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Associate Professor at SU's Maxwell School Speaks Out About What U.S. Immigration Really Resembles

An Associate Political Science Professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School says both Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together on reaching an immigration deal.  Elizabeth Cohen thinks that President Trump isn’t providing a clear picture of what U.S. immigration really resembles and she feels that he continues to portray immigrants as criminals.

Now, with a Federal budget deal in place, it appears the House can now focus on U.S. policy for the Dreamers; however, Cohen feels the term “chain migration” is wrongly being pushed by the Trump Administration.  She says it sends the incorrect image to Americans of a rapid flow of unlimited numbers of immigrants arriving to the U.S.  She explains there’s a vetting process.

“It takes an extremely long time. So, there’s a set of priorities and most of the people have been waiting in the queue for years; frequently, even decades.  So, we do not have large flows of people coming into this country based on any kind of chain system.”

She adds families can only sponsor a limited number of family members and demonstrate that they can financially support them with housing, help them learn the English language and assist with a job search.  Cohen says there’s also another value of immigrants reuniting with their families that is invaluable.

“Things like trust and incorporation, political skills, being informed.  That’s all a part of our social capital and it’s the stuff that you can’t legally mandate.  You can’t force people to do or produce but, it’s absolutely essential to a thriving democracy.”

The professor says visa categories are legal statuses, but they don’t explain the human motivations for coming to America.

“In fact, once they get here, they are very likely to be workers and caregivers and contributing members of their community in a way that paperwork could never convey.”

In her opinion, Cohen feels there’s been a long-time strategy of anti-immigrant politicians and activists of associating immigrants and criminals.  She says immigrants actually have lower levels of criminality than U.S. citizens. 

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.