emetrios Papademetriou says he is either "the revenge or the vindication of ultra-specialization." In 2001, Papademetriou co-founded the Migration Policy Institute to create a nonpartisan Washington think tank that would steer a middle course on immigration and convey both the positive and negative consequences of international migration.
Considered a penetrating conceptual thinker who has assisted the State Department and Congress on various immigration and visa issues, the 57-year-old Papademetriou has been a source for advice about immigration and its impact on domestic security. His institute released a comprehensive report criticizing the Justice Department's detention policy, arguing that the measures failed to enhance domestic security while violating civil liberties. "Despite the governments' heavy-handed tactics, many of the September 11 terrorists would probably be admitted to the United States today," the report declared.
Papademetriou's work extends beyond the Beltway, as he advises senior-level officials in Europe, Mexico, and Canada. Some people in the field think he's overstretched and that his ability to influence the immigration debate and to sustain pressure on politicians can be limited. But Papademetriou considers the institute an international organization, and says border security is only one of its focuses. A former director of immigration policy and research at the Labor Department, Papademetriou most recently served as co-director of the International Migration Policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, before he spun the program off into MPI.
Papademetriou grew up in the Greek coastal city of Patras, and knew little English when he immigrated to the United States at 18. Papademetriou graduated from Wilkes College in Pennsylvania, and worked as a dishwasher and waiter until he finished his doctorate at the University of Maryland. Despite his background, he was at first disinclined to study immigration, but now he has no regrets. "It's a fascinating field," he says. "I could not see doing anything else for 30 years."