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Policy Briefs

BIMI Policy Briefs
BIMI Policy Briefs capture the latest research of BIMI affiliates and highlight the implications of their research for policymakers, service providers, activists, and concerned community members.

Graph showing increased denial dates of H1B visas between 2016 and 2019High-Skilled Immigrant Workers Benefit American Industry, But U.S. Policies Threaten Them

Many of America's most globally-competitive industries, like the tech industry, recruit a significant portion of their high-skilled workforce from outside the U.S. How do policies governing employment-based migration—like the 2017 "Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American"—affect American businesses? And how do these policies impact states like California that receive thousands of new workers on H-1B visas each year? This policy brief addresses these questions with help from Dr. AnnaLee Saxenian, a BIMI affiliate and UC Berkeley Professor who has spent over twenty years studying high-skilled labor migration and its effects on international trade relations.


Sentiments Towards Migrants Visualized

How are images used to reveal different perceptions of migrant deservingness and undeservingness? Through an analysis of a California traffic sign and its multiple adaptations, Berkeley law professor Leti Volpp discusses how migrant categories have been constructed. Through this Research Brief, we explore Dr. Volpp's work on the representations of migrants and what these perceptions mean for our understanding of rights and membership. Read the original research article here.


Responding to the Public Charge Rule: Immigrant Well-being and Access to Services

This report examines the implications of recent changes to the federal public charge rule and immigrants’ ability to access human and social services in the urban and suburban communities of the Bay area. It considers the unique barriers faced by legally precarious immigrants as well as gendered pathways to accessing services. We offer recommendations for responding to the change in the public charge rule and for ensuring immigrant well-being in the region.



Welcoming Communities? Immigrant Access to Services in the Bay Area's Mid-Sized Cities

How well are mid-sized cities in the Bay area serving their immigrant-origin residents? What are the barriers that immigrants face in accessing services? This report examines 12 Bay Area cities. The research draws on Census Bureau data, interviews with community stakeholders, and data from the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative’s Mapping Spatial Inequality interactive map. We identify and examine three key obstacles to accessing services faced by immigrants, a confluence of geographic distance, language barriers, and lack of trust leaves many immigrants unable to access essential services, especially outside of the region’s biggest cities. The report provides recommendations to improve access to immigrant services.


A Public Health Crisis in the Shadows

There are an estimated 117,000 Latino migrant day laborers in the U.S., with about a third residing in California. Migrant day laborers typically perform physically demanding and dangerous work, with little-to-no access to health care or workers' protections. BIMI-affiliate Dr. Kurt Organista (UC Berkeley) and his co-authors Samantha Ngo, Dr. Torsten Neilands (UC San Francisco), and Dr. Alex H. Kral (UC San Francisco) explore how the living conditions experienced by Latino migrant day laborers in the San Francisco Bay Area affect their physical health, their mental health, and their chances of contracting infectious diseases. Their research exposes a public health crisis afflicting a large yet underserved population, and provides evidence-backed recommendations for therapeutic treatments and policy-based cures that could alleviate this public health concern. Read the original research article here.


Attempts to Cancel DACA Produce Negative Affects on Health

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has granted 800,000 young undocumented immigrants work authorization and protection from deportation, but its impact extends to their overall health and well-being. A recent study by Marie Mallet (Sorbonne) and Lisa García Bedolla (UC Berkeley) demonstrates that the Trump administration's announcement to repeal DACA has had negative health outcomes on DACA recipients. They find that "transitory legality," going in and out of a protected status, can have detrimental mental and psychological health effects. Read the original research article here.


Immigrant Rights Are American Values

Immigrant rights activists have been trying new strategies to advocate for refugees and undocumented people, including invoking human rights, civil rights, and American values. Berkeley Professors of Sociology Kim Voss and Irene Bloemraad surveyed California voters to find out which framing strategy works best. Contrary to popular logic, they found that the most effective framing strategy is the American values frame, showing a new path forward for pro-immigrant activism. Read the original research article here


Immigrants Lack Access to Legal Representation

Public Interest Law Organizations (PILOs) have been a major driver of social change and legal reform in the United States in the last century. However, research by University of California-Berkeley Professor of Law and Sociology Catherine Albiston shows that PILOs are not accessible to all those who may need their services, including immigrants and residents of poor counties. This policy brief recommends that the Legal Services Corporation be reformed and that large, privately-funded PILOs partner with PILOs in rural areas to expand affordable legal services to new communities. Read the original research article here.


Looking Ahead Post-Midterms: Asian American Engagement in Politics

The 2018 midterm elections represented a significant turning point for Asian Americans. Studies have revealed that Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in the U.S., but Asian Americans have rarely been the focus in academic or public discourse on political participation. However, this group is a critical untapped voter base. Research by Christian Dyogi Phillips and Taeku Lee shows how the Asian American voting population looks different from the Black, Latino, and White populations, particularly with regards to gender differences in political participation. Looking to the role of the Asian American voting population in future elections, this policy brief highlights various policy recommendations on how to unlock this critical untapped voter base. Read the original research article here.


Mapping Spatial Inequality - The New Geography of Poverty and Immigration

There is a new geography of poverty and immigration, with more immigrants and poor people living in the suburbs. Els de Graauw, Shannon Gleeson and Irene Bloemraad show that local officials haven't caught up to this new reality and that there is a spatial mismatch between the neighborhoods where immigrants live and the location of community-based organizations that serve low-income and immigrant populations. BIMI is building the 'Mapping Spatial Inequality' web app. This interactive app enables users to visualize the service mismatch across place, time and types of needs. Read the original research article here.


Unauthorized Welfare - The Origins of Immigrant Status Restrictions in American Social Policy

What were the unintended consequences of restricting access to Social Welfare of undocumented immigrants? Cybelle Fox shows how a restrictive policy shift in the 70's resulted in more discriminatory practices, obstacles to social welfare for American-born children, avoidance of care and a disproportionate burden on local governments. Read Dr. Fox original research article here.



Rumors and Refugees - How Government-Created Information Vacuums Undermine Effective Crisis Management

How can governments prevent refugees from relying on smugglers and what can we learn from the Greek refugee crisis? Carlson, Jakli and Linos show how governments may prevent information vacuums and contribute to effective crisis management. Read about the policy takeaways of their study and why these findings are relevant for the case of Trump's proposed Muslim travel ban. Read the original research article here.


The Policy Brief Series is sponsored by the Haas Institute for A Fair and Inclusive Society (HIFIS).

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