A potential slim House majority for moderate immigration reform

May 24th, 2018

 

With help from a Washington Post article we can envision a very slim majority in the House of Representatives for any moderate immigration reform bill, one that will secure the future of Dreamers and perhaps make some further limited changes. This slim majority may block any restrictionist bill.

As of today, 214 members have signed on to vote, by way of a discharge petition H.R. 774, on a vote planned expressly to protect Dreamers. The details of the strategy are here.

This discharge petition requires 218 votes, per the Washington Post. As of today, the discharge petition is assured of 193 Democrats (100%) and 21 Republicans (9%) – or 214, four votes shy of 218.

In total, 13 of 21 signers represent districts that are either heavily Hispanic or that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 — in several cases both. Jeff Denham (R-CA), leading the discharge effort, has a district both of over 40% Hispanic and which voted for Clinton. Denham’s district is heavily involved with farming including wineries, including Gallo, the world’s largest winery.

Republicans hold 11 seats with an Hispanic population of at least 40%. Four of the 11 have yet to sign on. Leaving out these 11 seats, there are 18 remaining seats with a Clinton majority in 2016. Ten of the 18 have yet to sign on. Eight other Republicans signed on who did not have a large Hispanic population and whose district went to Trump in 2016. Three of the 8 signed on in support of dairy farmers in their district.

H.R. 4760 is the Goodlatte bill, which will severely restrict immigration without providing lasting security to Dreamers. It would give Dreamers a three-year visa with no right to permanent stay or citizenship, restrict family reunification to spouses and minor children (thus removing adult children and parents), shift the visa lottery to economic visas, and boost border security.

There remains H.R. 4796, a bipartisan bill filed on January 26. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California) filed the Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, H.R. 4796, with 48 bipartisan original cosponsors. The bill will protect Dreamers, and make sensible improvements to border control

Mirjana Kulenovic

May 22nd, 2018

Mirjana Kulenovic’s team at Jewish Vocational Services in Boston works with over 400 new refugees a year. With little or no English a refugee can get work within two months in hotel housekeeping, she told me. After her English improves, she could become a bank teller. After formal education, such as at Bunker Hill Community College, she then might move into the pharmacy industry or a higher level job in financial services. “There’s a definite labor shortage for healthcare jobs such as lab technicians,” she said.

She and husband are Croatian. They were living in Serbia and put on a list to be shot. Eventually we got into America on asylum visas.

Photo credit:  Earl Dotter, 2016.

 

 

Sub-Saharan immigrants grew 26% since 2010

May 20th, 2018

An estimated 1.55 million sub-Saharan African immigrants lived in the U.S in 2017, a 26% increase of about a 325,000 from 2010. Pew Research describes the typical sub-Saharan immigrant in the U.S. compared to Europe:

Sub-Saharan immigrants to the U.S. are more educated than those going to European countries. In the U.S., 69% of sub-Saharan immigrants ages 25 and older in 2015 said they had at least some college experience. In the same year, the share in the UK who reported some college experience was 49%, while it was lower still in France (30%), Portugal (27%) and Italy (10%). These immigrants in the U.S. are more likely to have some college education (69%) than the native American population (63%).

They are more likely to be working. In 2015, 92.9% of U.S.-based sub-Saharan immigrants said they had a paying job, compared with 84.9% in Portugal, 83.7% in France and 80.3% in Italy.

One seventh are undocumented. Pew Research Center estimated there were roughly 250,000unauthorized sub-Saharan immigrants living in the U.S. in 2015. This amounts to roughly one-in-seven sub-Saharan immigrants living in the country.

They have come as refugees, family members and diversity program green card holders. In the U.S., those fleeing conflict also make up a portion of the more than 400,000 sub-Saharan migrants who moved to the States between 2010 and 2016. According to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. State Department, 110,000 individuals or 28% from sub-Saharan countries were resettled as refugees over this seven-year period. An additional 190,000 or 43% were granted lawful permanent residence by virtue of family ties; nearly 110,000 or 25% more entered the U.S. through the diversity visa program. (From Pew, here.)

In operation since 1995, the visa lottery seeks to diversify the U.S. immigrant population by granting visas to underrepresented nations. Citizens of countries with the most legal immigrant arrivals in recent years – such as Mexico, Canada, China and India – are not eligible to apply. Legal immigrants entering the U.S. on a diversity visa account for about 5% of the roughly 1 million people who are awarded green cards each year. (from Pew, here.)

Trump: “I want a merit-based immigration system.”

May 18th, 2018

 

President Trump said on May 16 that he wants to put in a merit-based immigration system. The leading conservative Republican bill in the House is the Goodlatte bill, which does not include a merit point system. But a Senate bill submitted in early 2018 by Senator Cotton (RAISE Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act) would introduce a point system (section 220). The RAISE Act point system is described here.

That point system, and one which President Trump likely has in mind, would essentially bar green cards for low formally educated immigrants. Some 27 million foreign-born people work in America, about 17% of the workforce. Among major occupations with no need (1) for a high school degree and (2) much contact with the public, immigrants fill about 40% of these jobs. They include jobs on farms, construction sites, warehouses, in kitchens, and for building cleaning and maintenance. Roughly half of the immigrant workers in these jobs are undocumented.

Immigration and the workforces of advanced economies

May 16th, 2018

The International Monetary Fund talks about the positive impact of immigration on workforces of developed countries:

Migration can relieve the strain of population aging and contribute to other long-term gains, such as higher growth and productivity. Net migration accounts for roughly half of the population growth in advanced economies over the past three decades….dramatic shifts in demographic structure projected in advanced economies could overwhelm the ability of policies to offset the forces of aging.

Aggregate participation will eventually decline and that the participation of older workers must rise significantly to stem the decline in aggregate participation. Unless technology delivers offsetting productivity gains, these findings highlight the need for many advanced economies to rethink immigration policies to boost their labor supply…Although receiving migrants can pose challenges, potentially prompting a political backlash, it can also be a boon for host countries.

Immigrants: no increase in crime

May 14th, 2018

A February, 2018 study of crimes in Texas, where immigration status is recorded for all crimes, failed to find any association between immigration status and crimes. Illegal immigrants make up about 6.4% of the state’s population in 2015 but only accounted for by 5.4% of all homicide convictions. Legal immigrants, 10.4% of the population, committed only 1.6% of homicide convictions. Native born Americans, 83% of the population, accounted for 93% of convictions. The same relative rates appear in sexual assaults and larceny.

Illegal immigrant crime rates were higher than for native Americans in four categories that in sum accounted for 0.18% of all convictions in 2015:  gambling, kidnapping, smuggling and vagrancy.

A July, 2017 study looked at DUI, drug overdose fatalities and drug arrests 1990 – 2014.  The researchers studied several federal databases relating to drug crimes, highway safety and other sources. They found no positive correlation between the greater number of foreign born persons and these drug and alcohol incidents.

A March, 2018 study found no positive correlation between immigrant growth and violent crime between 1990 – 2014.

These studies are summarized here.

 

 

The current bipartisan immigration bill

May 12th, 2018

The current effort by some House of Representatives members to enact a bipartisan immigration bill draws upon a bill introduced on January 26. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California) filed the Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, H.R. 4796, with 48 bipartisan original cosponsors. The bill will protect Dreamers, and make sensible improvements to border control and to immigration courts.

Dreamer protection

The bill would create a renewable eight-year conditional permanent resident status that would allow Dreamers to earn the ability to be protected from deportation, work legally in the U.S., travel outside the country and apply to be a lawful permanent resident if they meet certain requirements.

They could apply for permanent status through one of three tracks: at least two years of college (education track); served in the military (military track); or have been employed for periods totaling at least 3 years and at least 80 percent of the time that the individual has had valid employment authorization, except periods in which the individual was enrolled in school (worker track).

Border security

A number of measures, including Develop a Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy. The bill would direct the DHS Secretary to submit within 12 months a comprehensive, mile-by-mile border strategy containing a list of physical barriers, technologies and tools that can be used to secure the border and their projected per mile cost estimate.

Also, the bill would authorize $110 million for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022 to increase collaboration between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and state and local law enforcement entities to support border security operations.

Immigration courts

The bill would increase the number of immigration judges by 55 each year from fiscal years 2018 through 2020, along with necessary support staff, to reduce the immigration court backlogs, which currently stands at about 660,000 cases. The average wait time for a case to be heard is about 670 days. The bill would also increase the number of Board of Immigration Appeals staff attorneys by 23 each year from fiscal years 2018 through 2020, along with necessary support staff.

Downturn in foreign doctors wanting to come to U.S.

May 10th, 2018

There are more than 247,000 doctors with medical degrees from foreign countries practicing in the United States, making up slightly more than one-quarter of all doctors. Most foreign-trained doctors are not U.S. citizens—meaning that the majority are foreign-born.

One channel of immigration is graduate medical study. Just over 7,000 international medical graduates applied to study in the United States for 2018, down 217 from last year and nearly 400 applicants from 2016.

in 2015, nearly 25% of residents across all medical fields were born outside of the United States. In subspecialist residency programs, foreign medical graduates accounted for more than a third of residents.

Foreign-trained doctors are more likely than their U.S.-trained counterparts to practice in lower-income and disadvantaged U.S. communities. In areas with the highest poverty rates—where more than 30% of the population lives below the federal poverty rate—nearly one-third of all doctors are foreign-trained. Where per-capita income is below $15,000 per year, 42.5% of all doctors are foreign-trained. Where 75% or more of the population is non-white, 36.2% of the doctors are foreign-trained.

Immigrants, global cuisine and restaurants

May 8th, 2018

43% of restaurant chefs are foreign-born. So are 25% restaurant managers, and 29% of businesses in the combined restaurant/hotel sector are immigrant-owned. (from here.)

66% of consumers eat a wider variety of ethnic cuisines now than five years ago. 80% of consumers eat at least one ethnic cuisine per month. 17% of consumers eat seven or more cuisines on a monthly basis. (from here.)

Younger consumers are more likely than older consumers to be frequent eaters; nearly half of consumers 18-44 eat at least four ethnic cuisines each month, compared to fewer than one in four of those 65 or older. Families with children are also more likely to eat a wider range of cuisines regularly. (From here.)

How long in US before deported?

May 6th, 2018

 

Immigration court cases now involve more long-time residents, according to this report.

The latest available data from the Immigration Court reveals a sharp uptick in the proportion of immigration court cases involving immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for years. During March 2018, for example, court records show that only 10% of immigrants in new cases brought by the Department of Homeland Security had just arrived in this country while 43% had arrived two or more years ago, and 25% at least four years ago,

In contrast, the proportion of individuals who had just arrived in new filings during the last full month of the Obama Administration (December 2016) made up 72%, and only 6% had been here at least two years. During the period between May 2013 and February 2017 over 75% of all court cases involved those who had only recently arrived. During this period the Obama Administration had prioritized recent illegal entrants to the country. Faced with a growing court backlog and not enough judges to hear and decide new cases, DHS believed this focus would serve as a more effective deterrent. Concentrating limited resources in this manner naturally increased the odds that recent illegal entrants and over-stayers would be promptly deported.

The top 25% of cases in terms of length in the U.S. were about this long in the U.S. at a minimum:

2000 – 2003 about 6 years

2004 – 2005 about 3 years

2006 – 2012 8 years or higher

2013 – 2016 rapidly descended to and stayed at zero years.

TheMigration Policy Institute wrote, “the Obama-era policies represented the culmination of a gradual but consistent effort to narrow its enforcement focus to two key groups: The deportation of criminals and recent unauthorized border crossers. Eighty-five percent of all removals and returns during fiscal year (FY) 2016 were of noncitizens who had recently crossed the U.S. border unlawfully. Of the remainder, who were removed from the U.S. interior, more than 90 percent had been convicted of what DHS defines as serious crimes.”

2017 rapidly rose to 4 years.

Note that these figure are not for deportations but for being brought before an immigration court.