Sometimes even the best of us turn into hacks and armchair pundits when the conversation turns to a political hot potato. When real, provable facts are not part of our day-to-day learning, we arm ourselves instead with seemingly logical arguments leveraged on a single news item, anecdote, or rumor.
On the subject of immigration, Jorge Durand and Douglas Massey describe the dynamic of uninformed dialogue, in their book Crossing the Border (free excerpt here):
However presented, narratives about immigrants and their effects are likely to be constructed with few facts and little empirical research. One of the reasons that various parties to the immigration debate can get away with repeated exaggerations and sometimes outright confabulations is the absence of objective data to gainsay any assertion they might make, however wild. In the absence of valid, reliable, and relevant data, one can make almost any claim about the causes, characteristics, and consequences of immigration, find anecdotal evidence of seeming verisimilitude to support it, and then proceed as if the claim were true without fear of falsification.Next Tuesday, September 7, Mr. Durand will lead a panel of experts appearing in a roundtable at the prestigious First Amendment Center. The fact- and research-centered forum on economics and immigration is entitled, "Immigration in the Time of Economic Crisis: Downturns and Returns in US/Mexico Relations."
Here is the announcement from participating organization Conexion Americas:
Conexión Américas is proud to partner with The Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt, along with The Wilson Center, to host a roundtable discussion on the effects of the recent economic downturn on Mexican immigration to the United States. The panel will bring together leading experts to analyze the interrelation of immigration, economic crisis, and increased border security- and what this means for Mexico as well as the US.
Featured will be Jorge Durand, who is a leading expert on Mexican immigration issues. He is also a CLAS Visiting Resource Professor and the author of “Crossing the Border: Research from the Mexican Migration Project”. Panelists include Vanderbilt faculty Katharine Donato (Sociology) and Gary Gerstle (History) as well as David R. Ayón (Wilson Institute) and Conexion's executive director, Renata Soto.
The event is free and open to the public and will begin at 5pm with a reception, with the roundtable to follow at 6pm.There is a Facebook page for the event here. CLAS also has its own announcement here.