Arizonans want legalization

From The Arizona Mirror:

Majorities of Trump supporters and self-described conservatives backed a pathway to citizenship. Among Trump voters, 61% support a pathway to citizenship for dreamers, 58% for farmworkers and 50% for essential workers who are undocumented. Those polled who identified as conservatives support citizenship by 66% for dreamers, 59% for farmworkers and 56% for essential workers. Overall, nearly 4 out of 5 Arizona voters supported this pathway.

Democratic pollster Matt Barreto, a principal at BSP Research, said Arizona voters have changed significantly from the late 2000s, when anti-immigrant sentiment was at its height in the state. Barreto said the poll showed a majority of Arizona voters don’t want to see the removal of undocumented immigrants and they understand that undocumented immigrants contribute to the economy.

“They can relate to the immigrants they work with in their communities,” he said.

“Simply put, Arizona voters are tired of inaction and are ready for reforms they believe will benefit small businesses and the economy as a whole,” the pollsters concluded in their analysis of the results.

The poll found over 60% of Arizona voters say immigrant laws and regulations are not working.

National Immigration Forum and Noorani’s Notes

I read the daily weekday newsletter of the National Immigration Forum, Noorani’s Notes which you can subscribe to here. The Notes give me insights into what is happening around the United States in immigration.

“Founded in 1982, the National Immigration Forum advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration to our nation. In service to this mission, the Forum promotes responsible federal immigration policies, addressing today’s economic and national security needs while honoring the ideals of our Founding Fathers, who created America as a land of opportunity.”

Half of Americans under 16 are nonwhite

In 2019, for the first time, more than half of the nation’s population under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Among this group, Latino or Hispanic and Black residents together comprise nearly 40% of the population. Given the greater projected growth of all nonwhite racial minority groups compared to whites—along with their younger age structure—the racial diversity of the nation that was already forecasted to flow upward from the younger to older age groups looks to be accelerating.

In 2019, the white median age was 43.7, compared to 29.8 for Latinos or Hispanics, 34.6 for Black residents, 37.5 for Asian Americans, and 20.9 for persons identifying as two or more races.

By William Frey at the Brookings Institution

Washington Post editorial on Del Rio

Many of the failings in the U.S. immigration system are reflected in the mess in Del Rio: the absence of any workable channel by which migrants could apply for asylum south of the border; the massive backlog and shortage of judges in migration courts, which means asylum applicants, once admitted, may wait two or three years for their cases to be heard; and the misalignment of high domestic demand for cheap immigrant labor with an inadequate legal supply of it.

From here.

Del Rio described and explained

“Mexico’s decision [triggering the migration across the Rio Grande to Del Rio, Texas] presents a clear diplomatic affront to the Biden administration, transferring a significant threat management and humanitarian challenge to America, not to mention a potential political problem for the Biden administration.” – Todd Bensman, Ctr for Immigration Studies.

A long posting about the situation in Del Rio. First, a DHS statement on steps it is taking: 400 personnel are being sent to the Del Rio sector. The Del Rio Port of Entry has temporarily closed. Moving migrants to other processing locations “in order to ensure that irregular migrants are swiftly taken into custody, processed, and removed from the United States consistent with our laws and policy.” DHS will secure additional transportation to accelerate the pace and increase the capacity of removal flights to Haiti and other destinations. The Administration is working with source and transit countries in the region to accept individuals who previously resided in those countries. “DHS is undertaking urgent humanitarian actions with other relevant federal, state, and local partners to reduce crowding and improve conditions for migrants on U.S. soil.”

Next, an 2020 article reports that a large share of Haitian migrants at the border started off in South America to reach the Mexican – American border and are part of a long term Haitian diaspora. They may have been residing in South America for years, leaving Haiti in 2010, and settling precariously in Brazil or other South American countries, until and their economic conditions worsened.

Next, Todd Bensman’s report dated Sept 18 published by the Center for Immigration Studies:
on Sunday, September 12, the Mexican government effectively sent a mass of migrants it had bottled up for months in its southern states up to the American border. This move, which appears to have been done under the cover of Mexico’s independence week of celebration known as El Grito, essentially foisted a humanitarian problem onto the Americans in a single week.

A quick background is necessary to understand what the migrants were saying. In short, when it was newly installed in January, the Biden administration began to pressure Mexico to maintain and use its National Guard and immigration bureaucracy to slow the flow of expected caravans and of tens of thousands of Haitians and other migrants coming in from all over the world. This was a fairly quiet diplomatic campaign, and it coincided with billions in promised U.S. aid and other benefits such as covid vaccines. It was a different approach from the Trump style of threatening to damage the Mexican economy with tariffs unless the leadership slowed U.S.-bound illegal immigration coming through Guatemala.

In response to Biden’s softer approach with gifts, Mexico apparently responded with a lighter version of a Trump-era tactic, which was to require that migrants entering from Guatemala be held in the southern state of Chiapas, in the border city of Tapachula, until they applied for and obtained temporary legal permits. National Guard roadblocks reinforced the policy.

Another Haitian said he and his family were forced to wait in Tapachula for months, applying for what he termed “passports” to the rest of Mexico. He said every day he would go to immigration to check on the status of his application.

Then, all of a sudden one day last week when he went to check, “They [Mexican immigration officials in Tapachula] said, ‘okay, you can cross for three days because of the days of festivities.’”
Why Del Rio and not other, more trammeled parts of the Texas-Mexico border?

The reason, according to the migrants CIS interviewed, the Mexican cartels in this city do not involve themselves in human smuggling as they do in other parts of northern Mexico. Migrants who get to Acuna are free to cross themselves over the river without paying a tax or smuggling fee to ruthless Mexican cartels, with no fear of violent retribution for doing so on their own.

These accounts square with prior CIS reporting from the area in the spring of 2021, which found that immigrants who were increasingly arriving in Del Rio had already probed other areas from California to Texas but that fear and price-sensitivity led them to Del Rio. Word obviously has spread.

The migrants CIS spoke to all said they had heard from friends, relatives, and acquaintances on social media and by word of mouth that they didn’t have to pay anything to cross the Rio Grande here.
Some may be deported. But most likely will spend a day or two until they get temporary resident permits and a date to appear at an American immigration office in the city of their choice. Then under current Biden policies for families and unaccompanied minors, a great many will be released to travel anywhere in America, boarding yet more buses to those cities and towns.

Parliamentarian nixes immigration changes in reconciliation bill

The Parliamentarian of the Senate said this afternoon that the immigration provisions are not permitted in the reconciliation bill. The Washington Post has exerpted from her decision, which appears to me to say that immigration reform is so overwhelming in its impact of affected people that the budgetary implications are trivial. The decision in full is here.

Senate vote on a 2007 reform package is detailed here, in which the reform bill was defeated 53 – 46.

In 2013, the Senate voted 68 – 32 for immigration reform; the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, refused to bring it up. In 2017 there was a flurry of Senate activity which went nowhere.

In 2001, with the Senate split 50-50, Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott fired the parliamentarian who ruled against a provision in an reconciliation bill.

Farmworker provisions in the reconciliation bill

I have not seen the farmworker provisions in the reconciliation bill but I understand they are similar to the farmworker provision in the Agricultural Workers Adjustment Act of 2019  (also here) and also in Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. The 2019 was passed by the House with 35 Republicans voting for it. (The bill had 24 Dem and 20 Rep sponsors.) Bills to normalize the legal status of farmworkers have been proposed since at least the 2000s.

One approach to farm labor is to create a large, long term guest worker category. California farmers have opposed that option.

Here is the pork industry behind the farmworker provisions in the reconciliation bill, and here is another industry advocate.

The U.S. Citizenship Act provisions for farmworkers in summarized here:

The farmworker provision of the bill is the largest worker legalization program and is outlined under Title I Sec. 1105 of the bill: The Agricultural Workers Adjustment Act. The act, which echoes portions of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act that passed the House in 2019, would allow agricultural workers who have performed agricultural labor or services for at least 2,300 work hours (or 400 work days) in the five-year period before filing to get a green card. The act would also provide that the spouse and children of an eligible noncitizen agricultural worker may also adjust to permanent residence status, provided they also meet eligibility criteria. In addition, while another provision of the bill reduces the residence requirement for naturalization from five years to three years for legal permanent residents who, for at least three years before becoming a permanent resident, were both lawfully present and eligible for employment authorization, this would likely not apply to undocumented agricultural workers. However, they would be eligible to apply for citizenship after the normal five-year period if they pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics.

Our STEM educational system is globalized

In the mid 20th Century, the United States had an overwhelming advantage over most of the world in the size of investment in formal education. (See here.)

That advantage has greatly declined. One result is that the educated population, tremendously grown and more distributed, is competing and complementing the educated American. I believe that one aspect of this competition – complementarity is the emerge of over a billion workers into a global economy brought together by lower communication and transportation costs. These trends will continue.

Another aspect of global transformation is globalization of STEM higher education in the United States by foreign-born students. America still dominates in the field of higher education. Twelve of the top 25 universities in the world are in the United States, which has 4% of the world’s population. 

In 1966 there were about 18,000 doctoral degrees awarded by American universities; about 15% of which were to non-Americans. In 2014 there were about 55,000, of which 40% were to non-Americans.

In a 2015 survey conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Graduate Record Examinations Board, about 55% of all participating graduate students in mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering at US schools were found to be foreign nationals. In 2017, the National Foundation for American Policy estimated that international students accounted for 81% of full-time graduate students in electrical engineering at U.S. universities; and 79% of full-time graduate students in computer science. (See here.)

Will these students stay here? Gone were the days when a European-born genius such as John von Neumann and Albert Einstein would migrate here and assuredly stay.

Millions of workers to become more productive due to immigration changes

A major chronic problem with people in unauthorized or legal but vulnerable immigration status is that they are less economically mobile and as a result less productive. has put together estimates of the number of people in this condition. A two adult household with one adult unauthorized or in Temporary Protected Status, plus persons on temporary work visas, means that both adults are economically less mobile. This limited mobility may affect at least 10 million and possibly up to 15 million working age people.

(Start with 8 million unauthorized workers and roughly 750,000 – one million persons on a legal temporary work visa which ties their hands. Then consider whom they are living with.)

Check oit the FWD Interactive tool which gives you its state-level estimates. estimates that some 10.6 million U.S. citizens live with undocumented immigrants. More than 22 million people in the U.S. live in mixed-status households, where at least one undocumented person lives with U.S. citizens, green card holders, or other lawful temporary immigrants. All told, more than 1 in 20 people in the U.S. are under constant threat of being separated from family members and loved ones in their home.

About 5.8 million U.S. citizen children live with undocumented household members, with 4.9 million of these children having at least one undocumented parent. Most of these children were born in the United States, are U.S. citizens, and are enrolled in public schools. Some U.S. citizen children have been barred from accessing benefits to which they’re entitled, including access to COVID-19 recovery assistance, because of their parents’ undocumented status.2

At the same time, nearly 1.7 million U.S. citizens have a spouse who is undocumented. Roughly a quarter have been married for 20 years or longer, while more than half have been married for 10 years or longer.

California, Texas, Florida, and New York have some of the highest numbers of U.S. citizens living with undocumented immigrants; more than half of U.S. citizens living in mixed-status households live in these four states.

Two key Dem supported immigration changes

The budget reconciliation bill as it now stands, after completion of  work by the House Judiciary Committee in preparation for a House vote, is a gargantuan acceptance of unauthorized persons into legal status and an acceleration to green card status of many legal applicants, some having waited for many years. Here are two provisions.  The affected persons adjust their status to permanent residency if they pay a supplemental fee of $1,500 and pass security/law enforcement checks and a medical exam.

-Has been continuously physically present in the US since 1/1/2021
-Was 18 years of age or younger when the person entered the US and has resided continuously since that date

Applicants must meet one of these 4 categories –
(1)Demonstrates a record of honorable service in the Uniformed Services of US,
(2)Attains or completes at least 2 years in good standing in a program leading to a degree from a US institute of higher education or a postsecondary credential from an area career and technical education school in the US
(3) During the 3-year period immediately before applying to adjust under this section, a consistent record of earned income in the US;
(4) Enrollment in a US institute of higher education or a postsecondary credential from an area career and technical education school in the US and current employment or participation in an internship, apprenticeship, or similar training program

Essential Workers
Who is an essential worker? According to DHS, essential workers are those typically essential to continue critical infrastructure operations. Critical infrastructure is a large, umbrella term encompassing sectors from energy to defense to agriculture. Includes cyber security, pharmacy workers, personal aides caring for chronically ill persons, law enforcement, restaurant workers, etc.

Here is a key August 10 2021 advisory memorandum which lists the categories of essential workers. The formal name is “DHS Advisory Memorandum on Ensuring Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers’ Ability to Work During the COVID-19 Response issued on 8/10/2021.”

The worker:
-Has been continuously physically present in the US since 1/1/2021
-Demonstrated a consistent record of earned income in the US in an occupation listed in DHS’ Advisory Memorandum