Labor Immigration: Good or Bad for America?

Friday, September 23, 2011

This workshop will examine and discuss how immigration policies shape the labor force at both ends of the distribution: the low-wage workforce and highly skilled professionals.

The first panel, “Undocumented Workers: Crossing the Borders of Immigration and Workplace Law,” will focus on legal and policy issues involving low-wage undocumented workers.  Significant numbers of undocumented immigrants work in the U.S. and therefore have certain rights as employees, even though immigration policies explicitly intend to keep them out of U.S. workplaces.  Thus, undocumented workers implicate two historically separate regulatory regimes: workplace law and immigration law.  This panel will focus on the increasing overlap between these two areas of law and policy.  Panelists will discuss empirical findings on workplace law violations against undocumented workers, the relationship between workplace-based immigration enforcement and workplace law enforcement, and the challenges/opportunities new forms of organizing among undocumented immigrants pose for traditional labor and employment law.

The second panel, “STEMming the Tide of High Skilled Foreign Workers?,” will focus on legal and policy issues facing highly trained professional workers.  In recent decades, there has been much concern regarding whether the United States will be able to produce enough professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to maintain its preeminent position in the world. Although some studies find that there is no shortage of qualified U.S. workers to fill available positions, to date many of the highly educated professionals either training for or working in these fields are foreign-born.  Moreover, in recent years the global competition for STEM professionals has intensified.  Immigration policies, nonetheless, continue to emphasize family reunification over occupational preferences, while the immigration process for hiring highly skilled immigrants may deter foreign-born professionals from seeking work in the United States.  This panel will examine how current immigration policy shapes the STEM workforce. For example, should U.S. immigration policies assign preference to occupational categories over family reunification, as in Canada? Do we face a shortage of STEM workers?



Panel 1, Undocumented Workers: Crossing the Borders of Immigration and Workplace Law
Annette Bernhardt, Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation and Policy Co-Director, National Employment Law Project
Muzaffer Chishti, Director, Migration Policy Institute, NYU School of Law
Ruben Garcia, Professor of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Leticia Saucedo, Professor of Law and Director of Clinical Legal Education, UC Davis School of Law

Panel 2, STEMming the Tide of High Skilled Foreign Workers?
Jeanne Batalova, Policy Analyst and Manager, Migration Policy Institute Data Hub
Monica Boyd, Canada Research Chair, Immigration, Inequality, & Public Policy, University of Toronto
Jennifer Hunt,Professor of Economics, Rutgers University
Lindsay Lowell, Director, Policy Studies, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University

Sponsored by: ISS Immigration Theme ProjectJLPP, and LALSA


Kate Griffith, ISS Immigration team member and Proskauer Assistant Professor of Employment and Labor Law
Sharon Sassler, ISS Immigration team member and Associate Professor of Policy Analysis and Management
Steve Yale-Loehr, ISS Immigration Team Associate, Adjunct Professor of Law, and Miller Mayer, LLP


Workshop location: 229 ILR Conference Center
Workshop directions: The ILR Conference Center is located on Garden Ave. on the Cornell Campus.
Lodging: Holiday Inn, 222 South Cayuga Street, Ithaca, NY, 14583 (607-257-2500). See directions to the hotel.

For more information contact: