Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

Frederick Douglass argues for the Chinese immigrant and “composite nationality”

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

In a speech in Boston in 1869, Frederick Douglass argued that Chinese should be allowed to immigrate and become citizens. He presented his vision of composite nationality under conditions of “perfect human equality.”

Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 prohibited Chinese labor migration to the United States and barred Chinese residents from obtaining U.S. citizenship. The law was repealed in 1943. (see here.)

From his remarks:

I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours. Right wrongs no man. If respect is had to majorities, the fact that only one fifth of the population of the globe is white, the other four fifths are colored, ought to have some weight and influence in disposing of this and similar questions. It would be a sad reflection upon the laws of nature and upon the idea of justice, to say nothing of a common Creator, if four fifths of mankind were deprived of the rights of migration to make room for the one fifth.

The voice of civilization speaks an unmistakable language against the isolation of families, nations and races, and pleads for composite nationality as essential to her triumphs.

Our Republic is itself a strong argument in favor of composite nationality. It is no disparagement to Americans of English descent, to affirm that much of the wealth, leisure, culture, refinement and civilization of the country are due to the arm of the negro and the muscle of the Irishman. Without these and the wealth created by their sturdy toil, English civilization had still lingered this side of the Alleghanies, and the wolf still be howling on their summits.

The grand right of migration and the great wisdom of incorporating foreign elements into our body politic, are founded not upon any genealogical or archeological theory, however learned, but upon the broad fact of a common human nature.

Man is man, the world over. This fact is affirmed and admitted in any effort to deny it. The sentiments we exhibit, whether love or hate, confidence or fear, respect or contempt, will always imply a like humanity.

If our action shall be in accordance with the principles of justice, liberty, and perfect human equality, no eloquence can adequately portray the greatness and grandeur of the future

Low wage Mexican immigration on the way down

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

One of the most dramatic, if not the most dramatic, change in immigration trends in the U.S. in the past ten years has been a very large decline in immigrant young working age Hispanic men, especially Mexicans. These workers flooded into the country, mid 1980s – mid 2000s, as American employers (farming, meat processing, residential construction in particular) hired as many as they could find.

The causes of the decline include what some researcher have noted is a kind of natural law of mass immigration, where over time supply and demand are for decades vibrant and then the market becomes saturated, plus the comparative demographics of the sending and receiving countries change. The birth rate in Mexico has been declining. The variance has lessened between wages for the median wage earner in Mexico and the wages near the bottom of the American job market. The Great Recession killed off the demand for workers in the residential housing market. And border as well as inland immigration law enforcement has toughened.

The Brookings Institution summarized the change as follows:

Over the 1990 to 2007 period, the number of working-age immigrants with 12 or fewer years of schooling more than doubled, rising from 8.5 million to 17.8 million individuals. Since the Great Recession, however, U.S. borders have become a far less active place when it comes to net inflows of low-skilled labor from abroad. The undocumented population declined in absolute terms between 2007 and 2014, falling on net by an annual average of 160,000 individuals, while the overall population of low-skilled immigrants of working age remained stable.



Camarota’s argument for less immigration

Friday, April 14th, 2017


Foreign Affairs just published, “Why the United States Should Look Out for Itself,” by Steven Camarota, Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies.

Camarota adds to the one million new green card awards each year another 700,000 new “long term” foreign entries as students or temporary work visa holders. These figures can be compared to the roughly four million new births each year and to the total native born population of about 275 million.

The author’s first critique involves what he sees as a shift from aspirations of assimilation towards acceptance of non-assimilated identity. “Emphasis on assimilation has been replaced with multiculturalism, which holds that there is no single American culture, that immigrants and their descendants should retain their identity, and that the country should accommodate the new arrivals’ culture rather than the other way around.” But how truly prevalent are “race- and ethnicity-conscious measures” today?

Camarota then addresses the disproportionate share of poor households among immigrants compared to native-born persons. “Some 51 percent of immigrant-headed households use the welfare system, compared to 30 percent of native households.” This is largely due to surge in immigrants from Mexico and Central America in the 1990s and early 2000s. They work in farming, low status construction jobs, buildings and grounds maintenance, kitchens, housecleaning, and packing / warehouse jobs. Some of these jobs pay above minimum wage, others do not. Jobs paying minimum wage or somewhat higher today tend to qualify the worker for some public assistance.

He concludes with a 30,000 foot proposal not very different than that of the Jordan Commission from the 1990s: “It could involve legalizing some illegal immigrants in return for tightening policies on who gets to come in. Prioritizing skilled immigration while cutting overall numbers would increase the share of immigrants who are well educated and facilitate assimilation.”

Unauthorized dairy workers in Vermont in a time of Trump

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Undocumented on the farm: inside the life of a Vermont migrant dairy worker,” by Terry Allen, appeared on Vermont Digger. Here are some nuggets from the best reporting I’ve seen on unauthorized workers at time of the Trump administration.

A thousand- plus dairy workers

Carlos [not his real name] just wanted a job. “It’s hard, hard work,” he says. “But you came to America to make money and go back quick. So you come to Vermont.” At his previous job, construction for a large company in a mid-sized Texas city, the hourly wages were comparable to dairy, but the potential earnings and the cost of living were not. The Vermont jobs include housing with heat and other utilities, isolation that brings fewer spending temptations, and an opportunity to work up to 90 hours a week.

Older Vermonters still remember when, in the 1940s, some 11,000 small, family farms the dotted the land…..The number of farms continues to decline — from 1,030 to 825 just in the last decade.

Nonetheless, milk production is up….What keeps the owners awake at night — besides the vagaries of weather and fluctuating milk prices that sometimes fall below costs — is finding and keeping cheap labor. Most have tried locals, and some have turned to former prisoners. But few stick it out.

It is little wonder that Americans with other options do not last. With two milkings a day, 12 hours apart, farms must be staffed 14 to 16 hours a day. Cows don’t get Christmas off, and neither do dairy workers.

Latino migrants are filling a gap and saving America’s farms. Nationwide, immigrants, many undocumented, comprise 51 per cent of the nation’s dairy industry, according to a 2015 study by Texas A&M University for the National Milk Producers Federation. If these workers were deported, the report concludes, milk prices would rise 90 per cent, and cost the U.S. economy more than $32 billion.

Without “our guests,” as then Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin called migrant farm workers, much of the state’s milk industry would likely dry up. Say goodbye to affordable Cabot cheddar; kiss Vermont-sourced Cherry Garcia sweet adios.

A few times a year, officials from the Mexican consulate in Boston travel to areas with unauthorized Mexican citizens and, after careful screening, provide legal identification papers. The document allows migrants to buy a plane ticket to return to home, to prevent their being mistaken for criminals if picked up by authorities; and, in Vermont and 11 other states plus DC, to obtain a restricted “driving privilege” license.

While the Mexican IDs are useful, they do nothing to change U.S. legal status. And impediments to obtaining lawful visas are nearly insurmountable….Temporary H-2A agricultural visas last for months and are only for strictly seasonal jobs like planting and picking crops.

Recently Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents targeted and detained the three prominent activists with Migrant Justice, a Burlington-based group advocating for dairy workers’ rights. The detentions were denounced in public demonstrations and a sharp letter from the state’s congressional delegation and Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Support for the migrants is not universal among Vermonters. Some workers at the Department of Motor Vehicles contacted authorities to drop the dime on people with “South of the Border” names who applied for the special driver’s licenses, according to emails obtained through a public records request by Migrant Justice, a local farmworker advocacy group.

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.

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?

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

Community colleges and immigrant education

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Community colleges are the higher ed pathway for many immigrant youth. The latest estimate found (for 2003-2004) shows that one about a quarter of the nation’s 6.5 million degree seeking community college students are immigrants.

Quincy College in Quincy and Plymouth, Massachusetts is an example. The municipally affiliated college serves approximately 5,500 students. The college draws a diversity of students from the greater Boston area as well as 100 countries around the world.. It offers 34 associate degree programs and 19 certificate programs. The college plans to expand into a four-year college. An admissions official told me that enrolling foreign born students was extremely satisfying. Barriers such as unauthorized status were heart wrenching.

Quincy College students ranked #1 as top salary earners in Massachusetts and New England across two-year public colleges for the second year in a row. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, Quincy College students ranked #1 as top salary earners in Massachusetts and New England across two-year public colleges.

From a study of immigrants and higher education:

A study of the 25,173 students in the freshman class at the City University of New York (CUNY) system in 1997 found that 59.9% of the foreign-born students began in an associate’s degree program. Among the foreign-born, a greater proportion of first-time students who attended high school outside the United States began CUNY in an associate’s program (66.5%) than those who attended high school in it (58.5%).


The Wonder that is Silicon Valley

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

From the NY Times:

“The U.S. is sucking up all the talent from all across the world,” Mr. Collison said. “Look at all the leading technology companies globally, and look at how overrepresented the United States is. That’s not a normal state of affairs. That’s because we have managed to create this engine where the best and the brightest from around the world are coming to Silicon Valley.”

“Last year, researchers at the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonpartisan think tank, studied the 87 privately held American start-ups that were then valued at $1 billion or more. They discovered something amazing: More than half of them were founded by one or more people from outside the United States. And 71 percent of them employed immigrants in crucial executive roles.”

From the 2016 Silicon Valley Index

“Silicon Valley has an extraordinarily large share of residents who are foreign born (37.4%, compared to California, 27.1%, or the United States, 13.3%). This population share increases to 50% for the employed, core working age population (ages 25-44), and even higher for certain occupational groups. For instance, nearly 74% of all Silicon Valley employed Computer and Mathematical workers ages 25-44 in 2014 were foreign-born. Correspondingly, the region also has an incredibly large share of foreign-language speakers, with 51% of Silicon Valley’s population over age five speaking a language other than exclusively English at home (compared to 43% in San Francisco, 44% in California, and 21% in the United States as a whole). This majority share in 2014  was up from 49% in 2011.”

Survey: What does it take to be American?

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

From Pew surveys in 2016:

It is important to be born in this country? In the U.S., people ages 50 and older (40%) are more likely than those ages 35 to 49 (31%) and 18 to 34 (21%) to say it is very important that a person be born in the country to be considered truly American. The comparable percentages for Canada are 28%, 17%, and 13%; Australia, 19%, 13%, 4%.

Americans overall are roughly similar to Europeans, Canadians and Australians in saying the speaking the national language is very important (U.S.: 70%). Among Americans, 84% of white evangelical Protestants say yes, but only 59% of college grads (and 58% of 18 – 34 year olds) say it is very important. Half of American immigrants are proficient in English.

Where the U.S. sharply differs is whether being a Christian is very important. For Americans, 32% say yes. For Europe, Canada and Australia, about 15% do.

Republicans differ from Democrats in importance of speaking English (83% to 61%), sharing American customs and traditions (60% to 38%), being a Christian (43% to 29%), and being born in the U.S. (35% to 32%).