Say Policies Altering Asian Immigration to U.S.
||UCSB’s John S.W. Park, left,
and his brother, Edward J.W. Park, have written a new book on
U.S. immigration policies.
changes in American immigration law have resulted in a significant
shift in migration from Asia, according to the authors of a new
book titled “Probationary Americans: Contemporary Immigration Policies
and the Shaping of Asian American Communities.”
The authors, John S.W. Park, assistant professor
of Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara, and his brother,
Edward J.W. Park, director and associate professor of the Asian
Pacific American Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University,
discussed immigration policy changes on April 19 in the first of
a series of Social Science Public Policy Briefings sponsored by
Melvin L. Oliver, dean of the UCSB Social Sciences Division.
The authors explained how migrants coming to the
U.S. as skilled workers or as investors have in the past 15 years
come to dominate legal migration from Asia. Since 1990, as many
as 300,000 Asian migrants have arrived in the United States every
year under employment categories. Asian migrants have also invested
in America’s major urban regions.
During the same period, admissions for family reunification,
which had once been the most prominent route for migration from
Asia, declined by about a third. Poorer immigrants are generally
less likely to arrive in the United States today, largely because
immigration rules have discouraged their migration.
Overall, the new immigration rules have heightened
divisions by class and immigration status. For example, “poorer,
undocumented Asians still come to the United States, but because
the new federal rules make them immediately deportable, they have
little incentive to ask for help or to attract state attention,
even though they are likely to suffer discrimination and exploitation
in the labor market and elsewhere,” says John Park.
Because of these trends, the make-up of Asian immigrant
communities has changed dramatically. Lawful migrants from Asia
are now much more likely to have professional backgrounds, with
college educations and technical training. “In fact, Asians now
dominate migration in employment and investment categories,” Park
“On the other hand, there is also a growing shadow
population of Asian workers who are poor and very vulnerable.”
Except for asylum-seekers, all new immigrants are
now presumptively ineligible for most forms of public assistance,
and they are much more likely to be deported for a single criminal
conviction, Park explains. “Indeed, the United States now forcibly
deports more people per year—over 150,000 every year since 1998—than
ever before in its history,” he says.
The authors suggest that by admitting many more
people based on employment and wealth, federal immigration rules
have strengthened Americans’ perception that Asian immigrant communities
However, they write, by formally discouraging the
migration of the poor, and by criminalizing a larger segment of
the immigrant population, these same rules have moved American law
away from humanitarian concerns and effectively consigned many poorer
migrants to the bottom of American society.