Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

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.”

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.

The Raise Act’s point system

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Ernie Tedeschi analyzes the RAISE Act, proposed by Republican Senators, in detail, and finds the only 2.1% of current adult American citizens would qualify under its skilled-based entry system just to be considered for permanent residency, much less accepted.

The NY Times presents a tool for grading yourself. I scored 18, well below the 30 point threshold for acceptance. A 40 year old professor, perfectly fluent in English, would have to earn at least $160,000 to get over the threshold.

“Of the 750,000 US citizens who naturalized in 2014 in the ACS, only 20,000 (2.7%) would have qualified under the RAISE Act. It’s important to note that not all 750,000 would have been admitted under employment-based visas: many for example likely came because of family, and some may have gotten visas through the diversity lottery.”

The RAISE Act uses a point system, like Canada and Australia, and sets 30 points as the minimum for a skills-based Green card. It would award only 140,000 of them a year.

Age: 26 – 30 year olds get 10 points, those over 50 get 0

Education: 8 points for a STEM masters, 13 points for a STEM PhD, law degree, or MBA from a US university

English proficiency: You essentially have to speak English well enough to be admitted to an American college (The TOEFL standard). Those scoring in the top 10% of the TOEFL test get 12 points, while those in the bottom half get none.

Income: having a job lined up that pays more than 3x the intended residence state’s median household income gets 13 points; less than 1.5x gets no points.

Extraordinary achievement: 25 points for Nobel Laureates, 15 for recent Olympic athletes

Business investment: 12 points if you invest $1.8 million in a new US business and maintain it for 3 years

Wake up call on immigration policy

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Democrats Need an Immigration Policy

Peter Rousmaniere
Published by Valley News, Friday, August 18, 2017

Two Republican Senators have proposed a radical shift in the nation’s immigration policy. The White House recently endorsed their proposal. The Democratic Party must treat this as a wake-up call. It needs a fresh immigration policy of its own.

The RAISE Act of Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue signals further that immigration could be the Trump administration’s political achievement with the most impact.

The administration is, indeed, changing public expectations, with implications for the myriad ways in which immigration in the U.S. operates. More than a set of complicated laws, immigration slowly moves wave-like through job markets, business creation, public school enrollment and many byways of life.

The act’s key features are not new, but similar to recommendations made by the last bipartisan commission on immigration created by President Clinton. These features are a radical shift from family-based immigration to skill-based immigration, including an English language proficiency test, and a 50 percent cut in permanent visas.

To this lifelong liberal, the response so far from the liberal media to the RAISE act relies on old nostrums, with a lack of imagination. The immigration system of today is an accumulation of historical accidents. By defending the status quo, we make ourselves hostage to those accidents.

There are several ingredients in a fresh, forward-looking vision of immigration.

One step is to look inward to our expectations for America’s native-born workers, who account for over 83 percent of our workforce (down from over 90 percent two decades ago). We need to set goals for skills of our native-born workers in an economy that rewards formal skills and punishes the lack of them. We should set the expectation that all native-born Americans should at least complete high school, and that those with only a high school degree should master a trade, which might include a certificate.

We need also to forecast, without fear, our workforce demands for the next several decades. As economists have pointed out, we have hourglass-shaped job growth. The relatively new job of data scientist grows by 50 percent or more annually. The jobs of personal care aide and construction laborer are among the few large-scale occupations growing at more than 1 percent per year, and these mostly do not require a lot of formal education, even a high school degree. Many middle-level jobs, such as the office worker, have been diminished by automation.

We need to agree that immigration policy should be largely a workforce policy that addresses both high and low ends of the hourglass. This brings us to a scary threshold that calls for political leadership. We must puncture some myths about immigration.

One myth is that when the foreigner comes to the United States, she or he expects to stay here permanently. But many circle back home. Another myth is that all immigrants should pass pretty much the same tests for entry. This myth is contradicted daily by the many convoluted side doors that special interests have written into immigration law and its administration. Sustaining these myths has led to widespread distrust of our immigration system.

The reality is that for more than a century, a huge transnational job market exists involving the United States, Mexico and Central America. This job market accounts for the great majority of unauthorized persons in the United States. It also is the labor foundation for agriculture, low-level construction and other jobs where formal education and English language proficiency are unnecessary.

The 1994 North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA) did not provide for long-term guest workers in the United States and Canada. Guest worker programs in the United States emit an odor of exploitation and discrimination against native-born workers with low formal education. We need to learn how to create large-scale guest worker programs that respect everyone’s rights.

With regard to refugees and asylum-seekers, the United States as a leading country must set an example of generous policies in an age when national governance and even the continued existence of countries are at risk.

Liberals should resist the temptation to set an overall numerical target for immigration and foreign workers. The number should be able to fluctuate according to a planning process.

And, a liberal vision for immigration needs to respect the concerns of many Americans about the number of unauthorized persons. This does not mean massive deportation. Also, we must respect fears about erosion of civic culture attributed to immigration. This second concern is real, even if misplaced. The concerns are most articulated in communities where the important demographic event in the past few decades is not arrival of low-wage immigrants but the continued collapse of job markets for young native-born Americans.

Liberals, unchain yourselves from the past.

 

Refugees in America, in historical context

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

The RAISE Act, proposed by Republican senators and endorsed by the White House, would cap annual refugee immigration at 50,000, which is well below the volume of many years. The Obama administration had targeted 110,000. In 2016, the EU set a plan to settled 22,000 refugees over two years. Put these figures in the context that over one million people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere have applied for refugee or asylum status in Europe.

There have been roughly two million refugees or asylees admitted to the U.S. since 1975. The net population growth of the U.S. since then has been 100 million. The vast majority of refugees has come from countries with or over whom the U.S. has been engaged in some form of conflict, such as Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Iraq.  

The 1980 Refugee Act established formal criteria and legal statuses for the admission of refugees and migrants of humanitarian concern, including the establishment of an asylum system and the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Per Pew Research, historically, the total number of refugees coming to the U.S. has fluctuated along with global events and U.S. priorities. From 1990 to 1995, an average of about 112,000 refugees arrived in the U.S. each year. Refugee admissions dropped off to fewer than 27,000 in 2002 following the terrorist attacks in 2001.

The U.S. admitted 84,995 refugees in the fiscal year 2016, the most in any year during the Obama administration.  The Obama target was 110,000.

In fiscal 2016, the highest number of refugees from any nation came from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo accounted for 16,370 refugees followed by Syria (12,587), Burma (aka Myanmar, with 12,347), Iraq (9,880) and Somalia (9,020). Over the past decade, the largest numbers of refugees have come from Burma (159,692) and Iraq (135,643).

Cambodians: Between 1975 and 1994, nearly 158,000 Cambodians were admitted. About 149,000 of them entered the country as refugees, and 6,000 entered as immigrants and 2,500 as humanitarian and public interest parolees

Vietnamese: At the Fall of Saigon, about 125,000 Vietnamese were admitted into the U.S. in 1980 there were 231,000 Vietnamese living in the U.S. Large-scale Vietnamese migration to the United States began as a humanitarian flow after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 and, over time, transformed into one of family reunification. By 2014, 1.3 million Vietnamese immigrants resided in the United States representing 3 percent of the nation’s 42.4 million immigrants.

Russian Jews: Emigration of Russian Jews to the U.S. began in the early 1970s, at an annual flow of about 30,000, then dropped to a few thousand a year in the 1980s. The large majority of emigrating Russian Jews went to Isreal. Today there are less than one million persons in the U.S. who are Russian-born or have Russian-born parents or grandparents.

 

Cut immigration proposals – today and in 1997

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act was filed by Senators Cotton and Perdue early in 2017 but promoted with White House endorsement only now. The act intends to cut immigration (permanent visas or Green cards) by about half, from one million to 500,000. Its intent and contents are similar to a proposal by a bipartisan task force made 20 years ago

The RAISE Act will trim away family-based immigration, which accounts for over half of new permanent visas today. Up to 140,000 Green cards will be issued using a points system that is tied to potential economic contribution.

The points system will favor persons who speak English. This may appear to favor immigrants from countries with many English speakers, like India, but it probably is more consistent with higher education – that is, Ukrainians and Brazilians who as part of their formal education and perhaps jobs learned English.  Australian and Canada include language proficiency in their points systems today

The Jordan Commission report of 1997

President Clinton appointed the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, which took the name of its chairperson, former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. In the Commissions’ last report, issued in 1997, it defined a vision in 90 words:

“Properly-regulated immigration and immigrant policy serves the national interest by ensuring the entry of those who will contribute most to our society and helping lawful newcomers adjust to life in the United States. It must give due consideration to shifting economic realities. A well-regulated system sets priorities for admission; facilitates nuclear family reunification; gives employers access to a global labor market while protecting U.S. workers; helps to generate jobs and economic growth; and fulfills our commitment to resettle refugees as one of several elements of humanitarian protection of the persecuted.”

The commission recommended that permanent residency awards go down by about a third from the prevailing annual level of about 600,000, or to about 400,000.

Mass Supreme Court: Detaining is unconstitutional

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Per the Boston Globe, The state’s highest court ruled Monday that under Massachusetts law, local law enforcement officials cannot hold a person who is wanted solely for immigration violations, a ruling that provides a legal basis for sanctuary cities to refuse to cooperate with federal officials.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruling is believed to be the first court decision in the country to forbid local authorities from enforcing federal immigration laws, unless the state Legislature passes a law that specifically allows it.

Since, State Police have held 27 people on detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Other agencies have refused to honor the requests.

“Conspicuously absent from our common law is any authority . . . for police officers to arrest generally for civil matters, let alone authority to arrest specifically for civil immigration matters,” the court ruled.

ICE issues hundreds of detainers in Massachusetts each year. Local municipalities including Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, and some states, including California and Connecticut, have established policies that forbid law enforcement officials from assisting their federal counterparts in enforcing immigration laws. But Monday’s decision was believed to be the first by a state’s high court to forbid officers from arresting or holding someone based on an immigration violation.

Attorney General Maura Healey praised the decision. She had asked the court to find that federal authorities cannot force local officials to hold someone on a detainer under state law. Lawyers for Healey’s office had argued in court filings that local law enforcement officials can still play a role in helping federal officials when an immigrant wanted for deportation poses a public safety risk — for instance by alerting authorities of a suspect’s whereabouts. But they argued that those decisions should be left to local agencies.

In its ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court said that the Legislature could consider passing a law that would regulate how local law enforcement officials can assist federal authorities but left that consideration to lawmakers. “State law must affirmatively grant authority to state and local officers to enforce federal immigration law before arrest can be made on that basis,” the court said.

One quarter of second gen children at risk of losing parents by deportation

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

The American Immigration Council reports:

“Since fiscal year 2010, over a quarter million parents of minors who are American citizens have been deported. These numbers…. likely do not reflect all of families that have been torn apart. ICE’s reports only include those who volunteer information about their children; many may not disclose this fact, fearing for the safety and future of their children.”

An estimated six million U.S. citizen children live with at least one family member who is undocumented. This is  8% of all children in the U.S. Using Pew Research figures, this means that one quarter of the current second generation immigrant population under 18 (27 million) has at least one unauthorized parent.

(For second generation figures see appendix 1 here)

 

Do non-citizens vote in American elections? Recent evidence says no.

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

The evidence available, drawing from extremely little legal enforcement action (mostly tied to local scandal) and from a recent study (by voting fraud allegers) of Virginia, is that the number of non-citizens voting is infinitesimally small, under one tenth of one percent of actual voters, and probably that is a gross over-estimate. In contrast, the allegers of voting fraud are saying that somewhere around 10% of non-citizens voted and that somewhere around 2% of all voters were non-citizens.

For my state of Vermont, which is subject as all other states to Kobach’s demand for voter data, a high estimate of non-citizens registered (per the analysis below) is a total of 39.

Background: Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who co-chairs the Trump Administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (VP Pence is chair) announced on November 30, 2016 that it was a “reasonable estimate” that 3.2 million people could have voted illegally based off a survey of the 2008 presidential election.

The Kansas secretary of state said data showed that 11.3% of non-citizens in the United States said they had voted in that year’s election. He pulled this figure from the heavens. There are 43 million immigrants of which 95% are 18 and older . About half are naturalized. Kobach is in effect alleging that of about 20 million non-citizens 18 or old, 11.3% or 2.3 million voted illegally. (If all of Kobach’s 3.2 million voted illegally and were non-citizens 18 or over, that implies that 16% of non-citizens voted.

On the face of it, this allegation implies national. massive, orchestrated campaigns of voter fraud. Actual systemic voting fraud cases of late involve at most dozens of voters and are local in nature.

A disputed 2014 research article

Kobach and allies have leaned on a 2014 article authored by Old Dominion University researchers that “6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.”

The article was based on no original inspection of records or surveying but rather on a study by the Cooperative Congressional Election Study of surveys done in 2008 and 2012. The CCES researchers disparaged the Old Dominion article asserting that is drew unwarranted inferences from a very small sample size (such as under 200 positive results from a total survey population of 19,000). The title of the CCES December 2015 refutation: “The perils of cherry picking low frequency events in large sample surveys.”

The Virginia allegations

In May of this year a Public Interest Legal Foundation – sponsored report, “Alien Invasion,” produced figures of what it called non-citizens with Virginia driver licenses who voted. If you examine its figures, and compare them with Virginia population and voting numbers, these non-citizen estimates come to one third of one percent of adult non-citizens, and an infinitesimally small percentage of total voting in Virginia.

The Virginia report compared motor vehicle registration data (which has a field for citizen status), registration rolls, and actual voter counts. I have grossed up the figures, which covered most but not all voter districts, in order to show complete statewide estimates. The adjusted figures indicate that over a six year recent period 2,415 non-citizens were registered to vote and that they voted 9,745 times. These are definitely not the figures that Kobach and allies want to hear about. The reason is that the 2,415 is an extremely tiny share of the approximately 400,000 non citizen adults living in Virginia at the time.

The reasonable explanation is that many or most of the 2,415 persons either became citizens later or mistakenly listed themselves as citizens (consistent with survey errors found by CCES). Also, the 9,745 votes over a six year period is a vanishingly small share of the roughly 18 million times people voted in Virginia over the six year period.

“If John Cunningham is not safe, no one is safe.”

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

“If they’ll go after John Cunningham, they’ll go after anybody,” said Ronnie Millar, the executive director of the Irish International Immigrant Center in Boston. “John is so well-known and so well-liked. If John Cunningham is not safe, no one is safe.”

So reported Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe about a man who overstayed his tourist visa 18 years ago. The story goes on.:

John Cunningham has an electrical contracting business and is chairman of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Boston. They came for John Cunningham on a sunny evening last week, showing up at his house in Brighton like early dinner guests. They were federal immigration agents, and they were there to throw John Cunningham out of the country he has called home for 18 years.

John Cunningham, 38, has an electrical contracting business. He has paid taxes. He has done much to improve the lives of those around him. But what he does not have is a green card, and so the federal agents brought him to the jail in South Bay and put him in a cell with the rest of the common criminals.

Chris Lavery, Cunningham’s lawyer, told the Globe reporter there is no underlying criminal charge. Cunningham was grabbed for overstaying the 90-day visa he received 18 years ago.

Cunningham is widely known in Boston’s Irish ex-pat community. He was a fixture at the Gaelic Athletic Association fields at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton. He was especially proud of getting more kids from all backgrounds playing the traditional Irish games of hurling and Gaelic football.

It is because of Cunningham’s prominence in that community that his arrest has sent shivers through it.