Student OpEd: Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration: Hold Your Applause

By Kate Segal

Kate Segal_headshotIn the United States of America, a homophobic, climate-change denier who thinks that the government “creat[es] dependency, destroy[s] individual responsibility” and that in “the last 15 years, there has been no recorded [global] warming,” just became the first candidate for the 2016 presidential election. If this is the type of leader our country has to look forward to, it is a scary time to be anyone except a wealthy, heterosexual, white man.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose Cuban background does little to mask his xenophobia, also has a track record of staunchly opposing immigration reform and amnesty. So when President Obama passed the Immigration Accountability Executive Action in November 2014, which he claims would enable up to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. to obtain temporary legal status and work permits, the state of Texas led the charge to block it. On February 16, 2015, Texas judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction to halt implementation of the executive action after a coalition of 26 states alleged that Obama had gone beyond the scope of his powers. The move prolongs the serious exclusion from the country’s social and economic fabric that noncitizens contend with every day. Senator Cruz called it a “HUGE victory for rule of law.”

As an activist with several years of professional and academic focus on migrants’ rights in the U.S., the GOP’s anti-immigration stance comes as no surprise. But before laying blame solely on the GOP for the country’s state of immigration, let’s take a look at the Obama administration’s track record. It has deported more non-U.S. citizens than any of its predecessors, with the number of deportations steadily increasing over the past few years. Over 438,000 non-citizens were deported in 2013, up from 418,397 deportations in 2012 and 387,134 in 2011. Though President Obama says that any immigration reform should focus on “stopping the people at the borders, reinforcing our effectiveness there, going after criminals and felons who are in our midst,” fewer than half of those deported in 2013 had prior criminal convictions. While President Obama paints pictures of the “striving young student” or the “hard-working mom … snatched from her child,” he glosses over the ramp-up of detentions and deportations of these very people on his watch.



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GPIA Alumnus Mitchell Cook, Researches the Influence of Information Systems on Municipal Finance in India, as Fulbright Scholar

cook_mitchellMitchell Cook is a graduate of the International Affairs program where he focused on cities and urbanization taking one semester to conduct independent research on land use policies in Chongqing, China. His graduate thesis focused on regional development in India and led to consulting work with the Asian Development Bank after finishing. Mitchell is currently a Fulbright Scholar in India where he is conducting dissertation research as part of a PhD program in Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. His ongoing research is centered on how rapidly growing cities in the developing world implement municipal finance reforms and how those reforms affect urban governance and accountability.



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Prof. McCandless in Experts Workshop on Assessing Resilience

IMG_0481Dr. McCandless is participating this week (April 16-17) in a Global Methodology Workshop Session of Experts on Frameworks for Assessing Resilience (FAR).


The Framework for Assessing Resilience (FAR) is a two year program created by Interpeace and funded by the Swedish Cooperation – SIDA. By way of a mixed methods approach that includes dialogue, surveys and participatory action research implemented at the country level, supplemented by a literature and practice review, this project aims to develop locally-owned and context-specific tools (frameworks, indicators, methodologies and guidance) that can be used to assess resilience in conflict-affected societies. This workshop aims to provide intellectual stimulus and strategic orientation to the implementation of the FAR project and also to serve as a forum for sharing and testing the emerging reflections from the FAR project with expert scholars and practitioners working on resilience in the peacebuilding field. Professor McCandless is spearheading discussions on “Assessment methods” and “Policy Implications.” She worked with Interpeace for two years to design and build the foundations of this program, in particular around surveying the academic and policy field on resilience, and in methodology development.




Ecomodernism: A Call for More Technology to Address Climate Change

Blog post written by Professor Rick McGahey, Director, Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management, and SCEPA Faculty Fellow



Professor Rick McGahey

A provocative new document on global environmental challenges says that “climate change and other global ecological challenges are not the most important immediate concerns for the majority of the world’s people. Nor should they be.” Is this just the latest self-regarding propaganda from international agribusiness and oil companies? No, the statement comes from the new “manifesto” just released on “eco-modernism.” 

The ecomodernists are associated with the Breakthrough Institute, founded by activists associated with the Apollo Alliance and other thinkers who want a more dramatic move to clean energy to spur economic growth while reducing carbon release and environmental damage. Eduardo Porter has a positive piece on the manifesto in the New York Times

The manifesto calls explicitly for more urban development and growth, arguing that is the best way to increase the standard of living for the world’s population. They see the possibility of a greener, better managed way of living in a more urban-centered world. 

The manifesto explicitly rejects what they view as romantic visions of rural living and subsistence agriculture. The authors argue that “The average per-capita use of land today is vastly lower than it was 5,000 years ago, despite the fact that modern people enjoy a far richer diet. Thanks to technological improvements in agriculture, during the half-century starting in the mid-1960s, the amount of land required for growing crops and animal feed for the average person declined by one-half.”



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Urban Policy Alumna Justine Gonzalez

Gonzalez PhotoJustine Gonzalez began her career in criminal justice advocacy as an investigator with The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, a holistic public defense practice. There she learned about many of the collateral consequences of court involvement. Later, she worked with The Henry Street Settlement as a Success Mentor for chronically absent high school students, a city-wide initiative spurred by the Mayor’s Task Force on Truancy and Absenteeism. Justine worked with her mentees out of their public high school to get to the root causes of their absenteeism. More importantly though, from this experience she learned that she loves learning from and advocating for young people who lack the resources and privileges that others possess. She is excited to continue her career in youth justice atexalt, where she currently works as a Program Coordinator. exalt is an education and internship placement program that trains court involved youth in the soft skills needed in the professional world. Justine holds a Master’s of Science in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School and a Bachelor’s degree from Smith College. Justine was born and raised in New York City.


Justine Graduated from Milano in 2014.



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