Volume 12 (2015)

Michigan Journal of Public Affairs Volume 12 (complete volume)

Head Start and Parental Mental Health: Differentiated Impacts of Head Start by Cohort and Comparison Group 

Patrick Balke

The burden of childcare can affect parental mental health, an important determinant of early childhood environmental quality. This is especially true for low-income households. Head Start provides free and public childcare for low-income families that can potentially ameliorate the burdens of childcare by improving parental health. This paper uses random assignment under the Head Start Impact Study to test for Head Start’s causal impact on parental mental health.Head Start’s impact is found to differ across cohorts, with positive results found only for the three-year-old cohort in 2003, the first year of the study and this cohort’s only year in the program. Further, this paper examines differences in childcare-seeking behavior to identify changes between cohorts and across time, and identifies contamination of the control group as a possible explanation for these mixed results.


Deportation in the United States: A Historical Analysis and Recommendations 

Marc Edward Jacome

Since September 11th, 2001, the United States has relied on the deportation of noncitizens as a central component of its national security strategy. Over the past decade, the deportation system has expanded the scope of noncitizens deportable by law while simultaneously restricting the rights of those noncitizens to challenge their deportation. The recent surge in deportation is part of a longer history of xenophobic3 politics that have facilitated the creation of an exceptionally rigid system existing outside of traditional judicial checks and balances. This paper traces the history of xenophobic deportation policies and explores the critical legal decisions that have expanded the scope and power of deportation authority. In light of this history, the United States should create a more democratically accountable system that guarantees judicial review and reverses past policies influenced by xenophobia.


Actively Managing Risky Behavior: How the Insurance Industry Should Address a Changing Climate

Collin Gannon

On March 13, 2015, the BBC reported a category-5 cyclone that ripped through the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, damaging up to 90% of capital city Port Vila’s buildings and housing infrastructure. Just months earlier, the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal flirted with the idea of recognizing the world’s first “climate refugees,” thereby granting refugee status to a family fleeing the effects of climate change in the island nation of Tuvalu (McAdam 2014). Even here at home, Governor Brown of California ordered mandatory water use restrictions in response to a winter of record-low snowfall following a four-year period of drought (Nagourney2015, April 1). Whatever the cause may be, the effects of a changing climate are proving to be costly, life-threatening, and a major cause for concern for policymakers worldwide.

This paper will briefly present the far-reaching consequences of climate change, particularly natural disasters, and the state of modern environmental law seeking to mitigate climate change. I will then argue that climate change mitigation requires a multi-faceted approach and in this respect, the insurance industry, through policy construction and litigation, can play a substantial role in both reducing greenhouse emissions and mitigating the destructive effects of climate change. Several recent cases are presented that demonstrate effective strategies and potential best practices for insurers in developed and developing nations alike.


Building a Lasting Peace in Colombia: Recommendations for Social and Political Transformation

Patricia P. Padilla

The purpose of this article is to analyze the dynamics that create and perpetuate violence in Colombia, as well as to identify opportunities for social transformation. First, I present a historical background of the violence in Colombia and describe how this violence has been altered, but not ended, by the creation of a new constitution and by multiple exclusionary agreements between the warring parties. Second, I analyze the tensions inside the new development model proposed in the 1991 constitution. Third, I argue that the current peace negotiations with FARC are a window of opportunity to promote a more inclusive political framework in the country. This article identifies some of the elements that are fundamental to creating peace in the long run in Colombia. The final section offers recommendations to move towards a lasting peace.


Drug Trafficking, Gang Violence, and the U.S. Immigration Crisis

Christopher Palmer

This paper argues that the United States needs to reduce violence caused by drug trafficking in Central America in order to address the unaccompanied minor immigration crisis. Recent policy proposals, including President Obama’s executive actions from 2012 to 2015 and The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, follow historical U.S. policy trends, which alter domestic policy to address the influx of new groups of people. Traditionally, U.S. policymakers have either created laws that prohibited certain groups from becoming citizens or have promoted permissive policies that gradually relaxed barriers to gaining citizenship. However, these policy trends fail to address the major cause of the immigration crisis: gang violence (Velez 2014). Additional military and economic support to Central and South America should strengthen governmental institutions and subsequently reduce the high rates of violence. This paper will first examine the approach the United States has taken regarding the illicit drug trade and how these policies have affected the Central American and Caribbean region. From this perspective, domestic drug control policies and the market for illegal drugs in the United States will be discussed. I will then highlight the link between gang violence and trafficking of drugs through Central America. Finally, I will comment on both President Obama’s and Congress’s proposed policies and their potential effects.


Growth Amid Decline: A Spatial Analysis of the Hispanic Population Change in Michigan and Detroit

Miguel Bonilla-Zarrazaga and Nathan Gire

Michigan is a state with a contradictory population change: unlike the decrease of the habitants for the overall population, the population of Hispanic people has increased in past years. According to some leaders of the Hispanic community and current literature, the change in Hispanic population is due to natural growth of the population as opposed to increased immigration. In a period of long-term mass immigration to the United States (US) and a particularly sharp decline in Michigan’s population, this fact introduces concerns for policymaking. Using in-person interviews and spatial analysis techniques, we will analyze trends in the Hispanic population in Michigan and Wayne County in order to formulate a hypothesis on the growth characteristics of the Hispanic population in Michigan and in particular Wayne County, where Detroit is located.

We will start describing relevant literature to understand the phenomena in other parts of the country. Then, we will test the narrative of increased immigration and overall population decrease in both Michigan and within Wayne County, which contains a substantial portion of Detroit. As a further step, using data from the US Census Bureau from 1990 to 2010, we will describe state-level changes in population and how that maps to the expectations of interviewed experts of the Hispanic population of Michigan. Next, we will focus on Wayne County, which contains much of Detroit, including the area known colloquially as Mexicantown.