Australia overhauling its points system

Canada is trimming its inflow of immigrants. Australia is not trimming so much as recalibrating its very skills -oriented immigration policy to match long term employment needs.

SBS News reports that testing for prospective migrants to Australia to obtain visas is set to undergo its first overhaul in more than a decade as part of a revamp of the country’s immigration system. The prospective strategy outlined ways for migrant numbers to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, as well as halve net overseas migration by 2025.  It would be the first overhaul of the immigration system since 2012.

A review of the points-based immigration system is in the works, by the Australian National University.

See this April 2024 discussion paper, which provides a good introduction to the points system.  The study will “better align” the points system to match the county’s needs for skilled workers. A strong suggestion is that the points system will be revised to favor younger persons, Two-thirds of permanent immigration is through the points system. The review will not affect humanitarian immigration.

Florida’s law that makes it illegal to support an unauthorized person

Florida’s FL 1718 was enacted in 2023 and became effective on July 1, 2023. The ACLU and others sued regarding Section 10, which a Florida court on May 21 stayed the application of which. Most of FL 1718 focuses on COVID, banning the requirement of masks by government and educational institutions, proof of vaccination, and such. Section 10 penalizes acts taken in support of unauthorized persons in the state.  According to the Migration Ploicy Institute and Pew Research, about 4% of the state’s population, about 750,000 persons, are unauthorized.

Section 10. Section 787.07, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:

787.07 Human smuggling.—

(1) Except as provided in subsections (3) and (4), a person who knowingly and willfully commits any of the following offenses commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084:

[Prison sentence: Up to 5 years in prison. Fines: A fine of up to $5,000. Probation: The court may impose a period of probation not exceeding 5 years.]

(a) Transports into or within this state an individual whom who the person knows, or reasonably should know, has is illegally entered entering the United States in violation of law and has not been inspected by the Federal Government since his or her unlawful entry.

(b) Conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, in any place within this state, including any temporary or permanent

structure or through any means of transportation, an individualwhom the person knows, or reasonably should know, has entered the United States in violation of law and has not been inspected by the Federal Government since his or her unlawful entry from another country commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2) A person commits a separate offense for each individual he or she transports, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to transport, conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, into this state in violation of this section.

(3) A person who commits five or more separate offenses under this section during a single episode commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(4)(a) A person with a prior conviction under this section commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(b) As used in paragraph (a), the term “conviction” means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea agreement or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a

plea of nolo contendere is entered.

(5) Proof that a person knowingly and willfully presented false identification or gave false information to a law  enforcement officer who is conducting an investigation for a

violation of this section gives rise to an inference that such person was aware that the transported, concealed, harbored, or shielded individual has entered the United States in violation of the law and had not been inspected by the Federal Government since his or her unlawful entry.

(6) A person who is arrested for a violation of this section must be held in custody until brought before the court for admittance to pretrial release in accordance with chapter 903.

Learning English: how long does it take?

Around 25 million people 5 or older in the U.S. speak English less than well. What time does it take learn the language?

Beginner Level (A1-A2): A1 is complete beginner. Understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases, communicate in a basic way if the other person speaks slowly and clearly. Time to achieve: 3-6 months of consistent study and practice. Or, between 60 and 100 hours of instruction. For example, 2 hours a day for 50 days might bring you to A2. (I did that for Spanish in 50 classes).

Intermediate Level (B1-B2): Can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most

Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. 1-2 years of consistent study and practice.

Advanced Level (C1): Understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. Express oneself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Approximately 3-4 years of consistent study and practice.

Here is my blig post on the numbers and characteristics of workers in the U.S. with limited English proficiency (LEP).

Trump’s nuclear weapon of immigration powers

This is the second posting on immigraiton policy in a second Trump administration. This one addresses an important legal power which Trump did use in the first time and will surely expand on in a second term.

Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 grants the President of the United States broad authority to suspend the entry of certain classes of aliens into the U.S. President Trump used it in 2017, the Supreme Court backed him, and he will surely use it more broadly if re-elected. He can basically shut down most of the immigration flow in to the country using this provision.

Text of Section 212(f):  Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may, by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

When it was used: Ronald Reagan,1986: to suspend entry of Cuban nationals as immigrants or nonimmigrants. George H.W. Bush, 1990: to suspend the entry of certain Panamanian officials. Bill Clinton, 1994: to suspend the entry of Haitian nationals. George W. Bush, 2011:  post-9/11 to suspend the entry of individuals engaged in terrorist activities. Barack Obama, 2011: to suspend the entry of individuals involved in human rights abuses in Syria and Iran. Donald Trump: multiple times, notably in the January, 2017 travel ban for Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (the “Muslim ban’).

In 2018, the Supreme Court weighed in on a revised Executive Order to the January 2017 ban, in Trump v. Hawaii. The 5 – 4 majority said that it was a legitimate exercise of the president’s authority under immigration laws to suspend entry of aliens into the U.S, that the proclamation was neutral on its face regarding religion (that is, was not a violation of the 1st Amendment), and had a legitimate purpose of preventing entry of those who could be “detrimental to the interests of the United States” (noting the exact language of 212f).



Trump allies plan mass deportation

This is the first of two posts about immigration initiatives under a second Trump Administration. This one addresses massive deportation of unauthorized persons.

From the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—Donald Trump’s allies are drawing up detailed proposals to implement the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s plans for an unprecedented immigration crackdown, including an effort that would deport asylum seekers to other countries, according to people involved in the effort.

A cadre of former Trump administration officials, Trump supporters and conservative immigration wonks are writing executive orders, policy memos and other documents in a bid to transform campaign rhetoric into policy. The goal, the people said, is to be ready on the first day of a Trump presidency to stem the flow of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, unwind President Biden’s immigration agenda and lay the groundwork for what the former president has said would be the largest mass deportation in U.S. history.


Pulling off an extensive deportation operation—Trump said recently that he is targeting as many as 20 million people—would require coordination at every level of government, as well as the military. Advisers are eyeing military bases for expanded detention capacity and making plans to deputize red-state governors to deploy National Guard troops to add to the ranks of immigration officers making arrests. The former president and his advisers are also discussing using local and state law enforcement to aid the effort.


An explanation of the recent economic phenomenon in the U.S.

This posting says that the surprising resiliency of the American economy in the post pandemic period is a result of greater capacity of households to spend and a larger than normal increase in the workforce due to immigration since 2020.

The pandemic caused piling up of household savings far in excess of normal financial balances.  In 2020 alone, savings increased 25% over normal rates, adding about $1.6 trillion dollars to the wallets of households.

In 2019, households spent $14 trillion in consumer spending and at year end had about $17 trillion in liquid financial assets. Thus, $1.6 trillion is a one-shot addition to household wealth was important.

This additional wealth came from two sources: (1) special federal outlays in 2020 and 2021 totaling about $800 billion, and (2) a reduction in household spending (travel, restaurants, etc) amounting for many households to a 5% reduction in normal spending (which maybe was $700 billion in foregone outlays).

At the same time this unexpected boost in liquid wealth happened, housing prices went up. Some 62% of Americans own their own homes.  And the stock market soared. The “wealth effect” is commonly thought to increase consumer spending by 3-5% of the increase in wealth.

And at the same time, immigration added about five million people to the American population, over the course of three years (2021-2023).  I’ve discussed this growth several times and will in the future, assessing evidence of its size and the effect on the workforce.  Normally, one would expect a growth of three million over three years. The additional two million translates into over one million additional workers.

Thus, the higher capacity for households to spend matched serendipitously the rise in the supply of workers. I suggest this matching has resulted in higher than normally expected economic growth.  Conventional economic models, in my view, cannot adequately address the one time surge in both wealth and the surge in the workforce.



Foreign-born students, after dipping during pandemic, are back up to prior levels

The number of foreign-born students enrolled in degree granting schools and colleges were about 500,000 in 2000, 650,000 in 2010, and reached a peak of about 900,000 in 2016. Having dipped during the pandemic, enrollments in 2022 were 860,000. The ratio of these students to all college students has wavered around 5% since the mid 2010s.  (Go here).

The demand for college education in the U.S. is a function of the number of college-bound students in the world (which is going up) and the availability of college education in the world (which is also going up). the world has become markedly more formally educated in the past few decades.

Other advanced countries are more systematic in attracting foreign students. for instance Australia, less than 10% the size of the U.S. population, attracts about 380,000 college level students a year. (Go here.)

Xenophobic laws prohibiting foreigners from property ownership

Florida enacted in 2023 (effective date 7/1/23) SB 924: Purchase or Acquisition of Real Property and Strategic Assets by the People’s Republic of China. The act prohibits ownership of over 50 acres of farm and, and property with 509 miles of “strategic assets in the state.” (The key passage is below).

This Florida law has served as a template of laws proposed in other states. This is perhaps to most visible evidence of a nationwide, largely Republican-driven, campaign to discriminate against foreigners in particular Chinese. South Dakota Governor.

Politico quotes a Republican Congressman: ““From Chinese Communist Party-affiliated purchases of agricultural land to efforts by the party to influence state and local politics, states are on the front lines of our New Cold War with the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chair of the House Select Committee on China.

The Committee of 100 has been tracking legislation to restrict outright bar citizens of certain countries from owning property (the Committee is described below).

Summary of anti-foreigner property restrictions:

So far, in 2024 (as of April 25):

151 bills restricting property ownership by foreign entities have been considered by 32 states (115 bills) and Congress (36 bills). Of the 151 total bills, 7 passed and were signed into law in Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska (2 bills), South Dakota, and Utah, respectively Of the 7 bills passed so far, 3 prohibit Chinese citizens from purchasing or owning some form of property: Indiana’s HB 1183, Nebraska’s LB 1301, and South Dakota’s HB 1231.

Since the beginning of 2023:

241 bills restricting property ownership by foreign entities have been considered by 39 states (205 bills) and Congress (36 bills). Of the 241 total bills, 194 have been under consideration that would prohibit Chinese citizens from purchasing or owning property. 24 passed and were signed into law. Of the 24 bills passed so far, 7 prohibit Chinese citizens from purchasing or owning some form of property: Arkansas’ SB 383, Florida’s S 264, Indian’s HB 1183 and SB 477, Nebraska’s 1301, South Dakota’s HB 1231, and West Virginia’s SB 548.

Key passage in Florida’s law:

(2) Notwithstanding any other law, beginning July 1, 2023,

any company or development owned or controlled by a company that is owned, in whole or in part, by, or is a subsidiary of, a company that is owned by the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party or whose principal place of business is located within the People’s Republic of China, or any intermediary acting on behalf of such company or development. may not:

(a) Purchase or acquire any real property or strategic assets located within 50 miles of a

(b) Purchase or acquire any real property or strategic assets located within 50 miles of strategic assets in this state; or

(c) Purchase more than 50 acres of agricultural land within the state, including any contiguous agricultural land that equals more than 50 acres in total.

Committee of 100:

On its website the Committee of 100 writes that the “Committee of 100 is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, science, technology, and the arts. The organization was formed following the aftermath of Tiananmen Square… The name “Committee of 100” derives from a blend of inspirations of ‘We the People’ and an ancient Chinese idiom, 老百姓 (lao bai xing) to reflect both American values and Chinese culture. Translated directly, the characters 老百姓 mean ‘old (老) hundred (百) names (姓)’. Figuratively, 老百姓 represents everyone in the community. By adopting the name Committee of 100 (百人會) , the Committee of 100 Members aimed to embody the American spirit encapsulated in ‘We the People’ and interweave it with the tapestry of Chinese history..

Net outmigration from Mexico is approaching zero  

Out migration surged in the 1980s, continued strong in the 1990s, and in recent years has been almost nothing. Compare that trend with the fertility rate. If the median age of the out migrant is 20-25, the two trends coincide. Mexico’s fertility rate is now below the replacement rate of 2.1.



How many came into the US under Biden? How many new workers?

I guess that at the end of April, 2024, there are around five million more foreign born persons in the U.S. than at the start of the Biden Administration. This includes the net of persons arriving and departing with a permanent visa or temporary work visa, a net change in the number of persons with a student visa, those admitted pending asylum or other adjudication, and the net of persons who snuck into the border or overstayed their non-visa (largely tourist) visit.

This is an order-of-magnitude guess.  Assuming five million, this implies that at there are least three million more foreign born workers in the U.S. than in 2020, working legally or illegally, or waiting for legal authorization before working.

The entire workforce (“labor force”) of the U.S. increased by six million between 2020 (161 million) and December 2023 (167 million). The Biden era rise in foreign- born may have contributed one half of that. Prior to Biden, foreign born workers accounted for about 18% of the workforce.

Given the high labor partition rate of foreign born vs U.S. born (say, 70% vs 60%) the role of foreign-born workers is all the more important.

The reality is that no agency or non-governmental organization is responsible for estimating the entire flow of persons in the U.S, in any given year.  For instance, landings from outside the country by planes in one of the 30 or so American airports bring in returning Americans, temporary and permanent visitors. Land crossings along the Canadian and Mexican border are hugely loaded with persons coming over to work for a day. Government figures do not break out the number of persons who cross regularly.

As for the border crisis of persons trying to enter outside formal ports of entry, Customs and Border Patrol does not succinctly break out repeaters – we know are many.


What we can say is this:

Legal “humanitarian parole” populations have gone up a lot in the Biden Administration (go here). So have persons here under Temporary Protected Status though this applies only to persons inside the U.S. when the visa was granted (go here).

Since the start of the Biden administration CBP has released 2.5 million with notices to appear in immigration court or report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the future, or other classifications such as parole.

How many have snuck without being caught? DHS uses a rule of thumb that 78% of illegal crossings are caught. This ratio is based on estimates made during years of much fewer encounters at the border. I think uses of figure of “gotaways” of 22% or 660,000 a year. Using this rule of thumb results in a figure o 1.6 million illegal and successful crossings.

for an exasperatingly complex analysis of border activity, go here.