Douglas Massey

Douglas S. Massey is the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor of Sociology and chair of the sociology department at the University of Pennsylvania.

Recent Articles

Closed-Door Policy

At the dawn of the 21st century, the United States offers a contradictory model of global economic openness. American policy has relentlessly promoted open commerce, leading the way by freeing its own markets to foreign investment, trade and travel. America's own borders have become increasingly open for flows of capital, goods, commodities, information and certain favored classes of people: entrepreneurs, scientists, students, tourists and corporate employees. When it comes to the movement of ordinary labor, however, America has not sought openness. Rather, the thrust of U.S. policy since the 1950s has been to make it more difficult for workers to enter the United States in search of jobs, except via narrow programs under corporate control. This contradiction is nowhere more apparent than in U.S. relations with Mexico, which together with Canada is our largest trading partner. Since 1986, U.S. officials have worked closely with officials in both countries to create an integrated...

The Race Case

One of the pleasant fictions that helps justify the Bush administration's opposition to affirmative action is the pretense that America has left behind the evils of segregation and achieved something approaching a race-blind society. "Every day that our nation was segregated was a day our nation was unfaithful to our founding ideals," the president said in response to Sen. Trent Lott's (R-Miss.) ill-considered remarks about Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.). The president's use of the past tense is indicative of a broader conceit in American society: that the era of racial segregation is over and people are free to live wherever their dreams and resources can take them, regardless of skin color. Unfortunately, when it comes to where we live, we are still very much a racially segregated society. A recent U.S. Census report confirms that blacks and whites continue to occupy separate neighborhoods in large U.S. cities. The most common measure of residential segregation is an index that ranges...

March of Folly:

Supposedly, NAFTA will lead to increased movement of goods and services between Mexico and the United States -- but not to more movement of people. That, however, reflects a fundamentally mistaken view of migration. A better understanding should reframe our entire immigration policy.

O n January 1, 1994, Mexico joined Canada and the United States in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating a free trade zone stretching from the Guatemala border to the Arctic Ocean. Despite the continent-wide opening of capital, consumer, and commodity markets, however, NAFTA does not envision a parallel opening of labor markets. On the contrary, NAFTA was sold as a means of preventing labor migration from Mexico. According to former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, through NAFTA Mexico sought "to export goods and not people." In keeping with this sentiment, migration issues were largely excluded from the final agreement, leaving each country free to pursue its own immigration policy. Indeed, the United States has sought to restrict sharply the entry of Mexican workers. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) sharply increased the border patrol's budget and imposed new sanctions against employers who hired undocumented workers. IRCA's passage...