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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.

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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.

Coordinating Immigrant Integration in Germany: Mainstreaming at the federal and local levels

August 18, 2014 Comments off

Coordinating Immigrant Integration in Germany: Mainstreaming at the federal and local levels
Source: Migration Policy Institute

In contrast to other European countries, the idea of “mainstreaming” immigrant integration policy—the practice of reaching people with a migration background through social programming and policies that address the needs of the general population—has not caught on among policymakers in Germany. Although characterized by fragmented policies scattered across many levels of government with little vertical coordination, integration policy in Germany has made many strides over the past decade. Still, civil-society organizations and employees in public services continue to call for a shift away from policymaking that targets specific groups, and toward measures directed at society, or young people, as a whole.

This report explores the history and recent trends of integration policy in Germany, focusing on the past 15 years, when immigrant integration became an important issue. Aside from matters of nationality, freedom of movement, and passports, which are the exclusive domain of the federal government, and matters of education, which are up to the Länder (state-level governments) to decide, integration has consisted of a tangled web of overlapping and unclear legislative jurisdiction. Integration policy, which cuts across areas such as education, labor, and urban development, also suffers from a lack of horizontal coordination across various governmental departments and across states.

The report also examines various integration measures taken by the federal, Länder, and local governments as well as civil-society actors, including those that have attempted to reach the general population and those targeted at specific groups. Young people have been a particular focus of many projects, in a country where one-fourth of the estimated 15.6 million people with an immigrant background are under the age of 25.

The Human-Capital Needs of Tech City, London

August 15, 2014 Comments off

The Human-Capital Needs of Tech City, London
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Cities are important sites of entrepreneurship and innovation, especially for the tech industry, and skilled migrants can play critical roles in economic development in high-tech clusters such as London’s Tech City (also known as Silicon Roundabout). In the United Kingdom, an undersupply of skilled native-born developers encourages recruiters to look afield, but visa restrictions make hiring the right workers difficult. Evidence that firms are having trouble making the most of immigration point to a number of areas for policy action, as this report outlines.

A raft of policies were introduced to grow the Tech City cluster, but while the United Kingdom is reforming policies to attract and retain skilled migrant workers and migrant entrepreneurs, getting the design of these programs right has proved especially difficult. Policymakers’ control over cluster development is limited: policies that seek to map clusters and maximize their growth rarely deliver expected benefits. However, policies that are not cluster specific—such as human-capital interventions aimed at improving the international supply of workers through migration or the local supply of workers through skills training—are likely to have indirect effects that help clusters grow.

This report analyzes the importance of human capital to the development of Tech City and sets this discussion in a broader framework linking cities, digital sectors, and highly skilled immigration.

The 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.”

DACA at the Two-Year Mark: A National and State Profile of Youth Eligible and Applying for Deferred Action

August 8, 2014 Comments off

DACA at the Two-Year Mark: A National and State Profile of Youth Eligible and Applying for Deferred Action
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Since the Obama administration launched the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, which offers temporary relief from deportation and the right to apply for work authorization for certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children, 55 percent of the 1.2 million youth who immediately met the program’s criteria have applied, according to MPI estimates. As the first two-year eligibility period draws to a close, early DACA beneficiaries have begun to apply for renewal, with nearly 25,000 renewal applications submitted as of July 20, 2014.

This report provides the most up-to-date estimates available for the size, countries of origin, educational attainment, employment, English proficiency, age, gender, and poverty rates for the DACA population nationally and for key states, based on an analysis of U.S. Census data. The report also offers DACA application rates nationally and in key states, as well as for particular national-origin groups.

Advancing Outcomes for All Minorities: Experiences of Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in the United Kingdom

August 4, 2014 Comments off

Advancing Outcomes for All Minorities: Experiences of Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in the United Kingdom
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Although the United Kingdom has large foreign-born and native-born ethnic minority populations, there has been little policy activity in the area of immigrant integration in the country. Instead, since 2010 integration issues have been subsumed within broader concerns about diversity, equality, and social cohesion.

This report explores the United Kingdom’s unique experience with immigrant integration, which is strongly influenced by its colonial ties. Following World War II, the United Kingdom received a wave of migrants from its former colonies, many of whom were already British citizens, spoke English, and maintained strong ties to what they consider their mother country. As a result, native-born citizens have been reluctant to think of migrants as such, preferring instead to consider them minorities. Government programs and civil-society groups engage migrants, particularly migrant and minority youth, as part of communities rather than as discrete entities.

This mainstreaming of integration policy—attempting to reach people with a migration background through needs-based social programming and policies that also target the general population—has been supported by societal norms emphasizing inclusion and antidiscrimination as well as an ideological commitment to localism at the national level. These factors, combined with suspicion of top-down regulation, have led the national government to relinquish responsibility in integration matters to local governments. Localities, including case-study cities London and Glasgow, now have the space to develop innovative approaches to integration, but must overcome low levels of funding due to austerity measures.

Giving Cities and Regions a Voice in Immigration Policy: Can National Policies Meet Local Demand?

July 26, 2014 Comments off

Giving Cities and Regions a Voice in Immigration Policy: Can National Policies Meet Local Demand?
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Immigration policies are typically designed and implemented at the national level, even though economic and demographic circumstances may vary widely across cities and regions. Large and fast-growing metropolitan areas are natural magnets for both immigrants and their native-born peers, while rural areas and small towns tend to attract fewer immigrants, even when employers have vacancies to fill.

Some immigration routes, however, channel new arrivals toward particular destinations where their labor is thought to be in high demand. These routes fall into two major categories: (1) employer-sponsored immigration and (2) immigrants selected through regional nomination programs. Employer-sponsored visa policies implicitly direct foreign workers to areas where their skills are in demand. To ensure that this happens, some such programs are further customized to the needs of particular regions. In the cases of Australia and Canada, which have made regional nomination programs the flagship policies in their immigration systems, the national governments have delegated a certain level of authority to subnational jurisdictions to select their own workers. These subnational visa programs allow regions and localities that are not traditional immigration destinations to attract workers who would otherwise have gone elsewhere.

These types of region-specific immigration policies are not without risk. They add complexity to already complicated immigration systems and disregard immigrants’ market-based decisions, which could potentially undermine economic prospects and contributions.

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