Team from UCLA Luskin Social Welfare travels to immigrant detention center in Texas to counsel mothers and children seeking asylum in the U.S.
Mariachi de Uclatlán group performs during lunch at the 2019 Latinx Community Conference. Photo by Les Dunseith
The student-led Latinx Caucus at UCLA Luskin collaborated with the Council on Social Work Education to host the 17th Annual Latinx Community Conference: Breaking Down Borders, Más Allá de la Frontera. The April 27 event brought together social services professionals and scholars to discuss issues facing the Latinx community, focusing specifically on immigration. “Immigration permeates every level of service, and without considering it holistically while also considering it within our specialties, we risk taking on a limited understanding of this complex social concern,” said MPP candidate Kassandra Hernandez, one of several student organizers. The event started with a blessing circle, followed by an address by Dean Gary Segura. Beth Caldwell MSW ’02, a professor at Southwestern Law School, gave the keynote address. Caldwell’s most recent research explores the consequences of deportation to Mexico with an emphasis on deportees who grew up in the United States. The daylong conference covered a wide spectrum of topics relating to the experiences of the Latinx community. Experts led workshops on mental health, educational barriers, domestic violence, LGBTQ issues, and the deportation of immigrant youth and families. Conference attendees enjoyed entertainment by the Mariachi de Uclatlán group during lunch and Changüí Majadero during the evening networking reception. Historically, Social Welfare students have taken the lead on organizing the community conference; this year, the scope was broadened to encourage full participation by Public Policy and Urban Planning students, as well.
Conference photo gallery available on Flickr:
Gary Segura, dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and an expert in polling and public opinion, was quoted in a Pacific Standard article dissecting President Trump’s announcement to cancel foreign aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Trump has made multiple threats in the past to cut off the three Central American countries due to his dissatisfaction with their respective governments’ failures to stop people from leaving. After his recent announcement that funds would be withheld from the three nations, experts objected, explaining that the funds help combat crime and violence, ultimately serving U.S. interests. Segura maintained that ulterior motives were behind the policy decision, which would fuel the asylum crisis. He tweeted, “Pay attention folks. This is an INTENTIONAL act to drive MORE asylum seekers to the U.S. border to help [Trump] maintain his crisis. It’s ugly, devastating in impact, and bad policy.”
Amada Armenta, an assistant professor of urban planning, co-authored the research article “Beyond the Fear of Deportation: Understanding Unauthorized Immigrants’ Ambivalence Toward the Police,” which was recently published in American Behavioral Scientist. Armenta and co-author Rocío Rosales examined unauthorized Mexican immigrants’ perceptions of and experiences with police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. While much of the existing research focuses on undocumented immigrants’ negative attitudes toward police as a result of fear of deportation, Armada and Rosales used in-depth interviews and ethnography to gain a better understanding of the immigrants’ perceptions of police. Their research article found that most undocumented immigrants are ambivalent about American police, “believing them to be both trustworthy and overly punitive.” Interviews indicated that “compared with police forces in Mexico, [many undocumented immigrants] believe that U.S. police are honest, hardworking and trustworthy.” Even those who do not hold the police in high regard may choose to trust them under certain circumstances. “Positive interactions with the police can shape immigrants’ legal attitudes such that they feel empowered to call the police for help,” the article noted. The study is a valuable addition to research on minorities’ relationships with police, which is mostly focused on the experiences of African American citizens. Armenta is the author of an award-winning book on immigration enforcement in Nashville, Tennessee, and is currently working on a second book examining the legal attitudes of undocumented immigrants in Philadelphia.
Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, provided in-studio commentary on KCAL9 following President Trump’s second State of the Union address. Yaroslavsky said Trump played to his base, spending almost 20 minutes speaking about immigration, but was also smart to acknowledge the record number of women now serving in Congress. “He was not as inflammatory as he’s been in the past. Let’s wait 12 hours and see what he tweets in the morning,” Yaroslavsky said. The former Los Angeles County supervisor also spoke about the changes in State of the Union addresses over the years. “It’s a television show,” he said. “In the old days, there was more substance, there was less theater. … During the civil rights movement and in the Vietnam War, the stakes were very high. So the theater was real, it wasn’t manufactured as it has been in recent decades.”
UCLA Luskin Professor Fernando Torres-Gil has co-authored a book on the shifting demographics of the U.S. titled “The Politics of a Majority-Minority Nation: Aging, Diversity, and Immigration.” In the next 30 years, the older population of the United States is expected to double and the country will become a majority-minority society. Torres-Gil and co-author Jacqueline Angel of the University of Texas, Austin, provide an in-depth examination of these demographic trends, which will undoubtedly affect the politics of aging, health, retirement security and immigration reform. The authors identify three forces that must be understood: “a politics of aging that includes generational tensions; conflicts over diversity and the need for immigrants; and the class divisions emanating from an economics of aging that may see greater poverty among the elderly.” Torres-Gil and Angel offer guidance for politicians and policymakers seeking to address these changes to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come. Torres-Gil is a professor of social welfare and public policy at UCLA Luskin and director of the Center for Policy Research on Aging. His career spans the academic, professional and policy arenas, and he is a nationally recognized authority on health care, entitlement reform and the politics of aging.
Randall Akee, assistant professor of Public Policy and American Indian Studies, wrote an article for the Brookings Institution’s Up Front blog likening the separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border to that of the United States’ former policy of permanently relocating American Indian children from their families and often impoverished communities into foster homes. This practice was in place until as recently as 1978, when the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted, granting tribal governments exclusive jurisdiction over American Indian child custody cases. However, the ICWA was recently ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas. Akee argues that the state-ordered breakup of tribal families is cruel and unnecessary and, if resumed, could further harm the already largely damaged tribal communities. Furthermore, he argues that indigenous peoples thrive under independence and self-governance, and meddling by state civil and criminal jurisdictions cause these communities to “[experience] an increase in crime and a reduction in incomes,” not to mention the “disastrous” effect on the welfare of the children themselves.
Karen Umemoto of UCLA Luskin was a guest on a KPCC “Air Talk” broadcast focusing on new U.S. Census data that indicates the percentage of foreign-born residents in the United States is the highest since 1910. The data show that new arrivals are more likely to come from Asia than in the past. “It’s hard to cast one homogeneous statement about what the impacts will be, but I think there is a lot of diversity that comes with the new immigration that we’re seeing from parts of Asia, especially China and India and the Philippines,” said Umemoto, professor of urban planning and Asian American studies and director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. “But I think there’s a lot of economic diversity too,” she said. “It’s a very bifurcated population economically, where you have many who are very poor and some who are very wealthy.”
Randall Akee, associate professor of public policy at UCLA Luskin, wrote an opinion article about the federal government’s family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, noting, “It’s on each of us to realize that what we’re seeing is history repeating itself.” Akee called the current policy unjust, ill-conceived and inhumane, and likened it to the era of American Indian boarding schools, when “the U.S. government also separated children from parents — often under the guise of improving safety and opportunities for these children.” That separation “often resulted in death, disease and deprivation,” Akee wrote in the Houston Chronicle op-ed, adding, “The Trump administration’s actions in 2018 aren’t, unfortunately, all that different from historical actions taken by the United States toward its indigenous peoples over the last 150 years.”
“Latino Mass Mobilization: Immigration, Racialization, and Activism,” recently published by new UCLA Luskin Associate Professor of Public Policy Chris Zepeda-Millán, was awarded the Ralph J. Bunche Award at the 2018 American Political Science Association’s (APSA) annual meeting and exhibition held Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in Boston. The award, accompanied by a $1,000 prize, is presented annually for the best scholarly work in political science that explores the phenomenon of ethnic and cultural pluralism. The book, a study of the 2006 wave of immigrant rights protests, also garnered the Washington, D.C.-based organization’s 2018 Race, Ethnicity, and Politics award for “Best Book on Race and Immigration.” “This groundbreaking book stood out to the entire committee for the depth of original data collection, its ability to simultaneously bridge and make original contributions to the fields of racial politics, immigration and social movements, and its nuanced conceptualization of various types of threats and the racialization of Latino identities,” according to the APSA award announcement. “Zepeda-Millán provides strong evidence that despite the fact that Latinos are often characterized as a ‘sleeping giant,’ they are actually extremely politically active and often work together to resist anti-Latino and -immigrant policies using both electoral politics and political activism.” The book also received two awards from the American Sociological Association: the 2018 Charles Tilly Book Award from the association’s Collective Behavior and Social Movement section; and an honorable mention for the 2018 Oliver Cromwell Book Award from the Sociology of Racial and Ethnic Minorities section.
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