Abstract: Special Issue on Immigration

Abstracts for Special Issue on Immigration, Volume 10, Number 1 Spring 2012

Message from the Editors

Immigration and Belonging: Nation, Class, and Membership in New Migration Policies
By: Edward J.W. Park and John S.W. Park

Abstract:  We are pleased to present this collection of essays. They tie together some of the most important overlaps between immigration studies and Asian American Studies, and they present collectively a compelling portrait of how Asian American communities have continued to change as a result of on-going migration trends. These essays remind us that new Asian migrants have enlarged and complicated the very definition of the term, “Asian American,” and they tell important stories about how class, immigration status, and settlement patterns have altered the communities and regions that have been so central to Asian American Studies scholars. In addition, the essays in this volume indicate the growing importance of Asian American topics and approaches within several academic disciplines and fields, including labor economics, qualitative sociology, studies of migration and acculturation, and discourses of globalization. These authors have a great deal to say about how skilled people in general can move across the world, how some can move back and forth across international boundaries with relative ease, even as poorer migrants try to survive economically in our major cities and search through difficult options in their attempts to settle in the United States. We begin this volume first by thanking all of the contributors for showing us their amazing work, and we thank the staff of the AAPI Nexus for giving us this rare opportunity to collaborate scholars and activists.

Research Article

Between China and the United States: Contemporary Policies and Flows of Highly Skilled Migrants
By: Wei Li and Wan Yu

Abstract:  We are witnessing a change in volume, direction, and diversity of migrant flow patterns between China and the United States. These changes are a result of China’s unprecedented level of economic growth. In this paper, we examine the migration flow of highly-skilled migrants, who are increasingly targeted by both United States and China migration policies. Finally, we will conclude with policy implications.

Resource Paper

Ethnic Return Migration Policies and Asian American Labor in Japan and Korea
By: Jane Yamashiro

Abstract:  Asian ethnic return migration policies are having an important impact on the lives of Asian Americans. By making it easier for later generation Asian Americans to work and invest in their ancestral homelands, these policies have affected the scale of Asian American migration and their economic, cultural, and social connections to Asia. However, ethnic return migration policies and their effects are not uniform across all Asian American groups. This paper analyzes how Asian Americans are being affected by ethnic return migration policies through comparative examination of the Immigration Control Act in Japan and the Overseas Korean Act in South Korea. The two policies in Japan and South Korea (hereafter Korea) are similar in their initial targeting of ethnic return migrants and in their privileging of skilled workers and investors in the 2000s to increase each country’s competitiveness in the global economy. However, while Korea’s policy has cast a net to include Korean Americans specifically, Japan’s ethnic return migration policy has not been aimed at Japanese Americans in the same way.

Resource Paper

Community-Based Asian American and Pacific Islander Organizations and Immigrant Integration
By: Erwin de Leon

Abstract:  An Urban Institute study examined immigrant integration through the lens of community-based organizations. Based on interviews with nonprofit leaders and an analysis of financial data, the study found that immigrant-serving nonprofits provide a wide range of programs and services that promote the social and political mobility of newcomers. Findings also suggest that Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are smaller than other immigrant-serving nonprofits. AAPI groups also lack access to political networks that are crucial to securing policy and funding support. Moreover, different political and administrative structures affect the ability of these nonprofit organizations to serve their constituents.

Practitioners’ Essay

The Importance of Ethnic Competency: Labor Trafficking, Thai Migrations, and the Thai Community Development Center
By: Sudarat Musikawong and Chanchanit Martorell

Abstract:  The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000, 2011) created new conditional residency visas and new avenues for American citizenship for the victims of human trafficking. Thai migrants have benefited from its provisions, but their disproportionate presence in this category has indicated the depths of this problem within the Thai immigrant community. This paper examines anti-trafficking advocacy, and it begins by criticizing existing Asian American pan-ethnic organizations. It addresses the limits of their approaches, and argues that ethnic-specific organizations still play an important role in helping victims as well as the ethnic communities in which they will settle.

Research Article

Labor Market Migrations: Immigrant Intersections in the Informal Economy
By: Anna Joo Kim

Abstract:  This study argues that many workers in Asian enclave economies move between both formal and informal employment. Scholars and other commentators have often framed “immigrant work,” as static, exploitative, and characterized by illegal arrangements, while formal employment has provided mobility, better pay, and important fringe benefits, including health care and paid vacations. The relationship between formal and informal labor markets, however, may be more intertwined in an ethnic enclave economy. Drawn from the experiences of Korean and Latino immigrant workers from Los Angeles’ Koreatown, the qualitative data presented here show that many workers move back and forth in a “blended” or “mixed” labor market, in a pattern that complicates conventional understandings of the working lives of immigrant laborers.

Research Article

Citizenship at a Cost: Undocumented Asian Youth Perceptions and the Militarization of Immigration
By: Tracy Lachica Buenavista

Abstract:  Two federal policies, the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program and the proposed federal Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, represent the militarization of immigration. Critical Race Theory is used to analyze MAVNI, the DREAM Act, and semi-structured interviews with fourteen undocumented Asian immigrant youth who believe these policies provide viable pathways to citizenship through military enlistment. The project explores the recurring pattern of militarized immigration reform in the United States and challenges scholars, policy makers, and activists to understand the relationship between immigration and legacies of American imperialism.