Cornell University

International Programs

117 Ives Hall, 607-254-7255


December 14 2005

Ashleigh Provenzano Awarded International Travel Grant


Ashleigh ProvenzanoInternational Programs has awarded ILR senior Ashleigh Provenzano an International Experience Grant to conduct her honors thesis research in Spain during Winter break. The following is a summary of Ashleigh’s research project. We look forward to posting an update on her visit to Spain and her research findings next semester. Ashleigh's honors thesis advisor is Professor Maria Cook.

International Programs will award a limited number of small grants to ILR undergraduate and graduate students in Spring 2006. Proposals for Summer 2006 and Fall 2006 projects/travel are due February 17, 2006 (read details).

Summary of Ashleigh Provenzano’s Honors Research in Spain

Over the past five years, controversy over immigration into Spain has grown both within the European Union and within Spain. Many politicians argue that the arrival of immigrants has increased the competitiveness of the labor market, decreased wages, and posed a cultural threat to Spanish society. Spain provides an interesting and unique case study because of its apparent need to reconcile two conflicting factors since it is now affiliated with the EU. The first is its obligation to adopt strict immigration controls and detect and expel illegal migrants (common procedures set forth under the Schengen Treaty and EU policy), and the second is its economic attractiveness to migrants because of its inability to regulate immigration efficiently.

In May 2005, Spain declared amnesty for 700,000 illegal immigrants, going head to head with the Europe-wide initiative to crack down on immigrants. The divergence of views and the contrast of EU versus Spanish policy will be interesting to study. In looking at immigrant and host country characteristics of Spain, as well as domestic labor market and redistribution effects from immigration, I hope to glean a better understanding of the universal phenomenon of immigration and the implications it has on various aspects of society.

In focusing my thesis research on Madrid, a region heavily populated by immigrant workers, I will investigate wages, unemployment, and demographic shifts as a result of the regularization programs that have occurred over the past 20 years. Most of the data for previous regularization programs can be obtained through government reports. However, since this type of data is not yet available for the most recent and most controversial regularization program, I will focus my fieldwork research in Spain on surveying the impact and response to this event as gleaned from personal interviews and first-hand accounts.

In order to gather information on the response of the latest regularization program, I will interview key constituencies such as immigrants’ rights organizations. Rights and support organizations located in Madrid include Interculturalia, Red Acoge Federación de Asociaciones Pro Inmigrantes, and Comisión General Justicia y Paz de España” An understanding of the impact of the most recent program from a participant perspective would not only greatly aid my research, but would similarly provide interesting insight on an aspect which cannot be grasped via data. I would like to interview leaders of these organizations, and also draw on such organizations as a resource in order to contact and interview immigrants living and working in Spain.

I will establish contact by email before I depart for Spain to schedule the interviews and to provide information on the type of information I will be looking for. I will ask questions regarding the accessibility, limitations, structure, and reactions to the process, as well as questions related to immigrant networks, the decision and reason for applying, and the benefits they see in doing so, among others. Responses from immigrant organizations as well as from individual immigrants are critical to understanding the regularization policy that Spain employs and the climate it creates as a result. This type of research cannot be completed via literature or phone interviews, and rather must be obtained directly from the country of interest.

Fieldwork Plan

I plan to spend about two weeks or more in Madrid conducting interviews with immigrant rights groups, immigrants themselves, and officials in the Interior Ministry who deal with Spanish immigration policy. At the Interior Ministry I plan to interview someone on the coordination of foreigners and recent immigration trends since the 2005 regularization. I would also like to interview someone regarding the recent violence in the immigrant portals of Ceuta and Melilla.

Similarly, I hope to conduct interviews with immigrants’ rights groups and the UGT (General Workers Union) on their stance and view of illegal immigrants and the effect they have on the labor movement. Lastly, I would go to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs for more information regarding the processing of the 700,000 applications that were submitted in the latest 2005 regularization program. Through interviewing various government officials and independent rights organizations I hope to develop a deeper understanding of the various perspectives regarding this issue.

As a final note, I would like to add I am fluent in Spanish, and having lived in Spain, I am very familiar with the City of Madrid. Both of these details will enable me to easily and efficiently accomplish the goals I have set for my fieldwork research. Given my familiarity with both the language and the city, I will be able to hit the ground running upon arrival.