What George Mason Experts Are Saying about … Immigration

Posted: May 22, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey C. Banks

The issues of immigration and illegal immigration are receiving an enormous amount of attention in the United States today. Both proponents and opponents of measures to curb immigration are aggressively pushing agendas to support their positions.

Two Mason professors recently weighed in on the issue as well.

Jorge Osterling, associate professor, Center for Language and Culture, says, “The U.S. policy on immigration has evolved over the last 200 years, beginning with a laissez-faire approach up to the current administration’s policies designed to ease restrictions against immigrants already in this country.

“There have been a number of pieces of legislation proposed during this administration designed to secure America’s borders, strengthen enforcement inside the country and create a temporary worker program. These elements depend on and reinforce one another.”

Osterling adds that the guest-worker bill would set up a program to allow immigrants to work for up to six years, and then either apply for citizenship or return home. The intent of the bill is to stem the illegal flow, with the number of “guests” set at 400,000 a year.

“Immigrants, illegal or not, contribute greatly to America’s economy. What most Americans don’t think about on a daily basis is the types of jobs illegals take that many Americans refuse. A general rise in immigration quotas and enforcing minimum-wage laws would help curb a desire to hire illegal workers.”

Fred Bemak, professor of counseling and development and director of the Diversity Research and Action Center, focuses on the psychosocial adjustment and adaptation of refugees and immigrants to the United States.

He is concerned with factors such as cross-cultural issues in migration, language acquisition, public education and training, employment, changing family relationships, social support and racism and discrimination. He has also developed an intervention model to facilitate improved psychosocial adjustment and mental health.

“Almost 1 in 10 people now living in the United States was born outside of the United States,” Bemak points out.

“We are a rapidly changing society facing myriad complex issues with regard to immigrants and refugees, especially in times of heightened security and the threat of potential terrorist attacks.

“At the same time we are facing issues of security, we are challenged by the issue of illegal immigrants, who contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and provide a valuable workforce, and join the ranks of legal immigrants and refugees who reside in the United States.”

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