Archive for 2017

Congress to act by itself on DREAMERS?

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

A New York Times editorial today notes that, in the face of a hardline, punitive White House position on immigration, Congress could decide in a bi-partisan way to protect the DREAMERs, and set a foundation for more immigration policy-making.

the White House issued its hardline demands on Sunday as a condition for re-installing legal protection for DREAMERs.

Today’s editorial says, “So what can Republicans do? Start by working across the aisle on sensible immigration legislation. That would begin with what got this entire discussion started: a deal to protect the Dreamers. It would not include Mr. Trump’s border wall, a nonstarter for Democrats that Republican budget hawks also oppose.

No matter what the final package looks like, it needs to get to the floor and be put to a vote — which depends on the House speaker, Paul Ryan, and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, embracing higher principles than fear of their Tea Party rebels. This doesn’t need to be so hard: There’s a sympathetic population that needs immediate help, there are blueprints on the table that might find bipartisan consensus, and there is a ticking clock.”

Trump sets annual refugee cap lower than ever

Friday, October 6th, 2017

The White House announced late last week that for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, beginning Oct. 1, 2017, the United States will only admit a maximum number of 45,000 refugees . This represents the lowest refugee admissions ceiling ever set by the U.S. government, despite record numbers of forced displacement around the world. The UN Refugee Agency estimated 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2016.

This from Royce Murray, Policy Director at the American Immigration Council.

Those visas will be allocated with 19,000 for Africa; 17,500 for the Near East/South Asia; 5,000 for East Asia; and 2,000 for Europe and Central Asia. Latin America and the Caribbean were only allocated 1,500 visas. Unlike years past, there is no “unallocated reserve” of refugee visas which previous administrations routinely authorized to provide flexibility to the U.S. Refugee Program for unexpected refugee flows.

This new refugee cap is a 59 percent reduction in the refugee ceiling set by the Obama administration, who allocated 110,000 visas for refugees in FY 2017. The annual refugee cap since the late 1990s has wavered between about 65,000 and 90,000. The cap has never been below about 65,000 since before 1980.

Senator Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the ranking member, Senator Feinstein (D-CA) criticized the administration in a joint letter, stating, “We are incredibly frustrated that the annual consultation for refugee admissions, which is required by law, was finalized just one day in advance… It is simply unacceptable to read in the press that the administration had reached its decision on the refugee cap before the mandated meeting with Congress had even been scheduled.”

Immigration behind Trump victory in 2016

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Thomas Edsell writes on how immigration was a root cause issue for Trump’s victory. Those communities which went from very little diversity to a lot swung over Trump.

He writes: In Michigan, for instance, exit poll data showed that those who believe immigrants to the United States “hurt the country” voted three to one for Trump. Those who said illegal immigrants should be deported voted for Trump by better than five to one. The same pattern can be seen in exit poll data from Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which, while not part of the Midwest geographically, resembles it politically.

Democratic strategists were unprepared for the depth of the upheaval that shifted the balance of power across the Rust Belt.

Edsell cites these examples of communities in which immigration grew sharply and voters swung from voting Democratic to Trump. He refers to a diversity index which is a measure of race/origin diversity in a locality. Diversity indexes for some states are Michigan 42, Wisconsin 35, Ohio 36, and Pennsylvania at 41, all rank in the bottom twenty — i.e., the least diverse — of the fifty states. The diversity index for the entire country is substantially higher at 63. California 79, Nevada 73, Texas 70, and New York at 70.

Erie County, In 2012, the county backed Obama over Mitt Romney 57.1 to 41.2; four years later, Trump carried the county 48 to Hillary Clinton’s 46.4. From 2000 to 2015, the diversity index for Erie rose from 19 to 29.3. That’s a 54 percent increase, nearly double the national rate of increase, 28.6 percent.

Adams County, Wisconsin, voted for Obama over Romney by 53.9 to 45.1. Last year it backed Trump 58.9 to 37. From 2000 to 2015, the diversity index for Adams County rose from 7 to 21.3, a 204 percent increase. Macomb County, Michigan: 51.3 to 47.3 for Obama; 53.6 to 42 for Trump — its diversity index jumped from 16 in 2000 to 34.5 in 2015, a 116 percent increase.

Ben and Jerry’s agrees to compact with dairy workers

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

After three years of lobbying and negotiation Ben and Jerry’s agreed with Vermont-based Migrant Justice over a Milk with Dignity pact. In 2014, Migrant Justice began the Milk with Dignity campaign with large corporations, such as Ben & Jerry’s, to promote justice for dairy workers. It is modeled after the Fair Food Program in Florida a program. The agreement includes:

Farmworker-Authored Code of Conduct: Farms in Ben & Jerry’s supply chain must meet the standards defined by farmworkers in wages, scheduling, housing, health and safety, and the right to work free from retaliation;

Farmworker Education: From day one, workers in the program will be educated on their rights under the code of conduct and how to enforce them. Workers will become frontline defenders of their own human rights.

Third Party Monitoring Body: The newly-created Milk with Dignity Standards Council (MDSC) will enforce the agreement by auditing farms’ compliance with the code of conduct, receiving, investigating and resolving worker grievances, and creating improvement plans to address violations. The MDSC will work with farmers and farmworkers in order to problem-solve issues as they arise seeking to improve communication and participation in the workplace. It may suspend a farm from the program if the farm is unwilling to meet the standards in the code of conduct, creating strong market incentives to improve conditions and make workers’ human rights a reality.

Economic relief: Ben & Jerry’s will pay a premium to all participating farms in their supply chain. The premium provides workers with a bonus in each paycheck and serves to offset farms’ costs of compliance with the code of conduct.

Legally-binding Agreement: Ben & Jerry’s has signed a legally-binding agreement that defines the program as a long-term contract enforceable under law.

The agreement with Ben and Jerry’s is modeled after what the Coalition of Immokalee Workers struck with tomato growers in Florida. In 2011, CIW launched the Fair Food Program (FFP), a groundbreaking model for Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) based on a unique partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers, and participating retail buyers, including Subway, Whole Foods, and Walmart. In 2015, the Program expanded into tomatoes in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, as well as Florida strawberries and peppers.

Under the FFP:

CIW conducts worker-to-worker education sessions, held on-the-farm and on-the-clock, on the new labor standards set forth in the program’s Fair Food Code of Conduct;

The Fair Food Standards Council, a third-party monitor created to ensure compliance with the FFP, conducts regular audits and carries out ongoing complaint investigation and resolution; and

Participating buyers pay a small Fair Food premium which tomato growers pass on to workers as a line-item bonus on their regular paychecks (Between January 2011 and October 2015, $20 million in Fair Food premiums were paid into the Program).

What is chain migration?

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

Chain migration for the U.S. refers to the pattern of family members following a previous immigrant to the U.S., or a foreigner who arrives by virtue of marriage to an American.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, in chain migration, spouses and children of citizens accounted for about 30% of permanent immigrants who came in 2015. Parents of citizens account for about 12% of all immigrants that year. Adding all family related categories, half of the 1,052,000 immigrants in 2015 were family related. There is no formal way of classifying these family-related immigrants by whether they work and if so what they do. Only 144,000 immigrants in 2015 were awarded green cards on the basis of work,

For every admitted family related immigrant, there are close to nine such individuals on the waiting list. As of November 2016, there were 4.3 million people who had been sponsored by a relative in the United States who were on the waiting list for family-based immigrant visas. They face waiting periods of 22 months to 23 years, depending on the category and the country of origin. Over half of these applicants were siblings of American citizens.

The CIS cites studies that estimate in recent years each new immigrant sponsored an average of 3.45 additional immigrants. In the early 1980s, the chain migration multiplier was 2.59, or more than 30 percent lower. Mexico has the highest rate of chain migration. In the most recent five-year cohort of immigrants studied (1996-2000), each new Mexican immigrant sponsored 6.38 additional legal immigrants.

Illegal border crossings declined by less than reported

Friday, September 29th, 2017


The media has been mis-reporting the pace of illegal entry when it gives the impression that the arrival of the Trump administration led to a drastic reduction in illegal crossings, based on apprehension volume. Media reports tend to cite a 40% or greater reduction. A more accurate decline is 25%, and the monthly trend through August shows shrinking of the amount of decline.

Apprehensions rose strongly during May – October 2016, before the election, to a peak of 68,000, well above the monthly average in the past five years of about 45,000. Apprehensions Nov 2015 through August 2016 were a 462,000 vs 320,000 the Nov. 2016 – August 2017. That is a 27% reduction.

From November 2016 through April, 2017, the monthly rate did drop precipitously to about 15,000. Since then it has risen every month to 31,000 in August. After one excludes the very high August of 2016, the August average of the prior four years is 39,000. This indicates a 25% reduction. Trend lines suggest that the reduction since the election will decline.  The next 12 months may be about 350,000 vs an average of about 400,000 if one leaves out the particularly high year of 2016.

Source is here.

Puerto Ricans in a nutshell

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

The United States acquired Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship.

The first major wave of Puerto Rican migration to the mainland was in the 1950s, when a half million persons migrated. As of 2011, per the Pew Research Center, an estimated 4.9 million Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin resided on mainland U.S. That was more than the population of Puerto Rico itself in 2011, which was 3.7 million. Migration to the mainland has been heavy since the start of the Great Recession.

Puerto Ricans are the second-largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for 9.5% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2011, after Mexicans (33.5 million, or 64.6%, of the Hispanic population in 2011).

In 2011, 69% of Puerto Ricans were born on the mainland. People born in Puerto Rico are also considered native born because they are U.S. citizens by birth.

82% of Puerto Ricans ages 5 and older speak English proficiently.

Puerto Ricans are concentrated in the Northeast (53%), mostly in New York (23%), and in the South (30%), mostly in Florida (18%).

Puerto Ricans have higher levels of education than the Hispanic population overall but lower levels than the U.S. population overall. Some 16% of Puerto Ricans ages 25 and older—compared with 13% of all U.S. Hispanics and 29% among the U.S. population—have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.

The share of Puerto Ricans who live in poverty, 28%, is higher than the rate both for the general U.S. population (16%) and for Hispanics overall (26%). In 2016, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate was more than double that of the mainland.


Attracting PhD talent to the US

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

In about 1980, PhD candidates began to show up from middle income countries, and from about 1990 candidates from low income countries (mainly India and China) surged. In 2008, close to half of PhD candidates in the U.S. in science and engineering came from abroad.

According to a 2013 published article, “Over the last half century, the United States has been the most important training ground for the global supply of science and engineering talent. Where S&E PhDs choose to locate after they have completed their education is likely to affect the global distribution of innovative capacity.

“77% of foreign-born S&E PhDs state that they plan to stay in the United States. The foreign students more likely to stay in the US are those with stronger academic ability, measured in terms of parental educational attainment and the student’s success in obtaining graduate fellowships.

“We find that S&E PhDs with the strongest academic potential, measured in terms of their attributes and performance at the time they enter graduate school, are those most intent on staying in the United States. The United States tends to succeed in luring the best and
brightest foreign students it has attracted to study in the country to stay in the United States after their degrees are completed.

“As countries develop they become more attractive locations for PhDs in science and engineering. Korea and Taiwan are possible examples of self-reinforcing processes [to return home]. They also provide examples of the powerful role that democratization can play in encouraging highly skilled workers to return home.”

Source: Attracting Talent: Location Choices of Foreign-Born PhDs in the United States. By
Jeffrey Grogger and Gordon H. Hanson.


Immigrants over-represented in creativity in U.S.

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Immigrants win disproportionately more MacArthur Genius grants and Nobel prizes and file more patents than do native-born Americans. Frank Bruni brought these counts together in a column in the NY Times.

MacArthur Grants: 20 grants for MacArthur Fellows have been be issued annually since 1981, over which time the foreign born population has averaged about 10%. Immigrants have won 21.7% of all grants.

Nobel Prizes: Adil Najam, a Boston University professor wrote in 2016: “Since its inception in 1901, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded to 911 persons and organization. The U.S. alone has had more than 350 Nobel winners. More than 100 of these have been to individuals born outside the U.S.” That means that at least 28% of U.S.Nobel laureates have been immigrants.

Patents: Jennifer Hunt, a professor of economics at Rutgers University reports that, among graduates of American colleges, immigrants are twice as likely to receive patents as native-born Americans. Her research further suggests that this doesn’t come at the expense of native-born Americans but in fact stimulates their innovation, too. Hunt’s findings are entirely accounted for by immigrants disproportionately holding degrees in science and engineering. The total amount of patents goes up in states with a high foreign graduate population.

California Labor Commissioner nixes ICE interference

Monday, September 4th, 2017

According to press reports, California’s top labor law enforcer, Labor Commissioner Julie Su, last month directed her staff to turn away Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents unless the federal officers have warrants.

The Sacramento Bee reports that “her directive followed three instances over the past 10 months in which immigration agents sought information about California workers who had filed claims against employers. In two cases, immigration agents attempted to attend hearings where investigators discuss claims with workers and their employers, Su said. In all three cases, the agents left when they were asked, she said.”

Su, the state’s labor commissioner since 2011, did not know how the immigration agents learned about the appointments.

Those contacts with immigration officers dovetail with a surge in complaints from California workers about employers threatening to have them deported. Last year, Su’s office in the Department of Industrial Relations investigated 14 complaints from workers who claimed their employers threatened them with immigration enforcement.

So far this year, the department has opened 58 immigration-based retaliation cases, Su said.