President Obama is putting immigration reform front and center on the political agenda, bringing together political, business, and religious leaders in a major White House meeting on Tuesday to focus on "fixing our nation's broken immigration system for our 21st-century economic and national security needs." But America's status as a magnet for immigrants already appears to be slipping, according to a new comprehensive measure developed by the British Council and the Brussels-based Migration Policy Group.
The Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) rates the EU nations' (plus Norway, Switzerland, Canada, and the U.S. -- 31 countries in all) efforts to integrate immigrants according to 148 policy indicators, which range from opportunities for education and political participation to levels of protection against discrimination, from prospects for reuniting with family to the likelihood of achieving permanent residence status and citizenship.
For those keeping score, Sweden ranked first, Portugal second, and Canada third. The U.S. was ninth! The map below shows the scores for the 31 countries measured by the Index.
This new Index is an important advance in the way we measure openness to immigrants. Previous studies, including my own previous work on the subject, for example, in The Flight of the Creative Class, gauge openness or tolerance by measuring the share of immigrants in the general population, or more commonly, with reference to surveys of attitudes toward immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, or other excluded groups. The MIPEX measures something different and deeper -- the degree to which nations successfully integrate and proactively include immigrants. Still it is closely correlated with those other measures of openness and tolerance, such as Gallup surveys which measure openness to ethnic and racial minorities (.66) and to gays and lesbians (.68).