Higley, John, and John Nieuwenhuysen, with Stine Neerup, eds. Nations of Immigrants: Australia and the USA Compared.
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Subject:||Books (Book reviews)|
|Author:||Wang, Linda Q.|
|Publication:||Name: International Social Science Review Publisher: Pi Gamma Mu Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Pi Gamma Mu ISSN: 0278-2308|
|Issue:||Date: Fall-Winter, 2010 Source Volume: 85 Source Issue: 3-4|
|Topic:||NamedWork: Nations of Immigrants: Australia and the USA Compared (Nonfiction work)|
|Persons:||Reviewee: Higley, John; Nieuwenhuysen, John; Neerup, Stine|
Higley, John, and John Nieuwenhuysen, with Stine Neerup, eds.
Nations of Immigrants: Australia and the USA Compared. Cheltenham, U.K.:
Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009. xii + 206 pages. Cloth, $100.00.
Nations of Immigrants is a product of collaboration by a team of international experts from Australia, Denmark, and the United States with diverse backgrounds including, but not limited to, sociology, economics, government, and political science. Contextualized in two different cultural and political environments, Nations of Immigrants provides a holistic examination of American and Australian immigration policies and their consequences. In this collection often essays organized in see-saw comparison and contrast format following an introductory essay, Nations of Immigrants addresses four important issues of immigration programs in Australia and the United States since the mid-1990s with light reference to the European case. These issues are: trends in immigration, immigration policy shifts, immigration and labor markets, and immigration and social cohesion. Serving as summaries of the two case study countries, the last two chapters assess the current status of ethnic relations and multiculturalism in both Australia and the United States.
The expansion of immigration to Australia is consistent and the origin of immigrants has shifted to predominantly Asia. Emphasis on settlement migration continues to dominate Australia's immigration policy, but opposition to non-permanent settlement immigration is weakening as reflected in a significant increase in temporary entrants on working or business visas. Current U.S. immigration policy manifests an unwillingness to increase legal permanent immigration. Nevertheless, legal entrants of temporary and non-immigrant workers have been on the rise.
Australian immigration policy has shifted from stringent control with low entry to rapid expansion. While family reunion immigration rules have been "comprehensively tightened" (p. 76), the selection system which emphasizes skill-based immigration has been sharpened to better match the supply and demand in its labor market. Coupled with a population building agenda, Australia's current immigration policies allow for a drastic increase of both permanent settlement and temporary skill-based immigration. U.S. immigration policy has shifted from "disordered, incremental expansionism to disordered stalemate" (p. 57). Debate over large-scale permanent settlement immigration and temporary immigration mostly from non-European origins for much emphasized economic benefits has reached an impasse. Rising numbers of illegal immigrants has accelerated anti-immigration activities, but proposals for immigration policy reform have come to little fruition.
The immigration policy shift in Australia from "family migration and general labor market recruitment to an expansive, but highly focused, system of 'cherry picking'" (p. 87) has given rise to concerns of an emerging gap in semi-skilled and unskilled immigration. While skilled vacancies in some occupations appear to have decreased, concerns over "skill wastage" (p. 89) and over-education among immigrants are rising. U.S. immigration policy, in contrast, does not share this vigor and focus on skill-based immigration. Although integration of immigrants into the American labor market appears to be substantial, immigrants to the United States do not measure up to their counterparts in Australia in the areas of English fluency, education attainment, and earning power. While Australia benefits from its insular geography with no significant illegal immigration, the United States has to wrestle with an ever-increasing illegal immigration population.
As a consequence of their shared dependency on immigrant labor and humanitarian efforts, both Australia and the United States are becoming increasingly multicultural in form. As visibility of diverse cultural groups continues to rise, building social cohesion becomes more critical for maintaining national unity. Cohesion in Australia was equated to population uniformity of European dominance until very recently. Noticeable racial and ethnic visibility, particularly of Muslim and African immigrants in the post-Cold War era, only begins to emerge. This has led to increased concerns regarding Muslim immigration in Australia. By comparison, the United States is more experienced in inter-racial and inter-ethnic relations. While not much attention is delegated to Muslim immigration, Americans are more captured by demands to control Latino immigration in current U.S. immigration debates.
Successful incorporation of immigrants is a critical component in nation-building. Debates on how to achieve this has lasted centuries. Assimilation and multiculturalism are a paradoxical pair upheld by political institutions at different times swinging public opinion one way or the other. Effective incorporation of immigrants, therefore, requires effective institutional policies and programs that promote membership rights of immigrants to the society as individuals and, more importantly, as groups regardless of their cultural backgrounds.
Nations of Immigrants provides a good summary of immigration programs in Australia and the United States since the 1990s. Most of the essays are well developed and provide useful references for those interested in a general understanding of recent immigration policies and the impact of those policies on the labor market. For policymakers and those directly involved in programs of immigrant incorporation, Sara Wong's essay could be of particular interest.
Linda Q. Wang
Associate Professor of Geography
University of South Carolina-Aiken
Aiken, South Carolina
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