In How to be Secular, Berlinerblau argues for a return to America's hard-won secular tradition; the best way to protect religious diversity and freedom lies in keeping an eye on the encroachment of each into the other. Berlinerblau passionately defends the virtues of secularism, reminds us what it is and what it can protect, and urges us to mobilize around its cause, which for all Americans to continue to enjoy freedom for--and from--religion. This is an urgent wake-up call for progressives in and out of all faiths.
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On Thursday, April 7, 2011, at 6:00pm, Professor Ori Soltes gave a talk on his latest book "Why the Middle East Is a Mess and always has been." The Middle East is a morass, a tangled web of diverse threads--religion, politics, ethnicity, nationalism and economics--each a commplex tangle of its own, and interwoven with the threads of confusing definitions, conflicting aspirations and constant interferences from beyond the edges of the region. This talk and the book that it introduces try to unravel these threads in a concise and clear manner. At the very least the reader of the book or the auditor of the lecture will come away with a sense of how old and ongoing these complexities are and why simple solutions are so difficult to come by--both within particular parts of the Middle East and across the region overall. At most, some thoughts regarding improvements in some areas present themselves.
Three different models of immigration to the United States – and their continued effects as American history has unfolded -- are considered in Susan Martin’s new book A Nation of Immigrants. The director of SFS’ Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) discussed her work in a lecture February 10 co-sponsored by ISIM and the Mortara Center for International Studies.
Martin began by discussing the Virginia colony, which welcomed immigrants as workers, but restricted their rights. Akin to indentured servants, these immigrants could even be prisoners who were working to avoid prison. Once tobacco farming took over the region, the model became more like the slavery model.
Martin said that the U.S. has not been willing to do very much in the past 30 years to stem the act of illegal migration because it’s a very comfortable labor model – and one that harks back to the Virginia model. This way, the rights of the workers is not a concern.
Massachusetts welcomed those whose beliefs were in line with the founders, but excluded those with differing beliefs. This extended from religious convictions to civic ideals. Martin said that this model persists in certain ways, especially in the blaming of immigrants as scapegoats for attacks. This was evident in the Red Scare and with the expulsion of people or black balling of people with seemingly different ideals.
“Since 1996, in the aftermath of the first World Trade Center bombing, and the Oklahoma City bombing, that had nothing to do with immigrants, a whole lot of laws were passed that tried to restrict the entry of immigrants as counterterrorism measures,” Martin said.
Pennsylvania valued pluralism, and became the most diverse colony in religion, language and culture. “I think the Pennsylvania model is at the heart of why immigration has worked in the U.S.,” Martin said. However, in each wave of immigration, there is concern among the population that this model wouldn’t persist, Martin said. The main concern that people had was: “Would these people become Americans? Would they melt into the population?”
In 1965, in the same vein as the Civil Rights movement, the U.S. went back to a Pennsylvania type of model. There was a “sense of optimism that immigrants would be able to integrate,” Martin said.
Martin then listed some of her recommendations for America’s current immigration issues. Her first recommendation was to curb illegal migration because it creates a second labor class. She said that there need to be new legal immigration channels for meeting legitimate labor needs and demands and that the U.S. needs to be careful not to move to expansion – where workers get exploited with fewer and fewer rights. In her opinion, permanent transference is better for filling long-term labor needs.
Another one of her recommendations calls for the regularization for undocumented migrants currently living in U.S., meaning bringing them out of the “underclass” and giving them access to rights. She asserted that this is the only way to make future enforcement against undocumented workers viable in the future. She said that employers wouldn’t buy in if they had to lose their current workers.
She also brought up the need for a robust refugee system.
Finally, Martin said that the U.S. needs to be paying more attention to the integration of immigrants. If they learn English, then they have more access to upward mobility. 40% of immigrants have less than a high school education, Martin said. She asserted that if immigrants are already in the U.S. and have been exploited for their labor, there is an obligation to help their children and to educate them.
Martin argued that the U.S. offers few inclusionary measures with immigration besides birthright citizenship, though that’s a step in the right direction. “You’re only an immigrant for a generation,” Martin said.
Martin is a long-time expert on immigration and refugee policy. She came to Georgetown University and the School of Foreign Service after serving as the executive director of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, issuing recommendations to reform immigration policy, institute immigrant policies to help newcomers and communities in which they settle, reinvigorate U.S. leadership in refugee policy and restructure the federal agencies responsible for implementing immigration policy.
The Institute for the Study of International Migration is part of the School of Foreign Service and affiliated with the Law Center at Georgetown University. ISIM focuses on all aspects of international migration, including the causes of and potential responses to population movements, immigration and refugee law and policy, comparative migration studies, the integration of immigrants into their host societies, and the effects of international migration on social, economic, demographic, foreign policy and national security concerns. To learn more, visit http://isim.georgetown.edu.