A weblog about the business of immigrant work: employment, compensation, legal protections, education, mobility, and public policy.

December 10, 2014

In your state, how many undocumented immigrants?

Where do they come from? Age, length of time in the U.S., marital status, formal education, work status, income level, etc -- these and more are estimated. Drawn from data collected 2008 - 2012.

Go here for the report from the Migration Policy Institute.

Posted by pfr at 8:35 PM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

December 5, 2014

How many undocumented immigrants in your state?

Where do they come from? Age, length of time in the U.S., marital status, formal education, work status, income level, etc -- these and more are estimated. Drawn from data collected 2008 - 2012.

Go here for the report from the Migration Policy Institute.

Posted by pfr at 3:32 PM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

Notable facts about undocumented immigrants

The website 538 draws figures from the Pew Research and the Migration Policy Institute to note some important facts about undocumented immigrants:

Reasons for fall-off in undocumented immigrants:

Pew estimates there were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2013. That figure has been pretty much flat for the past five years, and is down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. In other words, more unauthorized immigrants have left the country in the past six years — voluntarily or through deportation — than have arrived.

The slowdown in illegal immigration is partly the result of the weak U.S. economy, and especially the weak home construction industry, which was a major source of jobs for many migrants. But the flow across the Mexican border, in particular, began to slow before the recession, the result of tighter border security and a falling birthrate in Mexico, which meant there were fewer young Mexicans seeking jobs in the United States.

Half or more undocumented immigrants arrived legally, then overstayed:

Most of those Asian immigrants, and many Latin American immigrants as well, likely entered the country legally on tourist, student or other visas. A 2006 Pew study found that 40 percent to 50 percent of unauthorized immigrants entered the country legally and never left, as opposed to crossing the border illegally.

Most have been here for 13 or more years:

The typical unauthorized immigrant has been here for nearly 13 years, up from about 9 years in 2007. Only 16 percent have been here under five years — an important cutoff because Obama’s plan doesn’t apply to anyone who’s been here for less time than that.

65% are working.

A majority are poor:

A majority of unauthorized immigrants are struggling financially. Nearly a third live in poverty, and nearly two-thirds earn less than twice the federal poverty line. Two-thirds lack health insurance, and less than a third own their own homes.

Posted by pfr at 3:23 PM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

Notable facts about undocumented immigrants


The website 538 draws figures from the Pew Research and the Migration Research Institute to note some important facts about undocumented immigrants:

Reasons for fall-off in undocumented immigrants:

Pew estimates there were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2013. That figure has been pretty much flat for the past five years, and is down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. In other words, more unauthorized immigrants have left the country in the past six years — voluntarily or through deportation — than have arrived.

The slowdown in illegal immigration is partly the result of the weak U.S. economy, and especially the weak home construction industry, which was a major source of jobs for many migrants. But the flow across the Mexican border, in particular, began to slow before the recession, the result of tighter border security and a falling birthrate in Mexico, which meant there were fewer young Mexicans seeking jobs in the United States.

Half or more undocumented immigrants arrived legally, then overstayed:

Most of those Asian immigrants, and many Latin American immigrants as well, likely entered the country legally on tourist, student or other visas. A 2006 Pew study found that 40 percent to 50 percent of unauthorized immigrants entered the country legally and never left, as opposed to crossing the border illegally.

Most have been here for 13 or more years:

The typical unauthorized immigrant has been here for nearly 13 years, up from about 9 years in 2007. Only 16 percent have been here under five years — an important cutoff because Obama’s plan doesn’t apply to anyone who’s been here for less time than that.

65% are working.

A majority are poor:

A majority of unauthorized immigrants are struggling financially. Nearly a third live in poverty, and nearly two-thirds earn less than twice the federal poverty line. Two-thirds lack health insurance, and less than a third own their own homes.

Posted by pfr at 3:23 PM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

December 2, 2014

Arguments pro and con re legality of Executive Actions


The Department of Justice issued a paper on November 19, “The Department of Homeland Security’s Authority to Prioritize Removal of Certain Aliens Unlawfully Present in the United States and to Defer Removal of Others.”

The Center for Immigration Studies published today an article against the Executive Actions, “President Obama's "Deferred Action" Program for Illegal Aliens is Plainly Unconstitutional”, by Jan Ting.

Posted by pfr at 7:13 AM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

November 27, 2014

Pew Hispanic Center's estimates for the Executive Action

The Pew Hispanic Center performs the following arithmetic to explain the impact of Obama’s Executive Action:

Current undocumented population: 11.2 million

Pre-Action protected through Deferred
Action For Childhood Arrivals: 1.5 million

Per the Executive Action:

Additional protected by DACA 0.3 million

Parents with minor US-born children
and here for at least 5 years: 2.8 million

Parents with adult US-born children
And here for at least 5 years: 0.7 million

These estimates result in 3.5 million adults coming under provisional work authorization due to the Executive Action. Assuming a workforce participation rate of 65% (which is probably low), this means that about 2.25 million current members of the workforce shift from unauthorized to authorized to work.

The large majority of these workers are in agriculture, hospitality, institutional, and transportation.

The Pew Hispanic Center expects “44% of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico could apply for deportation protection under the new programs, compared with 24% of those from other parts of the world.”

It goes on to say that “Among the other policy changes announced in the president’s action are an increased number of visas for skilled workers and spouses of green card holders. There are several changes, including immigration enforcement that will now focus on recent arrivals and serious and repeat criminal offenders.”

Posted by pfr at 6:41 AM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

November 22, 2014

Some specifics about the Obama Administration’s “Executive Actions”


The White House prefers to refer to “Immigration Accountability Executive Actions.” In a Fact Sheet issued November 20, the following was disclosed. This is a very incomplete list of actions but probably are the actions of most interest to low income undocumented workers.

DHS is establishing a new deferred action program for parents of U.S. Citizens or LPRs [lawful permanent residents] who are not enforcement priorities and have been in the country for more than 5 years. Individuals will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for three years at a time if they come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass background checks, pay fees, and show that their child was born before the date of this announcement.

Expand DACA to cover additional DREAMers. Under the initial DACA program, young people who had been in the U.S. for at least five years, came as children, and met specific education and public safety criteria were eligible for temporary relief from deportation so long as they were born after 1981 and entered the country before June 15, 2007. DHS is expanding DACA so that individuals who were brought to this country as children can apply if they entered before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today. Going forward, DACA relief will also be granted for three years.

Providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status and their spouses. Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visa to become available. DHS will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily. DHS is finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application.

DHS will expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the U.S., to ensure that our system encourages them to grow our economy. The criteria will include income thresholds so that these individuals are not eligible for certain public benefits like welfare or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.

Strengthen and extend on-the-job training for STEM graduates of U.S universities. In order to strengthen educational experiences of foreign students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. universities, DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation.

Posted by pfr at 5:25 PM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

November 21, 2014

How Obama devised his Executive Order

Politico published an article today detailing how Obama and Jeh Johnson, the chief of the Department of Homeland Security, put together his policy to provide provisional protection to millions of undocumented persons. The article describes, among many things, how Congressional efforts to craft an immigration bill fell apart this summer.

The article:

How Obama got here

The president, the Homeland Security secretary and their secret 9-month project to remake America’s broken immigration system.

Nine months ago, the new Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, received a request from the White House. President Obama wanted him to personally take on perhaps the administration’s toughest political assignment: looking for creative ways to fix America’s immigration system without congressional action—or executive overreach.

Just four months into the job, Johnson had been prepared to take on tough security issues: Bombs on planes. Deadly diseases. Radical Islamists carrying U.S. passports. As the Pentagon’s chief counsel, Johnson had routinely dealt with contentious national security matters, finding himself in the midst of sensitive political fights like whether and how to close Guantanamo Bay, allowing gays in the military, and the rapid expansion of America’s killer drone program.

He wasn’t prepared for a crisis of purely political making.

Just days earlier Obama had been labeled the “deporter in chief” by a top Hispanic leader and ally, furious over the inaction by a president who seemed trapped between the demands of his supporters to allow millions of long-time residents who lacked documentation to stay in the country, and the seemingly endless foot-dragging of Republicans.

That request to Johnson would prove critical: a moment when the president set on the path of a much more ambitious change than the narrow changes in civil enforcement policy he and his aides had initially explored. In the remaining months of 2014, Obama would come to support a sweeping executive action to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, as Congress lurched from willingness to consider changes to strained immigration laws to refusing to tackle the issue at all. Meanwhile, interest groups from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to the Business Roundtable, from K Street’s shrewdest lobbyists to the most hard-nosed union bosses, intervened to try to shape the direction of the order.

Continue reading "How Obama devised his Executive Order" »

Posted by pfr at 3:47 PM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

Impact of the Executive Order on workers' compensation

The Obama administration’s Executive Order today (Nov 20, 2014) will affect many aspects of work life. This is a slightly revised version of an article of mine published on November 18, in anticipation of the Order, in WorkCompCentral.

I analyzed the impact of workers’ compensation. The Order will force the workers’ compensation field to address issues that have been lying in plain sight for some time. After all, one-fifth of work injuries are likely sustained by a foreign-born workers, 10% by undocumented workers, whether or not they are reported.

Will the administration’s policy cause a jump in claims? Will it close down grey market labor abuses or open up a Pandora’s box? Will it make it easier to enforce work safety standards or sow confusion?

An initial analysis leads me to project that the impact on workers’ comp claims will likely be smaller than many may think but the impact on employer, insurer and regulator practices may be pervasive.

Here are six questions worth asking, with their tentative answers:

Q. Does the Administration plan to provide legal protection to all undocumented workers?

A. No, but the practical effect of protecting an estimated somewhat less than 3 million out of eight million workers may well complicate the entire workers’ compensation system. Regulators, courts and employers will now have three legal classes of workers (existing legal, newly protected and undocumented). That could create a legal nightmare. It might also induce many decision makers to reset their approaches to immigrant workers as a whole.

Q. Who are the workers the plan appears to target?

A. According to media reports, it focuses on undocumented persons who have been here for a long time and have children who, mostly by being born in the United States, are citizens.

The plan addresses a fundamental demographic shift during the past 15-20 years in undocumented households. The average tenure of these households in the United States has increased. Over 60% of undocumented adults have been in the country for at least 10 years, and one-fifth have been in the U.S. for two decades or more.

These households have always produced relatively more children than native-born households by virtue of adults being more concentrated in childbearing age ranges. Their children include some “DREAM Act” beneficiaries, minors born outside the country. But the great majority of their children – over four million of them – are born here, and are therefore citizens.

Public data suggests that perhaps a third of undocumented workers have children who are American citizens. Some 87% of these workers come from Latin America; the rest from Asia and elsewhere.

Q. Where do these parents work?

A. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, undocumented workers form the highest share of workforces in Nevada (10%), California (9.7%), Texas (9%) and New Jersey (8.6%). California has the largest number of people in the labor force who are unauthorized immigrants (1.85 million), followed by Texas (1.1 million), Florida (600,000) and New York (450,000.).

Q. What industries are most affected?

A. I have analyzed federal data to locate not only which industries employ undocumented workers, but those jobs that result in a high number of lost-time compensable injuries.

Among the largest 100 jobs, undocumented workers account for about 4.5% of all workers. Because they tend to hold more injury-prone jobs, they likely incur about 8% of lost-time compensable injuries – or would if they filed claims at the same rate as authorized workers do.

For example, about 12% of janitors and building cleaners are undocumented, but virtually no elementary and middle school teachers. Janitors are over four times more likely to be injured than teachers.

Major sectors with undocumented worker employment are farming, construction, hospitality, and institutional (building and grounds maintenance). About four out of every 10 farm workers are undocumented, hence the expectation, of which we will hear more, that providing work rights to these workers will cause food prices (especially fresh produce) to increase. However, farming’s size is dwarfed by the combined size of these other sectors, in which an average 12% of workers are illegal.

Take construction. A fifth to one quarter of lost-time compensable injuries sustained by all undocumented workers are sustained in construction. The typical image of the illegal construction worker is the low skilled laborer. About a fifth of them are estimated to be unauthorized. But a fair number of painters and other skilled workers are also illegal.

Take hospitality, which includes lodging and restaurants. About 20%-25% of room cleaners and cooks are undocumented workers.

For every 10 lost-time compensable injuries sustained by undocumented workers, about five of them take occur in either construction or hospitality. Maybe only one takes place in farming.

Q. Will workers’ compensation claims increase?

A. This may happen in earnest in selected situations, where undocumented workers have reported relatively few of their injuries and now feel empowered to file claims, with claimant bar and activist group encouragement. For the workers' compensation field as a whole, the impact could be modest. Even if the number of lost-time compensable claims of undocumented workers increased by 50%, the total increase of such claims in the workers' comp field would be, I expect, a couple of percentage points, spread over several years.

Q. How will the new policy impact employers?

A. Undoubtedly, employers, insurers and regulators will take greater care in addressing the direct and indirect ramifications of a legally more empowered workforce.

For example, undocumented workforces are entangled in the underground economy and in independent contractor abuses. As these workers gain more legal protection, and law enforcement agencies, in alliance with workers’ compensation regulators, may begin to attack these challenges with greater vigor.

In the key industries (farming, construction, hospitality and institutional services), employer associations which have fretted over what they see as unfair competition by law-skirting companies that exploit undocumented workers, may prod law enforcement agencies more aggressively. In some industries, such as hospitality and transportation, labor organizing may blossom, with worker health and safety a key campaigning topic.

And, wages will likely trend upward as workers seek jobs in other industries now open to them (such as health care and government), putting pressure on employers. Expect to see greater investment by employers in labor-saving, injury-avoiding technology.

Posted by pfr at 2:28 AM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post

Impact of the Executive Order on workers' compensation

The Obama administration’s Executive Order today Nov 21, 2014) will affect many aspects of work life. This is a slightly revised version of an article of mine published on November 18, in anticipation of the Order, in WorkCompCentral.

I analyzed the impact of workers’ compensation. The Order will force the workers’ compensation field to address issues that have been lying in plain sight for some time. After all, one-fifth of work injuries are likely sustained by a foreign-born workers, 10% by undocumented workers, whether or not they are reported.

Will the administration’s policy cause a jump in claims? Will it close down grey market labor abuses or open up a Pandora’s box? Will it make it easier to enforce work safety standards or sow confusion?

An initial analysis leads me to project that the impact on workers’ comp claims will likely be smaller than many may think but the impact on employer, insurer and regulator practices may be pervasive.

Here are six questions worth asking, with their tentative answers:

Q. Does the Administration plan to provide legal protection to all undocumented workers?

A. No, but the practical effect of protecting an estimated somewhat less than 3 million out of eight million workers may well complicate the entire workers’ compensation system. Regulators, courts and employers will now have three legal classes of workers (existing legal, newly protected and undocumented). That could create a legal nightmare. It might also induce many decision makers to reset their approaches to immigrant workers as a whole.

Q. Who are the workers the plan appears to target?

A. According to media reports, it focuses on undocumented persons who have been here for a long time and have children who, mostly by being born in the United States, are citizens.

The plan addresses a fundamental demographic shift during the past 15-20 years in undocumented households. The average tenure of these households in the United States has increased. Over 60% of undocumented adults have been in the country for at least 10 years, and one-fifth have been in the U.S. for two decades or more.

These households have always produced relatively more children than native-born households by virtue of adults being more concentrated in childbearing age ranges. Their children include some “DREAM Act” beneficiaries, minors born outside the country. But the great majority of their children – over four million of them – are born here, and are therefore citizens.

Public data suggests that perhaps a third of undocumented workers have children who are American citizens. Some 87% of these workers come from Latin America; the rest from Asia and elsewhere.

Q. Where do these parents work?

A. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, undocumented workers form the highest share of workforces in Nevada (10%), California (9.7%), Texas (9%) and New Jersey (8.6%). California has the largest number of people in the labor force who are unauthorized immigrants (1.85 million), followed by Texas (1.1 million), Florida (600,000) and New York (450,000.).

Q. What industries are most affected?

A. I have analyzed federal data to locate not only which industries employ undocumented workers, but those jobs that result in a high number of lost-time compensable injuries.

Among the largest 100 jobs, undocumented workers account for about 4.5% of all workers. Because they tend to hold more injury-prone jobs, they likely incur about 8% of lost-time compensable injuries – or would if they filed claims at the same rate as authorized workers do.

For example, about 12% of janitors and building cleaners are undocumented, but virtually no elementary and middle school teachers. Janitors are over four times more likely to be injured than teachers.

Major sectors with undocumented worker employment are farming, construction, hospitality, and institutional (building and grounds maintenance). About four out of every 10 farm workers are undocumented, hence the expectation, of which we will hear more, that providing work rights to these workers will cause food prices (especially fresh produce) to increase. However, farming’s size is dwarfed by the combined size of these other sectors, in which an average 12% of workers are illegal.

Take construction. A fifth to one quarter of lost-time compensable injuries sustained by all undocumented workers are sustained in construction. The typical image of the illegal construction worker is the low skilled laborer. About a fifth of them are estimated to be unauthorized. But a fair number of painters and other skilled workers are also illegal.

Take hospitality, which includes lodging and restaurants. About 20%-25% of room cleaners and cooks are undocumented workers.

For every 10 lost-time compensable injuries sustained by undocumented workers, about five of them take occur in either construction or hospitality. Maybe only one takes place in farming.

Q. Will workers’ compensation claims increase?

A. This may happen in earnest in selected situations, where undocumented workers have reported relatively few of their injuries and now feel empowered to file claims, with claimant bar and activist group encouragement. For the workers' compensation field as a whole, the impact could be modest. Even if the number of lost-time compensable claims of undocumented workers increased by 50%, the total increase of such claims in the workers' comp field would be, I expect, a couple of percentage points, spread over several years.

Q. How will the new policy impact employers?

A. Undoubtedly, employers, insurers and regulators will take greater care in addressing the direct and indirect ramifications of a legally more empowered workforce.

For example, undocumented workforces are entangled in the underground economy and in independent contractor abuses. As these workers gain more legal protection, and law enforcement agencies, in alliance with workers’ compensation regulators, may begin to attack these challenges with greater vigor.

In the key industries (farming, construction, hospitality and institutional services), employer associations which have fretted over what they see as unfair competition by law-skirting companies that exploit undocumented workers, may prod law enforcement agencies more aggressively. In some industries, such as hospitality and transportation, labor organizing may blossom, with worker health and safety a key campaigning topic.

And, wages will likely trend upward as workers seek jobs in other industries now open to them (such as health care and government), putting pressure on employers. Expect to see greater investment by employers in labor-saving, injury-avoiding technology.

Posted by pfr at 2:28 AM Link to, Comment (0), or E-mail this post
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