Free Markets, Open Societies, Closed Borders? Trends in International Migration and Immigration Policy in the Americas

In This Review

Free Markets, Open Societies, Closed Borders? Trends in International Migration and Immigration Policy in the Americas

Edited by Max J. Castro
North-South Center Press, 1999
282 pp. $26.95
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A remarkable and original book. In the opening, distinguished Princeton sociologist Alejandro Portes frames the immigration debate by pointing out how minor a role the state actually plays in immigration flows. Other authors detail the resilience of migration over time, the relationship between migrants and labor in host countries, their social and political reception, and assimilation. The book expands its scope beyond U.S.-bound flows to look at immigration issues in Canada, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. The editor's conclusion investigates the U.S. backlash against Latin American immigration, culminating with California's Proposition 187 in 1994, which denied illegal immigrants government services, and welfare-reform legislation in 1996 that barred most legal immigrants from receiving public assistance. Yet he also emphasizes that the tide has recently turned: legislative attempts to slash legal immigration have failed, many government benefits have been restored to legal immigrants, and immigration issues have been recast as a multilateral hemispheric question. The integration of these new immigrants, he believes, will affect the western hemisphere in the next century as much as trade and cross-border investment.

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