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Smart Inclusive Cities: How New Apps, Big Data, and Collaborative Technologies Are Transforming Immigrant Integration

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Smart Inclusive Cities: How New Apps, Big Data, and Collaborative Technologies Are Transforming Immigrant Integration
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The spread of smartphones—cellphones with high-speed Internet access and geolocation technology—is transforming urban life. While many smartphone apps are largely about convenience, policymakers are beginning to explore their potential to address social challenges from disaster response to public health. And cities, in North America and Europe alike, are in the vanguard in exploring creative uses for these apps, including how to improve engagement.

For disadvantaged and diverse populations, accessing city services through a smartphone can help overcome language or literacy barriers and thus increase interactions with city officials. For those with language needs, smartphones allow language training to be accessed anywhere and at any time. More broadly, cities have begun mining the rich datasets that smartphones collect, to help attune services to the needs of their whole population. A new crop of social and civic apps offer new tools to penetrate hard-to-reach populations, including newly arrived and transient groups.

While these digital developments offer promising opportunities for immigrant integration efforts, smartphone apps’ potential to address social problems should not be overstated. In spite of potential shortcomings, since immigrant integration requires a multipronged policy response, any additional tools—especially inexpensive ones—should be examined.

This report explores the kinds of opportunities smartphones and apps are creating for the immigrant integration field. It provides a first look at the opportunities and tradeoffs that smartphones and emerging technologies offer for immigrant integration, and how they might deepen—or weaken—city residents’ sense of belonging.

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Profiles

September 11, 2014 Comments off

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Profiles
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Learn about populations eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) nationally and in top states and counties. This data tool, based on a methodology that imputes unauthorized status using U.S. Census Bureau 2008-12 American Community Survey and 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation, provides estimates of unauthorized immigrant youth currently eligible for DACA, those who meet all but the educational criteria, and children who will age into eligibility. The tool provides estimates for 41 states and 111 counties, and detailed profiles for the U.S., 25 states, and 36 counties. (See below map to navigate to county profiles.)

Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives

September 11, 2014 Comments off

Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives
Source: Migration Policy Institute
In France, where integration initiatives are limited to an immigrant’s first five years in the country, “mainstreaming”—the practice of reaching people with a migration background through social programming and policies that address the needs of the general population—is an intrinsic characteristic of integration policy. However, because French law prohibits the collection of official statistics based on ethnicity, and because most children of immigrants are French citizens, it is difficult to assess to what extent policies aimed at the general population affect immigrant youth. This is further complicated by a deep societal distrust of policies that target a particular group over others, originating from the French republican principle of equal treatment regardless of origin, religion, or race.

This report traces the history and recent developments of immigrant integration in France, which has been a popular destination for migrants since the 19th century. The size of France’s foreign born population is on par with that of other European countries, but immigrants in France arrived earlier. As a result, France has one of the highest proportions of immigrant descendants in Europe.

France has primarily focused on integration initiatives that target youth in three key areas: education, employment, and social cohesion. A recent reorganization of the institutions responsible for implementing integration policy has effectively mainstreamed those programs. In addition, a new area-based approach to solving problems of inequality has taken precedence over initiatives that tackle issues specific to immigrant youth, including discrimination. This approach is also limited in its ability to reach immigrant groups that are more widely dispersed geographically.

As the government of President Francois Hollande considers further institutional changes to integration policy, including the delegation of responsibilities from the Interior Ministry to various relevant bodies, the concept of “mainstreaming” is likely to affect governance structures and the public discourse surrounding immigrant integration.

Executive Action for Unauthorized Immigrants: Estimates of the Populations that Could Receive Relief

September 5, 2014 Comments off

Executive Action for Unauthorized Immigrants: Estimates of the Populations that Could Receive Relief
Source: Migration Policy Institute

In the absence of legislative movement to reform the U.S. immigration system, the Obama administration is considering executive action to provide relief from deportation to some of the nation’s estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants. These actions could include an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, extension of deferred action to new populations, or further refinement of enforcement priorities to shrink the pool of those subject to deportation.

Using an innovative methodology to analyze the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data to determine unauthorized status, this issue brief examines scenarios for executive action publicly advanced by members of Congress immigrant-rights advocates, and others, providing estimates for DACA expansion or potential populations (such as spouses and parents of U.S. citizens) that might gain deferred action. Among the possible criteria for deferred action that MPI modeled are length of U.S. residence; close family ties to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, or DACA beneficiaries; and/or potential eligibility for a green card as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.

Revitalizing Detroit: Is There a Role for Immigration?

September 3, 2014 Comments off

Revitalizing Detroit: Is There a Role for Immigration?
Source: Migration Policy Institute

More than half a century after its peak as America’s fourth-largest city, Detroit has become a byword for the urban decline and economic decay that have plagued the cities of America’s industrial heartland. Without its former core industrial base, Detroit has had to look for new ways out of economic decline. Detroit and other cities like it face several key challenges in their progress toward recovery, including a shrinking and aging population, diminished city resources, and a lack of high-skilled human capital.

Immigration alone cannot save Detroit, as this report makes clear. But if carefully managed in the context of a broader economic development strategy, immigration may be a promising tool for boosting Detroit’s economic prospects. This report explores various immigration-related initiatives aimed at restarting economic growth that have been advanced by Detroit and Michigan leaders, the regional chamber of commerce, and civil society. However, it remains unclear how effective these efforts (and similar ones in other cities) will be. The same factors that have driven the native born from the city (such as unemployment, neighborhood blight, and poor municipal services) may keep immigrants away.

Detroit is not alone in its efforts. While a successful outcome is not guaranteed, these cities offer an interesting opportunity to observe what, if any, potential immigration has to boost economic redevelopment.

This report is part of a series from MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration focused on how policymakers at all levels can work together to help cities and regions get more out of immigration. The reports were commissioned for the Council’s eleventh plenary meeting, “Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration’s Local Dividends.”

The City Brand: Champion of Immigrant Integration or Empty Marketing Tool?

August 29, 2014 Comments off

The City Brand: Champion of Immigrant Integration or Empty Marketing Tool?
Source: Migration Policy Institute

In recent years, cities on both sides of the Atlantic have invested in branding strategies and campaigns to attract tourism, investment, and new residents. This trend is closely tied to the increasing global demand for human capital and changes in travel and technology, which are challenging cities seeking growth to set themselves apart from similar localities in the region and around the world. City branding strategies, often embedded in a broader public discourse, must reflect the heterogeneity of residents while conveying the shared values, culture, and identity of the population. For some cities, diversity and openness themselves are main selling points. Other cities’ branding strategies benefit from key economic conditions like a thriving industrial sector or links to centers of research and innovation.

This report explores the relationship between marketing and communications campaigns, immigration, and processes of immigrant integration. One question it seeks to answer: how can cities balance the twin goals of attracting skilled residents to fuel new growth while creating a “diversity-proof” identity, especially in a context of social inequality and high turnover? Within two categories of city discourse, one meant to attract new talent and the other meant to develop a local identity, municipal governments have various tactics to choose from to build a cohesive branding strategy directed at immigrant populations.

Still, creating a truly representative brand is a difficult task for many cities. One challenge is how to link internal- and external-focused marketing campaigns, which target very different cohorts. Brands must encompass all residents, both immigrant and native born, and must reflect a diverse range of ethnic and cultural identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and reasons for living in the city.

Policies to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurship

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Policies to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurship
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Policymakers in top migrant-receiving countries increasingly recognize the well-documented benefits of immigrant entrepreneurship. Immigrants are more likely to start businesses than their native-born peers, despite increased obstacles. In countries with a strong entrepreneurial culture, like Australia, Canada, and the United States, policymakers look to migrant entrepreneurship to foster competitiveness and innovation. Immigrant-run businesses can also be a boon to economic growth and social inclusion for cities and regions, thus attracting new residents.

This report examines the obstacles that prevent immigrant entrepreneurs from realizing the full potential of their enterprises to contribute to the socioeconomic welfare and competitiveness of host countries. While a lack of start-up funding is a challenge for many entrepreneurs, credit constraints tend to be greater for immigrants than for the native born, given their shorter credit histories in their host countries and higher tendency to lack collateral such as home ownership. Immigrants, and especially new arrivals, also often lack full mastery of their new country’s language as well as the country-specific human capital and networks that the native born can rely on to navigate complex bureaucratic regulations and procedures.

The report also outlines the policy tools available to help immigrant entrepreneurship thrive, including mainstream and targeted business-support programs as well as structural policies that promote an environment that is conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation. While business-support programs are typically designed and implemented at the local level, allowing for the tailoring of services to the unique economic needs of each locality, structural policy reforms in areas such as taxes, labor market regulation, and education are generally the responsibility of the national government. In this context, cooperation between national and local policymakers is particularly important in developing complementary policy strategies that strengthen immigrant entrepreneurship.

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