Thursday, October 19, 2017

View Vacancy - Programme Manager (ARM518)


fco.tal.net

Foreign & 
Commonwealth 
Office


The British Government is an inclusive and diversity-friendly employer. We value difference, promote equality and challenge discrimination, enhancing our organisational capability. We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds. We do not discriminate on the basis of disability, race, colour, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, veteran status or other category protected by law. We promote family-friendly flexible working opportunities, where operational and security needs allow.

Job Category
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Policy & Political roles)

Job Subcategory

Political

Job Description (Roles and Responsibilities)
The British Embassy in Yerevan is part of a worldwide network, representing British political, economic and consular interests overseas and is currently looking for a Programme Manager to oversee the delivery of the Good Governance Fund in Armenia, ensuring value for money and policy impact of the projects funded. To lead the scoping of project activities, the monitoring and evaluation of the activities of the Fund, and lead on the provision of high quality narrative reporting to key stakeholders on the impact of the Fund in Armenia. To contribute to the Embassy’s input into the strategy and long-term design of the Fund.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:



  • Lead the scoping and establishment of projects to be funded via the Good Governance Fund, liaising with potential project implementers, Managed Fund service providers, beneficiaries and key policy officers within the Embassy, and advise the Embassy’s Project Board on project selection that best delivers the Embassy’s Country Business Plan; 
  • Lead the monitoring and evaluation of activity funded by the Good Governance Fund to ensure that the UK is receiving value for money for its spend at programme and project level, and that Managed Fund service providers are meeting their service level agreements; 
  • To manage the Embassy’s response to project documentation requests from London stakeholders – ensuring that terms of reference, procurement frameworks and project bids are accurate and support the Good Governance Fund delivering against Embassy objectives. Leading the delivery of timely narrative and financial reporting which demonstrates impact and value for money;Working with the Administrative Officer, liaison with project implementers and Managed Fund service providers to ensure that project activity is delivered on time and within budget; 
  • Contribute to the planning and delivery of public diplomacy activities related to the Good Governance Fund;
  • Oversight of the programme-related activity of and counter-signing officer for A2L Administrative Officer. Covering for Administrative Officer in their absence in providing advice to project implementers on financial requirements and providing financial reporting.

Essential qualifications and experience


  • University degree in political studies or related field; 
  • Understanding of UK, Armenian, and South Caucasus political context; 
  • A minimum of five years of relevant work experience, including evidence of programme management, engaging stakeholders, customers and partners at all levels; 
  • Effective communication, including written and spoken fluency in English and Armenian and ability to adapt communication style to different situations; 
  • Strong analytical and judgement skills; 
  • Ability and willingness to work effectively and flexibly including out of office hours; and to travel within Armenia and overseas occasionally; and to contribute to special events/occasions in the Embassy calendar; 
  • A self-starter that can work well both individually and in a team; Excellent organisational skills;
  • Willingness and desire for continual learning and development;
  • IT skills, including use of MS Word, Excel and Outlook;
  • The role is line managed by the Head of Programme and countersigned by HMA;
  • For this financial year, the focus will be on scoping and preparing GGF programming to start next financial year (from April 2018) with a raft of one-year and multi-year projects.

Required competencies
Seeing the Big Picture, Collaborating and Partnering, Delivering Value for Money, Delivering at Pace

Application deadline
2 November 2017

Grade
B3 (L)

Type of Position
Fixed Term, Full-time, Temporary, Flexible working

Working hours per week
35

Region
Europe, Eastern Europe & Central Asia

Country/Territory
Armenia

Location (City)
Yerevan

Type of Post
British Embassy

Number of vacancies
1

Starting monthly salary (AMD)
804,000 gross

Start Date
8 December 2017

End Date

31 March 2020

Other benefits and conditions of employment
The successful candidate will be subject to professional background and security clearance.

The successful candidate must have pre-existing work authorisation for the Armenia in order to apply. The British Embassy does not sponsor work permits.

Staff recruited locally by the British Embassy in Armenia are subject to Terms and Conditions of Service according to local Armenian employment law.

Additional information

Please note that the deadline for applications is 23:55 on the day mentioned in the above field “Application deadline”.

We advise you to allow enough time to complete and submit your full application, since only applications completed and submitted before the deadline will be considered.

Please be aware that the deadline for submitting applications is considered to be the time zone for the country where the vacancy has arisen.

Should DACA Recipients Become 'Cultural Ambassadors' to Their Home Countries?



Andrew R. Arthur, cis.org

On April 18, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13788, "Buy American and Hire American". Section 2(b) of that order states:
Hire American. In order to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to rigorously enforce and administer the laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad, including section 212(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act [INA].
According to an August 2017 article in the Wall Street Journal, as part of this effort: "The Trump administration is considering major reductions in cultural exchange programs, including those for au pairs and summer workers, that allow young people from foreign countries to work in the U.S."
The Journal continued:
People familiar with the conversations said the review includes the summer work-travel program, which brings more than 100,000 students to the U.S. each summer, often stationed in tourist destinations such as beach resorts and national parks. It also includes the smaller au pair program, through which foreigners live in American homes and provide child care as well as take classes and participate in intercultural exchanges with their host families. Other programs under discussion include those for camp counselors, interns and trainees.
As the State Department describes it, the "Summer Work Travel" (SWT) program allows:
College and University students enrolled full time and pursuing studies at post-secondary accredited academic institutions located outside the United States[to] come to the United States to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities.
Among the "benefits" of the SWT program, as the State Department explains it, is that it "provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and way of life in the United States."
These "cultural exchange programs" are authorized under section 101(a)(15)(J) of the INA, and are popularly known as "J-1" visas. Almost immediately after the news broke that there might be reductions to these programs, employers who utilize the SWT labor of J-1 workers, from ski resorts and National Parksto the beach vacation destinations, pushed back on any such limitations, asserting that it would be difficult to find new workers to replace any lost SWT employees.
In addition, a bipartisan group of 17 senators wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to express their view that: "This public diplomacy program has a long track record of success, providing an enriching exchange experience to a diverse pool of college and university students from across the globe, including from countries key to U.S. national security interests. ... at no expense to the American taxpayer."
My colleague Jerry Kammer detailed the criticisms of the SWT program in a 2011 report for the Center. Among those criticisms were that the program:
  • has become a cheap-labor program under the guise of cultural exchange;
  • has monetized a foreign policy initiative, creating a multi-million dollar SWT industry that generates enormous profits under the mantle of public diplomacy and presses for continual expansion around globe;
  • is so dominated by the State Department's concerns about international relations that it has become blind to the negative effects at home;
  • displaces young Americans from the workplace at a time of record levels of youth unemployment;
  • provides incentives for employers to bypass American workers by exempting SWT employers from taxes that apply to employment of Americans. Employers also don't have to worry about providing health insurance, since SWT students are required to buy it for themselves;
  • puts downward pressure on wages because it gives employers access to workers from poor countries who are eager to come to the United States, not just to earn money but also to travel within the country and burnish their resumes by learning English; ... and
  • has been exploited by criminals.
Proponents of the program argue that the benefits of SWT outweigh such concerns.
The international relations aspects of the SWT program are easy to understand. In essence, the argument goes, foreign nationals are able to come to the United States, be exposed to our culture and our values, and return home to spread a positive view of the United States, while utilizing the skills that they gained in this country to benefit their home country. For example, the State Department website for the J-1 program includes the following:
The students will return to Egypt, the Philippines, China, Thailand, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Jamaica with well-planned projects. As a student from Ukraine told me, this experience has changed her life. Many others reported the same. One student from Egypt remarked on how much the program developed his leadership skills, "I wondered all my life if I would be successful or not. Now I know I am." A young woman from Romania said, "I am changed. I was so shy, and now I can stand up and speak to an audience, and I am motivated to travel the world." These stories are a testament to the influence a skills-building exchange experience can have on a young person as they look to their future.
If such benefits accrue to foreign nationals who are only here for six months, imagine the skills and values that aliens who have spent a significantly longer period of time in the United States would carry back to their home countries. Such as DACA recipients.
To establish eligibility for DACA, an alien had to show that he or she:
[Was] under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
Came to the United States before reaching [his or her] 16th birthday;
Ha[d] continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
W[as] physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making [his or her] request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
[Was] currently in school, ha[d] graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, ha[d] obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or [was] an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
Ha[d] not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and d[id] not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Thus, the population of aliens who have received DACA benefits are working age individuals who have either received an education United States, or who are satisfied the educational standards in this country, or who have served in the all armed forces. Such individuals would plainly possess skills that are needed in any economy, developed or underdeveloped.
This is especially true, however, when the countries from which those aliens hail are taken into consideration. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the vast majority of those aliens were from Mexico, followed by significantly lower numbers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru.
With respect to Mexico, the CIA World Factbook states:
Mexico's current government, led by President Enrique PENA NIETO, has emphasized economic reforms, passing and implementing sweeping energy, financial, fiscal, and telecommunications reform legislation, among others, with the long-term aim to improve competitiveness and economic growth across the Mexican economy. Mexico began holding public auctions of exploration and development rights to select oil and gas resources in 2015 as a part of reforms that allow for private investment in the oil, gas, and electricity sectors. Mexico held its fourth auction in December 2016 and allocated 8 of 10 deepwater fields, demonstrating Mexico's capacity to attract investment amid low oil prices. The government will allocate additional fields in 2017.
This is clearly the sort of dynamic economy that would benefit from an influx of young educated workers. It is no wonder that Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray stated in September 2017 that: "For Mexico it will be a pleasure to receive the young DACA. They are talent and human capital for our country" before adding: "but if they want to stay in the country where they have grown up, we have a legal and moral obligation to support them to achieve their dreams."
It should also be noted that Transparency International, in its Corruption Perceptions index for 2016, put Mexico fairly low on the list, at 123 out of 176 countries with Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Honduras, Laos, Moldova, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone. As that organization explains:
The lower-ranked countries in our index are plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary. Even where anti-corruption laws are on the books, in practice they're often skirted or ignored. People frequently face situations of bribery and extortion, rely on basic services that have been undermined by the misappropriation of funds, and confront official indifference when seeking redress from authorities that are on the take.
It is beyond cavil that a population of nationals, who have lived in the United States, where such corruption is denounced by government officials, the press, and civil society, would resist this malfeasance after they have returned home. They would be a strong force for change and improvement, and could help to bring about needed reforms.
The same is true of El Salvador. Economically, while the CIA World Factbook reports it is:
The smallest country in Central America geographically, El Salvador has the fourth largest economy in the region. With the global recession, real GDP contracted in 2009 and economic growth has since remained low, averaging less than 2% from 2010 to 2014, but recovered somewhat in 2015-16 with an average annual growth rate of 2.4%. Remittances accounted for approximately 17.1% of GDP in 2016 and were received by about a third of all households.
In 2006, El Salvador was the first country to ratify the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, which has bolstered the export of processed foods, sugar, and ethanol, and supported investment in the apparel sector amid increased Asian competition. In September 2015, El Salvador kicked off a five-year $277 million second compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation - a US Government agency aimed at stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty - to improve El Salvador's competitiveness and productivity in international markets.
Although El Salvador has a nascent economy, it is one that would benefit from an influx of human capital, and especially from workers who are well educated and familiar with the outside world.
El Salvador is in a better corruption perceptions index position than Mexico. Transparency International ranks El Salvador 95 out of 176 countries, tying it with Argentina, Benin, Kosovo, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. That said, it is still a country that would benefit from an influx of citizens raised in a culture that did not countenance corruption, and there is no doubt that upon return, El Salvador's DACA recipients would militate for improvement and change.
Supporters of the J-1 SWT program make a strong, but somewhat unquantifiable, point when it comes to the diplomatic benefits of that program. Applying the same standard to recipients of DACA, the diplomatic benefits that would accrue to the United States and the home countries of those aliens would be even more impressive than they are for the home countries of the Poles and Romanians who are able to participate in the American culture and economy for a much briefer period of time under the SWT.

Uzbekistan, US mull interparliamentary co-op


azernews.az

By  Trend
Executive Director of the Open World Leadership Center [JB - see] John O’Keeffe and a delegation of Uzbekistan, on a visit to the US, discussed the ways to expand the Uzbek-US interparliamentary cooperation at the Library of the US Congress in Washington.
During the meeting, the delegation led by Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Foreign Economic Relations, Foreign Investment and Tourism of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis Alisher Kurmanov also discussed an exchange of visits of legislators of the two countries and development of parliamentary diplomacy tools.
The Open World Leadership Center was founded in 1999 upon the decision of the US Congress. The center organizes exchange programs to promote the development of public diplomacy.
During the visit the Uzbek delegation will hold several meetings with representatives of the US Congress and Administration, as well as experts from leading US think tanks.
The Uzbek delegation will also hold a briefing in the Senate with participation of representatives of the US political, business, expert, analytical and public circles.

5 Reasons Why Think Tanks Are Soft-Power Tools


Katarzyna Rybka-Iwanska, uscpublicdiplomacy.org


uncaptioned image from article


I risk a thesis that, outside of the Anglo-Saxon world (especially its U.S. part), think tanks are not very deeply analyzed, particularly when it comes to their broad and diverse impact on foreign policy and diplomacy. This, in turn, has significant consequences on how soft power is perceived and exercised there.
There is only one global index of think tanks that gains the attention of the whole think-tank world as well as that of decision-making circles. This is the Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, designed and published by a team headed by Professor James G. McGann at the University of Pennsylvania. On the other side of the pond, one can read U.K.-based Prospect magazine's annual Think Tank Awards.
If we speak of authors tackling think tanks, the majority of first names that come to mind represent Anglo-Saxon institutions. Starting with the above-mentioned James G. McGann, these authors include Donald E. Abelson (author of A Capitol Idea), Kent Weaver (from Georgetown University and the Brookings Institution), Diane Stone (from the University of Warwick and University of Canberra), James Smith (author of The Idea Brokers), Thomas Dye (Emeritus Professor, Florida State University) and G. William Domhoff (Distinguished Emeritus Professor, University of California).

The more that interest in the think-tank community widens towards other regions like Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, the more meaning that expert circles will gain within the decision-making process and within public diplomacy.

The obvious reason for this is the fact that the first think tanks were created in the U.K. (e.g. the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in 1831) and in the U.S. (e.g. the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1910 or the Hoover Institution in 1919). They have the longest history and tradition in the Anglo-Saxon sphere, and this is why the biggest agora of ideas is spread over the Atlantic Ocean. The more that interest in the think-tank community widens towards other regions like Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, the more meaning that expert circles will gain within the decision-making process and within public diplomacy. The process will be based more on expert analysis, and soft power fields will gain from think tanks’ commentary in various media, as well as their publications.
I have had the pleasure of working with experts, researchers and think tanks (inside and outside of the diplomatic world) from the very beginning of my career and find them extremely significant when I think of the soft power of any country.
From my perspective, there are five reasons why think tanks matter for soft power and public diplomacy:
  1. Think tanks provide analysis and advice, as well as rationale for decision-making. External experts, in addition to foreign diplomats, are today the most frequent guests in many ministries of foreign affairs. They are consulted on a regular basis, whenever a major official visit is about to happen or a big foreign relations project is about to be launched. For instance, when Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Policy, and her team were working on the EU Global Strategy, think tanks and national ministries of foreign affairs organized expert seminars across Europe to provide Mogherini with additional expertise on such areas as conflict resolution, EU-NATO cooperation, human rights protection and climate change. Additionally, external experts provide well-tailored analyses on paper —sometimes reserved for the eyes of the administration only —and sometimes public, whenever it suits public diplomacy objectives.
     
  2. Think tanks form a bridge between policymaking and academia. They do not have the limitations of both: they can speak openly (no lines to take!), and they can provide research quite quickly (less methodological boundaries). What is even more important, especially from the public diplomacy perspective, is think tanks’ contribution to the international competition over the minds of the brightest students, scientists and researchers. Think tank representatives are quasi-ambassadors of their countries, particularly when they teach at universities, give guest lectures or take part in multidisciplinary and multinational research projects and post-graduate fellowships. Performing in classrooms at their very best, think tank representatives encourage students and professors to come to their countries and participate in seminars and research projects.
     
  3. Think tanks organize events where decision-makers can both test and broadcast their ideas. If a leader wants to share ideas on international security, the annual Munich Security Conference or Shangri-La Dialogue is probably the best occasion to do so. If leaders want to address the economic challenges to their region or to the world, they often pick the annual World Economic Forum gathering in Davos (like Xi Jinping did last January).
     
  4. Think tanks are way ahead of administrations in getting close to business and technological circles. They are agile - they respond to the technological revolution and can answer questions on, for instance, use of artificial intelligence in contemporary international relations much faster than traditional administrations. They produce joint business-technological-think tank reports, and they run such multidisciplinary projects, having their major role in mind as that of providing public policies with the best solutions to multi-layered problems. From a public diplomacy perspective, think tanks represent new kinds of bridges with technological firms that hardly respect national borders. Governments have to interact with them, and think tanks can play a role here in building linkages.
     
  5. Think tanks educate. They do this through public reports, above-mentioned conferences, seminars, and podcasts, blogs and other methods of spreading news and knowledge about international relations. They teach not only students, but also broad groups of societies within and outside of their countries of residence. In the time of smartphones and social media, think tanks can be present with their opinions everywhere and all the time.
These times are not very easy for international relations —the field is complex, and there are no easy, black-and-white answers. The public is getting bored and disinterested in this multi-layered world, which is so heavily and indirectly explained by officials (especially diplomats). This is where think tanks are needed.
I am truly convinced that in the time of global rivalry over knowledge, expertise and R&D, the importance of think tanks will grow. Countries will compete over them: they will want global think tanks to establish offices in their cities; they will want international think tanks to run research projects on their political initiatives; they will want to host international think-tank gatherings on their soil; they will consult decisions and strategies with experts on a daily basis; they will participate in their seminars and podcasts.
Countries will do so if they want to stay in the race and run successful diplomacies.

Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication


americansecurityproject.org

The American Security Project defines public diplomacy as:
Communication and relationship building with foreign publics for the purpose of achieving a foreign policy objective.
Public diplomacy is a vital aspect of our national security strategy and must also inform the policy making process. Paraphrasing Edward R. Murrow, President Kennedy’s Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA), public diplomacy must be in on the take-offs of policy and not just the crash landings.
In the 20+ years since the end of the Cold War, the United States has yet to establish a defining role for public diplomacy in the context of its foreign relations.
Despite playing an important role in America’s Cold War victory, public diplomacy efforts and quality of content have since received neither the attention nor the craftsmanship they deserve. In 1999 the lead government body responsible for public diplomacy, USIA, was disbanded and its assets and responsibilities were subsequently folded into the Department of State. Since that time, public diplomacy has not yet found its rightful place.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, policy makers and academics alike have wrestled with attempts to put American public diplomacy back on track — in order to better explain America to the world as well as to sway those who might support violence against our country or citizens. It’s time to fix this problem. Just as our military posture needs to reflect 21st Century realities and adversaries, so must our public diplomacy reflect modern mediums and audiences.
American public diplomacy also has to acknowledge 21stCentury standards of communication, properly identify the target audience, and accurately and effectively convey the ideas and policies of the United States to foreign publics.
The past several years have demonstrated the desire for private citizens around the world to have their voices heard. Tapping the power of new-media, individuals and other non-state actors now have access to many of the same tools as governments, and are often more effective in getting their messages across. Yet the United States cannot merely rely on Twitter, Facebook, and other web-based mediums for communication as a substitute for the content of its strategic messages.
As an important aspect of effective strategic communication, America must also genuinely strive to listen to and understand foreign publics. This vital component in crafting messages which resonate with target audiences has often gone unheeded or been misunderstood.
ASP seeks to redefine the debate around public diplomacy, and refocus America’s efforts to establish itself as an effective 21st Century communicator.

Senior Assignment Editor


glassdoor.com

image (not from entry) from

Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. – Springfield, VA

The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN) is seeking an Senior Assignment Editor for our Digital Department in our Headquarters office in Springfield, VA. MBN is a non-profit grantee of the federal government that directly communicates with the people of the Middle East and North Africa through television, radio, and digital media. MBN's mission is to provide objective, accurate, and relevant news and information to the people of the Middle East about the region, the world, and the United States in support of U.S. public diplomacy. 

The Senior Assignment Editor is responsible for managing assignments, dealing with logistics, monitoring wires, our competitors and Social Media. Demonstrates strong news judgment; ensure journalistic standards of fairness, accuracy and relevancy. The Senior Assignment Editor is a creative thinker and problem solver who inspires a team of digital content creators. 


The primary duties and responsibilities of the Senor [sic] Assignment Editor include, but are not limited to:
  • Organizing and coordinating daily news coverage including assigning news personnel and equipment resources to specific stories and assisting with planning for long term projects.
  • Collaborating with direct reports and peers to share information and improve cross-departmental processes.
  • Consistently providing sound editorial judgment and modeling professional accountability and integrity
  • Ensuring all platform content complies fully with MBN's journalistic code, social media policies, and style guidelines
  • Maintaining knowledge of current International and US events.
  • Conducting on-line research for difficult story assignments.
  • Researching and developing daily story ideas, features, special reports.
  • Maintaining regular contact with news sources.
Candidates are required to have:
  • Bachelor's degree in journalism (or related field) or 5+ years of journalism experience.
  • Ability to communicate and translate from English to classic Arabic.
  • Demonstrated editorial judgment and organizational skills.
  • Ability to manage logistics and ability to work well with others including producers, reporters, photographers, other personnel and the public.
  • Mastery of journalistic ethics and libel laws.
  • Ability to meet tight deadlines and under stress with accuracy and balance.
  • Demonstrated management skills.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Ability to quickly develop sources and contacts.
  • Strong digital skills.
  • Must be able to accommodate flexible work schedule to support 24/7 news environment, which could include overnight coverage.
MBN is an equal opportunity employer committed to workforce diversity.

Should DACA Recipients Become 'Cultural Ambassadors' to Their Home Countries?


Andrew R. Arthur, cis.org

On April 18, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13788, "Buy American and Hire American". Section 2(b) of that order states:
Hire American. In order to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to rigorously enforce and administer the laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad, including section 212(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act [INA].
According to an August 2017 article in the Wall Street Journal, as part of this effort: "The Trump administration is considering major reductions in cultural exchange programs, including those for au pairs and summer workers, that allow young people from foreign countries to work in the U.S."
The Journal continued:
People familiar with the conversations said the review includes the summer work-travel program, which brings more than 100,000 students to the U.S. each summer, often stationed in tourist destinations such as beach resorts and national parks. It also includes the smaller au pair program, through which foreigners live in American homes and provide child care as well as take classes and participate in intercultural exchanges with their host families. Other programs under discussion include those for camp counselors, interns and trainees.
As the State Department describes it, the "Summer Work Travel" (SWT) program allows:
College and University students enrolled full time and pursuing studies at post-secondary accredited academic institutions located outside the United States[to] come to the United States to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities.
Among the "benefits" of the SWT program, as the State Department explains it, is that it "provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and way of life in the United States."
These "cultural exchange programs" are authorized under section 101(a)(15)(J) of the INA, and are popularly known as "J-1" visas. Almost immediately after the news broke that there might be reductions to these programs, employers who utilize the SWT labor of J-1 workers, from ski resorts and National Parksto the beach vacation destinations, pushed back on any such limitations, asserting that it would be difficult to find new workers to replace any lost SWT employees.
In addition, a bipartisan group of 17 senators wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to express their view that: "This public diplomacy program has a long track record of success, providing an enriching exchange experience to a diverse pool of college and university students from across the globe, including from countries key to U.S. national security interests. ... at no expense to the American taxpayer."
My colleague Jerry Kammer detailed the criticisms of the SWT program in a 2011 report for the Center. Among those criticisms were that the program:
  • has become a cheap-labor program under the guise of cultural exchange;
  • has monetized a foreign policy initiative, creating a multi-million dollar SWT industry that generates enormous profits under the mantle of public diplomacy and presses for continual expansion around globe;
  • is so dominated by the State Department's concerns about international relations that it has become blind to the negative effects at home;
  • displaces young Americans from the workplace at a time of record levels of youth unemployment;
  • provides incentives for employers to bypass American workers by exempting SWT employers from taxes that apply to employment of Americans. Employers also don't have to worry about providing health insurance, since SWT students are required to buy it for themselves;
  • puts downward pressure on wages because it gives employers access to workers from poor countries who are eager to come to the United States, not just to earn money but also to travel within the country and burnish their resumes by learning English; ... and
  • has been exploited by criminals.
Proponents of the program argue that the benefits of SWT outweigh such concerns.
The international relations aspects of the SWT program are easy to understand. In essence, the argument goes, foreign nationals are able to come to the United States, be exposed to our culture and our values, and return home to spread a positive view of the United States, while utilizing the skills that they gained in this country to benefit their home country. For example, the State Department website for the J-1 program includes the following:
The students will return to Egypt, the Philippines, China, Thailand, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Jamaica with well-planned projects. As a student from Ukraine told me, this experience has changed her life. Many others reported the same. One student from Egypt remarked on how much the program developed his leadership skills, "I wondered all my life if I would be successful or not. Now I know I am." A young woman from Romania said, "I am changed. I was so shy, and now I can stand up and speak to an audience, and I am motivated to travel the world." These stories are a testament to the influence a skills-building exchange experience can have on a young person as they look to their future.
If such benefits accrue to foreign nationals who are only here for six months, imagine the skills and values that aliens who have spent a significantly longer period of time in the United States would carry back to their home countries. Such as DACA recipients.
To establish eligibility for DACA, an alien had to show that he or she:
[Was] under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
Came to the United States before reaching [his or her] 16th birthday;
Ha[d] continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
W[as] physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making [his or her] request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
[Was] currently in school, ha[d] graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, ha[d] obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or [was] an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
Ha[d] not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and d[id] not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Thus, the population of aliens who have received DACA benefits are working age individuals who have either received an education United States, or who are satisfied the educational standards in this country, or who have served in the all armed forces. Such individuals would plainly possess skills that are needed in any economy, developed or underdeveloped.
This is especially true, however, when the countries from which those aliens hail are taken into consideration. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the vast majority of those aliens were from Mexico, followed by significantly lower numbers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru.
With respect to Mexico, the CIA World Factbook states:
Mexico's current government, led by President Enrique PENA NIETO, has emphasized economic reforms, passing and implementing sweeping energy, financial, fiscal, and telecommunications reform legislation, among others, with the long-term aim to improve competitiveness and economic growth across the Mexican economy. Mexico began holding public auctions of exploration and development rights to select oil and gas resources in 2015 as a part of reforms that allow for private investment in the oil, gas, and electricity sectors. Mexico held its fourth auction in December 2016 and allocated 8 of 10 deepwater fields, demonstrating Mexico's capacity to attract investment amid low oil prices. The government will allocate additional fields in 2017.
This is clearly the sort of dynamic economy that would benefit from an influx of young educated workers. It is no wonder that Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray stated in September 2017 that: "For Mexico it will be a pleasure to receive the young DACA. They are talent and human capital for our country" before adding: "but if they want to stay in the country where they have grown up, we have a legal and moral obligation to support them to achieve their dreams."
It should also be noted that Transparency International, in its Corruption Perceptions index for 2016, put Mexico fairly low on the list, at 123 out of 176 countries with Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Honduras, Laos, Moldova, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone. As that organization explains:
The lower-ranked countries in our index are plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary. Even where anti-corruption laws are on the books, in practice they're often skirted or ignored. People frequently face situations of bribery and extortion, rely on basic services that have been undermined by the misappropriation of funds, and confront official indifference when seeking redress from authorities that are on the take.
It is beyond cavil that a population of nationals, who have lived in the United States, where such corruption is denounced by government officials, the press, and civil society, would resist this malfeasance after they have returned home. They would be a strong force for change and improvement, and could help to bring about needed reforms.
The same is true of El Salvador. Economically, while the CIA World Factbook reports it is:
The smallest country in Central America geographically, El Salvador has the fourth largest economy in the region. With the global recession, real GDP contracted in 2009 and economic growth has since remained low, averaging less than 2% from 2010 to 2014, but recovered somewhat in 2015-16 with an average annual growth rate of 2.4%. Remittances accounted for approximately 17.1% of GDP in 2016 and were received by about a third of all households.
In 2006, El Salvador was the first country to ratify the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, which has bolstered the export of processed foods, sugar, and ethanol, and supported investment in the apparel sector amid increased Asian competition. In September 2015, El Salvador kicked off a five-year $277 million second compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation - a US Government agency aimed at stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty - to improve El Salvador's competitiveness and productivity in international markets.
Although El Salvador has a nascent economy, it is one that would benefit from an influx of human capital, and especially from workers who are well educated and familiar with the outside world.
El Salvador is in a better corruption perceptions index position than Mexico. Transparency International ranks El Salvador 95 out of 176 countries, tying it with Argentina, Benin, Kosovo, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. That said, it is still a country that would benefit from an influx of citizens raised in a culture that did not countenance corruption, and there is no doubt that upon return, El Salvador's DACA recipients would militate for improvement and change.
Supporters of the J-1 SWT program make a strong, but somewhat unquantifiable, point when it comes to the diplomatic benefits of that program. Applying the same standard to recipients of DACA, the diplomatic benefits that would accrue to the United States and the home countries of those aliens would be even more impressive than they are for the home countries of the Poles and Romanians who are able to participate in the American culture and economy for a much briefer period of time under the SWT.