Stanford research explores the complexities of global immigration, from past to present
Global migration is a complicated issue facing people all over the world. Stanford scholars are turning to critical, social scientific inquiry to better understand its complexities.
Across the globe, people are on the move. Some migrate by choice – in pursuit of educational opportunity or economic mobility. But many are forced to flee their homes because of conflict, violence or environmental disaster.
Worldwide, the United Nations reports that there are currently 65.6 million people forcibly displaced. Europe is dealing with what is being called the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Meanwhile, in the United States, there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, representing 3.4 percent of the total population.
Global migration is one of the biggest issues facing people all over the world. According to Stanford researchers, it is also one of the most misunderstood.
“When it comes to immigration policy, people tend to rely on anecdotes and ideology rather than evidence,” said Duncan Lawrence, executive director of Stanford’s Immigration Policy Lab.
Lawrence and other Stanford scholars are researching immigration to help people better understand the issue. Here are some of their findings.
Addressing the implications of migration is undoubtedly complex. When it comes to policy, the politics of it can make it an even trickier issue. As Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Steven Callander has said in Stanford Business Insights, “Politics in practice is messier, largely because politicians are trying to solve hard, constantly changing problems.”
Immigration policy is one of those ever-evolving issues.
Stanford scholars have examined its implications, including legal concerns about citizenship, naturalization and the appeals process.
Effects & Outcomes
In addition to legal, political and economic impacts, immigration is connected to other outcomes, including health and well-being.
“There are a lot of beliefs about policies, but not a lot of evidence on how policies impact the undocumented and the communities in which they live,” said Jens Hainmueller, a professor of political science and faculty co-director of the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab, in a report about his study that addressed mental health of parents eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Michele Barry, director of the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, has said, “The number of refugees and internally displaced persons due to conflict is unprecedented.” Barry is also a principal investigator of a new campus-wide initiative to address the Syrian refugee crisis. “We believe universities have an important role to play in better understanding the impact and limitations of current aid strategies,” Barry said.
Here is some of the research led by Stanford scholars about the impact of immigration and government policy.
Reflecting on the past can provide useful insights into why problems persist, what policies work and, just as important, what doesn’t work.
“The best reason to study history is to discover past possibilities that are not apparent today,” said Stanford’s Richard White, a professor of American history, in an interview about his book that analyzes U.S. history from 1865 to 1896. “Many debates over today’s policy recommendations on how to solve American problems go back to the debates over Gilded Age policies.” Immigration is one of the topics White has studied.
Through a historical lens, Stanford researchers have examined global migration over decades and even centuries to better understand the social dynamics that exist today.
Here are some studies led by Stanford scholars that examine migration from a historical perspective.
Stanford is committed to supporting all members of the university community around issues of immigration enforcement and international travel.