Archive for March, 2017

Immigration in Iowa Congressman Steven King’s district

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

More than half the public school students in Denison, a city in Congressman Steven King’s congressional district, are Hispanic. But only 6% of the district’s population is Hispanic. These juxtaposing figures speak volumes about the disproportionate role of immigrants of child bearing age, and being in the workforce, in the interior of the United States. And, about the isolation of native born whites who send their kids to private Christian schools.

As the New York Times reports, [a local resident] heard dairy farmers say they couldn’t get their cows milked without immigrants. “You can put an ad in the paper and you won’t get two white guys to apply,” said Mr. Wielenga, who grew up on a dairy farm himself.

He heard of the ruinous damage an immigration raid had done to families. “Some of these kids were born in the U.S.,” he said. “These families had lived here 10 years, and all of a sudden, Dad’s gone, Mom’s gone. When you think of it from that perspective, what’s the lesser of two evils?”

Until 2015, Denison, Iowa was a center for meatpacking. Tyson closed the facility laying off 400 due to lack of supply of beef. At the time, there were plenty of unfilled jobs in the area.

 

As expected, wages on the rise on California farms

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

 

The LA Times reports on the rise in farm worker costs in California. Here are some excerpts:

The flow of labor began drying up when President Obama tightened the border. Now President Trump is promising to deport more people, raid more companies and build a wall on the southern border.

That has made California farms a proving ground for the Trump team’s theory that by cutting off the flow of immigrants they will free up more jobs for American-born workers and push up their wages.

Wages approaching $20 in some vineyards

Today, farmworkers in the state earn about $30,000 a year if they work full time — about half the overall average pay in California. Most work fewer hours.

A year ago, Leobijildo Martinez the 31-year-old from Mexico, was earning $14.75 an hour doing the same work for a different Napa company. He joined Silverado in April and now he’s making $19.50 working vineyards that produce grapes for a winery whose bottles go for about $300.

“Everything in Napa is different. They treat you differently there, they don’t pressure you, and they respect the law,” he says. “If you work here, in Stockton, you don’t have enough money.”

Machinery to pick wine grapes

About five years ago, Brad Goehring changed the wiring holding up parts of his vines so that no metal stakes exceed the height of the wire. The setup allows for a grape harvesting machine to prune the top of the vine, as well as both sides.

“I think we can eliminate, I’m just guessing, 85% of the labor on these new vineyards,” he says, reducing pruning costs from $300 per acre, on average, to $80. He plans to keep spending more on machinery, like his $350,000 tractor-like vehicle that shakes grapes off the vine and catches them before they fall to the ground.

The job is seasonal, so laborers have to alternate between long stretches without any income and then months of 60-hour weeks. They work in extreme heat and cold, and spend all day bending over to reach vegetables or climbing up and down ladders to pluck fruit in trees. If farmers upped the average wage to, say, $25 an hour, people born here might think twice. But that’s a pipe dream, many argue. “Well before we got to $25, there would be machines out in the fields, doing pruning or harvesting, or we would lose crops,” Philip Martin of UC Davis says.

Yang Chen

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

I met Yang Chen at his Quality Auto Body garage in Silver Spring, Maryland. He came to America from China in 1988. He takes care of Earl Dotter’s car.  His employees are either from China or Central America. He told me in his cluttered office, “I had a hard time getting a job, worked at a restaurant, until I discovered the help classifieds in the Washington Post. When I started my own body shop I worked until 11 or 12 at night. I like America because it is fair. Nobody asks for money under the table. My three kids went to the University of Maryland to study engineering.“

Like Chen, the foreign-born are more confident that hard work gets you ahead. They are more sure than American-born parents (70% to 47%) that their children will prosper. Those recently arriving tend to match better with American role models. More speak English, in part because more have learned some English before arrival. They are more educated than the average new immigrant of 20 years ago.

© Photo by Earl Dotter

U.S. demographic future relatively bright

Friday, March 24th, 2017

American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt compared the demographics of some countries at Oracle OpenWorld 2015 (report by Forbes).

China’s working-age population will contract by about 100 million by 2035. The number of its citizens age 65 or older is growing 4% a year, making China the most rapidly graying population in world history, rivaled today only by Japan, Eberstadt said.

Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, is also its oldest. The average age is 46. Japan’s total population fell by a record amount last year, down 271,058 from the prior year to 126.2 million, and the pace of decline is expected to accelerate until 2060 and beyond. Japan’s working-age population has been declining since the late 1990s and is on track to shrink by more than a third by 2035. There is no immigration to speak of.

He called Russia  a “demography disaster,” especially among men, mostly for health reasons. The life expectancy for males in Russia is about 64 years, putting it among the lowest 50 countries. The two reasons cited widely: high levels of alcohol consumption and smoking. Consider that a 15-year old Russian male has a life expectancy three years shorter than his counterpart in Haiti.

Eberstadt sees United States demographic trends as mostly positive. The US is projected to have modest population and working-age population growth over the next 20 years. And its population will age more slowly than in other OECD countries. The US still has a positive replacement-level fertility rate, augmented by continued immigration, including an influx of highly educated immigrants at a rate above the OECD average, he said.

Merit based immigration system supported, criticized, by Right and Left

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

In 2015 14% of all green care awardees or about 140,000 persons received a green card on the basis of employment merits.

Republican Senator Cotton wants to increase the employment merit share and reduce total permanent awards by half, to about 500,000. His RAISE Act was filed in February, and was criticized by the conservative Cato Institute, for not helping low skilled native-born workers, and by liberals.

Former Labor Secretary Ray Marshall, who served under Carter, advocated a merit system in an article on the website of the liberal-oriented Economic Policy Institute. He wants “points-based systems to give quantitative weights for preferred migrant selection characteristics. These systems are more objective than decisions made by immigration officials, and their flexibility allows the mix of characteristics and total point scores to adjust migration to changing conditions.”

The last attempt at comprehensive reform, in 2013, aimed to trim back family based award, by cutting out siblings, and eliminate caps on visas for certain employment-based categories. Use a point system for a new “merit based” visa, of which 120,000 would initially be awarded per year, with a maximum cap of 250,000 annually. It would have raised the annual cap on H1-B visas for high-skilled workers from 65,000 to 110,000, with provisions to prevent such workers from undercutting American wages.

Trump-leaning evangelicals are more anti-immigration.

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Pew Research shows evangelicals as a bloc as differing sharply from others on immigration rated topics. For instance, 76% of whit evangelical approve of the travel ban. In stark contrast, black Protestants (84%) and religious “nones” (74%) disapprove of the executive order.

But within evangelicals Trump is strongest among those who do not attend church. Peter Beinart in The Atlantic writes, “Notre Dame’s Geoffrey Layman noted, “Trump does best among evangelicals with one key trait: They don’t really go to church.” A Pew Research Center poll last March found that Trump trailed Ted Cruz by 15 points among Republicans who attended religious services every week. But he led Cruz by a whopping 27 points among those who did not.”

“Research shows that evangelicals who don’t regularly attend church are less hostile to gay people than those who do. But they’re more hostile to African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. In 2008, the University of Iowa’s Benjamin Knoll noted that among Catholics, mainline Protestants, and born-again Protestants, the less you attended church, the more anti-immigration you were.

“Research shows that evangelicals who don’t regularly attend church are less hostile to gay people than those who do. But they’re more hostile to African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. In 2008, the University of Iowa’s Benjamin Knoll noted that among Catholics, mainline Protestants, and born-again Protestants, the less you attended church, the more anti-immigration you were.”

What is happening to the migration crisis in Europe?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

by Demetrios G. PapademetriouPresident of Migration Policy Institute Europe, a Brussels-based nonprofit, independent research institute that aims to provide a better understanding of migration in Europe and thus promote effective policymaking

Since the early spring of 2016, the number of people migrating across the Mediterranean has stabilised, to about 200,000 people. This is largely due to the closure of the Western Balkan route and the EU- Turkey Statement of March 2016, which sought to end irregular migration from Turkey to the European Union.

….it has led to an increasing determination…to remove both failed asylum applicants and outright economic migrants. The message to would-be migrants and each country’s general public is that illegal migration will no longer be tolerated.

….Europe faces a fundamental governance test that is undermining the legitimacy of both national and European institutions and, more directly, the integrity of management structures of those member states most directly affected by spontaneous migration.

To be sure, the activist and humanitarian ‘industry’ does its best to portray all migration as a humanitarian and protection issue ‒ as it should – and many citizens subscribe to that perspective. But responsible governments know that when crises get out of control, their principal duty is to make policy for and govern on behalf of all their people; to observe legal obligations strictly but narrowly; and to allow values to define only what is purely unacceptable behaviour.

….There are a number of measures that can make…..migration management easier.

First and foremost, offer refugees adequate humanitarian assistance and real opportunities to resume their lives in first-asylum countries. Educate their children so as to prevent the creation of a ‘lost generation’, and support job creation. Both efforts require the cooperation of the host government and the commitment of very large investments.

Second, the manner in which people seek protection in desirable destinations must be redirected. Refugees requiring resettlement (because of special needs and/or as a means to relieve pressures on first asylum countries) must be vetted and selected before they reach a destination country.

[Third], states that receive large spontaneous flows must believe in borders and watch them assiduously. They must institute and execute internal controls responsibly and remove quickly (both voluntarily and not) those without robust legal grounds for protection.

the true challenge for Europe in the decades ahead will be mass migration from Africa. Much larger public and private resources must be invested in creating opportunities for Africans to stay and build lives in their own countries. Otherwise Europe will find itself taking more extreme steps to protect itself, with less success. Leadership, imagination and patience will be the key ingredients.

Will Europe be up to that task?

Impact of foreign IT workers

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Temporary skilled workers in information technology come to the U.S. primarily through the H-1B program, which critics have said depresses wages of native born workers and crowds them out. The number of H-1B workers in the U.S. and in IT jobs can only be estimated and may be several hundred thousand. The federal government estimated for IT programmers, software developers and managers there were in 2014 540,000 foreign born workers out of close to two million workers.

According to a research paper released in February, H-1B workers depress the wages all IT workers, and cause native born workers to go into other fields. The study estimates these impacts to be moderate. But the study also said they increase the total number of IT workers. It said that IT spurs the entire economy, so that the entire economy, and hence jobs, expands. It raises the profits of IT firms, in particular the very large ones.

The IT industry is a leading industry in that its impact, of several million workers, spreads through the entire economy of some 150 million workers.  Steam powered transportation in the 19th century, and internal combustion engines for most of the 29th century, were leading industries, by for example greatly lowering transportation and manufacturing costs.

“The largest part of these H1Bs went into information technology,” says Giovanni Peri, professor of economics at UC-Davis. “And what we estimate essentially is that by contributing to innovation and growth in that sector it contributes to the productivity of all workers because in the 1990s and 2000s the large part of college educated workers really used this type of technology.”

 

 

Trump can already claim a slow down in immigration

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Illegal entries plummet at the Mexican border

The LA Times reports large declines in apprehensions at the Mexican border: “In February, a total of 18,762 migrants were caught as they crossed or attempted to cross the Southwest border, compared with 31,578 in January, 43,255 in December and 47,210 in November. The number of people who presented themselves at ports of entry and were deemed inadmissible dropped to 4,808, compared with 10,899 in January, 15,176 in December and 16,153 in November.

“The drop was stark at the busiest stretch of the border — the Rio Grande Valley sector – which in recent years has seen a surge in families and unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. About 280 people a day were apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley in February, compared with 502 in January and 755 in December.”

A Border Patrol officer told the Times that the Border Patrol “We’re deporting people expeditiously, and just the fact that we’re doing that and the fact the administration is messaging that, they have quit coming in the same numbers.”

Suspension of rapid temporary skilled worker visa approvals

The American Immigration Council reports a disruption in fast-track processing of skilled worker temporary processing:

“The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced it will halt premium processing of H-1B visa petitions on April 3, for up to six months. Through the H-1B visa category, employers can petition, for a $1,225 fast, 15 day review of temporary worker applications for highly educated professionals to work in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.

“This decision will not only disrupt the plans of thousands of foreign nationals who are recent graduates of U.S. universities, workers and businesses, but also could have a significant impact on the fee-funded agency’s revenue.

“Most non-premium types of H-1B petitions are currently averaging six to eight months for non-premium processing. USCIS claims it is making this change in order to sort through a backlog of H1-B petitions and decrease processing times overall.”

This change in policy greatly complicates extensions of current temporary H-IB and student visas because petitions to extend visas, often done through premium processing, must be acted on within a time limit, such as 240 days, after which any application becomes void.

Drop off in foreign grad student applications

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

A July 2013 report on foreign graduate students reported that International students account for 70% of the full-time graduate students in electrical engineering, 63% in computer science, 60% in industrial engineering, and more than 50% in economics, chemical engineering, materials engineering and mechanical engineering.

Science Magazine reported in February drop offs in grad school applications from abroad.

At Vanderbilt, the overall number of international students applying for engineering master’s programs is down 28% from 2016, and the number seeking engineering Ph.D.s dropped 11%. Dartmouth College saw a 30% plunge in international applications for its venerable master’s program in engineering management (MEM), a professional degree. “That’s never happened before” in the program’s 25-year history, says engineering dean Joseph Helble.

Such declines could have a major impact on a university’s bottom line, although calculating its magnitude is not straightforward. The federal government heavily subsidizes graduate education in the sciences and engineering, so most doctoral students don’t have to worry about tuition bills. But universities generate considerable revenue from professional master’s degree programs, a subset of all master’s training. And in those programs, international students at public universities pay tuition rates that are much higher than for in-state students.

The 200 or so colleges and universities that do the bulk of federally funded research compete for a talent pool that is increasingly international. At Cornell University, for example, the number of applications from international students increased in 2008 – 2013 by 30% annually for the past 5 years, whereas domestic applications dropped by 9% a year. International students in 2013 made up two-thirds of Cornell’s graduate applicants.

Though students on temporary visas make up only 19% of all U.S. graduate students, they compose 55% of those studying engineering and computer science, according to 2015 enrollment data from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) in Washington, D.C.

At Rice University, in 2010, 58 of the 100 full-time graduate students in electrical engineering were foreign nationals. At Purdue University, foreign nationals accounted for 70% (161 of 229) of full-time graduate students in computer science and 55% (59 of 108) in chemical engineering