Workshop on Immigration, Race and Ethnicity (WIRE)

Date: 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

124 Mount Auburn Street, Ash Center Foyer, Suite 200-North, Room 226, Cambridge, MA

Statue of LibertyAbout the Series
The Workshop on Immigration, Race and Ethnicity (WIRE) at the Ash Center is a bi-monthly seminar style forum for Harvard and Boston area researchers and students working on the topics of immigration, race and ethnicity from a diverse variety of perspectives. Workshop sessions are thematically organized and themes are different each semester. For the fall semester of 2014, the themes are: (1) Experiments on Race, Immigration, and Public Policy and (2) Economic Impacts of Immigration and Immigration Policy.

Upcoming Seminars

“Is there a “Disconnect” between Public Opinion and U.S. Immigrant Admissions Policy?”

Morris Levy (University of Southern California)
Matthew Wright (American University)
Jack Citrin (University of California, Berkeley)

A large body of research suggests that immigration policy-making in liberal democracies overlooks most citizens’ preferences most of the time. To support this view, scholars often point to an apparent “disconnect” between the expansionary immigration policies prevailing in most of the West and the heavily exclusionary bent of public opinion. This paper argues that the “disconnect” thesis oversimplifies ordinary citizens’ preferences over immigrant admissions policies in ways that inflate the divergence of public policy from public opinion.

It demonstrates that the U.S. public’s abstract preference for less immigration in general coexists with strong majority acceptance of the specific admissions policies that generate most immigration. This seeming inconsistency arises in part because concrete questions about admissions policies evoke stronger humanitarian and economic considerations than the standard, more abstract, gauge of immigration policy preferences does. Citizens by and large do not support rolling back the number of immigrants admitted through family reunification, provisions for refugees, and skills-based visas even when they are made aware that these three admissions categories combined account for nearly all foreigners admitted permanently into the country.

Author biographies:

Morris Levy is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California.

Matthey Wright is Assistant Professor of Political Science at American University.

Jack Citrin is the Heller Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.


Suggested Reading: Is there a “Disconnect” between Public Opinion and U.S. Immigrant Admissions Policy?

Past Seminars

(1) Experiments on Race, Immigration, and Public Policy

What the Demolition of Public Housing Teaches Us About the Impact of Racial Threat on Political Behavior

Ryan D. Enos, Assistant Professor of Government, Harvard University
Thursday, September 18, 2014; 3:00-4:30
124 Mount Auburn Street, HKS Ash Center, Suite 200-North, Room 226, Cambridge, MA


Suggested Reading: What the Demolition of Public Housing Teaches Us About the Impact of Racial Threat on Political Behavior

The Political Legacy of American Slavery

Maya Sen, Assistant Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
Thursday, October 2, 2014; 3:00-4:30
124 Mount Auburn Street, HKS Ash Center, Suite 200-North, Room 226, Cambridge, MA


Suggested Reading: The Political Legacy of American Slavery

(When) Race Matters: The Effect of Immigrant Race and Place on Support for Immigration Restriction

Jason Anastasopoulos, Democracy Fellow, HKS Ash Center
Thursday, October 16, 2014; 3:00-4:30
124 Mount Auburn Street, HKS Ash Center, Suite 200-North, Room 226, Cambridge, MA


Suggested Reading: (When) Race Matters: The Effect of Immigrant Race and Place on Support for Anti-Immigration Laws

(2) Economic Impacts of Immigration and Immigration Policy

House of Green Cards: Statistical or Preference-based Inequality in the Employment of Foreign Nationals

Ben Rissing, Pearson Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology and Organizational Behavior, Department of Sociology, Brown University
Thursday, October 30, 2014; 3:00-4:30
124 Mount Auburn Street, HKS Ash Center, Suite 200-North, Room 226, Cambridge, MA

How High Skill Immigration Affects Science: Evidence from the Collapse of the USSR

George Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy, Malcom Weiner Center for Social Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Thursday, November 13, 2014; 3:00-4:30
124 Mount Auburn Street, HKS Ash Center, Suite 200-North, Room 226, Cambridge, MA

U.S. High-Skilled Immigration, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Empirical Approaches and Evidence

William R. Kerr, Professor, Harvard Business School
Thursday, December 4, 2014; 3:00-4:30
124 Mount Auburn Street, HKS Ash Center, Suite 200-North, Room 226, Cambridge, MA

“Migration and the new austeriat: the Baltic model and the socioeconomic costs of neoliberal austerity”

Charles Woolfson (Linköping University, Sweden)
Jeffrey Sommers (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Tuesday, February 24, 2015; 4:30-6:00
HKS Ash Center, Suite 200-North, Room 226

The Great Economic Recession was experienced with particular severity in the peripheral newer European Union member states. Baltic governments in particular introduced programmes of harsh austerity known as ‘internal devaluation’. The paper argues that austerity measures have accelerated the fragmentation of the labour market into a differentially advantaged primary (largely public) sector, and an increasingly ‘informalized’ secondary (largely low-skill manufacturing and services) sector. It is suggested that the production of a segmented labour market has acted as a major stimulus towards creating, in both Latvia and Lithuania, among the highest levels of emigration in the European Union, especially during the years of the crisis from 2008 onwards. In the absence of effective state policy to address a gathering socio-demographic crisis in which this migration is a key component, so-called ‘free movement’ of labour raises troubling questions for wider societal sustainability in the European Union’s neoliberal semi-periphery in an era of protracted austerity.

Author biographies:

Charles Woolfson is Professor of Labor Studies at the Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity, and Society (REMESO), Linköping University, Sweden. He was previously a resident Marie Curie Chair at the EuroFaculty, University of Latvia, Riga.

Jeffrey Sommers is Associate Professor of Political Economy and Public Policy in Global Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is also Visiting Faculty, Stockholm School of Economics, Riga, Latvia.


Suggested Reading: Migration and the new austeriat: the Baltic model and the socioeconomic costs of neoliberal austerity