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This paper examines the relationship between U.S. immigration, foreign policy, and national security. It assumes that the primary interest of the United States is its national security and that the ultimate goal of U.S. foreign policy is to promote U.S. national security. The

paper outlines the ways in which immigration has been affected by the

national security interests and foreign policies of the United States as well

as the way in which immigration has

affected national security concerns and resulting foreign policy.


The initial difficulty in determining whether immigration to the United States constitutes a national security threat is determining what constitutes national security. Terms such as "national interest" and "national security" do not have a universally agreed-upon meaning. The term "security" covers a range of goals so wide that highly divergent policies can

be interpreted as politics of security (Wolfers 1982:118).

Traditional notions of national security are represented by theorists such as Hans J. Morgenthau for whom the national interest contained ". . . two elements,

one that is logically required and in that sense necessary, and one that is variable and determined by circumstances" (Morgenthau 1982:972). The survival

of the state is the necessary element of

national interest and the minimum

requirements of the national interest are the integrity of the nation's territory, its political institutions, and its culture (Morgenthau 1982:973). It was this theory of national security that held swaylargely uncontestedthroughout the Cold War period.

Since the 1980sand accelerating with the end of the Cold Warthe content of

national security concerns has expanded from the traditional focus on military threats to borders and governments to include nonmilitary sources of insecurity (Rogers & Copeland 1993:12). An

example of this more expansive notion is advanced by Richard Ullman who

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considers as a threat to a state's security any actions or events that "threaten significantly to narrow the range of policy choices available to the government of a state or to private, non-governmental entities (persons, groups, corporations) within the state" (Ullman 1983:133).

In a similar vein, the January 31, 1992 Summit Declaration of the United

Nations Security Council acknowledged that threats to international peace and security can come from nonmilitary sources of instability in the economic, social, humanitarian, and ecological fields and that such conflicts fall within the Security Council's sphere of action. The Declaration also called for election monitoring, human rights verification, and repatriation of refugees as integral parts of the Security Council's efforts to maintain international peace and security (Rogers & Copeland 1993:12).

However, these recent broadened ideas of national security stretch the concept to a point where its application would lead to illogical results. Under the

recent definitions, a military attack

against the United States is equivalent to a totalitarian regime refusing to allow a United States-based human rights organization to operate in its country. Clearly the former represents a threat to national security and warrants a military

response. Just as clearly, the latter does not. Therefore, this paper treats national security as it has been defined in the traditional sense. As will be demonstrated, immigration can be a threat to traditional ideas of national security even if one concludes it has not yet posed such a threat to the United States.

The recently expanded definitions

of national security, therefore, elevate

interests that Morgenthau would have considered as variable or secondary to necessary and make it easier to classify immigrants and refugees as national

security threats. Morgenthau wrote that a state can never compromise or trade a primary interest. Yet the history of United States immigration and refugee policy is a series of compromises and trade-offs. Thus, it is fair to conclude that for the United States immigration is

a variable interest, one which at any

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particular time it chooses to regard as a national interest (Morgenthau 1958:66).

Some argue that current immigration poses a threat to U.S. national security. They see immigration as a threat to the language and culture, destroying the sense of nationhood. Others believe immigrants an economic threat, taking jobs from U.S. citizens and imposing prohibitive costs by their use of social services. Still others draw a relationship between immigration and terrorism or increased crime.

Alternatively, some argue that immigration bolsters our national security.

Access to talent in a properly-regulated immigration system strengthens

American resources in science and the humanities. Examples abound of

American-immigrant Nobel laureates,

renowned inventors, business leaders, and scientists who have made immeasurable contributions to our prosperity (U.S. Commission on Immigration

Reform 1995:23). For example, the

admission of scientists fleeing from Germany and Italy before World War II was instrumental in the United States being

the first to produce atomic weapons

and gave the U.S. a distinct advantage in nuclear research. Highly-skilled

immigrants supply talented workers for America's world-class medical establishment, engineering sector, and higher education (U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform 1995:22). These immigrants enhance the research and development capacity of U.S. firms and bring foreign language skills, contacts, knowledge,

and experience that appear to offer a unique advantage in a global business community.

Strong immigrant support for family values strengthen and reinvigorate American values. Immigrants often play important and visible roles at the highest levels of the U.S. military and federal and local government. Renowned

immigrant artists, performers, and athletes strengthen and diversify cultural

institutions (U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform 1995:23). The United States has been the world's largest multiethnic and multicultural society, successfully integrating new immigrants from diverse heritages.

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Myron Weiner identified five broad categories in which refugees or migrants may be perceived as either a threat or a benefit to the sending country, to the receiving country, or to relations between the two (Weiner 1992/93:105-06).

Opposition to Home Country


When refugees and migrants are opposed to the regime of their home country, they can threaten relations between sending and receiving countries in several ways. A host country's decision to grant asylum based on a finding that a fear of persecution exists may be treated by

the home country as interference in its

affairs. The People's Republic of China responded in this manner to the 1990 U.S. congressional debate over whether Chinese students should be permitted to remain in the United States because of persecution in China. When a host country actively supports a refugee group's effort to overthrow the homeland gov

ernment, such as in the Bay of Pigs or United States support for the contras against the Nicaraguan government, tensions are certain to be exacerbated. However, whether the national security of the host state is threatened depends on the abilities of the home country to respond against the host. For example, although the Cuban government may object to the opposition activities of

Cuban-Americans, Cuba lacks the ability to pose a credible threat to U.S.

national security. Nevertheless, the

activities of migrants still can create foreign policy problems for host countries, even if those problems do not pose a threat to national security.

Immigration from hostile nations also can advance U.S. national security. Immigrants from these countries can be a valuable source of intelligence, they can use their freedoms here to publicize

repressive or discriminatory practices at home, they can fundraise and supply opposition political movements supported by the United States and in the extreme case, such as the Bay of Pigs, provide the personnel for military action or covert operations against U.S. enemies.

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Immigrants also can strengthen America's political and economic ties with other nations. The knowledge they bring with them and their ties to their home country enhance the ability of the United States to understand other countries and cultures. Immigrants also can disseminate information about the U.S. that may improve other countries'

understanding of us. Immigration from friendly countries can serve as a safety valve that increases the political stability of these states.

Political/Security Threat

The second category identified by Weiner is perception of migrants or refugees as a political threat or security threat to the regime of the host country. This was

exemplified in the bombing of the World Trade Center by a group of Middle Eastern immigrants and asylum seekers and the murder of several CIA employees, both in the fall of 1992. Although incidents of this nature have been relatively isolated, the perception of a link between immigration and terrorism leads to legislative action such as the Violent Crime

Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 that responded to perceptions of problems, including asylum abuse by potential terrorists, the inability to remove criminal aliens from the United States, and porous borders that make illegal entry far too easy.

Legislators from diverse ends of the

political spectrum, such as Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims and Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) can sound remarkably similar on these subjects: Smith said "our immigration laws and procedures are being overwhelmed by applicants for asylum, many of whom are making fraudulent claims and some of whom are terrorists (U.S. House of Representatives 1996:1); Kennedy said "a clear sign of the crisis in illegal immigration is that we have lost control over the process for removing illegal, and especially, criminal aliens from the United States" (U.S. Senate 1993:1). The 1997 arrest of Ghazi Abu Maizar in Brooklyn for plotting to bomb the New York City subway system, after being caught three times trying to sneak into the United

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States and then being released pending an asylum application that acknowledged that Israel considered him to be a terrorist, demonstrates the degree of difficulty in addressing this problem (Barry 1997:1). The ease with which radical Islamic preacher Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman entered and exited the United States, despite being on the Department of State's watch list of potential security threats, and the use of the asylum process to remain in the U.S. by those

involved in the World Trade Center bombing and murder of the two CIA

employees clearly spurred legislative


The United States, like any host country, will remain vulnerable to reprisals (such as terrorist attacks) from sending countries who believe that the United States is too supportive of opposition political groups. Terrorist attacks also may be a response to U.S. foreign policy actions, such as support for a particular country, economic embargo, or military action. Although the relative paucity of such attacks by immigrants to date is strong evidence that U.S. national security is not currently threatened by immigration,

more intensive measures to prevent the entry of potential terrorist threats is warranted.

Immigrant groups also may pose a security threat to host countries by smuggling arms or people, forming alliances with domestic opposition groups, or participating in drug trafficking. Palestinians became an important political force in Jordan and Lebanon and, ultimately, engaged in armed conflict in those countries. When a host country arms refugees for their struggle against the home country, they create risks that the refugees may seek to dictate the host country's policies toward the sending country or invite armed intervention from the sending country. Hutu refugees who launched attacks against Rwanda from Zaire undoubtedly were instrumental in provoking Rwandan support for Zairian rebels who recently overthrew the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko.

Another threat is the smuggling of aliens into a country. Smuggling into the U.S. from China is estimated to be as high as several hundred thousand people per year (Zimmerman 1995:101). Not only

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is the smuggling illegal, those smuggled in often are forced to endure abusive living and working conditions while they, and or their friends and relatives, attempt to pay smugglers' fees that can be as high as $35,000 per person (Burdman 1993:A1). The recent case of deaf Mexicans in New York City, the drowning of smuggled Chinese immigrants after the grounding of the smuggling ship Golden Venture, the smuggling and virtual

enslaving of illegal aliens by employees of the Georgia Peach Harvester Lane Packing Company all attest to the breadth of this problem. In 1993, in

response to such incidents, President Clinton declared the problem to be a national security threat and charged the National Security Council with responsibility for dealing with it (Russell 1995:83-4).

Smuggling of immigrants into the United States is believed to be a $3 billion per-year business (Burdman 1993:A1). Groups engaged in smuggling also

are linked to narcotics trafficking. The

immense profits to be made in smuggling immigrants has attracted established crime rings that now control the smug

gling trade. Efforts to control the smuggling trade have led to gang warfare in the United States, as in the murder of four members of the Fuk Ching gang in New Jersey in 1993 (Hanley 1993:B1). In response to the criminal nature of these activities, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 increased the penalties for most alien smuggling offenses.

Cultural Threat

or Contribution

A violation of the norms of the host country may be regarded as a threat to basic values and a threat to national security. How a host community defines itself and how they decide who can be admitted into the community will determine the rights and privileges of those permitted to enter and whether the host culture regards a migrant community as potential citizens.

These host country norms often are

reflected in a state's citizenship laws, those based on jus sanguinis, citizenship based on that of the parents, regardless

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of place of birth and jus soli, citizenship based on place of birth. The United States recognizes both the jus soli and jus sanguinis doctrines (Goldstein & Piazza 1996:519). Thus, United States citizenship may be acquired by either birth or naturalization. Persons born here automatically are citizens; in most situations a child born abroad to U.S. citizens also is considered a U.S. citizen. U.S. naturalization law requires applicants to

demonstrate knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and form of government and swear an oath of allegiance, thus political knowledge and loyalty are sufficient norms for citizenship. This is a valuable method of assimilating new immigrants as it requires a conscious choice and

effort for immigrants to obtain U.S.


Regardless of the manner in which citizenship is obtained, most societies react with alarm when they perceive that there are too many immigrants who do not share the culture and national identity of the host population. The United States has suffered from this perception periodically throughout its history. Racist theories held that certain nationalities

were culturally inassimilable and racially inferior (Fuchs 1983:300). The 1882

Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1907 "Gentlemen's Agreement" with Japan, and the U.S. Immigration Act of 1924 all resulted from pseudoscientific assaults on immigration that claimed that the most recent immigrants came from inferior racial stock and were handicapped in ways that would make them unfit for American civilization (Morris 1985:18).

While more refined, much of the criticism of current U.S. immigration is based on the perception of a cultural threat (Massey 1995:631; Brimelow 1995:249, 18; Nelson 1994:94). Perception of a cultural threat to national security has led to proposed constitutional amendments that would deny citizenship to those born in the United States to noncitizens It also has led to the passage of English only or "official English" laws in several states and a 1996 attempt in the U.S. House of Representatives to make English the

official language of the United States.

These arguments ignore the ability of United States culture and society to

assimilate large numbers of people from

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diverse countries of origin. Despite past fears concerning the effects of immigration on the social fabric of the United States, few socioeconomic differences now separate the descendants of immigrants from Europe (National Research Council 1997:S-10). With the convergence of socioeconomic status across generations, most immigrants disperse from the ethnic neighborhoods where they first tend to settle and integrate with the overall population. Residential movements have parallels in intermarriage among immigrant groups. Today, the descendants of immigrants from various European countries and of various religions, once so distinct they were referred to

as races, have intermarried to such an

extent as to virtually erase differences

in education, income, and occupation

(National Research Council 1997:S-10).

Much the same is true concerning

English language ability. Proponents of the cultural threat to national security

believe that the sense of nationhood is lost when people do not speak a common language. For them, linguistic

diversity is tantamount to national disunity. Language becomes a symbol and

serves as a means of communication and also "a means of communion" (King 1997:64). According to the 1990 census, 94 percent of U.S. residents speak

English reasonably well. Three-fifths of the immigrants who arrived in the 1980s spoke English well or very well. Not many immigrants see their first language survive into the second generation. The common lament of first generation

immigrants is that their children are not learning their language and are losing the culture of the parents (King 1997:64). A majority of third-generation Mexican-Americans living in the United States speak only English. Further,

No religious, ethno-religious, or purely ethnic group of any size has ever attacked basic American political values. Nor has any tried to form an ethnic party. Nor has any group ever tried to prevent its children and grandchildren from learning English, except for some unsuccessful efforts among rural Germans and Scandinavians (Fuchs 1983:293).

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Moreover, the extraordinary number of immigrants now naturalizing probably will serve to accelerate the assimilation process. Adoption of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform's recommendations for the Americanization of new immigrants also would serve to

reduce the perceived cultural threats from immigrants (U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform 1995:175). That

report found that:

The benefits of naturalization are even more compelling for American society as a whole than for the new citizen. . . . Naturalization, then, goes far beyond providing new citizens with benefits. It is about ensuring the vitality of this nation through the inclusion of new members and through cohesion of our nation's peoples, ensuring continuity of our past, present, and future (U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform 1995:178-179).

The contributions of immigrants to various aspects of American culture are too

numerous to mention. In painting, sculpture, music, dance, scholarship, fashion, popular entertainment, and sports,

immigrants have brought elements of their own culture and have embraced, reinterpreted, and reinvigorated American culture to produce a product, which although uniquely American in its formation, has near universal appeal. American music, film, and fashion have become increasingly popular throughout the world as they exalt American values in a context readily understandable to people all over the planet. Alternatively, aspects of culture brought by immigrant groups survive intact. Residents of the United States can listen to music such as salsa and reggae and enjoy scores of

different cuisines. The presence of the culture of immigrants expands the recreational and leisure activities available to United States citizens and enhances our knowledge and appreciation of other cultures and peoples. Ultimately, this enhances the ability of Americans to

communicate, travel, and conduct business abroad, enriching us socially and economically.

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Most immigrants come to the United States with a commitment to the American values of liberty, democracy, and equal opportunity. The United States has united immigrants and their descendants into the most successful multiethnic

nation in history. In turn, core American values are strengthened by the inclusion into society of people who, in many cases, made great sacrifices in pursuit of these ideals.

Social or Economic Burden or


Migrants may be perceived as a social or economic burden because of the fiscal costs they impose or because of their purported social behavior, such as criminality or welfare dependency. Societies may fear that the number of people entering are so numerous that they will create a substantial economic burden by straining housing, education, and transportation facilities. In advanced industrial societies, services provided by the welfare state to newcomers may generate resentment. The willingness to bear these

costs is likely to be low if the host government believes that the government of the sending country is "dumping" its unwanted population on the receiving country, although historically this has not been a significant element in the flow

of migrants from the Third World to

advanced industrial countries (Weiner 1992/93:114-15).

The perception that immigrants receive social welfare benefits for which they are ineligible or manipulate the asylum process to delay their removal from the United States results in laws designed to stop these perceived abuses. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, and Proposition 187 in California in 1994 are all responses to the perception that

immigrants abuse public benefits. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 sought to address the problem of asylum abuse.

Much of today's debate concerning

immigration in the United States centers

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on the perception of migrants as social or economic burdens. However, it is far from clear that they are either. There have been numerous attempts to estimate the costs and benefits of immigration. Invariably, the results prove highly controversial and are challenged on conceptual, methodological, or philosophical grounds. For example, three recent studies by Donald Huddle, Jeffrey J. Passel, and the Center for Immigration Studies [CIS] estimated the net fiscal costs of providing public services to immigrants. According to Huddle and CIS, immigrants receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes; Passel found the opposite (Vernez & McCarthy 1996:54). The recent National Research Council study found that under most scenarios, the long-run fiscal impact of immigration is strongly positive at the federal level, but substantially negative at the state and local levels. The federal impact is shared evenly across the country, but negative state and local impacts are concentrated in those states that

receive most of the new immigrants, thus incurring net fiscal burdens for

native residents of these states while resi

dents of most states reap net fiscal benefits (National Research Council 1997).

The National Research Council study also found that immigration produces net economic gains for domestic residents. Immigrants increase the supply of labor and help produce new goods and services. However, as they are paid less than the total value of these new goods and services, domestic workers as a group gain (National Research Council 1997:S-3). However, there may be losers as well as gainers among different groups of U.S. residents. Along with immigrants, the gainers are owners of productive factors that are complementary with the labor of immigrants whose

incomes will rise. Consumers who buy goods and services produced by immigrant labor also benefit. The losers may be less-skilled domestic workers who compete with immigrants and whose wages will fall (National Research Council 1997:S-4).

The evidence points to the conclusion that immigration has had a relatively small adverse impact

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on the wage and employment opportunities of competing

native groups. This effect does not appear to be concentrated in the local areas where immigrants live, but instead is dispersed across the United States. This dispersal comes about in part because competing native workers migrate out of the areas

to which immigrants move

(National Research Council 1997:S-5).

Overall, in the massive and complex U.S. economy, immigration is unlikely to have a very large effect on relative earnings or gross domestic product per capita. The impacts of immigration on the economy are relatively modest. The domestic gain may be on the order of $1 billion to $10 billion per year. Although this gain may be modest relative to the size of the U.S. economy, it remains a significant positive gain in absolute terms (National Research Council 1997:S-5).

Attempts to draw empirical conclusions about the relation between immigration and crime rates founder on problems of measurement. Crime rates measured from the 1960s show no obvious link with trends in immigration. Studies at the local level have found no association of immigration concentrations with crime rates except high rates of nonviolent crime near the borders (National

Research Council 1997:S-10).


The fifth category identified by Weiner is the holding of migrants as hostages, creating risks for the sending country, as when Iraq used Westerners living in Iraq as shields against armed attack during the Gulf War. This situation has not applied to the United States as a receiving county of immigrants and, therefore, is beyond the scope of this paper.

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Immigration, foreign policy, and U.S. national security are closely intertwined. Immigration policy could be changed according to circumstances, but

always with the larger goal of advancing U.S. national security. Foreign policy often has used immigration as a tool to advance U.S. national security. Emigration from communist enemies was promoted with the goal of destabilizing those countries; it was discouraged from repressive Cold War allies to avoid U.S. association with a country's policies that forced its own people to flee. The activities of immigrants also can change perceptions of national security and thus impact foreign policy. U.S. foreign policy also can unintentionally cause migratory movements; alternatively, migratory movements can affect foreign policy by creating humanitarian crises that require a response or national security threats

resulting from large numbers of migrants arriving in a short period of time.

Resulting Migratory Movements

The most prominent examples of U.S. foreign policy-induced migratory movements occurred during the Cold War era. To advance the national security goal of preventing the spread of communism, U.S. intelligence services engaged in a campaign to encourage defections from behind the Iron Curtain as a means of destabilizing communist regimes. In the 1950s, the Voice of America's extensive coverage of stories of escape and consistent contrasting of the horrors of life behind the Iron Curtain to the attractions of the West was at least partially responsible for the continuing movement of escapees into the West (Loescher & Scanlan 1986:34,36).

Similarly, the United States encouraged emigration from Cuba as an essential part of a much broader set of U.S. policies that sought first to roll back and then to

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prevent the spread of the Cuban Revolution (Zolberg, Suhrke & Aguayo 1989:188). At the signing of the Immigration Act of 1965 in front of the Statue of Liberty, President Johnson said, "I declare this afternoon to the people of Cuba that those who seek refuge here in America will find it" (Dominguez 1992:41). In response to the exodus of Cubans from Mariel in 1980, President Carter declared, "We'll continue to provide an open heart and open arms to refugees seeking freedom from communist domination and from economic deprivation brought about primarily by

Fidel Castro and his government" (Dominguez 1992:45).

United States policies toward immigration from Cuba demonstrate that immigration policy depends on the perception of its effect upon U.S. national

security. During the Cold War, when preventing the spread of communism from Cuba into the Western Hemisphere was a primary foreign policy goal, Cuban emigration was encouraged. Cubans arriving in the United States were automatically treated as refugees and enthu

siastically welcomed. With the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Cuban economy, and the inability of Cuba to export revolution to countries adopting free market economic policies and democratic political reforms, Cuban immigration is not viewed as a national security concern. Without the overriding Cold War national security concerns that previously encouraged and welcomed

Cuban migrants, the domestic political concerns advanced by Florida's political leadership gained primacy and brought about a drastic change in U.S. policy. The exodus of Cubans in 1994 resulted in an agreement between the United States and Cuba wherein the United States agreed to increase the quota for Cuban immigrants to 20,000 per year and Cuba agreed to prevent undocumented emigrants from leaving.

However, not all migratory movements caused or contributed to by U.S. foreign policy actions are by design. Generally, migrant flows occasioned by U.S. foreign policy were accidental, reflecting a historic lack of attention to migration from the makers of foreign policy.

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The massive resettlement of Indochinese in the United States from 1975 ona

by-product of the Vietnam War

provides a dramatic example of the

unanticipated immigration consequences of foreign policy (Zolberg 1995:129).

Because of U.S. political, economic, and military involvement from the mid-1950s through 1975 in South Vietnam, our

recruitment and training of agents in Laos, and our intensive bombing campaign in Cambodia, the United States felt a profound sense of obligation to the hundreds of thousands of Indochinese who feared for their safety once Communist governments came to power in these countries. The U.S. rescue operation that began with the 1975 fall of South Vietnam became a long-term international commitment that by 1986 had

resulted in the resettlement of some

1.5 million Indochinese, more than 750,000 of whom came to the United States (Loescher & Scanlan 1986:121).

United States Central America foreign policies also are cited as a cause for emigration. As the dominant foreign actor in Central America for more than

one hundred years, the United States intervened militarily on numerous occasions and supported repressive governments. United States-owned businesses have been dominant in the region, and U.S. trade, aid, and development policies have been instrumental in the area's economic development. Whether one takes the position that the outpouring of people from El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s was a refugee movement from brutal militaries supported by the United States, economic migration of people seeking employment opportunities, or a combination thereof, there can be little disagreement that U.S. policies toward the region added considerably to the incentives for migration.

In the 1980s a stated rationale for U.S. policy towards Central America was to prevent the movement of migrants to the United States. President Reagan stated in June 1983 that if the United States were to acquiesce in the establishment of a "string of anti-American Marxist dictatorships" in Central America "the result could be a tidal wave of refugeesand this time they'd be feet people, not boat

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peopleswarming into our country

seeking a safe haven from communist

repression to the south" (Loescher and Scanlan 1986:192).

The use of U.S. foreign policy in an

attempt to prevent emigration from Central America in the 1980s was not unique. In response to Haitian migration to the United States, the United States and Haiti reached an agreement in 1981 permitting the interception of boats leaving Haiti by United States vessels as a condition for Haiti receiving U.S. aid (Zolberg 1995:145). In the wake of the 1991 military coup that overthrew the government of President Aristide, thousands

attempted to flee Haiti. President Bush invoked the 1981 agreement and over the next sixteen months 30,000 Haitians were interdicted at sea and diverted to either Guantanamo Bay or Haiti.

The bracero program between the United States and Mexico is an example of foreign policy unintentionally stimulating a nonrefugee migration to the United States. Bilateral agreements during both World Wars provided that Mexicans

could come to the United States for temporary work to meet manpower shortages. The World War II agreement

developed into the bracero program that continued until 1964. "The bracero program is generally agreed to have stimulated permanent legal immigration by temporary workers and their families who acquired permanent legal status, as well as illegal immigration by those who chose to migrate unlawfully along pathways and networks established by

legal temporary workers" (Teitelbaum 1985:31).

U.S. foreign policypolitical, military, and economicwas instrumental in the migration of Dominicans to the United States. From 1961 to 1966 the United States sought to limit political tensions in the Dominican Republic where government instability was seen as an

opportunity for radical revolution. The United States supported efforts to remove dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. In 1965, the United States intervened militarily and occupied the country for seventeen months, in many respects governing the Dominican Republic during this period

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(Mitchell 1992:101). After Trujillo was deposed, Dominican emigration to the United States increased markedly as the United States believed a liberal immigration policy would reduce urban unemployment and political pressures. The reestablishment of U.S. sugar quotas in 1982 subsequently wreaked havoc with the Dominican economy; total export tonnage to the United States dropped from an average of 815,335 tons for the period 1975 to 1981 to about one-fourth that level at the end of the 1980s (Zolberg 1995:153). The economic hardship resulting from U.S. sugar quotas led to a doubling in the demand for visas and

expanding Dominican migration to the United States.

Another important foreign policy tool impacting upon immigration is the United State's symbolic position as the world's preeminent immigration country. The significance of this factor for foreign policy was probably most apparent in comparison with the former

Soviet Union's tradition of emigration. Our immigration tradition has a privileged place in American myth and

national self image that is reflected in the positive image the United States projects abroad of national generosity, attractiveness, and toleration. This image is one of the most potent but least appreciated foreign policy assets of the United States (Miller & Papademetriou 1983:166). Not surprisingly, a consequence of this

image projected abroad is its magnet effect upon potential migrants throughout the world that certainly has contributed to increased immigration (Miller & Papademetriou 1983:166).

Foreign Policy


The effect of immigration on the foreign policy of a receiving country is determined by a number of considerations: if the numbers of immigrants are small or they are otherwise easily assimilated into society, the impacts on the foreign policy of the host country are likely to be small; if immigrants gain entry through the appropriate legal processes, the effect on foreign policy also may be negligible. However, if the receiving country

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perceives that either the level of

immigration is too high or that substantial numbers of immigrants are entering the country outside its legal framework, then an entire range of foreign policies may be implemented to reduce immigration. The United States has availed itself of many of these foreign policy options.

Unauthorized migration is generally the result of a combination of "push" and "pull" factors. The pull factors include the prospects of employment and better wages, freedom, physical security, the opportunity for easy remittal of earnings to home countries, and ineffective immigration enforcement. Push factors

include lack of employment, poor wages and working conditions, separation from family members, civil conflict, and

political, social, and religious repression (U.S. Commission on Immigration

Reform 1994:174). Policymakers have begun to consider the impact of trade, foreign aid, and investment strategies on push factors of emigration. However, much remains to be done in this area.

Economic Policy Responses

The United States also has used trade policy to influence emigration. The

Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Reform Act of 1974 originated in

response to the Soviet Union imposing an "education tax" that required Soviet Jewish emigrants to pay compensation to the state for the costs of higher education. Jackson-Vanik, passed in December 1974 tied trade benefits for Communist countries, including "most favorable nation" tariff treatment, credit, credit guarantees, and investment guarantees, to the removal of obstacles to emigration (Loescher & Scanlan 1986:93). However, Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union fluctuated as a function of the general state of relations between the super-

powers (Zolberg 1995:137).

The North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] included provisions for the temporary movement of personnel between the signatory countries. NAFTA had the effect of establishing an

additional nonimmigrant category of

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professionals permitted to enter the United States temporarily. Similarly, the Uruguay round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT] for the first time included a General Agreement on Trade Services that provided for easier entry for investors, managers,

executives, and other professionals. Perhaps more importantly, the effect NAFTA would have on immigration became a major part of the debate. Opponents claimed the dislocations caused by NAFTA, particularly in rural areas of Mexico, would lead to an increase in

illegal immigration. Proponents argued that NAFTA would stimulate Mexico's economy, increase jobs and wages, and thereby reduce critical push factors of emigration. The effect of trade policy

on immigration thus was expressly


The recommendations of the Commission for the Study of International

Migration and Cooperative Economic Development [the Asencio Commission] makes clear the importance of trade and investment policies to emigration to the United States. Mandated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

to examine the conditions in countries that contribute to unauthorized migration to the United States and to explore mutually beneficial, reciprocal trade and investment programs to alleviate such conditions, the Asencio Commission stated the problem directly, "the issue

for many countries is stark: they either

export goods and services to create jobs at home, or they export people" (Commission For The Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development 1990:xvi).

The Commission was equally clear in its recommendations to solve the problem of unauthorized immigration. It found that a program of trade and investment directed toward the long-term alleviation of push factors in migrant-sending countries in the Western Hemisphere would increase political stability in the region and increase the markets for U.S. exports by reducing unauthorized immigration. Among its principal recommendations was NAFTA. Also recommended were accelerating the Caribbean Basin Institute [CBI] by easing limitations on beneficiary products, revitalizing the Central American Common Market, encouraging

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exports of manufactured goods with quota allocations for textiles, apparel, and steel to be shifted in favor of Mexico and CBI beneficiary countries, improving access to U.S. markets for sending country's agricultural products (including partial restoration of Caribbean

Basin sugar quotas pending a return to a free market situation), coproduction strategies, increased investment, and support for technology transfers and job creation through Section 936 of the

Internal Revenue Code for CBI countries. Although movement has been slow on many of the Asencio Commission's recommendations, it is readily apparent that immigration to the United States is now an important consideration in the making of U.S. foreign economic policy.

Immigration considerations also entered the debate on the CBI, financial assistance to Mexico after the 1994 peso devaluation, and the Border Industrialization Program with Mexico (Diaz-Briquets 1995:175).

In conjunction with trade and investment policies, foreign assistance can be used to achieve immigration-reducing objectives. The Asencio Commission recom

mended involving local organizations in project preparation of foreign assistance programs, assessment of the potential immigration impact of development projects, evaluation of their actual impact after implementation, and channeling of more funds through private voluntary organizations.

However, trade, investment, and foreign assistance policies that seek to reduce emigration pressures must confront the dilemma that over the short term these policies are likely to increase emigration (Diaz-Briquets 1995:174). Conditioning trade and investment policy and foreign assistance on short-term reductions in immigration will undercut their potential long-term success. Only over time will economic development reduce

demographic pressures, improve labor conditions, and result in rising wages

and living standards so that people do

not feel compelled to emigrate. Spain,

Japan, Italy, and Malaysia are all

examples where economic development transformed migrant-sending countries into countries that attract immigrants from other nations (Diaz-Briquets 1995:175). However these countries also

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are proof that the success or failure of development efforts is principally determined by the domestic policy choices a country makes.

Military Responses

Immigration concerns also have affected the use of the U.S. armed forces. In

response to perceived immigration crises, United States forces began interdicting Haitians at sea in 1981. By 1993, more than 60,000 Haitians were interdicted and returned to Haiti or taken to camps at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo. In 1994, the U.S. government, in a major policy reversal, began interdicting Cuban rafters attempting to reach South Florida by sea. In fear of another Mariel type exodus, more than 35,000 people were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard in the summer of 1994 (Newland 1995:197). Immigration fears were used to justify military support to Nicaraguan contras and the government of El Salvador throughout the Central American crises of the 1980s.

Concerns over unauthorized immigration have contributed to the militarization of the border between the United States and Mexico, although this was motivated primarily by concerns with drug smuggling. Military rhetoric, tactics, strategy, technology, equipment, and personnel are now part of the effort to staunch

the flow of unauthorized immigration.

Helicopters, intrusion detection and surveillance hardware, advanced communications systems, and increases in border patrol agents and facilities have been used in the effort to decrease unauthorized immigration (Dunn 1996:44-5). The United States also provided funding to Mexico for a land interdiction program to prevent Central Americans from reaching the United States. As a result, Mexican apprehensions and deportations of undocumented immigrants jumped from 14,000 in 1988 to an estimated 160,000 in 1990 (Dunn 1996:95).

The most prominent use of U.S. military force in response to a perceived immigration crisis was the intervention in Haiti in September 1994. On May 19, 1994, President Clinton included among

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U.S. interests that would justify an intervention in Haiti the likelihood of a "massive outflow" of refugees to U.S. shores. Four days before the intervention the President said:

Three hundred thousand more Haitians, 5 percent of their

entire population, are in hiding in their own country. If we don't act, they could be the next wave of refugees at our door. We will continue to face the threat of a mass exodus of refugees and its constant threat to stability in our region, and control of our borders (Newland 1995:202).

A number of arguments have been

advanced to justify military intervention in refugee-producing situations. For

example, human rights violations by a government against its citizens violates the sovereignty of the people and the offending government cannot thereafter claim that intervention violates its sovereignty because the real violation of sovereignty was the government's mistreatment of its own citizens (Keely

1996:1060 quoting Reisman). Human rights violations carried out or tolerated by a government or carried out when a government is incapable of stopping it almost invariably lead to internal displacement and eventual refugee flows across borders (Keely 1996:1060). The threat of refugees to the stability of

receiving countries provides an argument justifying self-defensive actions under the U.N. charter. "Provoking refugee flows can rise to the equivalent of aggression" (Keely 1996:1060 quoting McCalmon). "A country may defend itself by forceful intervention in another state to end

human rights violations and prevent

imminent refugee flows that threaten its security (Keely 1996:1060).

Such theories have been used to support interventions authorized by the United Nations Security Council pursuant to Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. In 1991 and 1994, the Security Council invoked transborder refugee flows to justify

international action in Iraq and Haiti

respectively. The Security Council

authorization of U.S. intervention in

Somalia in 1992 took note of the large

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numbers of refugees displaced by the conflict and called for repatriation of refugees as part of the U.N. operation (Dowty & Loescher 1996:63). U.N.-

authorized interventions in Rwanda in 1994 and in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq in 1991 both explicitly took note of the large numbers of refugees and displaced persons created by those crises (Dowty & Loescher 1996:65).

Established foreign policy agencies of the United States could be used in preparation for such immigration emergencies as those of the Vietnamese boat people and the large numbers fleeing periodically from Cuba, Haiti, and Central America. Most humanitarian emergencies that generate large-scale movements of refugees and other displaced persons are predictable to some degree. United States intelligence services and the

Department of State are well placed

to analyze events in potential migrant-

sending countries and make recommendations to prevent massive emigrations. Preventive actions after identification of a potential large-scale emigration of people can involve a wide array of strategies ranging from diplomacy, to eco

nomic sanctions, to military intervention (U.S. Commission on Immigration

Reform 1997:13). Emergency responses often involve the use of military forces for rescue operations and military bases for housing displaced persons.



Controlling immigration to the United States calls for a multilateral approach. Although a fundamental aspect of sovereignty is the control of borders and the unilateral right to determine who may enter the state, transportation and communication advances, long-established migration patterns, and increasingly

interdependent political and economic

relations mean that only a multilateral approach can address current immigration concerns effectively.

Because there are numerous problems related to immigration that can only be addressed effectively through multilateral solutions, we should expect, and hope, to see increased approaches of this nature. Problems that will require

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multilateral approaches for effective resolution include the smuggling of peoples across the border, the deportation of criminal aliens in a manner to insure that they do not return, harmonization of exit and entry rules, the prediction, prevention, and response to immigration emergencies, support for human rights and democracy building in potential migrant-sending countries, peacekeeping operations, programs aimed at reconstruction of sending countries following civil wars and civil conflict, resettlement of refugees, and coordination of efforts between sending and receiving countries

to address pressures for unautho-

rized migration and environmental


Although United States responses to immigration have been largely unilateral, there are significant historical examples of bilateral/multilateral approaches to immigration problems: the "Gentlemen's Agreement" with Japan in 1907; agreements with Mexico during both World Wars and the bracero agreement; migration agreements in 1965, 1984, and 1995 with a Cuban government with which the United States did not have diplomatic

relations; the 1981 agreement with Haiti; and the Comprehensive Plan of Action in 1989 to address the pushback of Indochinese refugees. Most of these agreements were reached ad hoc in

response to an immediate crisis. Unfortunately, they did not result in a coherent policy that could be applied in

future situations.

Today the United States engages in a number of multilateral regimes concerned with refugees and migration. The working group of the U.S. Mexico Binational Commission promotes bilateral dialogue on migration through recurring communication and exchange of information and addresses mutual migration problems through cooperative mechanisms. Mexico's consultation with the Asencio Commission and lobbying by Mexican authorities in the United States on political and economic matters, which did not occur prior to the NAFTA negotiating process, shows an increasing

acceptance of bilateral approaches to

issues that affect both countries. NAFTA created a number of institutional arrangements that have breathed new life into established consultation groups. Both

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sides of the joint Border Liaison Mechanism have taken steps to reduce smuggling of immigrants. The bilateral

engagement with Mexico on migration issues that began before NAFTA has

increased since its passage.

Within the Western Hemisphere there is now an established regional mechanism for discussion of migration issues. In 1996, a multilateral approach to Western Hemisphere migration issues, known as the Puebla Process, was begun with the Regional Conference on Migration held in Puebla, Mexico. Canada and the Central American states joined the United States and Mexico. In recognition that a comprehensive and objective approach to the origins, manifestation, and effects of regional migration would contribute to a better understanding of this phenomenon, the participating governments

entered into a series of agreements on a wide range of issues affecting migration. These include promoting economic and social development, encouraging states with common borders to establish mechanisms for dialogue at various levels of government, and preventing the trafficking in migrants.

At the group's Second Regional Conference on Migration in March 1997 in Panama, the parties agreed to establish the Regional Consultation Group on Migration and adopted the Plan of

Action designed to insure the timely achievement of agreements reached at the 1996 meeting. Also participating in the Panama meeting were such multinational organizations as the International Organization for Migration [IOM], the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR].

The Puebla Process is an important

development in addressing Western Hemisphere migration concerns because the established organizations dealing with migration issues were not well equipped for the task. UNHCR has as its primary mandate the protection of and assistance to refugees. The International Organization for Migration has a mandate to assist all types of

migrants but focuses on the provision of transport to individuals who are being resettled or who are returning to their

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home countries. The complex circumstances that characterize many mass movements do not fit well with either organization's current mandate or capacities (U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform 1994:179).

Environmental degradation, droughts, floods, and famines compel people to flee across international borders. Rapid population growth in migrant-sending countries and measures leading to economic development have led to considerable environmental degradation and erosion of natural resource bases. There already have been mass migrations within and between countries as a result of desertification, floods, and threats of inundation from rising sea levels (Weiner 1992:92-93). Finding effective solutions to these problems may require multilateral approaches.

A study of Mexico has found that the inability to farm because of land degradation or desertification can result in rural unemployment and general poverty that in turn can lead to migration (Schwartz & Notini 1994:18). The Mexican government also has observed that

there is a strong tendency for people to migrate from the arid and semi-arid

areas of the country that contain twenty million inhabitants with scarce possibilities for work (Schwartz & Notini 1994:18). There has been insufficient research, education, and training in Mexico to remedy problems caused by existing agricultural practices. The relationship between migration and soil degradation is complex and may exacerbate the destruction of fragile ecosystems in Mexico. The costs of migration to a family may also be less than the environmental investment needed to increase the productivity of farmland (Schwartz & Notini 1994:28).

Deforestation in Haiti has led to soil erosion that has contributed to the massive emigration from that country (Mathews 1989:168). Traced through its effects on agriculture, energy supply, and water resources, tropical deforestation impoverishes about one billion people. This pattern is endemic throughout Central and South America (Mathews 1989:165). U.S. policies to limit immigration will have to take into effect such environmental impacts. Policies designed specifically

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to prevent environmental degradation in potential migrant-sending countries may be necessary to control migration.


The role of immigrants and ethnic groups in the foreign policymaking process of the United States has engendered much debate. The idea that the ethnic composition of the United States is critical in the making of its foreign policy was

expressed by Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. Moynihan (1975:23):

Without too much exaggeration it could be stated that the immigration process is the single most important determinant of American foreign policy. This process regulates the ethnic composition of the American electorate. Foreign policy responds to that ethnic composition. It responds to other things as well, but probably first of all to the primal factor of ethnicity.

This argument subsequently was

described as "plausible" by a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Mathias 1981:979). It also has been said that "domestic ethnic pressures on foreign policy formulation loom large in the United States, affecting foreign policies toward settings as diverse as Northern Ireland, the Turkish-Greek conflict, the Middle East, Cuba, Mexico, Haiti, and Poland, to name only a few of the obvious cases" (Teitelbaum 1984:441). Charles B. Keely identified three reasons why the activities of ethnic lobbies are suspect: those influential in foreign policymaking see ethnic lobbies as an obstacle; ethnic groups are perceived

as single-issue lobbies; and nativists

(defined as an those in intense opposition to an internal minority on the ground of its foreign connections) consider lobbying activities on part of a foreign government as un-American (Keely 1995:231-32).

Equally persuasive arguments are made that immigrants and ethnic groups have only a limited impact on the making of U.S. foreign policy (Gerson 1977:55):

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Ethnic pressures on foreign policies, with accompanying claims of success or failure, have led to false beliefs at home and abroad that the policies were based on domestic ethnic considerations. Seldom, if ever, have major U.S. foreign policy decisions been affected by purely ethnic considerations.

Similarly, an examination of the effect that immigrant groups had upon U.S. foreign policy between the two World Wars found that ". . .the impact of the one upon the other has been greatly

exaggerated" (Jonas 1990:67).

Despite being criticized, they are not indisputably a detriment to or subversive of the national

interests. They are not all powerful or a force out of control. They can be an effective check, and provide viewpoints that may be otherwise overlooked (Keely 1995:241).

An examination of particular cases

reveals that while ethnic lobbies may

influence U.S. foreign policy, several factors constrict such influence. An ethnic lobby may have success in the foreign policymaking process when the policy in question affects the homeland of the particular ethnic group, where the issue involved does not threaten U.S. national security, where there is no equally effective lobbying effort against the proposed policy, or where the proposed policy is within the mainstream of overall U.S. foreign policy.

Much has been written of the influence of the Greek-American lobby in contributing to the U.S. arms embargo imposed on Turkey after it invaded Cyprus in 1974. "[T]he Greeks, with a powerful ethnic lobby mobilized for their cause, held the upper hand in Washington" (Mathias 1981:987-88). One newspaper columnist, in a not untypical opinion, deplored the "ethnic foreign policy

making" that culminated in the arms

embargo as a "rising menace" tantamount to communism in its potential

destabilization of U.S. foreign policy (Hicks & Couloumbis 1977:86).

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However, these responses overlooked critical factors that led to the imposition of the arms embargo. Turkey had violated the Foreign Military Sales Act by using U.S.-supplied arms in their invasion of Cyprus. Greece, like Turkey, was also a member of NATO. The Greek lobby also had merit on its side, the invasion of a sovereign country violates international law. Congressman John Brademas, a leading congressional proponent of the embargo, said:

If we members had not been able to put together a compelling case, in terms of law, policy and morality, we would not have been effective. But on the other hand, without the kind of support we got from the Greek community, our case might not have been sufficient to win the day (Hicks & Couloumbis 1977:86).

Those who claimed that the Greek lobby was the determining factor in the congressional decision to cut off military aid to Turkey are incorrect (Hicks & Couloumbis 1977:110). While the Greek lobby clearly had an impact on the deci

sion to impose the arms embargo, it would not have prevailed had its position not been consistent with U.S. law and foreign policy principles. In any event, the embargo was gradually

relaxed in the two years immediately following its imposition and was repealed entirely in 1978.

Another major ethnic entity credited with notable success in influencing U.S. foreign policy is the Cuban lobby, which has focused primarily on toppling Castro and reversing the revolution (Keely 1995:237). "For many years a key consideration among Washington policy makers addressing U.S.-Cuban relations has been the strong opposition of the Florida congressional delegationpressed by the large and influential

Cuban constituency in the stateto any moves toward normalization unless they are balanced by major changes in Cuban foreign and domestic policies" (Teitelbaum 1985:47). No other immigrant group to the United States has been able to use its opposition to its home government to influence U.S. foreign policy as effectively (Newland 1995:204).

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A Bush administration official said of the role of the Cuban-American National Foundation, the voice of hard-line

Cuban-Americans, "[t]he foundation has had a chilling effect on the debate. Anytime anyone starts to think creatively about Cuba we're told: What do you want to do, lose South Florida for us?" (Newland 1995:205).

However, even a well-financed and

well-organized lobby like the Cuban-Americans is successful because their goals are consistent with larger U.S.

foreign policy interests. Their anticommunism was well matched to the U.S. policies of the Cold War era. A communist regime in Cuba was seen as a major threat to U.S. national security and overthrowing the Castro government was a major U.S. foreign policy goal throughout the 1960s. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States still treats Cuba as an implacable enemy

and continues the economic embargo.

With the resulting changed post-Cold War political environment, immigration from Cuba no longer is seen as advancing U.S. national security. This dimin

ishes the effectiveness of the Cuban lobby. The 1994 interdiction of fleeing Cubans at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard, and the subsequent agreement in 1995 between the United States and Cuba to prevent people from leaving Cuba would have been unthinkable ten years earlier. Passage of the Helms-Burton law, which tightens the economic embargo against Cuba, was aided by the outrage provoked by the shooting down by the Cuban Air Force of two planes operated by the Miami exile group Brothers To The Rescue. As long as the Castro regime denies its citizens basic human rights and refuses to democratize, there will remain a substantial congruence of interests

between U.S. foreign policy and the goals of hard-line Cuban-Americans that will insure a degree of success in their lobbying effectiveness. However, without the national security threat presented by Cuba during the Cold War, the lobby's effectiveness will be diminished and counterbalanced by other competing


The Jewish-American community's influence on United States policy toward

Israel represents another effective ethnic

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lobbying effort. "The American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC], the Jewish-American community's most powerful voice is often used as an

example to emulate among other ethnic lobbies in the United States. Although there are many policy differences

between the United States and Israel, the United States government has been

extraordinarily supportive of Israeli government policies. AIPAC is held responsible for most of this support" (Keely 1995:236).

However, the influence of the Jewish-American lobby does not alone explain the strong U.S. support for Israel. Israel remains the United States' most loyal and only democratic ally in a volatile region of the world of great strategic importance to the United States. Most analysts

believe that support for Israel is in the interest of the United States. Mathias (1981:993) described the relationship

between the lobbying activities of

Jewish-Americans and support for Israel as being in the U.S. national interest:

This is not to suggest that Congress supports Israel for no bet

ter reason than fear of the Israel lobby; on the contrary, I know of few members of either house of Congress who do not believe deeply and strongly that support of Israel is both a moral duty and a national interest of the United States.

Perhaps the most controversial example of the influence of the Jewish-American community was the passage of the

Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Reform Act of 1974. Because it believed human rights concerns would interfere with its policy of détente, the Nixon administration consistently eschewed human rights intercession with the Soviets unless domestic political pressure forced it to act (Loescher & Scanlan 1986:91-92). However, many members of the Jewish community in the United States and key members of Congress feared that détente was being pursued without adequate attention to human rights concerns.

The effects of Jackson-Vanik on at least the short-term national security interest of U.S-Soviet relations is widely seen as

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negative. Jackson-Vanik's linkage of nondiscriminatory trade with free emigration so angered the Soviets that they canceled the 1972 Soviet-American trade agreement, stopped payment on World War II lend-lease debts, and reduced the number of Jews permitted to emigrate (Mathias 1981:995). Jackson-Vanik strained overall U.S.-Soviet relations and left the impression that a gamble was taken for the sake of human rights and emigration goals without regard for other, and possibly larger, issues of geopolitical stability (Keely 1995:237).

Ethnic groups' influence on U.S. policy generally is limited to the narrow objective of securing access to the United States for members of the nationality or ethnic group abroad (Miller & Papademetriou 1983:180). According to Teitelbaum and Weiner (1995:26):

American ethnic groups can claim considerable success, since the 1960s at least, in the framing and resolution of public debate about the criteria for immigrant and refugee admission, the ele

ments of law underlying control of immigration, and the feasibility and seriousness with which immigration enforcement efforts have been granted.

Examples of this influence include the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, the Morrison-Lautenberg Amendment that lowered the definitional barriers for "refugees" only for Soviet Jews and Evangelical Christians, the Refugee Act of 1980, the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, and "diversity" visas pursuant to the 1990 Immigration Act.

Despite the fact that ethnic groups in the United States traditionally have pursued policies consistent with U.S. national

interests, there appears to be much consternation about the role that post-1965 Immigration Act immigrants, largely Latin American and Asian, will play

in the foreign policymaking process. Mexican-Americans, for example, have not indicated greater interest than other ethnic groups in issues related to their homeland or Latin America generally, and those who have long been in the

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United States exhibit the same reduction in ethnic group identity as any other group. Mexico does not appeal to

U.S. citizens of Mexican origin to support Mexico's interests in this country. Mexican-American attitudes towards

immigration do not appear to be determined by concern for Mexico. Nor do Mexican-Americans view the problems facing the United States substantially different than the general public (Glazer 1985:212-14). There is no evidence that the retention of Mexican cultural practices has prevented Mexican-Americans from identifying with the U.S. political system (de la Garza 1985b:238). U.S. culture and politics continue to be powerful assimilative forces.

Mexican-American participation in the U.S. political process is remarkably similar to that of other ethnic and immigrant groups. It is affected by the same forces: education, income level, and the desgree of participation in professions from which political leaders are drawn. These factors have served to limit the political influence of Mexican-Americans, as was true of other immigrant and ethnic groups in the past (Glazer 1985:224). As

Mexican-American naturalization rates increase and Mexican-Americans increase their role in the policymaking process, their activities will come under increased scrutiny. However, there is nothing

to indicate that the role of Mexican-Americans in the policymaking process will be different in any material respect from other immigrant groups and their descendants.

Immigrants from Latin America or

Asia are unlikely to coalesce into monolithic groups. The political differences

between Cuban-Americans and Mexican- Americans, for example, means that a broad-based Latin American ethnic lobby is unlikely to form. Serious tensions exist between Mexican-Americans and Mexican émigrés (de la Garza 1985a:97). Similarly, historical differences between

Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese makes a broad Asian-American

political lobby unlikely. Successful integration into U.S. society is a prerequisite to successful influence on public policy; however full integration may

diminish the interest of ethnic groups in their culture or countries of origin (Teitelbaum & Weiner 1995:26).

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The mere presence of an immigrant group in the United States might cause that group's home country to insert

itself into the foreign policymaking process of the United States when issues affecting its nationals are involved.

Although Mexican government policy until the mid-to-late 1980s was "to have no policy" on the issue of illegal immigration to the United States, Mexico still negotiated the World War I, World War II, and bracero employment agreements with the United States. In 1982, in

response to Senate passage of the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill by a vote of 80 to 19, the Mexican Senate adopted a strongly worded resolution on "this grave matter that negatively affects our good neighbor relations," expressing its alarm and concern for the repercussions that would impact both countries if the Simpson-Mazzoli legislation were passed. Undocumented Mexican migration was called a "transcendent matter that should not be considered from a unilateral perspective, but rather should be treated from a bilateral and even

multilateral perspective" (Teitelbaum 1984:449).

In 1984, then Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid wrote:

The situation of Mexican migrant workers in the United States has been, and continues to be, of special interest [to Mexico]. We have reiterated our support for the rights and interests of Mexican nationals abroad. We have no intention of meddling in the legislative processes of the United States. But we express our concern over measures such as the Simpson-Mazzoli bill which could affect the social, labor, and human rights of

numerous Mexicans, whose daily work and efforts represent considerable benefit to the U.S. economy (Teitelbaum 1985:32-3).

As Mexico began to liberalize its economy and play a more active role in world economic affairs, it also increased its engagement with the United States on migration issues. Today the Mexican

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government pursues three major objectives in regard to migration: protection of the rights of emigrants; avoidance of abrupt changes in United States immigration policy; and recognition for Mexican migrant contributions to the United States. As emigration issues increasingly require a multilateral approach it is to

be expected that sending countries will

seek participation in the U.S. foreign policymaking process as it affects these matters.

One example of migrant-sending countries seeking participation in the U.S. policymaking process was the lobbying of President Clinton on immigration

issues by foreign heads of state during his 1997 trip to Latin America and the Caribbean. A joint statement concerning immigration was issued with President Zedillo in Mexico. In a speech in Mexico City, President Clinton felt compelled to defend recent U.S. laws affecting immigration. In Cost Rica, the President of El Salvador, Armando Calderon Sol, proposed an amnesty for some immigrants from Central America. Central American leaders expressed concerns that the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and

Immigrant Responsibility Act would compel the return of hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the United States, causing damage to local economies by creating strains on the job market and the loss of remittances from the United States. In both Mexico and Costa Rica, President Clinton pledged to seek a change in the Illegal Immigration

Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that would force illegal

immigrants to return home while they waited for legal status (Bennet 1997:A6). In Barbados, Caribbean leaders offered pointed criticism of U.S. immigration policies.

The increased number of deportations of legal and illegal immigrants from the United States because of criminal convictions has resulted in increasing crime and pressures on the criminal justice systems in their home countries. Throughout Central America and the Caribbean government officials have expressed anger and frustration at a crisis they regard as caused by the United States and beyond their ability to control (Rohter 1997:A1). Several regional

leaders raised this issue with President

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Clinton during his May trip to the


Some ambassadors of Asian governments to Washington have acted as bridges to their own immigrant communities and have sought to encourage their former nationals in the United States to lobby on their behalf on issues that affect the sending country. Some Asian embassies and their intelligence organizations have monitored the activities of their citizens or former citizens in the United States (Weiner 1990:194). The 1984 murder of Henry Liu in San Francisco, a Chinese-American who had written a book

critical of Taiwanese President Chiang Ching-Kuo, resulted in the arrest and conviction of the former head of Taiwan's

intelligence service for plotting the


Both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China have attempted to use the presence of Chinese-Americans to advance their state's interests. Both governments take the view that overseas Chinese are migrants who retain ties to China and eventually will return home. This bond legitimizes efforts by the two

Chinese governments to seek assistance from the overseas Chinese (Weiner 1990:197).

The presence of forty thousand Chinese students in the United States led the People's Republic of China to inject

itself into the debate over the proposed Chinese Student Protection Act after the Tiananmen Square killings in June 1989. In vetoing the bill, President Bush

expressed his hope that China would

object less to his administrative action to protect the students than the vetoed legislation (Pear 1989:A24). In 1996, U.S. law enforcement agencies received evidence that the People's Republic of China planned to try to influence U.S. elections by contributing money to political

campaigns. It is unclear whether such donations were made and whether any

such money was laundered by Asian-Americans; congressional hearings into these allegations continue (Rosenbaum 1997:B9).

The Indian government has encouraged the Indian community in the United States to support Indian foreign policy objectives in Washington actively,

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seeking, for example, to persuade Congress not to provide military assistance to Pakistan (Weiner 1990:203-04).

Despite such efforts, migrants are not automatically instruments of their home countries' foreign policies. Substantial numbers of the immigrant groups in the United States from such countries as Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Korea, and Cuba fled their countries of origin as a result of persecution. Not only are they unwilling to advance the interests of their home countries, on many occasions they make up opposition political groups that pressure the United States to insist on free elections, respect for human rights, and democratic reforms in their home countries.

Foreign politicians seek political support and monetary contributions from their countrymen residing in the United States. Dominican presidential candidates campaigned in New York City during their 1996 elections. The winner Leonel Fernandez Reyna grew up in New York City. In 1978, Ecuadoran presidential candidate Jaime Roldos campaigned in

New York City and in 1980, Italian parliamentary candidates vied for absentee votes in the United States. Israel may have as many as 500,000 citizens living in the United States, which would probably be the most significant case within the United States of an expatriate community's political influence (Miller & Papademetriou 1983:169-70). It is not apparent that the campaign activities of foreign politicians on U.S. soil have had any effects on the foreign policymaking process in the United States.

Increasing nationalization rates raise the issue of dual citizenship. There is no internationally agreed-upon principle governing dual citizenship. Therefore, the effect of an individual's acquisition of another citizenship on his or her

existing citizenship varies widely (Goldstein & Piazza 1996:517). For some countries, citizenship may carry with it an obligation to perform military service or pay taxes. Citizenship may be a

prerequisite to property ownership,

employment, social welfare benefits, or university attendance. Dual citizenship is more tolerated than explicitly accepted

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by both the U.S. and many other

governments. The U.S. State Department notes:

. . . while recognizing the existence of dual nationality and permitting Americans to have other nationalities, the U.S. Government does not endorse dual

nationality as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries upon dual national U.S. citizens often place them in situations where their obligations to one country are in conflict with the laws of the other (Goldstein & Piazza 1996:518).

The concern over dual citizenship is that it may weaken the allegiance or commitment of an individual to the country where he or she is naturalized. For the United States, the assimilative process advanced by naturalization may be

diminished. However, should dual citizenship prove to be a problem, it could be addressed by treaty as some countries have already done (Goldstein & Piazza 1996:519).

While dual citizenship currently does not pose a problem for U.S. foreign policymaking, it is an issue that bears watching. Ireland recently changed its nationality laws to allow for dual citizenship. Colombia, Ecuador, Turkey, and Italy have done the same. In December 1996, constitutional amendments were passed that, when implemented, will

allow Mexicans to naturalize in another country without automatically losing Mexican citizenship.

Immigrants and ethnic groups do influence U.S. foreign policy, but in a circumscribed manner. The success of ethnic lobbies in influencing U.S. foreign policy is limited to those circumstances where the policy in question affects the homeland of the ethnic group, where the issue involved does not threaten U.S. national security, where there is no equally effective lobbying effort against the proposed policy, and where the proposed policy is within the mainstream of overall U.S. foreign policy. If any of these circumstances is absent, the proposed policy will likely fail.

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Ethnic lobbies are part of the U.S. political scene. They are historically mainstream in their objectives. Ethnic lobbies serve as a useful voice and can even be a corrective to conventional wisdom. They have the same right to present views concerning the national interest as other Americans (Keely 1995:242). There is no reason to believe that as the post-1965 immigrant groups become more active in the policymaking process their behavior will differ from that of earlier ethnic groups.


Whether one subscribes to traditional or modern ideas of national security, it is fair to conclude that under certain circumstances immigration can pose a threat to national security. Immigration is closely intertwined with foreign policy and national security, with each acting upon and being influenced by the other. To advance national security, U.S. foreign policy has been used to stimulate or

inhibit migratory movements. The historical lack of attention by foreign policy

decisionmakers to immigration has

resulted in unintended migration to the United States. Virtually every type of foreign policy tooleconomic, military, trade, or propagandahas been used at one time or another to respond to concerns arising from immigration.

The perception of and response to immigration by U.S. policymakers is seen in the context of U.S. national security. During the Cold War era when communism posed a clear and imminent threat, immigration policy was used to stimulate defections from communist countries and inhibit it from repressive allies. In the post-Cold War era, where no such obvious and imminent threat exists,

immigration policy has become more

restrictive in response to domestic political perceptions.

Immigrants and their descendants

attempt to influence U.S. foreign policy in the same manner as other interest groups. However, historically their successes have been limited almost entirely to those situations where their goals were consistent with prevailing U.S. national

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security needs. The presence of immigrants in the United States creates situations where foreign governments become involved in attempting to influence U.S. foreign policy and immigration policy either to protect their countrymen in the U.S. or their national interests that may be advanced by the presence of their nationals in the United States.

As advances in travel and communication make migrations increasingly easy, the ramifications of foreign policy decisions upon immigration will need more than ever to become an established part of the foreign policy decisionmaking process. The connections and implications between these issues need more focused attention. Addressing migration concerns effectively requires multilateral approaches and cooperation with international agencies.


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