Monday, May 10, 2010

Immigration Freakonomics

Okay, the following isn't your typical data analysis. But the results are just as counter-intuitive as anything you find in the book "Freakonomics":

The study, "Context Matters: Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement in Nine U.S. Cities," found that areas long accustomed to an influx of immigrants, including close-in jurisdictions of the Washington region, tend to focus more on trying to accommodate them rather than restrict them.

"The reality is that they're here already, so most cities and counties are trying to figure out how they can best incorporate these immigrants," said Andrew Selee, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Mexico Institute and a co-author of the report. In states including Texas, California and Illinois, he said, "There is a sense that immigrants are a productive part of society."

An analysis of 1,059 immigration-related bills in 50 state legislatures in 2007 found that 19 percent of 313 bills expanding immigrant rights were enacted, while 11 percent of 263 bills contracting rights were enacted, the report says.

When we speak of tolerance, we tend to cite the lack of restrictive legislation. Furthermore, becoming more welcoming tends to be reactive instead of proactive. How does your city manage the tidal wave of inmigration?

New destinations for immigrants tend to react in a negative fashion. But the people keep coming. This should put to rest the idea that greater tolerance for outsiders is a way to attract talent. Traditional immigrant gateways are relatively more progressive with liberal attitudes towards newcomers. That doesn't seem to impede the rush to the suburbs.

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