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The Promise and Peril of Immigration Reform
Professor Lenni Benson specializes in immigration law and political asylum and is nationally recognized in the field. In 2008 she was honored with other members of the Safe Passage Project and received the State Bar President’s Award for Pro Bono Law School Project. 1999, the American Immigration Lawyers Association named Professor Benson the outstanding professor in immigration law based on her contributions to the professional and scholarly development of the field and her role as a mentor of students and young attorneys.
Professor Benson was partner in the international law firm Bryan Cave LLP, where her twelve years of practice focused on immigration. She is an active participant in immigrant rights projects coordinated by the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, and she serves on the board of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law Foundation and is a trustee emeritus for the American Immigration Law Foundation. She is currently the Chair of the Immigration Committee of the Administrative Law Section of the American Bar Association and is the President-Elect of the Immigration Section of the American Association of Law Schools.
Question: What are the best ideas for making immigration in the US less complicated?\r\n
Lenni Benson: There are some ideas kicking around in think tanks and academic circles and in Congress. One idea that’s very attractive to people is the idea that we would outsource the immigrations decisions to a blue ribbon commission, that we would get a panel together of labor economic experts, maybe a few lawyers, civil right experts, and that those neutral, shall we call them platonic guardians of our idyllic utopian society, would make the decisions of who should be admitted and should not, and they could they move quickly because they would be exempt from some of the traditional constraints on agencies of rule-making through the Administrative Procedure Act, and adjudication in a formal sense.\r\n
Question: Could this plan work?\r\n
Lenni Benson: I think that’s attractive on the surface. It’s also an old idea. There’s been immigration commissions periodically; perhaps, I haven’t done the math, but it’s maybe every 50 years or so. It’s such a politically hot topic that Congress often makes the move of saying, "We're going to turn to the experts and let them tell us who should be the immigrants in society." So, we’ve had commissions, usually making recommendations for law reform to Congress, but this is an idea that we should let the private experts make the decisions for us. It’s sort of like saying we should use the market to make decisions on environmental policy. If we let businesses trade credits, we’ll have pollution credits, we'll have more efficient systems develop the market will work for us. So why not use this blue ribbon commission to let labor market policy drive our immigration law?\r\n
Well I have some concern about that, because number one, who’s selecting the experts? Number two, what input data is going to those experts? Sure, some sophisticated industries will find it easy to access that commission and make their case that in shortages. So agri business, which often lobbies Congress saying they're highly dependent on migrant labor, much of it undocumented, would like to have a system of guest workers—they’d like to have a system that facilitates bringing in migrant labor. The think-tank group, the commission, might agree, but would there be protections for the health, welfare, and safety of those workers? Is that think tank going to have the leverage to go to the Department of Labor and give them the extra resources they need to do wage and hour inspections and help the labor inspections through OSHA or the farm workers statues to make sure those workers aren’t exploited?\r\n
When you have a commission that’s not integrated into the rest of government, you could have success for industry lobbying for a particular worker or individual workers lobbying the commission to say, “I’m a gifted rap artist,” or “ I’m a record producer,” or “ I’m the latest website czar—let me come to America and create jobs," but that wouldn’t necessarily integrate with the rest of government or policy.\r\n
Question: What can the U.S. learn about immigration policy from other countries?\r\n
Lenni Benson: I think when Europe moved to a model, first with the Schengen Agreement and then with the European Union’s formalization of recognizing that individuals and their right to take their services and skills from nation state to nation state within the EU, really was such a remarkable action in Europe and for us to learn from. It isn’t without warts or bumps in a neighborhood. Someone in a French neighborhood hearing Polish music or seeing Polish newspapers on their newsstand may suddenly feel the stranger in their own land and feel some resentment toward the stranger coming into their neighborhood.\r\n
I don’t mean to pick on the French, we could have the Poles who might not like to have Germans coming from East Germany who are skilled dock workers coming into a Polish dock and competing with them with their higher education or training, if that was the case. So, of course, humans tend to identify—whether it’s your sports team or your church or the way you cut your hair—when you have nations like Europe that have centuries of cultural and political identity with language around it, one would think it would never work. The great experiment of people moving from nation state to nation state and moving their labor about would never work, but a lot of us scholars and economists think it’s been a tremendous success.\r\n
[It is] just like capital will move from market to market to find economic opportunity. Let’s invest in Ireland, in its explosion in technology, creating a lot of jobs for Irish—in part, Ireland could sustain that growth in the '90s of the high-tech boom because Americans found it fairly easy to get temporary visas to work there, and skilled Europeans could come from other states to Ireland to help sustain, nurture, manage, contribute to that evolution.\r\n
Now that we’ve gone back into a bit of recession, many people are leaving Ireland who came with the real estate booms or the high-tech boom and they're going back to nation states—just as capital does. Again, it’s not without cost displacement, families don’t like to move, households may be broken up, but it didn’t result in complete chaos.\r\n
The predictions back when Schengen Agreement was first was adopted the late '80s, early '90s, was that everyone from Portugal was going to move to Germany, that everyone would immediately vacate Spain in its poorer regions and move to the more economically successful parts of Italy. It didn’t happen. So the U.S. could learn from the European experience, and when I talk to students about it I often say, why don’t all the unemployed in Detroit move immediately to the Silicon Valley in California? “Why don’t all the unemployed in Flint, Michigan, suddenly move to Florida and look for housing and work experience there when there’s a boom economy there?” Yes, some people do move and that’s terrific, but there is always countervailing reasons why people want to stay in their home communities. Allowing people to move more freely creates a pattern of economic remittances.\r\n
So there are a lot of people are studying this—some central American nations, some African nations, are very dependent on money coming home from their foreign workers working abroad. It can be the best tool for economic development in the home country—the sending country—when people are more free to alienate their labor and move about.\r\n
Question: Do temporary visa and guest worker programs help or hurt the economy?\r\n
Lenni Benson: Temporary visa programs, guest worker programs, there’s always a concern. The famous quotes are, "We wanted guest workers and we ended up with immigrants." Then there’s concern from labor movements of exploitation of those guest workers, but if you put it all together in the stew pot and you say, "Why should workers have greater restriction on their mobility than capital stock markets, investment instruments, government lending programs? Why not recognize that people can move from nation to nation, make economic contributions both in this country and in their home country that actually creates more opportunity all around, and can actually slow down immigration?" There is a Sociologist, Douglas Massey, who teaches at Princeton, who has shown that by toughening up our border making it very difficult to enter from the southern border, we've actually disruptive decades old migration patterns between the US and Mexico.\r\n
So we're keeping more Mexicans in the United States as undocumented workers because the price of going home when a season is over or in a lull of a work period is too high because you're going to have to pay a smuggler, you're going to risk apprehension. You might have to risk a jail sentence if you illegally re-enter after an order of removal.\r\n
So we've actually created this pool of workers that are trapped, when for decades and decades, since really 1898, maybe 1848 with our first war with Mexico, people have migrated -- worked in the United States, sent money home, gone back for visits, left their families there. Now, because of the difficulty of crossing that border, men and women sent for their children, sent for their families and build their lives here and have to abandon or cut-off the ties in the home country because of the difficulty of crossing the border.\r\n
Recorded on: August 31, 2009
There are several ideas on the table for reforming American immigration policy, but none are without pitfalls. Lenni Benson of New York Law School explains reform plans, both domestic and abroad, that we can learn from to make human capital move as freely as financial capital.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
Want help raising your kids? Spend more time at church, says new study.
- Religious people tend to have more children than secular people, but why remains unknown.
- A new study suggests that the social circles provided by regular church going make raising kids easier.
- Conversely, having a large secular social group made women less likely to have children.