Dr. Alexandra Piñeros-Shields, Brandeis, to Speak
At Needham Immigration Public Forum, February 28
Needham residents will have an opportunity to gain an understanding of immigration reform proposals currently being debated on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, February 28, a free public forum entitled “Immigration: How Do We Fix a Broken System?” will be held 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm at the Needham Free Public Library. The program is co-sponsored by the Needham Area Immigration Justice Task Force and the League of Women Voters of Needham and features an invited speaker, Alexandra Piñeros-Shields, PhD, Senior Research Associate in the Center for Youth and Communities at The Heller School for Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Some of Dr. Piñeros-Shields’ expertise areas are immigration policy history, cross-national immigrant solidarity, and public policy.
Immigration law-making in the US has in large part been a reaction to crises and political pressures, and the creation of terms that affect groups in different ways. In 1990 a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) law was passed to give people temporary status due to the dangers of civil war or natural disaster in their country. It does not lead to permanent resident status. With TPS, individuals settle in the US, work and pay taxes, but they cannot vote nor return home if there is family illness or crisis there. Plus, the TPS eventually expires. The 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act abolished the national-origins quota system used since the 1920s. The new law allowed a family to sponsor a spouse, parent, child or sibling so that this person can live in the US. The law also allowed employers to sponsor individuals with needed skills. Yet the applicant first has to go through the Department of Labor (DOL) and prove to the DOL that the type of work this person can do is needed in the US. Thus, the law is skill-based.
“Disparate policies treat groups differently; this is enormously confusing and a barrier to immigrant families,” comments Dr. Piñeros-Shields. Comprehensive reform has the potential to treat people equally, no matter their skills or their country of origin. A Q&A following the talk by Dr. Piñeros-Shields at the Public Forum, February 28, will enable Needham residents to join the discussion and learn about opportunities to advocate.