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Newcomers successful in starting new life despite tough immigration rules: study

Usha George, dean, Faculty of Community Services

Usha George, Dean of the Faculty of Community Services, was part of an international team of scholars who examined migration systems worldwide.

Migrants are exceptionally skilled at getting around immigration policies in search of a better life, finds a new multinational study.

"Even if a nation has a very structured immigration policy in place, there will always be legal and illegal immigrants. That's true in Canada, which has formal policies that encourage immigration, and throughout Europe, which has informal policies that essentially restrict it," says Usha George, Dean of Ryerson University's Faculty of Community Services. George was part of a 14-person international team of scholars that looked at migration systems around the world.

The researchers compared immigration policies and their outcomes in four regions: the movement of Poles and Ukrainians to Germany, Greece, Italy and Poland; the immigration of Moroccans to Belgium, Spain and France; the arrival of Turkish citizens in the Netherlands and the U.K.; and Mexican immigration to Canada and the U.S. The latter group was the focus of Dr. George's research.

The team found that migration control policies do not appear to be particularly relevant in stemming the flow of migrants. "In fact," George says, "restrictive policies, which are meant to control immigration, instead lead to a different and illegal type of immigration."

Once those newcomers arrive, they rely heavily on formal and informal ethnic communities to help them adjust to their surroundings. "People spend a great deal of time connecting with ethnic networks," says George, who has written extensively on newcomer settlement and integration. "But there are also negative effects associated with these kinship networks. For example, they may unintentionally provide incorrect information about accommodations or employment. Ultimately, though, social capital plays a major role in the immigration and settlement process."

The study was published in the November 2008 issue of the Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies. Funding for the project was provided by the European Foundation for Scientific Research, and the Swiss Foundation of Population and Immigration.



Suelan Toye
Public Affairs
Ryerson University
Office: 416-979-5000 x 7161

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