Archive for 2018

Immigrant representation in Congress

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

There are 12 first generation Congresspersons, four of whom are from California. The total number of first and second-generation Congresspersons is 20 from California, 5 each from Florida and New York, 4 each from Maryland and Illinois, 3 each from Hawaii and Texas, 2 each from Connecticut, New Jersey, Arizona and Washington, and 11 states with one. This totals to 63, or 12% of the 535 voting members: 435 Representatives and 100 Senators, and 36% of seats in California (52 house, 2 senate).

Very low wage workers by country of origin

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Workforce figures show the distribution of very low wage workers between native and foreign born.

As of 2015, 33% of the 140 million native-born American workforce earned less than $20,000 a year. Among foreign born workers, the percentage was the same, 33%. But the share differs greatly by country of origin.

Among Mexican-born workers, 42% earned less than $20,000. Among Asian workers, 26% earned under $20,000.

Put another way, Mexican born workers made up 6% of the entire workforce paid under $20,000 a year but made up 4.6% of the entire domestic workforce. Asian born workers made up 3.4% of the under $20,000 workforce but 4.3% of the total workforce.

These figures cover over the fact that low wage foreign born workers due in part to language problems, in part to undocumented status, concentrate in jobs removed from public contact, such as kitchen, warehouse, farming, housekeeping and low-level construction work.

As of 2015, the total foreign-born workforce stood at 27.6 million, or 16.4% of the entire workforce. The entire foreign-born population was 13% of the entire population.

Go here.




Green cards by way of chicken factories

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Who would pay to work in a chicken plant? Chicken plants have recruited thousands of foreign workers in recent years through a little-known program to fill jobs they say Americans won’t do. So said Politico last year in an article. The problem persists according to Claudia Minoiu, who brought it to my attention.

The EB3 visa is a green card set aside for skilled workers. It is rarely used.  But South Korean with skills have been pitched to apply for it, and American immigration lawyers participate in the following manipulation of the law. A skilled South Korean pays tens of thousands of dollars, upwards of $70,000, for fixers to do the paperwork.  Part of the deals is they work for a north Carolina chicken processing company, Raeford Farms, for as little as $8.50 an hour for a year.

According to Pro Publica, the EB3 program is now dominated by a handful of poultry processors with poor safety records, one janitorial firm and a single fast-food franchisee. Overseas, a cottage industry of migration agents has popped up charging steep fees for “migration assistance,” even as the law bars the selling of green card sponsorship and other recruiting fees.

And under the program, U.S. companies aren’t obligated to do much to first persuade Americans to take their jobs. They merely have to place two want ads seeking American workers in the local Sunday newspaper and a notice on the state jobs board — not raise pay or improve work conditions.

A House of Raeford chicken plant in West Columbia, South Carolina. The poultry processor has sought to sponsor 1,900 foreign workers through the EB-3 program in the last three years.

But other agencies cleverly disguise recruitment fees as “settlement services” or “assimilation packages,” charging inflated rates, said David Hirson, an immigration attorney in Costa Mesa, California. One ad in China, where demand for visas is so high that the wait under the program is 11 years, lists the going rate to migrate through Burger King and Pizza Hut at $130,000.

In 2008, the House of Raeford was raided by ICE and 350 workers arrested. The company was actively recruiting unauthorized Hispanic workers.



The big wave of Italian immigrants

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

Most of first large scale generation of Italian immigrants took their first steps on U.S. soil in Ellis Island. In the 1880s, they numbered 300,000; in the 1890s, 600,000; in the decade after that, more than two million. By 1920, when immigration began to taper off, more than 4 million Italians had come to the United States, and represented more than 10 percent of the nation’s foreign-born population.

What brought about this dramatic surge in immigration? The causes are complex, and each hopeful individual or family no doubt had a unique story. By the late 19th century, the peninsula of Italy had finally been brought under one flag, but the land and the people were by no means unified. Decades of internal strife had left a legacy of violence, social chaos, and widespread poverty. The peasants in the primarily poor, mostly rural south of Italy and on the island of Sicily had little hope of improving their lot.

There were a significant number of single men among these immigrants, and many came only to stay a short time. Within five years, between 30 and 50 percent of this generation of immigrants would return home to Italy, where they were known as ritornati.

Those who stayed usually remained in close contact with their family in the old country, and worked hard in order to have money to send back home. In 1896, a government commission on Italian immigration estimated that Italian immigrants sent or took home between $4 million and $30 million each year, and that “the marked increase in the wealth of certain sections of Italy can be traced directly to the money earned in the United States.”

From Library of Congress

Hispanic purchasing and voting power

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

In some states, Hispanics account for a large percentage of spending power and tax revenues overall. In both Texas and California, Hispanic households had more than $125 billion in after-tax income in 2015, accounting for more than one of every five dollars available to spend in each state that year. In Nevada, a state with a rapidly growing Hispanic population, their earnings after taxes accounted for more than one-sixth of the spending power in the state. In Arizona and Florida, Hispanics contributed almost one out of every six dollars in total tax revenues in 2015.

Hispanic Americans who only recently gained eligibility to vote could be a big factor in the 2020 election. Between 2015 and 2020, a projected 5.7 million Hispanics will gain eligibility to vote for the first time, most by turning 18 and aging into the electorate. In six states carried by Republicans in 2016, including Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the estimated population of newly eligible Hispanic voters will exceed Donald Trump’s 2016 margin of victory. In Michigan, a state Trump carried by 10,704 votes, almost 46,300 Hispanic Americans will gain eligibility by 2020.

From here.


Labor law violations and low wage immigrant workers

Friday, October 12th, 2018

A groundbreaking study of low-wage occupations in three metropolitan cities found that almost 26% of workers failed to receive the legally required minimum wage…and of those eligible for overtime, a whopping 75% did not receive the pay they were entitled to. Many of the industries most prone to violations such as wage theft and unpaid overtime are also industries that are most heavily populated by immigrant workers. Indeed, as of eight years ago, over half of all workers born in Mexico and Central America were employed in seven notoriously low-wage, high-violation industries: construction, restaurants, retail, landscaping, agriculture, food manufacturing, and building services…

A 2013 study found that 41% of Latino immigrants working in the agriculture, construction, hospitality, and poultry processing industries in Nashville, Charlotte, New Orleans, southern Georgia and several towns and cities in northern Alabama had experienced wage theft.

Expanding the scope of immigration reform to include labor standards enforcement is fundamental to ensuring that the rights of immigrants are upheld and all workers, immigrants or otherwise, stand on equal footing not just with each other, but with their employers as well.

From Janice Fine and Gregory Lyon, Segmentation and the Role of Labor Standards Enforcement in Immigration Reform, Journal on Migration and Human Security, 2017

A much higher estimate of undocumented persons in U.S.

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

A team of Yale researchers say that the number of undocumented persons in the U.S. is probably about 22 million for 2015, close to double the conventional estimate of 11.3 million.  They offer a conservative estimate of 16.2 million, an average estimate of 22.1 million, and a high estimate of 29.5 million.

The conventional estimate draws from annual surveys of the American public, to find an estimate of total foreign born. It then subtracts the formal number of foreign born persons here legally, to get to a residual number of 11.3 million. In contrast, the Yale researchers built a model of illegal immigration flows, from visa over stays and from Mexican border crossings, and then subtracted estimates of voluntary outflows and deaths.  They suggest that the conventional method is flawed because of the annual population survey: “It is plausible that undocumented immigrants are more difficult to locate (and survey) than other foreign-born residents of the United States, and if contacted, undocumented immigrants might misreport their country of origin, citizenship, and/or number of household residents fearing the possible consequences of revealing their true status.”

Where are these additional people? What do they do? The Yale study implied that there roughly 7 million more undocumented workers in the U.S. than is conventionally estimated (about 8 million).

Some details

They arrive at this higher estimate by, first, agreeing to start with the conventional estimate of 3.5 million persons in 1990.

They then estimate visa over stayers, benchmarking from the first official estimate of visa over stayers, done in 2016. Next, they estimate that from 1990 through 2004, the Mexican border apprehension rate was first very low, about 20%, then came to 39% — in other words, in 2004 61% of attempted illegal crossings were successful. They agree that apprehension rates have since increased

They estimate that 40% of visa over stayers leave within one year, and that further voluntary emigration in later years drops eventually to 1%. Their estimates for border crosser returnees is about the same.   They use a mortality rate of 0.7% for undocumented persons in the U.S.

They ran one million simulations of these kinds of estimates to arrive at their conclusions.

Immigrants in the military

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Since Sept. 11, 2001, over 109,250 members of the Armed Forces have attained their citizenship by serving in the military. Today, about 5,000 legal permanent resident aliens (green card holders) enlist each year, eligible for citizenship after a year in the military.   The recent uproar has been about enrollees in a special program started in 2008 to recruit medical and language specialists.

As reported by National Immigrant Forum: “Earlier this summer the U.S. Army forcibly discharged over one hundred immigrant enlistees. The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI) promised highly-skilled immigrants an expedient path to citizenship in exchange for their service in the army. As of this week, over 30 recruits have been reinstated into the program, signaling an improving situation. However, more information recently came to light about why immigrant recruits were targeted for removal – recruits were reportedly red-flagged as a security risk for a variety of mundane activities, such as placing calls to their parents abroad and playing video games with noncitizens.”


Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) began in 2008 as a pilot program. 10,000 troops have signed up to serve through MAVNI since 2008. New entrants have been suspended since 2016, leaving about 1,000 persons in still under review.

The program is restricted to healthcare professionals or experts in certain key languages with associated cultural backgrounds. Around 30% of MAVNI recruits were assigned to Special Operations units due to their language abilities, (go here).

MAVNI program applicants must be in a legal immigration status, with a valid temporary visa. The applicant must have been in valid status for at least two years prior to the enlistment date.

For a Defense Dept. fact sheet go here. It says that non-citizens have served in the military since the Revolutionary War. The Lodge Act of 1950 permitted non-citizen Eastern Europeans to enlist between 1950 and 1959. The United States officially began recruiting Filipino nationals into the Navy in the late 1940s.


Trump interior enforcement summarized

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

The fortunes of an unauthorized immigrant are quite different in Texas, Tennessee and Georgia with the mere act of driving can result in an arrest and deportation, then in California, Chicago and New York where immigrants can be arrested for a variety of crimes and still not be taken into ICE custody.

This from a Migration Policy report, including the following:

The machinery of interior enforcement that had been dialed down during the final Obama years has been revved up by the Trump administration. ICE officers say that widening enforcement and ending prosecution discretion requirements have given ICE the leeway necessary to properly do which job.

The vast majority of arrests and removals (over 70%) arise from arresting persons who are already in local custody, under the 287(g) program. These actions are increasing significantly in cooperating jurisdictions, while the share of deportations due to criminal convictions is declining.

The most important constraint on increasing arrests lies in the limits of ICE cooperation imposed by growing numbers of states and localities that have large foreign-born populations. Transfer of arrested persons to ICE are below historic peaks due to lack of cooperation, for instance by law enforcement in California.

The character and unpredictability of ICE enforcement have generated an overarching climate of fear which is itself serving as an enforcement tool.

Networks of community based actors are responding and successfully providing legal services, know-your-rights, counselling, monitoring, rapid response assistance, and political advocacy in the opposition to iCE enforcement

The New American Workforce Project

Monday, October 8th, 2018

New American Workforce seeks to work with businesses to assist their eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process so they become more valuable workers and full participants in the workplace, community, and economy.

Los Angeles, CA: nearly 1.5 million; NYC area, NY: nearly 1.5 million; San Jose area, CA: 536,000; Miami area, FL: 483,000; D.C. metro area: 286,000; Houston, TX: 262,000; San Diego, CA: 204,000; Detroit, MI: 98,000

New American Workforce facilitates citizenship assistance through a two-step process. This is offered on the worksite and often during employee breaks or before/after work hours. Information Workshops – Experienced immigration professionals provide an introduction to the citizenship process; including eligibility requirements, benefits of citizenship and group Q&A.

Application Workshops – Employees receive one-on-one assistance to further determine eligibility and complete the application. Civics Instruction – In order to pass the naturalization test, immigrants must possess a basic knowledge of U.S. history and proficiency in English. Group and one-on-one tutorials are provided as an optional follow up.

New American Workforce is funded by many generous foundations, corporations and individuals. The National Immigration Forum is the organizer and manager – acting as the go-between with local and national businesses and regional community agencies that provide citizenship facilitation. The Forum identifies regional service providers equipped to offer citizenship training and works with businesses to coordinate the training with the service providers. The Forum ensures the quality and effectiveness of training.

The National Immigration Forum is the leading non-profit organization advocating for the value of immigrants and immigration in our country.