biden’s Republican opponents in the Senate (6). Florida’s own Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who sponsored comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, noted that immigration reform might be best pursued “in pieces rather than comprehensively” (7).

In South Florida, the rising undocumented immigrant population presents a unique circumstance to pursue Rubio’s legislative approach given bipartisan interest in immigrant integration. I encourage my fellow South Floridians to unite in support of legislation solely focused on expanding funding for nonprofit organizations to support immigrant integration measures and capitalize on the economic potential undocumented immigrants represent. For our collective economic benefit, I urge voters who might be undecided on how the government should address the high number of undocumented immigrants to help bring about changes to how representatives approach immigration reform.

As of 2018, in Miami-Dade and Monroe County there was a population of 176,000 undocumented immigrants, signaling the need to push for policies that would help integrate these individuals into American society (8). Supporting immigrant assimilation through increased funding for nonprofit groups would be most effective since research by Baruch College’s Professor Els de Graauw indicates that these organizations play an important role in immigrants’ integration, despite being significantly underfunded (9). In her study focusing on San Francisco’s nonprofit groups, de Graauw emphasizes nonprofits’ role in providing “socioeconomic services” like “educational, legal, linguistic, health, employment, and other social services to immigrants” (10). In other words, these organizations provide immigrants with the necessary skillset and knowledge to integrate into society and take on employment opportunities.

My congressional district, Florida’s 26th District, has particularly undergone a growth of over 35,000 foreign-born Latin American immigrants from the district’s creation in 2012 to 2019 (11)(12). Yet, despite searching for different immigration nonprofits throughout my district, We Count! was one of the very few organizations that are readily accessible to undocumented immigrants in my community (13)(14). Given the high number of South Florida’s undocumented immigrants, there is a clear need for increased funding to expand on immigration nonprofits and their resources due to their proven benefits in facilitating immigrant integration. Furthermore, the Miami Herald’s substantive coverage of local immigration developments like the Venezuelan refugee crisis with over 200 articles signals that South Florida’s increasing number of immigrants and refugees is an issue of salience and interest given the high volume of coverage (15).

Notably, Carlos Gimenez, the Republican congressional representative of my district, has advocated for undocumented immigrants’ integration by supporting their right to “work authorization” and education for their children (16). While this might be an immigration policy objective shared between Representative Gimenez and President Biden, it is difficult to pursue since it is part of Biden’s comprehensive proposal, which complicates the reconciling of other partisan policy differences (17). Like Gimenez, Republican Representative Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida’s 27th District in Miami recently expressed support for integration efforts. In a recent comprehensive policy proposal, she stressed the importance of undocumented immigrants’ integration through temporary work visa programs and outlined Republicans’ stances on other issues like “Border Security, Asylum Reform,” and “Protection for Dreamers” (18). For this reason, proposing legislation focused on just immigrant integration might be more feasible, given our representatives’ bipartisan interest in this immigration issue. It is important to unite as voters now more than ever since, despite their Republican affiliation, representatives such as Gimenez and Salazar are responding to South Florida’s large Latinx constituency’s expected opposition to “restrictionist” immigration approaches (19). Coming together as South Floridian constituents to support facilitating immigrant assimilation through increased funding for nonprofits will only help create pressure for Representatives like Gimenez and Salazar to sponsor legislation centered on this approach.

Although advancing the integration of undocumented immigrants might be a shared policy objective in our community, you might still wonder why funds should be dedicated to improving nonprofit organizations instead of other worthwhile policies. We should support better funding for immigration nonprofit groups because of these organizations’ ability to materialize undocumented immigrants’ untapped economic potential. For instance, while Harvard University’s Professor Roberto Gonzalez’s research, Lives in Limbo, mainly focuses on undocumented college students, his findings also underscore the economic benefits of integrating undocumented immigrants at large (20). Gonzalez notes how “funding to adult education and literacy classes” and developing “workforce development programs” would all lead to immigrants’ economic contributions to their “communities and the American economy” (21). Yet, the programs Gonzalez outlines could all be facilitated and are usually run by immigration nonprofit organizations. Hence, calling on congressional representatives to pursue legislation exclusively centered on improving funding for immigration nonprofits presents the most efficient and beneficial approach to support South Florida’s high undocumented immigrant population. Especially in districts like mine where there are few organizations dedicated to assisting undocumented immigrants, despite the clear need for it.

We regularly hear about comprehensive immigration reform efforts in Congress, but since IRCA was passed in 1986, comprehensive immigration policies have not been adopted again (22). As a result, we have come to rely on state and local governments to carry immigration policy efforts (23). In other words, pursuing comprehensive immigration accomplishes very little in America. It is time that we ask our policymakers to change their approach, specifically here in South Florida, given the high number of undocumented immigrants. The likely rejection of President Biden’s comprehensive U.S. Citizenship Act in Congress will result in the recuring inaction towards immigration issues we have come to expect. On the other hand, calling for legislation solely focused on immigrant integration will improve our community’s economy. For this reason, I urge every South Floridian voter who is unsure about the best approach to addressing our large undocumented immigrant population to join me in calling on our representatives to introduce legislation aimed at increasing funding for immigration nonprofits. By doing so, we would help nonprofits in better integrating undocumented immigrants into our communities and consequently benefit from their economic contributions.

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

  1. Jones-Correa, Michael, and Els de Graauw. “Looking Back to See Ahead: Unanticipated Changes in Immigration from 1986 to Present and Their Implications for American Politics Today.” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 16, May 2013, pp. 209-230. Annual Reviews, https://doi-org.ezproxy.princeton.edu/10.1146/annurev-polisci-051211-164644.
  2. Tichenor, Daniel J., and Marc R. Rosenblum. “Poles Apart: The Politics of Illegal Immigration in America.” Oxford Handbook of the Politics of International Migration, Nov. 2012, pp. 1-26, https://www-oxfordhandbooks-com.ezproxy.princeton.edu/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195337228.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195337228-e-25.
  3. Tichenor, Daniel J., and Marc R. Rosenblum. “Poles Apart: The Politics of Illegal Immigration in America.” Oxford Handbook of the Politics of International Migration, Nov. 2012, pp. 1-26, https://www-oxfordhandbooks-com.ezproxy.princeton.edu/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195337228.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195337228-e-25.
  4. Tichenor, Daniel J., and Marc R. Rosenblum. “Poles Apart: The Politics of Illegal Immigration in America.” Oxford Handbook of the Politics of International Migration, Nov. 2012, pp. 1-26, https://www-oxfordhandbooks-com.ezproxy.princeton.edu/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195337228.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195337228-e-25.
  5. The White House: Briefing Room. “Fact Sheet: President Biden Sends Immigration Bill to Congress as Part of His Commitment to Modernize our Immigration System,” 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/20/fact-sheet-president-biden-sends-immigration-bill-to-congress-as-part-of-his-commitment-to-modernize-our-immigration-system/.
  6. Villa, Lissandra. “The House Passes Two Immigration Bills. But Will Broader Immigration Reform Be Possible?” TIME, 18 March 2021, https://time.com/5947959/house-immigration-reform/.
  7. Villa, Lissandra. “The House Passes Two Immigration Bills. But Will Broader Immigration Reform Be Possible?” TIME, 18 March 2021, https://time.com/5947959/house-immigration-reform/.
  8. Migration Policy Institute. “Profile of the Unauthorized Population: Miami Dade-Monroe Counties, FL,” 2018, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/data/unauthorized-immigrant-population/county/12086.
  9. De Graauw, Els. “Nonprofit Organizations: Agents of Immigrant Political Incorporation in Urban America.” Civic Hopes and Political Realities: Immigrants, Community Organizations, and Political Engagement, edited by S. Karthick Ramakrishnan and Irene Bloemraad, Russell Sage Foundation, 2008, pp. 323–350. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610444644.
  10. De Graauw, Els. “Nonprofit Organizations: Agents of Immigrant Political Incorporation in Urban America.” Civic Hopes and Political Realities: Immigrants, Community Organizations, and Political Engagement, edited by S. Karthick Ramakrishnan and Irene Bloemraad, Russell Sage Foundation, 2008, pp. 323–350. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610444644.
  11. Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau. “Social Explorer Tables: ACS 2012 (5-Year Estimates)(SE), ACS 2012 (5-Year Estimates),” 2012, https://www.socialexplorer.com/tables/ACS2012_5yr/R12825169.
  12. Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau. “Social Explorer Tables: ACS 2019 (5-Year Estimates)(SE), ACS 2019 (5-Year Estimates),” 2019, https://www.socialexplorer.com/tables/ACS2019_5yr/R12825159.
  13. We Count!, “our programs,” 2021, https://www.we-count.org/work.
  14. Garcia, Alejandro. Assignment 1b. 2021 Princeton University, New Jersey. Unpublished paper.
  15. Miami Herald. Showing 1-10 of 228 results for Venezuelan refugees, 2021, https://www.miamiherald.com/search/?q=venezuelan+refugees.
  16. United States Congressman Carlos A. Gimenez: Florida’s 26th Congressional District. “Immigration,” 2021, https://gimenez.house.gov/issues/immigration.
  17. Tichenor, Daniel J., and Marc R. Rosenblum. “Poles Apart: The Politics of Illegal Immigration in America.” Oxford Handbook of the Politics of International Migration, Nov. 2012, pp. 1-26, https://www-oxfordhandbooks-com.ezproxy.princeton.edu/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195337228.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195337228-e-25.
  18. United States Congresswoman Maria E. Salazar: Serving Florida’s 27th “Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar Introduces Dignity Plan,” 2021, https://salazar.house.gov/media/press-releases/congresswoman-maria-elvira-salazar-introduces-dignity-plan.
  19. Casellas, Jason P., and David L. Leal. “Partisanship or population? House and Senate immigration votes in the 109th and 110th Congresses,” Politics, Groups, and Identities, 1:1, 48-65, 2013. DOI: 10.1080/21565503.2012.758588.
  20. Gonzales, Roberto G. “Conclusion: Managing Lives in Limbo.” Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America, University of California Press, 2015, pp. 208-235, ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/princeton/detail.action?docID=4068988.
  21. Gonzales, Roberto G. “Conclusion: Managing Lives in Limbo.” Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America, University of California Press, 2015, pp. 208-235, ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/princeton/detail.action?docID=4068988.
  22. Jones-Correa, Michael, and Els de Graauw. “Looking Back to See Ahead: Unanticipated Changes in Immigration from 1986 to Present and Their Implications for American Politics Today.” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 16, May 2013, pp. 209-230. Annual Reviews, https://doi-org.ezproxy.princeton.edu/10.1146/annurev-polisci-051211-164644.
  23. Jones-Correa, Michael, and Els de Graauw. “Looking Back to See Ahead: Unanticipated Changes in Immigration from 1986 to Present and Their Implications for American Politics Today.” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 16, May 2013, pp. 209-230. Annual Reviews, https://doi-org.ezproxy.princeton.edu/10.1146/annurev-polisci-051211-164644.

 

“This post represents my own work in accordance with University regulations.”

-Alejandro Garcia

Holding Politicians Accountable, the Need for Funding: Non-profits in FL-25

Professions, homes, and families are all left behind the moment one is forced to emigrate in search of a better future or as a form of survival. As my mother used to say, “Empezamos de cero” (We start from 0). For my mother, a well-known doctor in Havana, Cuba leaving her career behind was not an easy decision to make. When she arrived in Miami in 2013, she wasn’t “la doctora Marell o la doctora del barrio” (the doctor of the community) but just a proud immigrant working at Sedano’s Supermarket in order to pay rent and to provide for her thirteenth-year old daughter. After several weeks living in Fl-25, she heard of a non-profit organization, “Solidaridad Sin Fronteras”(SSF). From that point on, our lives change; this organization offered her a second opportunity in the field she was destined to work: healthcare.
SSF is a non-profit in FL-25 which facilitates the process of degree revalidation for Latin American healthcare professionals. (1) This organization served as a vital source of guidance and representation to the Latinx community by providing numerous healthcare training and political advocacy projects. (2) It is important to note that non-profit organizations play an essential role in immigrants’ political and civic integration. (3) Non-profits such as SSF depend on government funding to provide the resources to the Latinx community and offer training such as Surgical assistant, Nursing assistant, and Electrocardiograph technicians. (4)
The Biden administration sponsored a comprehensive immigration bill that proposes additional funding for non-profits to continue supporting the immigrant community (5). However, Republican congress member Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents Fl-25, has publicly opposed the bill. On his website, he wrote, the “immigration plan is an unrealistic, partisan effort that neglects our national security.”(6) Representative Diaz-Balart seems more concerned with national security than with the issues that affect his community; instead, we as his constituents should encourage him to support this bill or introduce an alternative bill that specifically provides funding for non-profits.
SFS advocates for immigrants through initiatives like “Ready-2-Help”, a political campaign focusing on passing a bill at the state legislature to accelerate the process of revalidation of medical licenses for physicians who graduated abroad to practice their profession in the U.S. (7) This campaign was created due to the deficit of doctors in the State of Florida, the office of the Governor confirm “an estimated deficit of 7,000 medical specialists is estimated by 2025 and about 5000 family doctors by 2030. (8) The campaign “Ready-2-Help” gives hope to Latin American professionals and motivates them to become active members in this new community of healthcare professionals. Els de Grauuw, a Professor at Baruch College, in his research has argued the importance of non-profit organizations “as organizational vehicles that prod government officials to pass policies of material and symbolic importance that in turn create an environment that invites immigrant’s participation in political affairs.” (9) The campaign “Ready-2-Help” motivates and invites many immigrants to join the political arena and become activists of their own voice.
SSF works with 9000 immigrants who graduated abroad in Medicine Faculties and are ready and willing to help. (10) Due to their immigrant status and lack of access to resources, they cannot put in practice their expertise in the field. During times of Covid-19 medical personal is critical and much needed by our community. There is a shortage of doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals statewide. We have this community of healthcare professionals ready to put their lives on the line for the safety of our community; yet, their vulnerable status prohibits them from helping. Their integration into the labor force will greatly benefit south Florida since their incorporation brings a significant economic contribution to the district thus, beneficiating the local economy. The continuation of campaigns such as “Ready-2-Help” relies solely on government funding and donations. (11) Yet politicians in our district opposed the Biden immigration plan which appropriate funding to organizations such as SFS and fail to provide a backup plan to keep this organizations afloat. Next time you go to a hospital and have to wait hours to receive medical help, or your doctor is exhausted after working long shifts due to the lack of medical personnel, think about those 9000 doctors who are ready to help and to commit to the wellbeing of south Florida.
Another important non-profit organization in Fl-25 that facilitates immigrants integration is “Americans for Immigrant Justice” (AIJ), a non-profit that protects the basic human rights of immigrants through litigation, policy reform, and public education. (12) In her research, Patricia Fernández-Kelly, a professor at Princeton University, shows the important role that non-profit organizations play in assisting immigrant children in resisting downward mobility. (13) She shares the case of young Osvaldo and her mother, who both were supported by the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) after a lawsuit was filed against her mother. (14) The help that LALDEF provided to the family was life changing. Thus, motivating Osvaldo and providing the needed resources to continue his career and path to education instead of going into a downward mobility path. Stories like this you can also find in our district thanks to the support of AIJ. This non-profit directs a legal program that provides free legal services to immigrant children who have suffered abuse, abandonment, or neglect. (15) This program is cost-free and help many adolescence and children keep their paths to upward mobility by helping them navigate to safety and justice. Yet, this program relied on donations and government funding, and politicians in Fl-25 are not considering all the advantages these organizations bring to our district economy and the social wellbeing of its citizens. These programs are vital for the guidance and upward mobility of the vulnerable population since they support their integration into the school system and labor force.
These organizations are pivotal for the wellbeing of the immigrant population in the district and the community at large. SFS enhances the local economy by introducing healthcare professionals into the labor force. From the year 2013 to 2014, before the termination of the Cuban Medical Parole, a total of 1738 Cuban Doctors entered South Florida. (16) Organizations such as SFS were ready to help and empower those newly arrived doctors in their credit revalidation and training. Latin American healthcare workers benefit from the continuation of organizations such as SFS, and our community benefits from the economic and health contribution these professionals bring to our district. Ultimately, “Americans for Immigrant Justice” helps young children in their incorporation and prevents them from falling into a downward mobility path. Thus, contributing to the district’s prosperity by becoming students, future professionals, owners of small businesses, or skilled workers.
To maintain these organizations afloat funding is needed, and actions are required from our politicians. Mario Diaz-Balart has opposed the Biden Immigration plan. Yet, it is time for him to propose alternative legislation that focuses on the future and prosperity of non-profits. It is time to make our politicians accountable, non-profits advocate for our rights, represent the Hispanic community, and make our voices heard. It is time we support non-profits and make their voices heard as well for the prosperity of FL-25.

Cited Works
(1) “Solidaridad sin Fronteras”. n.d. “HealthCare Training: Florida” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://www.ssfhelp.org/
(2) Andersen, Kristi. 2008. “In Whose Interest? Political Parties, Context, and the Incorporation of Immigrants.” In New Race Politics in America: Understanding Minority and Immigrant. Politics, edited by J. Junn and K. L. Haynie: Cambridge University Press, 18-38. http://www.princeton.edu/~aavalenz/docs/Andersen2008_wNotesBib.pdf
(3) “Solidaridad sin Fronteras”. n.d. “HealthCare Training: Florida” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://www.ssfhelp.org/
(4) “Solidaridad sin Fronteras”. n.d. “HealthCare Training: Florida” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://www.ssfhelp.org/
(5) The White House. 2021. “Fact sheet: President Biden SENDS immigration bill to Congress as part of his commitment to modernize our immigration system. 2021.” Last modified January 20, 202. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/20/fact-sheet-president-biden-sends-immigration-bill-to-congress-as-part-of-his-commitment-to-modernize-our-immigration-system/.
(6) House Government. 2021. “Diaz-Balart: President Biden’s Immigration Plan is Unrealistic, Purely Partisan”. Last modified Feb, 18, 2021. https://mariodiazbalart.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/diaz-balart-president-biden-s-immigration-plan-is-unrealistic-purely.
(7) “Solidaridad sin Fronteras”. n.d. “Ready-2-Help” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://www.ssfhelp.org/ready-2-help.
(8) “Solidaridad sin Fronteras”. n.d. “Ready-2-Help” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://www.ssfhelp.org/ready-2-help.
(9) De Graauw, Els. 2008. “Non-profit Organizations: Agents of Immigrant Political Incorporation in Urban America.” In Civic Hopes and Political Realities: Immigrants, Community Organizations, and Political Engagement, edited by Ramakrishnan S. Karthick and Bloemraad Irene, 323-50. Russell Sage Foundation. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610444644.16.
(10) “Solidaridad sin Fronteras.” n.d. “Ready-2-Help” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://www.ssfhelp.org/ready-2-help.
(11) “Solidaridad sin Fronteras.” n.d. “Ready-2-Help” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://www.ssfhelp.org/ready-2-help.
(12) “Americans for Immigrant Justice.” n.d.” About Americans for Immigrant Justice” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://aijustice.org/about-ai-justice/.
(13) Fernández-Kelly, Patricia. 2020. “The Integration Paradox: Contrasting Patterns in Adaptation among Immigrant Children in Central New Jersey.” Ethnic and Racial Studies43(1): 180–98. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01419870.2019.1667510.
(14) Fernández-Kelly, Patricia. 2020. “The Integration Paradox: Contrasting Patterns in Adaptation among Immigrant Children in Central New Jersey.” Ethnic and Racial Studies43(1): 180–98. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01419870.2019.1667510.
(15) Americans for Immigrant Justice.” n.d.” About Americans for Immigrant Justice” Accessed May 11, 2021. https://aijustice.org/about-ai-justice/.
(16) Gibson, William E. 2014. “Cuban doctors free foreign mission to Florida.” Sun Sentinel. Oct 05, 2014. https://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-cuban-doctors-defecting-20141005-story.html

This paper represents my own work accordance with the University regulations

Take home final: Op-ed

For the final, you will be asked to write a short op-ed making a persuasive case about some aspect of immigration and/or immigration policy in the United States. The piece can be directed at the audience of your choice, but you should have a specific audience in mind (local newspaper, national newspaper, broader Twitter public, etc.).

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