By Jon Jeffryes
Topics surrounding immigration are frequently fraught with partisan point-scoring and scare tactics both locally and nationally. Recent issues have focused on the Trump administration’s policy of separating families of immigrants suspected of entering the United States illegally and recent plans to enact more restrictions around attaining visas and green cards.
Immigration issues often get emphasized in election years, but with its highly politicized treatment it can be difficult to decipher what’s true and what’s spin.
This post will help you navigate the flow of information, provide you with links to publicly available information, and point you to University of Minnesota Libraries’ resources to guide your understanding of issues surrounding the topic of immigration.
Freely available resources on immigration
As with most issues, the most direct way to get a handle on the complexity of a topic is to seek out primary resources. Many government documents are made publicly available and can be found with internet searches.
Many government departments present their data and reports on a single page
- S. Citizen and Immigration Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Each department has a particular focus and the reports and data they provide might be shaped by the biases of their overall mission.
The Homeland Security Digital Library has a featured topic page on immigration. Some documents aren’t completely available to the public but a lot of information is publicly accessible.
Popular news outlets cover different aspects of the topic. These sources include both original reporting and editorial commentary that cover these different aspects and provide a variety of viewpoints.
- New York Times: Immigration and Emigration / Illegal Immigration
- NPR: Immigration / Illegal Immigration
Library resources on immigration
Scholars and researchers have also been producing research on the topic. The Libraries owns a number of resources that might help inform readers from an academic perspective.
Recent books include:
- Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change by Janelle Wong
- Immigration Policy and the Shaping of US Culture : Becoming America by Roger White
- The Undocumented Everyday: Migrant Lives and the Politics of Visibility by Rebecca Mina Schreiber
University of Minnesota research and expertise
The University of Minnesota Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections has a world class resource on the history of immigration to North America, in our Immigration History Research Center Archives (IHRCA). The collection includes “personal papers as well as organizational records of ethnic and immigrant-formed groups, and of social service providers.”
The IHRCA is open to the public, but asks that researchers contact them in advance to ensure they receive the best level of research assistance.
The University’s Immigration Syllabus includes essential topics, readings, and multimedia that provide historical context to current debates over immigration reform, integration, and citizenship. The syllabus was created by Professor Erika Lee and other immigration historians affiliated with the U of M’s Immigration History Research Center and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.
Professor Katherine Fennelly of the Humphrey School has conducted research into the human rights of immigrants and refugees in the United States, and the preparedness of communities and public institutions to adapt to demographic changes. Additionally, the Humphrey School has created public facing media objects site called Civios, which focuses on the research of its faculty. A search of immigration brings up three podcasts.
A search of Experts@Minnesota can be used to identify local researchers on topics spanning Illegal Immigration, Immigration Law, Immigration Policy, Immigration, and Emigration and Immigration.
Ellen Engseth, Curator of Immigration History Research Center Archives and Head of Migration and Social Services Collections can help users navigate our historical special collection offerings. Government Publications Librarian, Alicia Kubas and Public Policy Librarian, Mary Schoenborn are resources in navigating library resources.
It is important to think about the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy that reminds researchers that “Authority Is Constructed and Contextual” when engaging with articles and posts to ensure that sources are reputable and reliable and to decipher potential agendas or biases.
Other free resources
IssueLab, a service of Foundation Center, provides research produced by social sector organizations on the issue of immigration.
About A Matter of Facts
A Matter of Facts was created by the University of Minnesota Libraries in June 2017 to provide students, faculty, scholars, and the public with reliable information resources related to topical issues. These include links to reputable media, books, academic/peer-reviewed articles, government documents, and to University of Minnesota experts.