Immigration Experts Talk Policy Reform
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 02:01
European immigration experts Olga Gulina, Sarah Perret and Olivier Vonk led a panel discussion on immigration policy and reform in Europe and the United States Wednesday afternoon.
The talk, co-sponsored by the BMW Center for German and European Studies and the Institute for the Study of International Migration, covered policies in France, Russia, Germany and the United States.
“I think having a comparative perspective on immigration is always valuable, particularly for those of us in the United States who will be moving into a very intensive round of new debate on immigration reform,” ISIM Director Susan Martin said.
Vonk, an ISIM visiting fellow, began the discussion by introducing the European Union Democracy Observatory Data Centre, a database that compares immigration standards and procedures in countries around Europe.
“We provide country profiles on 47 countries in Europe, in which we also include country reports where we discuss the historical and political backgrounds of nationality laws in Europe from the 20th century up to the present,” Vonk said.
EUDO is a work in progress and hopes to expand to the United States, Caribbean countries and other countries around the world, possibly enlisting Georgetown’s help to do so, Vonk added.
Perret, a BMW Center visiting fellow, then spoke on immigration reform in France, Germany and the United States, focusing on naturalization and securitization.
“For me, naturalization is the transition from ‘them’ to ‘us’ and the final step of an immigrant’s journey,” Perret said. “This process goes both ways as it [involves] the will of an individual to belong to a community but also the community accepting this individual.”
Perret said that the United States began to fear immigrants after 9/11, viewing them as a possible threat. Perret added that President Obama’s recent immigration efforts would decrease the securitization of the American immigration process.
Gulina, a visiting fellow at the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, contrasted the immigration policies of Germany, Russia and the United States. Gulina deemed the United States’ immigration policy the clearest of the three countries’.
Attendees appreciated the scholars’ views on international immigration and recognized immigration as a multi-faceted topic.
“I thought the talk was very interesting, and these are extraordinarily complex issues,” Mike Gelner, who worked in the Foreign Service in China for many years, said. “Different countries have different things that they ask of their citizens … there’s really a lot to immigration. After all, millions of people are moving around the world.”