News

Sociologist Alejandro Portes, fellow professors discuss circular immigration

Professors Jomills Braddock, David Abraham, Jorge Domínguez, Felicia Knaul and Alejandro Portes discuss the changing nature of migration at a panel about “The State and the Grassroots: Immigrant Transnational Organizations in Four Continents” at Richter Library Wednesday. Erum Kidwai // Staff Photographer

Professors Jomills Braddock, David Abraham, Jorge Domínguez, Felicia Knaul and Alejandro Portes discuss the changing nature of migration at a panel about “The State and the Grassroots: Immigrant Transnational Organizations in Four Continents” at Richter Library Wednesday. Erum Kidwai // Staff Photographer

University of Miami sociologist and author Alejandro Portes was joined by several other professors Wednesday afternoon to discuss themes from his new book, “The State and the Grassroots: Immigrant Transnational Organizations in Four Continents.” Portes, law professor David Abraham and director for the Miami Institute for the Americas Felicia Knaul were joined by Jorge Dominguez, the chair of the Harvard University Academy for International and Area Studies.

The talk was the first of a series, according to Knaul, and Portes was an ideal candidate to kick it off, being a UM professor and a recognized scholar in sociology. He was founding director of Princeton’s Center for Migration and Development. “The State and the Grassroots,” which was edited by Portes and Princeton lecturer Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, compares 18 grassroots organizations across the globe and how their infrastructure and activities help enable upward mobility for migrants.

A major point in the book and the discussion was the idea of “circular” migration, when a migrant returns to their homeland with the skills and resources they learned while away and contributes to the society they left. This, Portes said, is the solution to so-called “brain drain,” which occurs when nations with less opportunity lose talented individuals, creating a vacuum of development.

Portes used the examples of China and India to illustrate the benefit of circular migration patterns, as opposed to pressuring immigrants to assimilate to their new home and abandon their respective cultures. The attempt to force immigrants into a new society with no respect for where they came from “tends to backfire,” Portes said.

The discussion was particularly relevant in the larger picture of Miami as an enclave for Cuban immigrants who have assimilated to a degree, but maintained their culture. However, Portes said that due to the 60-year-long chasm between the United States and Cuba, the circular flow of growth and improvement has been cut off. This has never been as evident as in the light of current political disagreements over President Barack Obama’s visit to the island last week.

UM President Julio Frenk was in attendance as well, and he gave closing remarks. He said he was glad to get back to his “roots,” as he earned a doctorate degree in sociology at the University of Michigan. The role of universities in the global conversation about immigration – one that has become especially prominent during this presidential election cycle – is to set the standard for navigating multilayered issues, Frenk said.

“We are the source of that knowledge … We understand the intricacies and provide scholarship and knowledge; we perform a role in not just advancing our own academic endeavors, but we show the world how to deal with complex topics in an enlightened way,” Frenk said.

March 30, 2016

Reporters

Isabella Cueto

Isabella Cueto can be reached via email at editor@themiamihurricane.com and through Twitter at @isabellacueto


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

If defense really does win championships, the University of Miami is in good shape. Despite giving u ...

This is the Miami Hurricanes team that finally solved its long hex in finally winning at Florida Sta ...

1. HURRICANES: No. 3 Canes beat Virginia in home finale: ACC title game, first 10-win season since 2 ...

The No. 2 Miami Hurricanes are kings at keeping their fans in a panicked state — then filling them w ...

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Time again for the latest edition of the Canesfan Satisfaction Met ...

The Finker-Frenkel Legacy Foundation gift will establish the Business Plan Competition Endowed Fund. ...

C. David Naylor, a UM Presidential Scholar and public health policy expert, provided insight into he ...

A cohort of five religious leaders from Miami, including a rabbi and imam from the University of Mia ...

Hollywood actress and star of the hit BET series Being Mary Jane gets real about gender, race and co ...

The annual development agreement meeting is a time for the city and University to share information ...

Miami survived an early scare to beat Virginia, 44-28, and achieve its first 10-win season since 200 ...

The University of Miami volleyball team produced some late-match magic Friday night to outlast an in ...

Miami dropped a 67-61 decision to Colorado on Saturday afternoon in its first road game of the seaso ...

Here are three matchups to watch in Saturday's Senior Day game between the No. 3 Canes and Virg ...

Miami's seniors will play their final home game at Hard Rock Stadium when the Canes face Virgin ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.