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November 30, 2012

Nine principles of immigration reform

On November 29, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus issued a list of principles of immigration reform. Here they are:

1. Normalize status of illegal immigrants: Require the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to register with the federal government, submit to fingerprinting and a criminal background check, learn English and American civics, and pay taxes to contribute fully and legally to our economy and earn a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship.

2. Unite families: Protect the unity and sanctity of the family, including the families of bi-national, same-sex couples, by reducing the family backlogs and keeping spouses, parents, and children together.

3. STEM program: Attract the best and the brightest investors, innovators, and skilled professionals, including those in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies, to help strengthen our economy, create jobs, nnd build a brighter future for all Americans.

4. DREAM Act: Build on the extraordinary success of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and incorporates DREAMers, those who were brought to the U.S. at a young age and are Americans but for a piece of paper—into the mainstream of life in the United States through a path to citizenship so that America benefits from their scholastic achievements, military service and pursuit of their dreams.

5. Ag industry: Include a balanced, workable solution for the agriculture industry that ensures agricultural workers have a route to citizenship and employers have the workers and American agriculture continues to lead in our global economy.

6. Labor protections for immigrant workers: End the exploitation of U.S. and immigrant workers by providing sufficient, safe, and legal avenues for foreign workers to fill legitimate gaps in our workforce, with full labor rights, protection from discrimination, and a reasonable path to permanency that lifts up wages and working conditions for both native and foreign-born workers and their families.

7. Border protection:
Ensure smart and reasonable enforcement that protects our borders and fosters commerce by targeting serious criminals and real threats at our northern and southern borders and promotes the safe and legitimate movement of people and goods at our ports of entry and which are essential to our economy.

8. Verification: Establish a workable employment verification system that prevents unlawful employment and rewards employers and employees who play by the rules, while protecting Americans’ right to work and their privacy.

9. Access to Citizenship: Renew our commitment to citizenship, to ensure all workers pay their fair share of taxes, fully integrate into our way of life and bear the same responsibilities as all Americans and reaffirms our shared belief that the Citizenship Clause of the Constitution is a fundamental freedom that must be preserved.

November 27, 2012

Trafficking: what is it?

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 defines trafficking, debt bondage, and involuntary servitude. Today, at least several millions are subjected to one or more of these human abuses.

The act’s intent is “to combat trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and involuntary servitude, to reauthorize certain Federal programs to prevent violence against women, and for other purposes.”

On October 1, 2012, the act expired. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1301) to extend funding for anti-trafficking programs has not yet been voted on by either Senate or House (as of 11/27/12). Congress reauthorized the act in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Section 103 Definitions

(8) SEVERE FORMS OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS- The term `severe forms of trafficking in persons' means--

(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or

(B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

(9) SEX TRAFFICKING- The term `sex trafficking' means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.


(4) DEBT BONDAGE- The term `debt bondage' means the status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his or her personal services or of those of a person under his or her control as a security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.

(5) INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE- The term `involuntary servitude' includes a condition of servitude induced by means of--

(A) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that, if the person did not enter into or continue in such condition, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or

(B) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

The 2000 Palarmo Protocol on trafficking defines the term as follows:

"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs... The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth [above] shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth [above] have been used.

November 24, 2012

Immigration reform prospects for 2013

Why immigration reform in 2013? Muzaffar Chishti and Claire Bergeron cite the following:

• The Republican Party was jolted by the surprisingly low Latino support for presidential nominee Mitt Romney
• nearly two-thirds of American voters (65 percent) now support giving most unauthorized immigrant workers a chance to apply for legal status.
• recognition in both political parties that reforming the current legal immigration system is critical to advancing the United States' global economic competitiveness.
• For a bill to stand a chance of passage, it must get through Congress before House members gear up for the 2014 mid-term elections. Most interpret that political reality to mean that a bill's best chance would be in 2013.

The article in full: “US Election Realigns Stars for Immigration Reform, But Significant Hurdles Remain”

Published on 11-23-2012

In one sweep, the re-election of President Barack Obama has transformed immigration reform, an issue that for years has largely been seen as a third rail of American politics, into a first-tier legislative agenda item for the 113th Congress. In perhaps the clearest sign that the calculus on immigration has dramatically shifted, a chorus of Republican Party leaders and conservatives who have traditionally opposed immigration reform efforts voiced support for enacting legislation that would include legalization for some of the country's 11 million unauthorized immigrants.

Backers of such a measure are moving quickly to turn ambitious goals into legislative reality. On November 11th, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced that they were re-initiating efforts to draft a broad, bipartisan immigration reform bill. Three days later, President Obama, in his first post-election press conference, told reporters that he expected movement on immigration reform "very soon after [the] inauguration".

President Obama also stated that he envisioned the new immigration reform bill to contain elements similar to those proposed in the 2006 and 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bills that were debated in the Senate. Those measures included strengthened border security, mandatory electronic verification by employers to prevent hiring of unauthorized workers, and a pathway to legal status for unauthorized immigrants who have not committed crimes and who agree to pay a fine, pay back taxes, and learn English.

The contours of what a legalization program would look like remain highly contentious, and it is as yet unclear whether there is sufficient room for compromise between those in Congress who have traditionally favored an enforcement-first approach to immigration reform and those who have long sought to pair heightened enforcement with a solution to the enduring problem of how to deal with the unauthorized population in the United States.

New Momentum for Legislative Action

Immigration reform has remained an elusive legislative goal for over a decade — the result of deep divisions between the political parties as well as ideological differences within them. The idea of immigration reform has been anathema to a cadre of conservative primary voters, causing GOP presidential candidates to tack hard right on the topic. The Republican Party was jolted, however, by the surprisingly low Latino support for presidential nominee Mitt Romney, with exit polls showing he gained just 27 percent Hispanic support (down from John McCain's 31 percent share in 2008 and the 44 percent received by George W. Bush in 2004). And with Hispanic and Asian voters proving ever larger shares of the electorate, the demographic reality is increasingly preoccupying Republican strategists.

Leaders of both political parties also took note of the two polls conducted on and after Election Day showing that, in a significant shift, nearly two-thirds of American voters (65 percent) now support giving most unauthorized immigrant workers a chance to apply for legal status. Meanwhile, as of November 11th, 57 percent of Americans support providing unauthorized immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

A final key factor behind the new momentum for legislative action on immigration is recognition in both political parties that reforming the current legal immigration system is critical to advancing the United States' global economic competitiveness. The Republican 2012 party platform, for example, noted that strategic immigration policies, such as increasing the number of visas allotted to foreign-born holders of advanced science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees, and allowing foreign-born students educated in the United States to remain in the country after graduation, could play a vital role in speeding the nation's economic recovery. Democratic leaders, including President Obama, and current Senate immigration subcommittee chair Charles Schumer, have backed similar proposals. So have tea party leaders such as Rand Paul, and independents such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Obstacles to Reform in 2013

Yet for all the goodwill, political momentum, and policy arguments pointing toward legislative action, a number of obstacles stand in the way of the passage of a broad, systemic immigration bill in the 113th Congress.

The first obstacle is the lack of consensus on the scope and nature of a legalization program that covers some — or most — of the nation's unauthorized immigrants. Immigrant-rights advocates and most Democrats in Congress will almost certainly push for a broad legalization program that allows most of the nation's unauthorized immigrants to adjust to lawful permanent resident status, and places them on a pathway to citizenship over a period of time. Employers in industries that hire large numbers of immigrant workers may also push for a broad legalization program, particularly if they are required to accept as a compromise mandatory enrollment in the federal E-Verify program, an electronic system that searches immigration and social security databases to determine whether newly hired employees are authorized to work.

On the other hand, some Republican politicians have long labeled any legalization as "amnesty" and vowed to vote against it. Some Republicans might be willing to support a legalization program as long as it does not place newly legalized immigrants on a pathway to citizenship. In a Politico interview, Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID), for example, stated that the United States' immigration problem could be solved "without amnesty, without a pathway to citizenship."

The second obstacle comes from another electoral reality. Republicans have maintained their House majority, with 233 seats in the 113th Congress. Although House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has stated that he is "confident" that the GOP and the Democrats will be able to cut a deal on immigration, enforcement-first House Republicans remain a potent force and may be less willing to forge a compromise. Already, several staunch conservatives have pushed back against Speaker Boehner, noting that he may be further out in front of his caucus on immigration.

On the Senate side, the Democrats and their independent allies now control 55 seats — a majority, but not one that is filibuster-proof. Moreover, many Republicans who might otherwise be willing to endorse a legalization measure might be reluctant to do so if they fear a primary fight. Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), both face re-election in 2014. Senator Graham's own past may serve as an object lesson for some — in 2008, he faced huge criticism in South Carolina for what critics touted as his support for "Grahamnesty."

The third set of obstacles is the narrow window of the legislative calendar. For a bill to stand a chance of passage, it must get through Congress before House members gear up for the 2014 mid-term elections. Most interpret that political reality to mean that a bill's best chance would be in 2013. However, before Congress can turn to immigration reform, it must deal with the "fiscal cliff"— the potentially devastating economic consequences that will occur if a series of automatic tax increases and across-the-board budget cuts take effect as planned on January 1, 2013. In addition, most analysts agree that once Congress has resolved the fiscal cliff issue, other types of economic legislation, especially those that are geared toward tax reform and job creation, will be the next area of focus.

Given these obstacles, some members of Congress may find it tempting to introduce piecemeal immigration reform measures that benefit discrete immigrant populations, such as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant permanent legal status to some unauthorized immigrants brought to the country as children. Supporters of broad-based, systemic reform argue that enacting any such stand-alone measures would effectively kill political support for a larger reform bill, leaving unresolved the enduring problem

Muzaffar Chishti a lawyer, is director of Migration Policy Institute (MPI) office at New York University School of Law. His work focuses on US immigration policy, the intersection of labor and immigration law, civil liberties, and immigrant integration.

Claire Bergeron is a paralegal at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. In 2007 and 2008 she worked as an intern and research assistant at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI), where she co-authored reports on Social Security letters and the USCIS naturalization backlog. A graduate of Northwestern University, Ms. Bergeron obtained her BA cum laude in legal studies and anthropology in June 2007. While at Northwestern, Ms. Bergeron wrote two theses on US immigration, earning the Legal Studies Department ?thesis of the distinction? award in 2006 for her research on due process standards for detained immigrants. Ms. Bergeron is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

November 15, 2012

Indian immigrants and American hotels

Indian immigrants in 2004, according to Reuters, owned one half of the hotels in the United States. The Asian American Hotel Owners Association has more than 10,000 members owning more than 22,000 hotels with a total of $60 billion in property value. AAHOA is the largest membership-based Indian business organization in the United States

The 1965 Immigration Act opened the doors for many more Indian immigrants.
Indians got into the hotel business in the 1970s, when due to gas shortages Americans traveled less and hotel owners were willing to sell their properties for less. The buyers would invest $10,000 or $20,000 as a down payment in a hotel property worth about $100,000 to $120,000. Most of the Indian owners are from Gujarat state.

"The network gave them a business plan," said one observer. “They didn't need consultants. All a potential investor had to do was call up his uncle and ask, 'How much should I pay and is this a good market?'."

lower-budget (broadly defined) motel brands that Indian Americans commonly own include Comfort Inn, Days Inn, EconoLodge, Knights Inn, Sleep Inn, Super 8, and Travelodge, to name a few. Middle-budget motels include Best Western, Country Inn and Suites, Hampton Inn, and Holiday Inn (and Express).

November 12, 2012

The emerging Latino voting bloc in Arizona

Latino voters in Arizona are gradually growing in absolute and percentage terms. A report issued earlier this year, Arizona’s Emerging Latino Vote (published by the Morrison Institute), lays out the trends. In this November’s Senate race, Democratic candidate Richard Carmona, received 45.8% of the vote, more than had been expected in the Summer. Six years from now, winner Jeff Flake will be facing a larger Latinos voting bloc.

According to long range projections of the growth in Latino voters, each year will cause the Latino voter share to increase by on average 0.5%. Latino voters were probably 12% of all voters this November. In six years Flake may likely be looking at an increase in the Latino voting percentage to 15%.

Hispanics now make up 30% of the state’s population. One third of Latino adults are not citizens. The Latino voting population is much younger than non-Latinos (the median Latino age is 25 vs. non-Hispanic whites at 44), suggesting lower voter turnout due to younger age. In 2010, 69% of vote-eligible Latinos voted vs. 8% for non-Hispanic whites.

Thus the actual Latino bloc of voters is probably 12% of actual voters, the percentage projected for 2012. Exit polling indicates that 74% voted for Obama.

Each year, more Latinos become eligible to vote – at a much faster rate than other groups. In 2010, 15% of registered voters were Latino. That is expected to grow to 25% in 2030.

In a June 2012 poll, only 9% of registered Latinos identified themselves as Republican.

November 11, 2012

Ten politicans to watch on immigration reform

Daniel Strauss of the Hill lists “10 players to watch on immigration:” President Obama, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen.John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The list in depth:

President Obama. Even before he was elected to a second term, Obama had already been laying the groundwork for immigration reform. Over the summer, he issued a new directive protecting immigrants who came to the country illegally from being deported provided they meet certain criteria. After failing to pass a bill in his first four years, Obama said that immigration reform would be one of the highest priorities of his second term. But will he push a comprehensive approach, or a scaled-down version of the measure, such as the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act?

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). Goodlatte is considered the favorite to be the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction on immigration. In 2011, he introduced legislation to get rid of the immigrant visa lottery program. He has been a vocal critic of the DREAM Act. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) this week has opened the door to passing immigration reform, attracting criticism from conservatives.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman has been proponent on comprehensive immigration reform and his voting record includes support for establishing a guest-worker program, opposing limiting welfare for illegal immigrants and allowing illegal immigrants to participate in Social Security.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.). Gutierrez, a long-time supporter of Obama, hasn’t been shy in criticizing the president on immigration. The Illinois Democrat publicly expressed his frustration that Obama did not use more political capital to push Congress on the issue in 2009 and 2010. But Gutierrez went all out for Obama in the 2012 election, and expects Republicans to be more willing to back a bill after Tuesday’s results.

Frank Sharry. The executive director of America's Voice, a prominent pro-immigration reform group, recently told The Hill that the GOP risks becoming a completely "whites-only party" by resisting immigration reform. In response to a number of top Republicans showing an openness to immigration reform this week, Sharry said the "tectonic plates" on immigration had begun "shifting." Republicans now have the chance "to do the right thing and help pass sensible reform legislation,” he added.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). The Senate majority whip is the primary sponsor behind the DREAM Act, which he first introduced in 2001. The legislation would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, provided they meet certain criteria — such as having come to the United States when they were 15 or younger and pursuing a degree in higher education or serving in the military.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, and Graham have indicated they want a bill passed. But McCain has shifted on immigration over the past couple of years. After calling for comprehensive immigration reform in the Bush administration, he moved to the right on the issue while running for president and later in his 2010 Senate primary. McCain also supported a controversial Arizona border-security initiative allowing law enforcement to check the immigration status of suspects. Over the past two Congresses, Graham has negotiated with Democrats on passing immigration reform legislation but none of those discussions ever came to fruition. Graham has also been an advocate for ending birthright citizenship. Recently, Graham tweeted that "It's important for our country to solve illegal immigration once and for all. We must deal with the issue firmly and fairly." Similarly, McCain tweeted that he agreed with "calls for comprehensive immigration reform." Graham is up for reelection in 2014 and some on the right have speculated he could face a primary challenge.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Rubio is one of the most high profile Hispanic Republicans on Capitol Hill. The junior senator from Florida is a rising star and one of the GOP's strongest bridges to winning over coveted Latino voters. Rubio had been planning to introduce a Republican alternative to Durbin's DREAM Act but stopped crafting the legislation when Obama announced his immigration directive earlier this year. Republicans will look to Rubio before signing off on any immigration reform agreement.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). King, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, has championed stricter immigration laws. He favors building a fence along the Mexican border and ending birthright citizenship. After Boehner last week said he hoped to tackle immigration reform soon, King signaled over Twitter that he would resist.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Schumer is one of the most powerful senators on Capitol Hill and when it comes to immigration reform, his influence is considerable as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship. In September the senior senator from New York, alongside Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced legislation to reform the federal visa program in order to make it easier for students to get a student visa. The legislation, the BRAINS Act, seeks to establish a pilot program adding 55,000 new green cards to the total available for foreign students graduating from universities in the United States with degrees in math or science related fields. On Thursday Schumer said he was "optimistic" about an immigration deal.

Asian Americans overwhelmingly for Obama

The must unkindest cut to the Romney campaign was when the poster children of immigrants – the well educated, entrepreneurially-minded Indians and the equally hard working East Asian immigrants –voted overwhelmingly for Obama. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education reported that 73% of Asian Americans voted for Obama. That’s up from 62% in 2008. Two decades ago, Asian-Americans went 2-to-1 for Republicans.

Obama was strongest among Indian-American voters, leading Romney by a margin of 76 to 8 percent in the poll, and weakest among Filipino Americans, where the vote was 57 percent to 20 percent. Among Chinese Americans, it was 68 percent for Obama, 8 percent for Romney

In April
The Atlantic had already noted that these immigrants posed a challenge to the Republicans. 44% of eligible Asian Americans has voted in 2008, up from 44% in 2004. And their population grew by 43% between 2000 and 2010. Obama won 62% of their vote in 2008. Today Asian Americans are about 3% of the electorate nationally, and about 10% in California.

In a poll on the weekend before the November election, the vast majority of Asian American voters (58%) said that fixing the economy and creating more jobs was the most important issue that politicians should address. Health care and education reform were each cited by 20% of Asian American voters as the most important issue, followed by civil rights/immigration issues (13%).

On election day, exit polls showed at least 70 percent of Asian-American voters chose Obama. Two decades ago, Asian-Americans reported voting Republican by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, said UC Berkeley political scientist Taeku Lee.

Vietnamese voter sentiment shifted toward Obama, though most still identify with the Republican Party. Filipinos shifted more toward Romney. But two of the largest groups of Asian-American voters -- Chinese-Americans and Indian-Americans -- are now unmistakably Democratic.

November 7, 2012

Latinos delivered for Democrats on Tuesday

A record 72% of Latinos voted for President Barack Obama, and only 23% voted for Romney, according to Latino Decisions exit polls. In 2008, the president won 67% of the Hispanic vote while John McCain won 31%. A few weeks ago, Obama was favored by 70% of registered Latinos.

In the battleground state of Colorado, 87% of Latinos voted for Obama, while only 10% voted for Romney. In Ohio, 82% of Latinos voted for President Obama.

In Massachusetts, Latinos came out to vote overwhelmingly for Obama with 89%, and just 9% for Romney. Latino support here had implications in the white-knuckled, close Massachusetts Senate race. “Latinos are an estimated 6 to 7% of all voters in Massachusetts and the impreMedia-Latino Decisions data shows Latinos overwhelmingly supported Elizabeth Warren by a record margin, 86% for Elizabeth Warren to 14% for Brown and the Latino vote is what decisively put Warren over the top,” says Latino Decisions political scientist Matt Barreto.

Exit polls conducted by impreMedia/Latino Decisions nationwide and in 11 key battleground states indicate that Latino voters played a critical role in Obama getting a second term and keeping a Democratic majority in the Senate.

"In all cases, immigration reform and the dramatic distinction between the two parties on the issue was a major driver of Latino voter political choices," said a statement put out by America's Voice, an immigration advocacy group.

Virginia Senate race: in the race between Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, Kaine won. In 2006, the margin of victory for the seat was approximately 1%. Latino voters account for 3.5% of all registered voters in the state in 2012. On analysis reports that From 2000 – 2010 the number of Latino eligible voters grew by 76% in Virginia, outpacing all other groups in the electorate. On Tuesday, Latinos favored Obama over Romney by 66% to 31%.

66% of Virginia Latinos know someone who is undocumented, and 54% know someone who may be eligible for the DREAM Act.

Arizona Senate race. Retiring Senator John Kyl beat his Democratic opponent in 2006 by 10 points. This fall, going into November Republican candidate Jeff Flake was 5 points ahead of Democratic candidate Richard Carmona by about 5 points. As of right now (5 AM Arizona time on Wednesday) the vote count is not in. Flake won.

November 4, 2012

Last minute update on Latino voting power

The Washington Post on Sunday listed the following as up for grabs between Obama and Romney as of this weekend: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and New Hampshire.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, which projects there will be a 26% increase in Latino voters on Tuesday compared with 2008, provides the following estimates of the projected share of the Latino vote in ten states. Two of the ten, Colorado and Florida, are among the seven states up for grabs. This fast growth is due to an acceleration during recent years in the growth of Latino citizenship on top of the growth in the Latino population overall.

Data presented as follows: Projected Latino Voters; Increase From 2008; Projected Share of Latino Vote

NATIONAL 12,237,000; 25.6%; 8.7%
Arizona 359,000; 23.2%; 12.0%
California 3,911,000; 32.1%; 26.3%
Colorado 224,000; 15.0%; 8.7%
Florida 1,650,000; 34.5%; 18.3%

Illinois 433,000; 37.8%; 7.6%
New Jersey 392,000; 16.2%; 10.4%
New Mexico 329,000; 14.0%; 35.0%
New York 845,000; 13.7%; 10.8%

November 2, 2012

Bloomberg Magazine: lunacy of immigration policy for educated immigrants

BloombergBusinessweek published an editorial on October 25 on the impasse on immigration reforms for highly educated immigrants.

“On one critical component of policy—the treatment of highly skilled workers—a strong consensus exists that a more liberal regime is crucial for U.S. economic prospects.”

It goes on:

House Republicans arranged a floor vote in September on a measure that would have offered more residency visas to immigrants with advanced science, technology, engineering, and math degrees, but set it up to fail by reducing the number of visas overall (which Democrats oppose).

For their part, Democrats think it best to hold the skilled-immigration rules hostage until they can get a more comprehensive agreement (which Republicans tend to resist). We applaud the objective, because we too favor comprehensive reform of the system. But it is time to abandon politically motivated yet economically harmful strategies.

It would be hard to exaggerate the lunacy of U.S. rules on skilled immigration. We know of no other advanced economy that skews its policies so severely against the workers in greatest demand. Most countries see themselves as competing to attract that kind of immigrant, recognizing that human capital is an important driver of economic success.

Many emigrants from India excel in engineering and other technical skills. Yet India’s quota, small in relation to its pool of outstanding applicants, artificially restricts their numbers.