How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Work permits and auctions: A look at two new proposals for granting work visas to immigrants

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There are a couple of new proposals for granting work visas to foreign workers, one of them legislative, the other a private proposal put together by an economist. They couldn't be more different, but the one thing they have in common is that they are drawing their share of controversy, as might be expected in this economy. Here are some details on both.

1) The private proposal: It's a novel one. Commissioned by a think tank to come up with an immigration reform plan, UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri has proposed a system that would have employers competing in a quarterly electronic auction for work permits. In essence, the permits to hire foreign workers would go to those most willing to pay, with bids starting at $7,000 for high-skilled workers, less for lower-skilled seasonal workers. But in case it sounds like indentured servitude, visa holders would be allowed to change jobs, according to the plan.


Now that the Supreme Court has taken up SB 1070, what happens next?

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On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would take up an appeal by the state of Arizona regarding SB 1070, the state's controversial and trend-setting 2010 anti-illegal immigration law that has since inspired similar laws in other states. Before it was implemented in July of last year, a federal judge in Arizona blocked some of SB 1070's main provisions, including one that would empower local police to check the immigration status of people they suspect of being in the country illegally.

The Supreme Court justices won’t be weighing the merits of SB 1070, but rather the merits of the lower federal court judge’s decision, made pending a constitutional challenge from the Obama administration filed shortly before the law took effect and since upheld in appeals court. That lawsuit asserts that immigration law is the domain of the federal government, pre-empting state attempts to set their own rules.


Is coming to America bad for your mental health?

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A new report from a mental health study of Mexican immigrants has found that immigrants to the United States face more than four times the risk of depression as those who don't immigrate, and that in general, coming to the U.S. increases their risk of depression, anxiety and other problems.

Yesterday the Archives of General Psychiatry published the results of a cross-national study conducted by UC Davis and Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry. The study analyzed data from interviews with approximately 550 male and female Mexican-born immigrants and approximately 2,500 peers who remained in Mexico, comparing the U.S. group with same-aged, non-immigrant relatives. From the UC Davis website:

It found that during the period following arrival in the United States, Mexican migrants were nearly twice as likely (odds ratio of 1.8) to experience a first-onset depressive or anxiety disorder as their nonmigrant peers. However, the elevated risk among migrants occurred almost entirely in the two youngest migrant groups, those between 18 and 25 years old and those between 26 and 35 at the time of the study.

The greatest risk was experienced by the youngest migrants, who were 18-to-25 years old at the time of the study. Their odds of suffering from any depressive disorder relative to non-migrants was 4.4 — or nearly four-and-one-half times greater — compared with 1.2 in the entire sample.


Q&A: Catching up with Arthur Mkoyan, now in college, but still in immigration limbo

Last week, when college students invested in the Dream Act gathered around the country to anxiously watch the results of voting in the House and Senate, one of those on the edge of his seat was Arthur Mkoyan. The Armenian-American former high school valedictorian from Fresno made national headlines two summers ago when, as he prepared to graduate, he and his parents were arrested by immigration authorities. A deportation date was set for shortly after his graduation.

In June 2008, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a private bill that granted them a temporary reprieve. Mkoyan is now 20 and in college. But his immigration status remains in limbo, since private bills rarely succeed. The family arrived on temporary visas when he was four years old. Mkoyan's father, a government worker in his native country, felt threatened after exposing corruption where he worked, and they applied for asylum. But the application was denied several years ago. Without further intervention, Mkoyan and his parents could again find themselves in deportation proceedings in the future.