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An Unlikely Occupation For Rooted Washingtonian

Fix received a bachelor of arts degree from Princeton in 1972 and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1977.

After graduating, he worked at the City of Alexandria's Office of Equal Opportunity. "It was the war on poverty and the desegregation of Alexandria. Unlike today, it was very much a poor black and a poor white story," he said.

Michael Fix, an immigration specialist, joined the Migration Policy Institute as director of studies and vice president. (Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)

Read Nora Boustany's previous Diplomatic Dispatches columns.

He said that "these patterns, for someone who has never moved an inch really, were powerful issues of global migration."

He had a brief stint at the London School of Economics in 1979 "under the false premise of studying economics" while his wife was teaching in England.

Fix devoted himself to civil rights issues in the '60s and '70s but "picked up the immigration bug in the '80s," said Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute.

"He is seasoned, thoughtful and has a law-based analytical bent, and he applies social measures to offer solutions to problems. Not only does he have expertise, but he is also passionate. He cares about what happens to people once they settle."

For three years, while at the Urban Institute, Fix worked on the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which passed in 1986. The neglected issues of the 1980s are back on the table, he said.

"There is a mismatch between our immigration policies and immigrant integration policy. Even now, the U.S. admits more immigrants, on track for citizenship, than many people imagine, at the rate of 700,000 to 800,000 a year, sometimes reaching 1 million."

Today, Fix lives in Alexandria in a neighborhood that was once a target of his research.

"When we bought it, it was in the process of changing. Now, my Zip code is tracked every month in the Wall Street Journal as a location for young and upwardly mobile professionals," he said. "Alexandria, like Washington, like my life, has changed."

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