Public opinion: less support for immigration, contradictory views

Gallup reports today in a June poll that public opinion is shifting towards reducing the level of immigration. The partisan divide has widened and the saliency of the issue has increased. Yet overall people appear to be confused and much wanting clarity and competence by the administration.

A majority – 55% — believe that immigration should be decreased, up from 28% in May, 2020. All major political points of view show an increase from 2023 in support for a decrease. It has been over 70% of Republicans for some time, now is over 80%; Independents went form 39% to 50%, and Democrats 18% to 28%. Today, only a quarter (26%) of Democrats want immigration to increase. The implicit level of immigration in an early 2021 Biden bill would have, in my estimate, increased immigration from about one million to 1.5 million.

Since 2020 the percentage people who think immigration is a “good thing” dropped from 77% to 64%.

Republicans are much more likely to consider immigration a very important issue than independents and Democrats.

Not this poll, but other recent polls, show that the saliency of the issue has risen overall, from about 10% to 20% saying that this is the most important issue.

This and prior polls show that people are very conflicted. When asked if persons here illegally should be deported, 37% said yes in 2019 and 47% said yes in 2023. However, in stark contradiction, in 2023 70% agreed with this statement: “Allowing immigrants living in the U.S. illegally the chance to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain requirements over a period of time.” An even higher percentage – 81% — supported citizenship for DACA beneficiaries.




Mass deportation planned by Trump

Reportedly at Donald Trump’s request, the GOP platform released on July 8 endorses the idea of mass deportations. (See the actual language at the end.) Since announcing his candidacy for President, he has tried to make immigration a potent political issue. Mass deportation will make the child separation policy of the Trump administration in early 2017 look like unwarranted minor controversy. It will provoke highly visible, concerted opposition, including by the media. Democratic candidates for November will turn the issue into a cause celebre.

Mass deportation is a uniquely Trumpian idea. It is not present or implied in Republican proposals for immigration reform such as by Senator Cotton of the House Republican’s H.R.2.

In France and England, extreme anti-immigration has shown to be a rallying cry for perhaps 15% of the voting public.  The rest of the electorate has either mixed feelings, and/or is irked by anti-immigration appeals.  The French and British elections in the past week reflect this distribution of sentiment.

There are about 11 million unauthorized persons in the U.S.  Most unauthorized immigrants have been in the U.S.  likely for over 10 years. 38% of undocumented immigrants are parents of US citizens.  I expect that pro-immigration groups, including the many evangelicals who are Hispanic (who make up a third of all evangelicals)  will vigorously oppose a mass deportation initiative.

To carry out a mass deportation strategy will require participation by state and local law enforcement. Oklahoma is the only state I know that requires police to turn in persons they think are here illegally. Roughly half of the unauthorized population live in blue states.

The GOP platform passage:

Begin largest deportation program in American history: President Trump and Republicans will reverse the Democrat’s destructive open borders policies that have allowed criminal gangs and the legal aliens from around the world to roam the United States without consequences. The Republican party is committed to sending illegal aliens back home and removing those who have violated our laws.




A target for a Trump administration: Temporary Protected Status

The Heritage Foundation and the Trump campaign appear to overlook the Temporary Protected Status program.  It may be because the TPS does not have the front page flash appeal of the Mexican border. But if Trump is elected, I expect that one of his first moves will be to revoke TPS for hundreds of thousands, if not a million, persons in the U.S.

At the end of the Trump administration there were about 400,000 persons in the U.S. covered by TPS. In 2022, there were about 350,000. Today there are well over a million, after taking into account a boost in Haitian TPS protected persons in the past few days. The Biden administration has been adding TPS beneficiaries at a rate of about 400,000 a year.

This surge has resulted in very roughly 500,000 + additional workers in the U.S. and contributed to the perplexing, contrasting estimates of the number of foreign-born persons in the U.S. ranging from a recent increase  from 1.1 million to 3.3 million

TPS designation can be for an initial period of anywhere from 16 to 18 months and extended indefinitely for periods for up to 18 months. The program is designed for people who cannot return safely due to their home countries due to ongoing armed conflict, environmental the disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. While the designation formally is temporary, the designation can lead to a more permanent status.

The Biden administration has been using TPS to divert migrants from crossing the Mexican border and asking for asylum.

An example is Haiti.  Darian Gap crossings by Haitians and Mexican border corssings by Haitians surged in the past few years. The Biden administration just announced that 309,000 Haitians in the U.S. are to be granted Temporary Protected Status. This will bring the total number of Haitians in the U.S. under TPS to about 500,000, or 4% of the entire population of Haiti.

The number of Haitians in the U.S, appears to be about 700,000 but I think that may understate the actual number as it may not take into account the surge of migrants in the past 12-18 months.



A second Trump administration and long term immigration strategy

Over the past week the prospects for a second Trump administration have risen a lot.

Trump himself is largely incoherent and self-contradictory on long term immigration policy. He has said he wants to deport all 11 million unauthorized persons. As with much of Trump’s positions, it is hard to sort out the performative rhetoric and wildly illegal impulsiveness from a durable strategy.

The Heritage Foundation, including its Project 2025, is an important source laying out a vision. The document itself and the Heritage Foundation’s overall messaging on immigration tends to focus on the border issues.  I will here and in future postings try to elucidate the Foundation’s proposals on longer term structural changes.

Simply stated, the Foundation wants to introduce a deliberate, comprehensive strategy of tight control over immigrant access to the United States and rights of non-permanent residents.  It wants to convert the inflow of immigrants towards a merit-based system.

If there is an antecedent to the Foundation’s policy approach for the long term it is Senator Cotton’s proposals which he articulated in 2018.

This posting focuses on the merit-based system.

According to the Foundation, applicants for immigration would be awarded points based on various criteria such as educational qualifications, work experience, especially in high-demand fields, English language proficiency, age, existing job offers from U.S. employers, and entrepreneurial potential or investment capability.

Certain industries or job categories deemed crucial for the U.S. economy might have specific quotas. The points system and thresholds would be periodically reviewed and adjusted based on economic needs and labor market trends. The system might include provisions for temporary workers to transition to permanent residency based on their contributions and integration over time.

The distribution of the total number of immigrants accepted will shift from about 15% employment -based to about 50% employment based.

The system will then come to look more like the Canadian and Australian systems, about which I have posted often.

“nomad” visas

A “nomad visa” (or digital nomad visa) allows remote workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to live and work in a foreign country for an extended period. These visa began to become popular since the pandemic ended, in 2022.

These visas are typically used by persons working remotely for a company located outside the host country. they  include extended stays, simplified application processes, and potential tax benefits. Applicants must prove a steady income or sufficient funds. Estonia, Germany, Costa Rica, Croatia, Mexico (apparently a very popular location), the Canary Islands, Slovenia, Thailand, Japan, Portugal and many other countries offer digital nomad visas. The number of host countries has grown rapidly to about 60 as of Spring 2024.

It is unclear how many people have been issued this visa. One estimate for U.S. citizens is 17 million, which is ridiculously high given as there are 160 million in the workforce within the U.S. and the Migration Policy Institute’s website estimates that only 3 million Americans live outside the U.S.

Here is a useful overview of this visa alternative, including summaries of visa requirements. For instance, The visa for Costa Rica is good for two years. Conditions The visa for Costa Rica (referred to as the Rentista) is good for two years. Conditions to apply for this nomad visa include proof of $3,000 monthly income and travel/medical insurance, Also go here.

For Mexico, the visa is call a Temporary Resident Visa, available for one year, extendable to four years, in contrast to a normal non-immigrant visa good for only up to 180 days.

Great study of present and future impact of immigration on US workforce.

“How Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children Fit into the Future U.S. Labor Market” – this study by the Migration Policy Institute examines the 47 million first and second persons who are part of the U.S. workforce. That’s 27% of the workforce. They include both foreign born persons and their adult children. These figures reveal the impact of immigrants on the American economy than the percentage of Americans who are foreign-born — 14%

First and second generation immigrants account for all of the work force growth between 2000 and 2023. This is due in part to the increase in these numbers, the higher participation rate of immigrant men in the workforce compared to other Americans, and rise of immigrant women in the  workforce.

First and second generation immigrants comprised 21% of young adults (18 -24) in 2000 and 30% in 2023. Among prime working age (25 to 54) persons in the US first and second generation immigrants comprised 19% in 2000 and 31% in 2023.

In 2023, first and second generation immigrants comprised 38% of all STEM and social science workers.

The job market is increasingly dependent on college educated workers. 41% of recent immigrants have at least a BA degree. Asian workers are best primed to meet the higher demand for formally well educated persons (go here).





When the United States helped to plan massive forced migration

No, I am not here writing about forced migration of indigenous Americans. I’ll address that later.

After World War II, the borders of Poland were significantly altered, resulting in population expulsions and migrations on a massive scale. The most notable changes occurred as a result of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, where the United States (Truman), the Soviet Union (Stalin0, and the United Kingdom (Atlee0 made decisions about post-war Europe, including the borders of Poland.

In the Protocol of the Proceedings, August 1, 1945: XIII. Orderly Transfers of German Populations. “…..The three Governments, having considered the question in all its aspects, recognize that the transfer to Germany of German populations or elements thereof, remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, will have to be undertaken. They agree that any transfers that take place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner.”

Between 3.5 to 4.5 million Germans residing within the new borders of Poland were mandated to resettle in post-war Germany from 1946 to 1949. The expulsion and migration processes were part of a larger ethnic policy aimed at creating an ethnically homogeneous Polish state.

In all, upwards of 12 million German speaking persons were forced to relocate after WW2 from Poland and other Central and East European countries.


How slow our visa system is

If your spouse is a U.S. citizen and you currently live in the United States, it takes on average 10–23 months to get a marriage-based green card. Spouses of U.S. citizens living in the United States can file their I-130 and their I-485 at the same time (also known as “concurrent filing”).

If your spouse is a U.S. citizen and you currently live outside the United States, it takes on average 13.5–15 months to get a spousal visa.

Source: Boundless


Biden’s new policy regarding unauthorized spouses

The policy announced on June 18 uses a policy tool favored by Biden, “parole,” to legalize temporarily the status of about 5% of the unauthorized population.  The White House is daring Trump and other Republicans to attack and sue.

On June 18 the Biden administration issued protections for two classes of persons legally subject to deportation: unauthorized persons who are married to an American citizen,and a backstop for DACA beneficiaries.

The June 18 policy uses the “parole” provisions of immigration law. Parole provisions authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to allow persons to stay in the U.S. who otherwise are not allowed in the country. Parole needs to be justified on the grounds of either humanitarianism or “significant public benefit.”  See here for an analysis and below for a brief history of the provision. explains spousal protection and DACA-related protections. This posting addressed the spousal policy.

There are about 11 million unauthorized persons in the U.S. – about the same as 10 years ago.  About 1.1 million (10%) are married to an American citizen. 500,000 of these have been in the U.S. for at least ten years and are legally married on or before June 17, 2024.  Many of them arrived in the 1990s or earlier – the average tenure in the U.S. of these 500,000 is 23 years!

Whom it will benefit:  500,000 authorized persons who are married and their children who are assured their parent will not be deported. This includes children born in the U.S. and who came as children. Some of them today are in their 50s.

Who is excluded:

These 500,000 persons are a small share of the roughly 8 million unauthorized persons who today (June 2024) have been in the U.S. for at least 10 years.  Many of these unauthorized person are in a couple both of whom are unauthorized, either formally married or in common law marriages. Many have children born in the U.S.

There are about six million U.S. born children who have at least one unauthorized parent. It appears likely that a small share of these children will be positively affected by this policy – which affects only children one of whose formally married parents is a citizen, and their unauthorized parent must have been here for ten year.

Those who are legally mixed but not married as of June 17, 2024: Assuredly many unmarried unauthorized persons who have been in the U.S.  will rush to establish evidence that they were legally married. In California the key document proving is a certified copy of the marriage certificate issued by the county where one obtained a marriage license.  (After the 1986 Immigration and Reform Act was passed, which favored naturalization for farm workers, many unauthorized persons rushed to claim farm employment).

Parole – a brief history

Parole was first used in the 1950s to admit refugees into the country. In 1956, President Eisenhower directed the Attorney General to parole 30,000 Hungarian refugees.

Throughout the 1960s-1970s, parole was increasingly used for refugee crises, admitting over 690,000 Cubans and 360,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Another 130,000 Vietnam War refugees were paroled.  In the 1980s, parole was used to admit groups like Cubans, Haitians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Soviets who didn’t qualify as refugees.  The 1996 immigration reform limited parole to case-by-case humanitarian or public benefit reasons, though it continued for groups like Cubans.  The Biden administration has extansively used parole to relieve pressure at the border and the asylum system.


More on the positive effect on immigration on recent job growth

A Brookings paper issued on March 7 looks at the effect of the surge in immigration on the U.S. economy in recent years, which I have noted several times (including here, 3 million new workers). It estimates that, compared to forecasts for 2023 made in pre-pandemic 2019, there were an average increase in the workforce of 160,000 – 200,000 actual versus the 2019 forecast of 60,000 – 100,000. Such a relative size of disparity occurred in 2022 appears to continue into 2024. The authors say this contribution to employment by the added supply of workers may account for the strong growth in consumer spending as well as job growth.

They say this added 0.1 points to the growth in GDP in 2023, that is, added a very little to the 2023’s GDP growth rate of 3.1%. More importantly, it staved off risk of a recession, and due to the added supply did not force up wages (perhaps except for low wage jobs, which remain hard to fill such as in hotel housekeeping and retail).

However – both Canada and Australia have noted their rise in immigration as helping to drive up housing costs. I do not think this has been addressed for the U.S.