November 11, 2012

Asian Americans overwhelmingly for Obama

The must unkindest cut to the Romney campaign was when the poster children of immigrants – the well educated, entrepreneurially-minded Indians and the equally hard working East Asian immigrants –voted overwhelmingly for Obama. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education reported that 73% of Asian Americans voted for Obama. That’s up from 62% in 2008. Two decades ago, Asian-Americans went 2-to-1 for Republicans.

Obama was strongest among Indian-American voters, leading Romney by a margin of 76 to 8 percent in the poll, and weakest among Filipino Americans, where the vote was 57 percent to 20 percent. Among Chinese Americans, it was 68 percent for Obama, 8 percent for Romney

In April
The Atlantic had already noted that these immigrants posed a challenge to the Republicans. 44% of eligible Asian Americans has voted in 2008, up from 44% in 2004. And their population grew by 43% between 2000 and 2010. Obama won 62% of their vote in 2008. Today Asian Americans are about 3% of the electorate nationally, and about 10% in California.

In a poll on the weekend before the November election, the vast majority of Asian American voters (58%) said that fixing the economy and creating more jobs was the most important issue that politicians should address. Health care and education reform were each cited by 20% of Asian American voters as the most important issue, followed by civil rights/immigration issues (13%).

On election day, exit polls showed at least 70 percent of Asian-American voters chose Obama. Two decades ago, Asian-Americans reported voting Republican by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, said UC Berkeley political scientist Taeku Lee.

Vietnamese voter sentiment shifted toward Obama, though most still identify with the Republican Party. Filipinos shifted more toward Romney. But two of the largest groups of Asian-American voters -- Chinese-Americans and Indian-Americans -- are now unmistakably Democratic.

November 7, 2012

Latinos delivered for Democrats on Tuesday

A record 72% of Latinos voted for President Barack Obama, and only 23% voted for Romney, according to Latino Decisions exit polls. In 2008, the president won 67% of the Hispanic vote while John McCain won 31%. A few weeks ago, Obama was favored by 70% of registered Latinos.

In the battleground state of Colorado, 87% of Latinos voted for Obama, while only 10% voted for Romney. In Ohio, 82% of Latinos voted for President Obama.

In Massachusetts, Latinos came out to vote overwhelmingly for Obama with 89%, and just 9% for Romney. Latino support here had implications in the white-knuckled, close Massachusetts Senate race. “Latinos are an estimated 6 to 7% of all voters in Massachusetts and the impreMedia-Latino Decisions data shows Latinos overwhelmingly supported Elizabeth Warren by a record margin, 86% for Elizabeth Warren to 14% for Brown and the Latino vote is what decisively put Warren over the top,” says Latino Decisions political scientist Matt Barreto.

Exit polls conducted by impreMedia/Latino Decisions nationwide and in 11 key battleground states indicate that Latino voters played a critical role in Obama getting a second term and keeping a Democratic majority in the Senate.

"In all cases, immigration reform and the dramatic distinction between the two parties on the issue was a major driver of Latino voter political choices," said a statement put out by America's Voice, an immigration advocacy group.

Virginia Senate race: in the race between Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, Kaine won. In 2006, the margin of victory for the seat was approximately 1%. Latino voters account for 3.5% of all registered voters in the state in 2012. On analysis reports that From 2000 – 2010 the number of Latino eligible voters grew by 76% in Virginia, outpacing all other groups in the electorate. On Tuesday, Latinos favored Obama over Romney by 66% to 31%.

66% of Virginia Latinos know someone who is undocumented, and 54% know someone who may be eligible for the DREAM Act.

Arizona Senate race. Retiring Senator John Kyl beat his Democratic opponent in 2006 by 10 points. This fall, going into November Republican candidate Jeff Flake was 5 points ahead of Democratic candidate Richard Carmona by about 5 points. As of right now (5 AM Arizona time on Wednesday) the vote count is not in. Flake won.

November 4, 2012

Last minute update on Latino voting power

The Washington Post on Sunday listed the following as up for grabs between Obama and Romney as of this weekend: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and New Hampshire.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, which projects there will be a 26% increase in Latino voters on Tuesday compared with 2008, provides the following estimates of the projected share of the Latino vote in ten states. Two of the ten, Colorado and Florida, are among the seven states up for grabs. This fast growth is due to an acceleration during recent years in the growth of Latino citizenship on top of the growth in the Latino population overall.

Data presented as follows: Projected Latino Voters; Increase From 2008; Projected Share of Latino Vote

NATIONAL 12,237,000; 25.6%; 8.7%
Arizona 359,000; 23.2%; 12.0%
California 3,911,000; 32.1%; 26.3%
Colorado 224,000; 15.0%; 8.7%
Florida 1,650,000; 34.5%; 18.3%

Illinois 433,000; 37.8%; 7.6%
New Jersey 392,000; 16.2%; 10.4%
New Mexico 329,000; 14.0%; 35.0%
New York 845,000; 13.7%; 10.8%

May 30, 2011

Tougher ICE enforcement against employers

This has been the story since the start of the Obama administration: prosecution of employers, not their illegal workers. The New York Times has an update. ICE can no longer raid employers except with a prosecution plan in place with the Department of Justice.

The article in full:

A Crackdown on Employing Illegal Workers

TUCSON — Obama administration officials are sharpening their crackdown on the hiring of illegal immigrants by focusing increasingly tough criminal charges on employers while moving away from criminal arrests of the workers themselves.

After months of criticism from Republicans who said President Obama was relaxing immigration enforcement in workplaces, the scope of the administration’s strategy has become clear as long-running investigations of employers have culminated in indictments, convictions, exponentially increased fines and jail sentences. While conducting fewer headline-making factory raids, the immigration authorities have greatly expanded the number of businesses facing scrutiny and the cases where employers face severe sanctions.

In a break with Bush-era policies, the number of criminal cases against unauthorized immigrant workers has dropped sharply over the last two years.

Continue reading "Tougher ICE enforcement against employers" »

March 23, 2011

E-Verify soon available to individuals

Customs and Immigration Services is beginning to allow individuals to check their own employment eligibility online. The service is initially available in a few states including Arizona.

January 31, 2011

Analysis of the 287(g) program

Delegation and Divergence: A Study of 287(g) State and Local Immigration Enforcement. The Migration Policy Institute has issued a report on the 287(g) program, under which ICE delegates to local law enforcement departments authority to arrest individuals who are in violation of immigration laws. The report shows that implementation of these programs is very diverse, with some localities targeting only serious criminals and others picking up anyone at a traffic stop. The impact of traffic stop-like programs (which MPI called “universal” programs) on the entire undocumented population appears to be very high.

Excerpts from the MPI’s executive summary:

At the national level, the program is not targeted primarily or even mostly toward serious offenders. Nationally, about half of program activity (defined by the number of immigration detainers issued) involves people who have committed felonies and other crimes that ICE deems to be serious (Priority Level 1 and 2 in ICE’s terminology). The other half of detainers issued are on people who have committed misdemeanors (usually considered Level 3) and traffic offenses.

Some jurisdictions operate “targeted” models, aimed primarily at identifying serious criminal offenders, while others pursue “universal” models, designed to identify as many unauthorized immigrants as possible. In FY 2010, Las Vegas operated the most targeted program among our sites: officers placed 70 percent of detainers on Level 1 or 2 offenders.

By contrast, Cobb County (GA) and Frederick County (MD) placed about 80 percent of their detainers on Level 3 or traffic offenders, and officers there placed detainers universally (i.e., on every unauthorized immigrant booked into jail or encountered during policing operations).

Continue reading "Analysis of the 287(g) program " »

September 14, 2010

The Feds crack down on restaurants

This is something that the Democrats don’t want to publicize and the Republicans want to overlook: The Obama Administration has gotten very tough with employers who hire illegal workers. According to the NY Times, “Under a policy that went into effect in April 2009, the Obama administration is taking a much tougher stance on employers who hire illegal immigrants than any administration in decades. Enforcement agents have subjected businesses across the country to much greater scrutiny, using tactics that were almost nonexistent until two years ago. Federal officials said they expected to announce record numbers of investigations and fines by the end of the year. As of July 31, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, had announced investigations of 2,073 businesses so far this year, outpacing the 1,461 conducted in all of 2009. “

In an article published on September 8, the NY Times reports how aggressive and disruptive the Administration’s policy of enforcement has become:

Immigration Crackdown Steps Into the Kitchen
By Sarah Kershaw
The New York Times, September 8, 2010

For a man facing the possibility of up to 30 years in prison, almost $4 million in fines and the government seizure of his small French restaurant here, Michel Malecot has an unusually jovial and serene air.

During lunch recently, he walked around the French Gourmet, his 45-seat restaurant, bakery and catering company in the city’s Pacific Beach neighborhood, hugging his regular customers and planting a kiss on each cheek, before meandering back into the sprawling kitchen to make himself a herring baguette with butter.

'Serve this with warm potatoes,' Mr. Malecot said, 'and c’est bon.'

An immigrant from the South of France, he came here in 1972, settling in San Diego because he said the climate reminded him of home. And now it is the knotty issue of immigration that has made him a local cause célèbre, thrust him into one of the nation’s most contentious debates, jeopardized his future and sent a current of fear through the $550-billion-plus restaurant industry.

In April, Mr. Malecot, 58, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of illegally hiring 12 undocumented immigrants and, in what prosecutors portray as a brazen deception, continuing to employ them after learning that they were in the country illegally. He pleaded not guilty. Now, if convicted, he faces the possibility of forfeiture of the restaurant building, along with an adjacent rental property, Froggy’s Bar. Legal experts say it would be an exceptionally stiff punishment, but one that could be a sign of things to come for an industry that is one of the nation’s largest employers of immigrants.

'They’re using a body of law intended for drug dealers and money launderers and going after an iconic bakery and philanthropic business,' said Jot Condie, the president of the California Restaurant Association, which has 22,000 members. 'If their strategy is to get the attention of the industry, mission accomplished.'

Continue reading "The Feds crack down on restaurants" »

August 19, 2010

A brief overview of compensation rights of illegal workers

Given the Arizona law, it is worth taking a moment to review what courts and state legislatures have said about rights to illegal workers to compensation, including workers compensation. Below is a very short article. I have posted workers compensation benefit entitlement before. This article addresses various kinds of compensation.

Note that federal law makes it a crime to hire illegal workers. It does not make it a crime for an illegal person to seek or obtain work. The Arizona's criminal provision for seeking or obtaining work was struck down by the federal judge.

The article:

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are 31 million foreign-born people living in the U.S. — 11.1 percent of the population, and a 57 percent increase from the 1990 census. The census further found 7.5 million undocumented individuals in the U.S., with almost 3 million undocumented aliens in California and Texas alone.

Other sources provide even higher figures. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the number of undocumented individuals in the United States is 8-12 million, while the Center for Immigration Studies puts the count at 10-11 million. Almost all sources agree that there are 700,000 to 1 million illegals entering annually, according to Richard A. Watts, an attorney in the Atlanta law firm of Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers.

These numbers mean that many employers and HR professionals who deal with workers’ compensation will eventually have to handle claims filed by undocumented workers, Watts told attendees at a July session of the SEAK National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conference.

Federal Law Makes It Illegal to Employ Undocumented Workers

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) makes it illegal to “hire or recruit or refer for a fee” an unauthorized alien. It is illegal under the act to knowingly employ an authorized worker or to “continue to employ” a worker you later find to be unauthorized.

If an employee’s undocumented status becomes clear once he or she has filed for workers’ compensation benefits, what then are your obligations under IRCA as well as under state workers’ compensation laws? Watts asked the conference audience.

Although, he said, federal law clearly prohibits hiring these workers, once they become injured on the job, several states explicitly allow them to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Statutes in Florida, New York, Texas and Utah permit the recovery of benefits by undocumented workers. In a number of other states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina, courts have held that compensation benefits cannot be denied solely because the injured worker is undocumented.

Arguments Made to Deny Benefits

Many state workers’ compensation acts define an employee as “anyone under contract for hire or apprenticeship.” Illegal aliens cannot legally contract. Therefore, an argument can be made, Watts said, that compensation benefits should be denied because illegals are not subject to the act in that they do not meet the definition of “employee.”

This argument has been successful in courts in Arizona, Virginia and Wyoming, Watts noted, although Virginia subsequently changed its law to explicitly include illegal aliens as employees. It has not been successful in several states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

Another argument, Watts said, is based on the fact that many states’ workers’ compensation statutes deny benefits if they have been fraudulently obtained. Attorneys have argued, largely unsuccessfully, that because undocumented workers have committed fraud in obtaining their jobs, they should be disqualified from obtaining benefits.

Benefits also may be denied in many states if a worker is hurt during the commission of a crime. Attorneys have argued that, because providing false documentation to get a job is a crime, undocumented workers should be denied benefits if they are injured on the job they illegally obtained. But courts have not accepted this argument either, Watts noted.

Supreme Court Case Has Little Impact

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Hoffman Plastics v. NLRB (535 U.S. 137) that an undocumented worker who was terminated from employment because of his union activities was not entitled to back pay, even though the employer had violated the National Labor Relations Act in discharging him. The court ruled that IRCA would be violated by awarding “back pay to an illegal alien for years of work not performed, for wages not lawfully earned, and for a job obtained in the first instance by a criminal act.”

Federal courts subsequently applied the Hoffman decision to deny claims for back pay brought by undocumented workers under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII, but ruled that Hoffman was not applicable to an undocumented worker’s claim for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In the FLSA context, the employee had already earned the wages, the court reasoned, and so could not be denied based on immigration status.

In the workers’ compensation area, an argument based on Hoffman has failed in six states (California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota and Pennsylvania), Watts said, with the courts reasoning that the situation is more like the one under the FLSA — the employee cannot be denied the benefits because he or she had already earned them by virtue of working for the employer prior to incurring the injury.

Immigration issues are “hot” right now, Watts concluded, and states may consider legislation restricting undocumented workers’ rights to collect workers’ compensation benefits. A bill that would have required an individual hurt on the job to prove that he or she was legally employed passed the Ohio Senate in the last legislative session but failed to pass the House, he noted.

July 10, 2010

Obama’s “silent” raids to enforce immigrant laws

The New York Times reports that “The Obama administration has replaced immigration raids at factories and farms with a quieter enforcement strategy: sending federal agents to scour companies’ records for illegal immigrant workers.”

The article goes on:

While the sweeps of the past commonly led to the deportation of such workers, the “silent raids,” as employers call the audits, usually result in the workers being fired, but in many cases they are not deported.

Over the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted audits of employee files at more than 2,900 companies. The agency has levied a record $3 million in civil fines so far this year on businesses that hired unauthorized immigrants, according to official figures. Thousands of those workers have been fired, immigrant groups estimate.

Employers say the audits reach more companies than the work-site roundups of the administration of President George W. Bush. The audits force businesses to fire every suspected illegal immigrant on the payroll— not just those who happened to be on duty at the time of a raid — and make it much harder to hire other unauthorized workers as replacements. Auditing is “a far more effective enforcement tool,” said Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, which includes many worried fruit growers.

Continue reading " Obama’s “silent” raids to enforce immigrant laws" »

June 17, 2010

ICE targetting five states

Back blogging after an absence...Five states, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee, are targeted by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a workforce inspection.

One hundred and eighty employers received notices that ICE plans to inspect hiring records to determine whether they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations. The inspections are part of ICE's increased focus on holding employers accountable for their hiring practices and efforts to ensure a legal workforce.

Thanks to Becki Shafer for this news item.

January 12, 2010

Expose of criminal behavior by immigration detention officials

Shocking, but not surprising, news about immigrant detention centers: officials have covered up deaths. The New York Times published an article which can only be called angry – angry at officials who had lied to its reporters in the past, even as these officials conspired to cover up the causes of death. “officials — some still in key positions — used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.”

I hope this leads to $100 million in payments to grieving family survivors.

The article in full:

Officials Hid Truth About Immigrant Deaths in Jail

Silence has long shrouded the men and women who die in the nation’s immigration jails. For years, they went uncounted and unnamed in the public record. Even in 2008, when The New York Times obtained and published a federal government list of such deaths, few facts were available about who these people were and how they died.

But behind the scenes, it is now clear, the deaths had already generated thousands of pages of government documents, including scathing investigative reports that were kept under wraps, and a trail of confidential memos and BlackBerry messages that show officials working to stymie outside inquiry.

Continue reading "Expose of criminal behavior by immigration detention officials" »

December 4, 2009

Expanded auditing of American employers re: illegal workers

Expanded auditing by Feds of employer practices has become a facet of the Obama Administration’s approach toward enforcement of immigration laws. It has stepped aside from the show-boating by ICE during the Bush Administration. The New York Times ran an article last month on this evolving strategy.

Immigration Officials to Audit 1,000 More Companies

Published: November 19, 2009

WASHINGTON — Immigration enforcement officials said Thursday that they were expanding a program for auditing companies that might have hired illegal immigrants and had notified 1,000 companies this week that they would have to undergo such a review.

John Morton, who heads Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, announced the new initiative, saying it was part of the administration’s plan to deal with companies that hire illegal workers. “ICE is focused on finding and penalizing employers who believe they can unfairly get ahead by cultivating illegal workplaces,” Mr. Morton said.

He said that because the program was a law enforcement operation, he would not identify the companies that would undergo an audit except to say that they had been selected as a result of investigative leads and their connection to public safety and national security.

The language suggests the audits will affect private companies involved in infrastructure operations like gas and electric utilities and contractors on military bases but not retailers and manufacturers of nonessential goods.

Continue reading "Expanded auditing of American employers re: illegal workers" »

November 16, 2009

How do and will immigrants get health insurance?

The Migration Policy Institute has issued a thoughtful analysis of how immigrants, both legal and illegal, obtain health insurance.

Locally and nationwide, roughly two-thirds of working-age immigrants who are legal residents are insured, and more than one-third of illegal immigrants also have insurance.

The report says, “We estimate that half of LPRs [legal permanent residents] overall currently have employer coverage and one-third (3.9 million) are uninsured, accounting for 9 percent of the overall uninsured population. Almost all uninsured LPRs (93 percent) are adults, so the cost of providing coverage to uninsured LPR children (who are twice as likely as US-born children to be uninsured) would be quite low.”

What about illegal immigrants? The report says, “There are an estimated 12 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. They are ineligible for Medicaid and other means-tested federal benefits, though hospitals may be reimbursed through Medicaid for providing emergency services. Notwithstanding the recent political furor over the issue, none of the pending legislative proposals would provide coverage for unauthorized immigrants. However, verification systems to screen them out of subsidies and the proposed insurance exchanges may be expensive and may have unintended consequences for US citizens and legal immigrants.

“Unauthorized immigrants are disproportionately likely to have low incomes, and although most of them work, they are even more likely than LPRs (46 percent) to work at small firms that do not provide insurance. As a result, most unauthorized immigrants (6 million working-age adults and 660,000 children) are uninsured, accounting for 15 percent of the overall uninsured. Yet it is not widely recognized that 31 percent of unauthorized immigrants (some 3.2 million working-age adults and 460,000 children) already have employer coverage.”

The executive summary of the report, Immigrants and Health Care Reform What’s Really at Stake? By Randy Capps, Marc R. Rosenblum, and Michael Fix Migration Policy Institute October 2009

The health care reform legislation being drafted in Congress holds the promise of delivering coverage to millions of uninsured people in the United States through Medicaid expansion, private insurance subsidies, and mandated employer coverage. The scope and success of reform, however, will be affected substantially by lawmakers’ decisions regarding the eligibility of legal immigrants for health benefits, and their approaches to screening out unauthorized immigrants. Their decisions will help determine how close Congress comes to its goal of reducing the ranks of the nation’s 46 million uninsured.

Despite high workforce participation rates, many immigrants (regardless of their legal status) are uninsured. Yet some proposals under consideration in Congress would deny core benefits to many legal immigrants. These proposals would leave many legal immigrants outside a reformed health care system, with costly spillover consequences for taxpayers, health care consumers, and providers.

Continue reading "How do and will immigrants get health insurance?" »

November 11, 2009

ICE says 17,500 people trafficked into the US each year

ICE estimates that 17,500 people a year are trafficked into the U.S. for exploitation. Here the AP reports on a new public awareness initiative:

Immigration officials target 14 US cities in campaign against human trafficking

November 10, 2009

BOSTON (AP) — Fourteen cities are being targeted in a new campaign aimed at alerting people about human trafficking, federal immigration officials have announced.

The "Hidden in Plain Sight" initiative, sponsored by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, features billboards highlighting "the horrors and the prevalence of human trafficking," which the agency says is equivalent to "modern-day slavery."

The words "Hidden in Plain Sight" are displayed on the advertisements with a toll-free number people can call to report situations where they believe people are being sexually exploited or forced to work against their will.

Cities in the new campaign are Atlanta; Boston; Dallas; Detroit; Los Angeles; Miami; Philadelphia; Newark, N.J.; New Orleans; New York; St. Paul, Minn.; San Antonio; San Francisco and Tampa, Fla.

Bruce Foucart, an ICE special agent in charge of New England, said officials hope the billboards persuade residents to report suspected cases to ICE or local law enforcement.

"It's difficult to identify victims and it's difficult for them to tell their stories," said Foucart.

About 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked each year around the world and about 17,500 of them end up in the United States, according to ICE. Immigration officials say the victims are lured from their homes with false promises of well-paying jobs but are trafficked into the commercial sex trade, domestic servitude or forced labor.

Foucart said victims who cooperate with law enforcement are offered temporary status and can later apply to stay in the U.S. permanently.

Jozefina Lantz, director of New Americans services at Lutheran Social Services in Worcester, Mass., welcomed the new campaign and said the public is generally unaware that human trafficking is occurring near their homes.

"Often the victims get mistaken for undocumented immigrants," said Lantz. "It's not the same because these people were abducted from their homes and forced into trafficking."

Lantz said her group has recently helped trafficking victims from Africa and South America.

October 26, 2009

Expose of private prisons for immigration violators

The Nov/Dec 2009 issue of the Boston Review contains an article by Tom Barry titled “A Death in Texas: Profits, poverty, and immigration converge.” Barry assiduously tracks the growth and performance of private prisons created and managed by private contractors to hold immigrants arrested for immigration violations. This is a must read and will be a factor in the upcoming push for immigration reform.


Thus far, immigration prosecutions in 2009 outpace those of 2008 by 14 percent. Prosecutions are up 139 percent compared to five years ago, 459 percent compared to 1999, and 973 percent compared to 1989.......

Though speculative prisons come with no guarantees, all along the Southwest border—from Florence, Arizona to Raymondville, Texas—business is good. Since early 2003, the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems have merged, breaking the longstanding tradition of treating immigration violations as administrative offenses and creating hundreds of thousands of new criminal aliens.

While the growth in immigrant detention is in part due to the country’s increased immigrant population, the shift in immigration policy away from regulation and toward enforcement, punishment, and deterrence is more significant. Unwilling to pass a reform bill that would effectively regulate immigration, Congress and the executive branch have turned to the criminal justice and penal systems.

New anti-immigrant laws and practices by ICE and CBP subject immigrants, legal or illegal, to double jeopardy, punishing them twice for the same offense. In 1996 the Republican majority in Congress led approval of three anti-immigrant and anti-crime laws that spurred INS to start cracking down on and deporting immigrants. These laws, together with the executive branch’s increased authority to devise repressive immigration procedures under the post-9/11 pretext of a war on terror, have created an enforcement regime in which noncitizen legal immigrants face immigration consequences (as well as criminal consequences) for past or present violations of criminal law. In other words, illegal immigrants and even noncitizen permanent residents may be jailed and deported for committing crimes or other offenses, whether violent or not. DHS and the Justice Department are not only combing the criminal justice system for legal and illegal immigrants to be detained and deported, but the departments are also working together to transfer illegal immigrants into federal courts and prisons.

Legal scholars have taken to calling this increasing merger of criminal and immigration law and the integration of the criminal justice and immigration systems “crimmigration.”

The private-prison industry’s executives are particularly upbeat about new criminal alien programs such as CBP’s Operation Streamline and ICE’s Secure Communities. GEO Chairman George Zoley told Wall Street analysts in a July 2009 investment conference call: “The main driver for the growth of new beds at the federal level continues to be the detention and incarceration of criminal aliens.” CCA’s Chief Financial Officer, Todd Mullenger, emphasized the importance of programs such as Operation Streamline to prison profits in a recent investment conference call:

Border Patrol has consistently indicated from the planning stage of the initiative to the present that Operation Streamline will require additional detain beds due to increased prosecution and length of stay anticipated by the initiative.

Operation Streamline was launched in 2005 as a pilot project of the Del Rio sector of Texas and extends east to the southern Rio Grande Valley and west to Yuma, Arizona. It is part of a national immigrant crackdown that CBP and ICE variously call “enhanced enforcement” and “zero tolerance.” The program directs Border Patrol agents to turn captured illegal border crossers over to the Marshals Service for prosecution, breaking with the usual practice of simply returning Mexican immigrants to Mexico or releasing non-Mexican immigrants with an order to appear in immigration court.

August 4, 2009

E-Verify push: update

The Obama administration is requiring federal contractors to use e-Verify as of September, and Congress is looking at a universal requirement for all employers. The Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups are fighting universal application because, they argue, of the burdens on small businesses and delays in response by the Department of Homeland Security to resolving problems with verification.

'">Below is a useful overview of the situation as of this week:

Momentum builds in Congress for mandatory worker verification
By Kent Hoover

The Triangle Business Journal (NC), August 3, 2009

Momentum appears to be growing for legislation that would require all employers, not just federal contractors, to use the E-Verify system to confirm that their employees are eligible to work in the United States.

E-Verify is a Web-based system that allows employers to check the Social Security and visa numbers submitted by workers against government databases. More than 137,000 employers now use the system, which approves 97 percent of workers in a few seconds.

Beginning Sept. 8, federal contractors will be required to use E-Verify to confirm that new hires and current employees working on federal contracts are authorized to work in the U.S. The requirement also will apply to most subcontractors.

Many members of Congress want to expand E-Verify to all employers, as a way to end the 'jobs magnet' for illegal immigration. This 'could open up thousands of American jobs to workers with legal status,' said Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C.

Shuler is the lead House sponsor of the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act, a bill that would expand E-Verify to all employers over four years. The legislation also would increase the number of Border Patrol agents, interior enforcement officials and immigration judges.

Continue reading "E-Verify push: update" »

June 16, 2009

Obama to scale back on Real ID

The controversial 9/11 inspired program to federalize the standards for state drivers licenses is being scaled back to a more modest program by the Obama Administration. This program has been fought by many states, and even Janet Napolitano, as governor of Arizona, signed an bill that rejected the program.

According to the Washington Post:

Yielding to a rebellion by states that refused to pay for it, the Obama administration is moving to scale back a federal law passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that was designed to tighten security requirements for driver's licenses, Homeland Security Department and congressional officials said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to repeal and replace the controversial, $4 billion domestic security initiative known as Real ID, which calls for placing more secure licenses in the hands of 245 million Americans by 2017. The new proposal, called Pass ID, would be cheaper, less rigorous and partly funded by federal grants, according to draft legislation that Napolitano's Senate allies plan to introduce as early as tomorrow.

The new plan keeps elements of Real ID, such as requiring a digital photograph, signature and machine-readable features such as a bar code. States also will still need to verify applicants' identities and legal status by checking federal immigration, Social Security and State Department databases.

But it eliminates demands for new databases -- linked through a national data hub -- that would allow all states to store and cross-check such information, and a requirement that motor vehicle departments verify birth certificates with originating agencies, a bid to fight identity theft.

Further on….

Continue reading "Obama to scale back on Real ID" »

March 29, 2009

Delay in immigration raids may signal Obama policy change

According to the Washington Post, “Immigrations and Customs Enforcement may be shifting focus from detaining illegal workers to prosecuting executives at the companies that employ them. A senior government official says raids are being delayed.”

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement may be shifting focus from detaining illegal workers to prosecuting executives at the companies that employ them. A senior government official says raids are being delayed. (By Matt Bush -- Associated Press)

The article:

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 29, 2009; Page A02

Delay in Immigration Raids May Signal Policy Change

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement may be shifting focus from detaining illegal workers to prosecuting executives at the companies that employ them. A senior government official says raids are being delayed.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said.

A senior department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute -- increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers.

"ICE is now scrutinizing these cases more thoroughly to ensure that [targets] are being taken down when they should be taken down, and that the employer is being targeted and the surveillance and the investigation is being done how it should be done," said the official, discussing Napolitano's views about sensitive law enforcement matters on the condition of anonymity.

Continue reading " Delay in immigration raids may signal Obama policy change" »

March 2, 2009

illegal Immigration control items in the FT 2010 budget

The FY 2010 budget request of the Obama Administration is calling for increases in several illegal immigration enforcement programs. According to Federal Computer Week,
“Highlights of the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] spending plan include $1.4 billion for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s efforts to identify and deport illegal aliens who have committed crimes. The administration would spend $368 million for existing border patrol agents at the Customs and Border Protection agency.
The administration also requested $110 million to continue expanding the E-Verify system, which employers use to check workers’ Social Security numbers and immigration status. “

December 10, 2008

A look into incarceration of immigrants

The ACLU has filed a suit on behalf of these immigrants, and the Boston Globe wrote an article with interesting information. Average duration of jail time before deportation: 11 months.

The article in full:

ACLU alleges rights abuses

Report: Detained immigrants face harsh conditions
By Maria Sacchetti
Globe Staff / December 10, 2008

Immigrants jailed for deportation in Massachusetts are often subject to harsh conditions, including inadequate medical care, harassment, and overcrowding, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said in a report to be released today.

The report alleges that state and county jails and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement are failing to oversee the detainees' treatment.

"There's no one watching over them, so there's no real incentive to make sure that the immigration detainees' rights are protected," said Laura Rótolo, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts and the lead researcher on the 22-month investigation. "They are not protecting people's fundamental rights."

ICE confirmed that the agency received letters from the ACLU of Massachusetts about its findings, and is in the process of responding fully.

Continue reading "A look into incarceration of immigrants" »

October 31, 2008

Former CEO of Agriprocessors arrested.

That’s the company which ICE raided in May, arresting 300 workers and herding them through a judicial stockyard. See my earlier postings. Now the Feds have arrested and put on $1 million bail the person who was CEO at the time of the raid, and was subsequently removed by his father, living in New York City. To my knowledge this is the first time that a large scale raid resulted in federal charges against a top executive.

The full story in the New York Times:

October 31, 2008
Federal Charges for Ex-C.E.O. at Meatpacker

Federal immigration agents on Thursday arrested the former chief executive of Agriprocessors Inc., the nation’s biggest kosher meatpacking company, accusing him of harboring illegal immigrants at a plant in Postville, Iowa, where about 400 immigrant workers were arrested in a raid in May.

With the arrest of the former chief executive, Sholom Rubashkin, federal authorities extended their criminal prosecution to the highest level of management at the plant. Some 300 workers, mainly immigrants from Guatemala, were convicted of felony document fraud charges after the raid, and Iowa prosecutors had faced mounting criticism for punishing those workers but not Agriprocessors’s executives and owners.

Continue reading "Former CEO of Agriprocessors arrested." »

September 23, 2008

E-Verify is working better

That’s according to the Center for Immigration Studies. CIS asserts that the accuracy of the system has improved in a new report. I have posted in the past on its error rates.

From CIS:

Moving Forward with E-Verify - Program to Check Legal Status Already 99.5% Accurate

WASHINGTON (September 18, 2008) – The E-Verify program, which allows employers to check the immigration status of new employees, has been steadily improving and is now 99.5 percent accurate, according to a new paper by the Center for Immigration Studies. This voluntary program is already screening more than one in ten new hires nationwide, and as of September 13, 2008, has processed 6.21 million queries.

Continue reading "E-Verify is working better" »

April 16, 2008

How immigration laws really work

Go here to read case studies of distress over immigration law enforcement.

April 15, 2008

All States Deemed Compliant with Real ID

Migration Information Source reports that the Department of Homeland Security has declared that all states are compliant with the Real ID driver’s license program, this despite some states still resisting. Part of Real ID’s effect is to make in impossible or close to that for illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

Go here for the report with hyperlinks to key documents. The report without the hyperlinks:

All states have complied with the initial driver's license requirements in the Real ID Act despite opposition to the act in several state legislatures. States had until March 31, 2008, to meet the requirements or seek an extension.

Maine was the last state the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deemed compliant. The state received an extension only after Maine Governor John Baldacci agreed to submit legislation that would prevent unauthorized immigrants from obtaining a state driver's license.

Many states have been granted extensions to comply with the act's licensing provisions, including states (Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington) that had passed laws banning Real ID's implementation.

Residents in states that did not comply with the act before March 31 would not have been able to use state-issued driver's licenses to board airplanes or enter federal buildings beginning May 11, 2008.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 because the September 11 terrorists had easily obtained multiple state driver's licenses. Under the act, only US citizens and legal residents can be issued licenses, and the licenses must have enhanced security measures, such as digital photographs

April 6, 2008

Arizona employers slow to E-Verify

The Legal Arizona Workers Act that took effect 1/1/08 (which I have posted on) requires all Arizona employers to use the Federal E-Verify system. Only about 15% of employers have done so already.

Here is how it works: An employer enters a new hire's name, Social Security number and birth date into the online system and instantly receives a message on the screen saying the person is eligible to work in the United States. It appears that there has about a 7% non-conforming rate. My guess is that the E-Verify system is working but that many employers have not been hiring illegal workers since January (the system is applicable only to new hires), and that employers who do have not signed up year.

An article in the Arizona Daily Star in full:

Arizona's employers slow to get with program
By Becky Pallack
The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), March 30, 2008

E-Verify, the federal database for verifying a new hire's legal status, largely has worked fine for Arizona employers.

That's in part because only 15 percent of employers in the state have signed up to use it.

Just 22,000 of the 145,000 Arizona employers have registered, said Marie Sebrechts, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Continue reading "Arizona employers slow to E-Verify" »

November 11, 2007

Illegal immigrants’ Emergency Care Is Limited by U.S. Rule

Per the NY Times, under a limited provision of Medicaid, the national health program for the poor, the federal government permits emergency coverage for illegal immigrants and other noncitizens. But the Bush administration has been more closely scrutinizing and increasingly denying state claims for federal payment for some emergency services, Medicaid experts said.

The article goes on to say that in the wake of stricter federal rules, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and 20 other states have extended full Medicaid coverage, using only state money, to some immigrants who do not qualify for federal aid. Under federal law, proof of citizenship is required for full Medicaid coverage, but not for emergency coverage.

But some states with growing immigrant populations, like Georgia and Arizona, have themselves moved to limit coverage under emergency Medicaid, leading to intense opposition from immigrant health advocates.

The full article:

Continue reading "Illegal immigrants’ Emergency Care Is Limited by U.S. Rule" »

October 12, 2007

Effort to Curb Illegal Workers' Hiring Blocked

Per the Washington Post, “A federal judge barred the Bush administration yesterday from launching a planned crackdown on U.S. companies that employ illegal immigrants, warning of its potentially "staggering" impact on law-abiding workers and companies.” The Dept of Homeland Security was about to issue “no match” letters to 140,000 employers, about upwards of 8.7 million no matches.

The Post reports it as a “firm rebuke.” Why, well, as I have posted before, it appears than
One third of mismatches turn out to be perfectly harmless. The administration’s program would have forced these American citizens to jump through hoops to prove they are citizens, and that could provoke suits by mishandled employees against their employers.

A New York Times editorial says that this “reckless” plan is part of “a disastrously one-sided immigration strategy — pulling out one harsh enforcement tool after another without having repaired the broken system. We have already seen the results of runaway enforcement on the agricultural industry — a shortage of workers leading to rotting crops and farmers relocating south of the border. The trouble with crackdowns, like the foolish one involving “no-match” letters, is that they cause oceans of pain and havoc — not just for undocumented immigrants, but also for legal residents and the economy — without actually solving anything.”

The Post’s article:

Continue reading "Effort to Curb Illegal Workers' Hiring Blocked" »

July 29, 2007

Real ID program implementation plan issued by DHS

Real ID Implementation Plan

The Department of Homeland Security has issued an implementation plan for this program to make drivers licenses uniform across the country. Go here for an html version of the plan. Go here for a report to the National Governors Association about the potential impact of the REAL ID program.

April 28, 2007

Operation Return to Sender

The New York Times reports on ICE raids in California as part of a nationwide sweep. I have already posted on earlier raids. The sweep is called “Operation Return to Sender, in which more than 23,000 people have been arrested nationwide, including more than 1,800 in Northern and Central California.”

March 30, 2007

Overview of non-immigrant visa activity

The Congressional Research Service published an update overview of non-immigrant visa activity, inlcuding business, student temporary guest worker, etc travel. This is a lucid introduction to the lierallty dozens of kinds of visa arrangements.

March 8, 2007

sweat shop in New Bedford MA busted, 350 illegal workers out of work

Workers Comp Insider, the best workers comp blog in the country, reports on and analyzes a story in the Boston Globe about a raid on a sweast shoop which made military supplies.

According to jon Coppelman of Workers Comp Insider, "Affidavits allege that Insolia preferred to hire illegal immigrants because they were desperate for jobs and willing to put up with atrocious working conditions. He even helped them secure forged identity papers, referring them to vendors who would produce the documents for about $120. As for the working conditions, workers were routinely denied overtime pay, docked 15 minutes for every minute late and fined for talking on the job or spending more than two minutes in the plant's "squalid" rest rooms. Sure, but at least the vests and backpacks were made in America!"

February 28, 2007

The IFCO guilty pleadings: what was behind them

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) on Tuesday 2/27 ran an article about how ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) went after the executives at IFCO, the pallet manufacturer raided last year, for systematically hiring illegal workers. The article contains nuggets of information about ICE’s new strategy – which I have excerpted here. They include patiently collecting information in several states on manager communications; getting Social Security to cooperate in revealing huge mismatches of Soc Sec numbers; and planting an informant. (I have previously posted on IFCO.)

According to an article in the Salt Lake City Tribune, five managers pleaded guilty:

James Rice, 37, of Houston, an executive regional general manager of the Netherlands-based IFCO Systems, pleaded guilty to conspiring to employ illegal workers. Robert Belvin, 43, of Stuart, Fla., a former general manager of the Albany IFCO plant, pleaded guilty to two felony conspiracy charges. They face up to 2 years in prison. Dario Salzano, 36, of Amsterdam, N.Y., Scott Dodge, 44, of Elmira, N.Y., and Michael Ames, 44, of Shrewsbury, Mass., each pleaded guilty Tuesday to one misdemeanor. They could face up to six months in jail and $3,000 in fines for each undocumented worker employed, though they likely will get reduced terms because they cooperated, Sciocchetti said. Charges were pending against two other IFCO managers in Houston and Cincinnati.

Here in addition are some figures from the ICE Fact Sheet on the net:

* The number of criminal arrests in worksite enforcement cases has increased from a mere 25 in Fiscal Year 2002, the last full year under the old INS, to 716 during Fiscal Year 2006 under ICE..

* The number of individuals arrested on administrative immigration violations in worksite enforcement cases has increased from 485 in Fiscal Year 2002, the last full year under the old INS, to 3,667 during Fiscal Year 2006 under ICE.

Continue reading "The IFCO guilty pleadings: what was behind them" »

February 24, 2007

Executives indicted for tax evasion re: illegal employees

A new strategy to attack employer use of illegal workers has emerged: indicting corporate executives for tax evasion when they pay their employees off the books. We already know about failing to buy workers compensation insurance. This tax evasion attack will I expect be a potent tool against the medium to large sized employer. About half of illegal workers are estimated to be paid in cash without tax or social security payments being made.

The Wall Street Journal carried a story on 2/23 about indictments against a cleaning and maintenance company with commercial customers throughout the U.S. (“Homeland Security Strategy Hits Executives, Illegal Workers”). Per the article “ Pressing ahead with its new strategy to 'attack the economic engine' that fuels most illegal migration into the U.S., Homeland Security agents arrested three top executives of a national cleaning service for allegedly employing illegal immigrants and defrauding the government. The sweep also netted nearly 200 employees believed to be illegal immigrants."

Nevada-based Rosenbaum-Cunningham International Inc., or RCI, provided cleaning and maintenance services to popular hospitality venues and restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe, ESPN Zone and House of Blues, taking in more than $54.3 million between 2001 and 2005, Homeland Security officials said yesterday .

According to a 23-count indictment unsealed yesterday, the company knowingly hired illegal immigrants, intentionally failed to withhold taxes and created shell accounts to line the pockets of top executives. RCI co-owners Richard M. Rosenbaum and Edward Scott Cunningham and firm controller Christina Flocken face criminal fraud, immigration and tax charges.

More from the article…

Continue reading "Executives indicted for tax evasion re: illegal employees" »

Wealth of statistics on illegal immigrants in the U.S.

This is a quick guide to postings I have made in the past. These and other postings are listed in the right hand column segment called “popular posts.” You will find even more information if you go to the hyperlinks in each of these postings.

Go here to find estimates of the number of illegal workers by state and their share of the state’s workforce. Data drawn in part from the Pew Hispanic Center.

Go here to find federal government estimates of illegal immigrants, by country of origin and by when they arrived in the U.S.

Go here to find recent research findings on the impact of all immigrant as well as illegal immigrant labor on native born American wages.

And here for types of work performed by illegal immigrants and other data on these workers, from the Pew Hispanic Center.

February 23, 2007

AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department’s statement on immigration reform.

Here is the statement, thanks to Jim Platner. I will summarize:

“Mass unregulated illegal immigration into the United States creates unfair wage competition.” There needs to be tougher border enforcement. “A mandatory electronic work-eligibility verification system is needed, which can effectively detect the use of fraudulent documents and significantly reduce the employment of unauthorized immigrants.” This system is “the lynchpin” to comprehensive immigration reform.

A new temporary worker program “would be particularly harmful to the long-term interests of the building and construction industry, because of its negative effect on bona fide apprenticeship and training programs.”

Union sponsored hiring halls and joint labor/management training programs work, and should be supported as the means to provide qualified labor to this industry.

The H-2B visa system in place should be used for foreign labor. This visa program “is currently available to full employers’ temporary needs resulting from either on-time, seasonal, peak load or intermittent labor shortages that do not last for more than one year…it is uniquely appropriate” to fill employer needs in building and construction that cannot otherwise be met be hiring halls.

The H-2B system should be modified to allow for joint labor-management programs to sponsor temporary employment of “trained skilled workers from abroad.” This will assure protection of labor standards of U.S. workers.

There should be a “path to earned legal status” for illegal immigrants here now, as many have been “law-abiding, tax-paying and hard working” participants in the economy. They should pay an appropriate penalty and get in line behind those legally in line from the start. [The term “citizenship” is not used.] Once they “adjust their status”, they should receive federal labor and civil rights protections but not receive federal entitlements.

February 22, 2007

U.S. Border Patrol has become more aggressive

The NY Times reports that borders controls have toughened considerably in the next few months.

Excerpts from the article:

All along the border, there are signs that the measures the Border Patrol and other federal agencies have taken over the last year, from erecting new barriers to posting 6,000 National Guardsmen as armed sentinels, are beginning to slow the flow of illegal immigrants.

The only available barometer of the decline is how many migrants are caught. In the last four months, the number has dropped 27 percent compared with the same period last year, the biggest drop since a crackdown immediately after 9/11. In two sections around Yuma and near Del Rio, Tex., the numbers have fallen by nearly two-thirds, Homeland Security officials say.

Border Patrol commanders say they see no explanation for the drop-off across the entire 2,000-mile border other than stiffer enforcement deterring migrants. The slackening flow, they argue, belies the conventional wisdom that it is impossible to stem illegal migration. Many veteran officers in the force are now beginning to believe it can be controlled with enough resources.

The new measures range from simply putting more officers out on patrol to erecting stadium lights, secondary fences and barriers of thick steel poles to stop smugglers from racing across the desert in all-wheel-drive trucks. The Border Patrol has deployed hundreds of new guards to watch rivers, monitor surveillance cameras and guard fences.

And zero tolerance by U.S. Courts, with jail sentences being handed out…

Though it seems cruel to many migrants, the zero-tolerance policy appears to be working, Border Patrol commanders say. Along the river the Del Rio sector patrols, arrests are a third of what they were a year ago, only about 35 a day. In the meantime, drug seizures have doubled, as more agents have been freed up to patrol.

"Word is getting around out there that if you cross in this area and get apprehended you are probably going to go to jail, and that is a deterrent," Sector Chief Randy Hill said.

February 18, 2007

New York Times editorial on immigration reform.

A New York Times editorial, “They Are America,” is trying to shake the country into paying attention to what was going to be a major legislative thrust this year: immigration reform. At least, that seemed probably before Iraq fell apart. This editorial goes down a long list of small and large missteps and outrages upon immigrants, from fence-bulding and factory raids by ICE to DNA testing. the authors stop short of describing what precisely they want in immigration reform, beyond management remedies to some practicef of the Bush Administration.

The entire editorial is below.

Continue reading "New York Times editorial on immigration reform." »

February 14, 2007

Essential Worker Immigration Coalition: Reform platform

This lobbying group / business association is gearing up for immigration reform this year. It wants more immigrant workers, the more legal the better.

Here is its platform for reform:

Reform should be comprehensive: addressing both future economic needs for future workers and undocumented workers already in the United States.

Reform should strengthen national security by providing for the screening of foreign workers and creating a disincentive for illegal immigration.

Reform should strengthen the rule of law by establishing clear, sensible immigration laws that are efficiently and vigorously enforced.

Reform should create an immigration system that functions efficiently for employers, workers, and government agencies.

Reform should create a program that allows hard working, tax paying undocumented workers to earn legal status.

Reform should ensure that U.S. workers are not displaced by foreign workers.

Reform should ensure that all workers enjoy the same labor law protections.

The policy platform goes on….

Continue reading "Essential Worker Immigration Coalition: Reform platform" »

February 9, 2007

Tidbits from the first year of this blog

In passing into the second year of, I have compiled some notable entries from the first year -- Peter Rousmaniere

Relative role of U.S. in transborder migration

Number of cities in world with at least one million foreign born residents: 20
Number of these cities in the United States: 8
Number of these cities in India or China: zero
Size of foreign born population in the world today: 200 million out of 6.5 billion (3%)
Size of foreign born population in U.S. Today: 35 million out of 300 million (12%)

Relative role of China in intraborder migration

Number of internal migrants from rural to urban areas in China: 150 million out of total population of 1.2 billion.

Off-shoring of work and the polarization of the American workforce

MIT professor David Autor argues that highly routine mental and manual jobs are being outsourced overseas or eliminated by automation, but that mental and manual jobs involving a level of irregularity in decision making and face to face servicing are growing. This concept explains why some manual jobs are expected to grow in the future along with the growth of high end mental jobs.

Impact of all immigrant workers on American workforce

Share of new jobs 2002 – 2012 to be filled by an immigrant: one out of eight

Size of illegal workforce

Illegal workers in U.S. as of early 2006: about 7.3 million

Illegal workers as % of total U.S. workforce: 4.9%

Illegal workers as % of total U.S. workforce in jobs requiring less than high school degree and without strict documentation requirements: 9/7%

Where do illegal workers work?

Per the Pew Hispanic Center:

Some 55-60% of these undocumented workers are in formal employment and are paying social security taxes

About 3 million of the 7.2 million illegal workers are in occupations in which undocumented workers account for at least 15% of total employment in that occupation. These include construction labor (25%), cooks (20%). Maids and housecleaners (22%), and grounds maintenance (25%). among roofers, 29% of the total workforce is estimated to be undocumented workers.

One half of undocumented working men here are single. But a phenomenal 94% of undocumented men work compared to 83% for native Americans.

Economic impact of illegal population in U.S.

A Texas study says that illegal household payments of consumer and property taxes (via rent or home ownership) exceeds by about 30% the taxpayer burden for education, healthcare, and incarceration.

Do illegal workers displace American workers?

Some say yes, others say no.

It appears that illegal worker compensation is about 30% below what it would be with 100% worker protections afforded to Americans. Go here for a case study.

Waves of Hispanic work immigration since 1980s

1980s: agricultural workers, mostly on farms
1990s: meat processing workers, mostly in rural; towns
2000s: urban work including residential construction: in cities and suburbs

Employment of Indians in the U.S.

They own 20,000 hotels, or 50% of all economy hotels in the U.S.
There are 40,000 Indian physicians in the U.S, or about 4% of all doctors

Role of foreign born entrepreneurs in the U.S.

They are involved in one quarter of all technology start-ups.

Is there a nursing shortage?


Percentage of Philippine nurses working outside the Philippines


Foreign nurses in the U.S.

300,000, or about 11% of all nurses.

Mexican population in U.S.

Percentage of Mexican workforce that is working in the U.S.


Remittances from Mexicans in U.S. to Mexico

$25 billion in 2006

Total remittances from all parts of world to Latin America

$54 billion in 2005

Number of community-based immigrant worker centers

upwards of 200

Foreign day laborers in the U.S.

Estimated number on any particular day:

117,600 at 500 sites in the U.S.

Percentage who speak English very well:


February 5, 2007

2/5/07 update on Swift raid

The Washington Post ran this article quoting the president of Swift as saying the raids were for show.

Meatpacker: Immigration Raids Were Show
The Associated Press, February 2, 2007

Greeley, CO (AP) -- The head of meatpacker Swift & Co. said federal officials wanted a high-profile example of an immigration crackdown when they staged raids at its plants in six states in an identity theft investigation late last year.

President and CEO Sam Rovit said the government rejected the company's offer to help in the investigation months before the Dec. 12 raids.

'They were looking for a marquee to show the administration it was tough on immigration,' he told the Greeley Tribune for a story published Friday.

Rovit denied knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and told the newspaper his company complied with federal hiring practices to check applicants' immigration status.

Rovit and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages from The Associated Press Friday.

ICE arrested 1,282 workers during raids in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota. Of those, 246 now face state or federal identity theft charges and the rest face immigration charges.

Greeley-based Swift says it is the world's second-largest processor of fresh beef and pork, and employs about 20,000 people, including about 15,000 in the U.S.

January 29, 2007

SEIU on immigration reform

Without comment, a letter from SEUI's International Executive Vice President to Senator Kennedy of immigration reform.

January 17, 200

SEIU Announces Agenda for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
January 16, 2007

Dear Senator Kennedy:

As you know, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has long been an advocate of comprehensive immigration reform. We have worked diligently with you, your Senate colleagues, and your staff to craft the best immigration reform proposals that would fix our broken system. SEIU is willing to consider any fair, practical and tough proposal that will bring out of the shadows an estimated 12 million undocumented individuals, reunite families, secure our borders and create a legal channel for new workers to enter our economy, have workplace protections, and join our civic society.

This architecture is essential to fix our broken borders, workplaces and families. However, many of the provisions in the Senate bill that passed during the 109th Congress, S. 2611, failed to reflect our principles, and fortunately died. Last November, voters sent a strong message to elected leaders that Americans want Congress to fix our nation’s problems, including our failed immigration system. Candidates who ran on anti-immigrant, anti-immigration, and enforcement-only messages lost their races because voters saw through the political rhetoric, not solving the problem. Voters know that deporting 12 million individuals is unrealistic and morally repugnant.

Looking ahead, we anticipate working with you in the 110th Congress to pass a workable, effective comprehensive immigration reform package the President can sign. While imperfect, S. 2611 included the architecture of comprehensive immigration reform: border security; earned legalization for the undocumented population currently living in the United States; family unification; and a mechanism to regularize the flow of workers to reduce future illegal immigration. The Senate-passed bill also included two important measures SEIU has long supported: AgJOBS that would put undocumented farm workers on a path to earned legal status; and the DREAM Act that allows eligible undocumented students to adjust their status and have the opportunity to pursue higher education. Your continued leadership is critical to ensuring that such bi-partisan comprehensive legislation passes both the House and Senate.

As you know, SEIU represents workers who perform some of our most needed, yet under valued work that is essential to our economy, families and communities. Hard working, tax-paying immigrants who are living in this country should be given every opportunity to come forward, pay a fine, and earn legal status and a path toward citizenship. This will enhance border security and buttress our economy. To this end, we are committed to the following provisions being included in this year’s comprehensive immigration reform legislation:

Legalization - The three-tiered legalization provisions included in S. 2611 are unacceptable and unworkable. Successful reform mandates the most expansive earned legalization provisions that would make eligible the largest number of undocumented persons. Congress should not be satisfied with a program that would legalize an estimated 6 to 8 million, when an estimated 11 to12 million individuals are undocumented and living within our borders. We must face reality that long-term undocumented, but otherwise law-abiding workers will not leave the country voluntarily.

Continue reading "SEIU on immigration reform" »

January 24, 2007

What President Bush said about immigration reform

President Bush on immigration reform in the 2007 State of the Union address, presented without comment:

Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America, with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country.

To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol, and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet, even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border. And that requires a temporary worker program.

We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in.

And that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists.

We will enforce our immigration laws at the worksite, and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers so there is no excuse left for violating the law.

We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country, without animosity and without amnesty.

Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate so that you can pass -- and I can sign -- comprehensive immigration reform into law.

January 20, 2007

Income tax and social security tax payments of illegal immigrants - a legal analysis

I located an article in the Harvard Latino Law Review analyzing the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants

Francine Lipman, The Taxation of undocumented immigrants: separate, unequal and without representation published in October, 2006. The article focuses in-depth on income tax and social security tax issues, and is heavily annotated. I found the article in the reports section of the website for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, or

January 17, 2007

Case study of employment results of a large ICE raid on a poultry plant

The Wall Street Journal ran an informative article today on the effect of a major ICE raid upon employer – employee relations. Evan Pérez and Corey Dade wrote the article. I posted on the raid of Crider Inc., a Stillmore, GA, poultry plant in May, 2006. The WSJ article describes the before and after:

BEFORE: employees mostly Hispanic. Workers provided company housing. Black employment since late 1990s had declined from 70% to 16%. High productivity, poor benefits and working conditions, and few employee complaints. Wages barely above minimum wage. Parking lot wage payments, in which checks were issued and immediately cashed by the employee, preventing any record of employment history. I infer that worker savings probably sent to Mexico.

AFTER: Wages increased 30% - 50%. Workforce is 65% black, 30% white, 5% Hispanic. Workers provided company housing. Much of workforce converted to independent recruiting contractor status and/or engaged through employee hiring firm. Productivity sags 10%. More complaints about worker health and safety. Labor shortages. Company searches across U.S. for people willing to work, such as Hmong migrant workers. I infer that worker savings now put into local housing, cars.

NATIONALLY, WHAT A GUEST WORKER PROGRAM WOULD DO: Boost wages by at least 30%. Prohibit independent contractor abuses. Better health and safety. Remove vulnerability of Hispanic workers to fear of deportation. Worker shortages. More investment in technology to reduce workforces.

Excerpts from the article, with some notes by me:

Continue reading "Case study of employment results of a large ICE raid on a poultry plant" »

January 16, 2007

Shortages of farm labor hit Florida, California. Are they due to immigration enforcement?

In Florida, H-2A farm guest worker program is increasingly used to solve labor shortages on farms. In California, after a catastrophic pear season last year, farmers are ernest about getting a broad guest worker program into place. The increased demand may be due to stricter enforcement against illegal workers. In any event, H2A use is up 500% in Florida.

In Florida:

Florida growers and farmworker advocates say that the number of guest workers being employed picking Sunshine State crops is up 500 percent. Last year, there were about 1,000 guest workers legally in the United States under the federal program -- referred to as H2A -- with about 16 employers applying for workers.

In 2006, that ballooned to about 5,000 with more than 70 employers applying, says Greg Schell, a Lake Worth labor attorney and farm worker advocate. The unresolved immigration debate is likely to force even more employers to tap the H2A program, under which a guest worker visa is good for 364 days.

President Bush has been pushing for an extensive revamping of immigration law. He wants a guest worker program and the possibility of eventual citizenship for many illegal immigrants already in the country. In the past, H2A has not been broadly used by Florida growers because of its costly and complicated nature. Exactly who is going to be paying the additional costs of the program for farmers in unclear, but, all things being equal, growers are likely to pass the cost along to consumers.

Spencer said that labor was the primary obstacle to getting his crops to grocery store aisles during the past year. The shortage was unprecedented for an industry that relies so heavily on Latino immigrant workers. There has also been a drastic increase in the number of H2B workers. It is a sister program open to industries other than agriculture that tops out at a set number of issued work visas. The measure has been used in the past in landscaping, manufacturing and construction.

In California:

Growers say aggressive security patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border have created a labor shortage that's left apples hanging on trees in Washington state, marred berry harvests in Oregon and delayed the onion harvest in Texas. The American Farm Bureau Federation has warned labor shortages could cause $5 billion in losses to the agriculture industry.

The economic threat is particularly acute in the nation's top agricultural state where more than one-third of the nation's farmworkers are employed, California farmers say. Last summer, a quarter of the pear crop in rural Lake County rotted on the field when pickers never showed up, said Toni Scully, a pear packer there.

"Throughout the summer, farmers were cobbling together workers to meet their immediate needs," said Jack King, national public affairs manager for the California Farm Bureau Federation. "When we failed to push something through last year, we vowed we'd be back."

January 7, 2007

Major problems in immigration and future guest work info systems

A Washington Post article reports on an inspector general audit of Citizenship and Immigrant Service computer system weaknesses. These weaknesses are contributing to huge backlogs now for legal applications. It sounds like a guest worker program with amnesty will crush the system.

Per the article:

As the White House and Congress prepare to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, U.S. officials have concluded that they lack the technology and resources to handle the millions of applications for legal residency that could result from the changes and that several efforts to modernize computers have gone astray.
A report released Dec. 20 by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner cited a long list of setbacks and concurred with internal USCIS reviews that the bureau "lacks the processing capacity, systems integration and project management resources needed to manage a potential increase in workloads." A project to replace the nationwide computer network has been halted because the agency lacks $72 million to complete it. A staff reorganization was frozen because of deficiencies "that hinder day-to-day IT operations," according to the report.

A quote from the audit itself:

Our September 2005 report discussed inefficiencies in USCIS’ IT environment that hindered its ability to carry out its immigration benefits processing mission successfully. Specifically, USCIS’ processes were largely manual, paper-based, and duplicative, resulting in an ineffective use of human and financial resources to ship, store, and track immigration files. Adjudicators used multiple and non-integrated IT systems to perform their jobs, which has reduced productivity and data integrity. IT software and hardware systems also were not well configured to meet users needs.
Further, although federal guidelines require effective planning and management of IT to increase efficiency of business operations, USCIS has not had a focused approach for updating its legacy systems and manual workflow practices. Rather, IT planning and implementation were conducted in a reactive and decentralized manner across the organization. Additionally, USCIS relied on personnel rather than technology to meet its backlog reduction goals.

The article in full:

Continue reading "Major problems in immigration and future guest work info systems" »

January 4, 2007

“Open Doors Wider for Skilled Immigrants”

A columnist commented on the new study of immigrant entrepreneurs in high tech, which I posted on below, and referred to his and others’ study of this matter over the years. He concludes: “My view: Let's build really high [immigration] fences, but have big gates. Let's be very selective in whom we admit, but open the doors to as many as we need.”

Skilled immigrants provide one of the U.S.'s greatest strengths. They contribute to the economy, create jobs, and lead innovation. A new study I helped lead at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, where I am an executive-in-residence, shows they are fueling the creation of hi-tech business across our nation and creating a wealth of intellectual property. To keep our global competitive edge, we need to attract more of the world's best and brightest. And we need them to come here and put down deep roots

Vivek Wadhwa, the founder of two software companies, is an Executive-in-Residence/Adjunct Professor at Duke University. He is also the co-founder of TiE Carolinas, a networking and mentoring group.

December 31, 2006

Capitol Hill analysis of immigration reform prospects for 2007

Rachel Swarns of the New York Times reviews the variables for immigration reform in early 2007:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 — Counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring.

The Senate plans to introduce its immigration bill next month with an eye toward passage in March or April, officials said. The House is expected to consider its version later. President Bush said last week that he hoped to sign an immigration bill next year.

The major lawmakers drafting the legislation include Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, along with Representatives Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, and Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois. The four met this month, and their staffs have begun working on a bill.

Hispanic voters, a swing constituency that Republicans covet, abandoned the party in large numbers. Several Republican hardliners, including Representatives John Hostettler of Indiana and J. D. Hayworth of Arizona, lost their seats. After the dismal showing, House Republicans denied F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the departing chairman of the Judiciary Committee and an architect of the House immigration approach, a senior position on any major committee in the new Congress.

Continue reading "Capitol Hill analysis of immigration reform prospects for 2007" »

December 26, 2006

DREAM Act proposal: citizenship through military service

What is the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act? This proposed federal legislation will incent immigrants, legal and illegal, to enroll in the U.S. military. Simply stated, “Immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S., graduated from high school here, and can demonstrate good moral character would initially qualify for "conditional lawful permanent resident" status, which would normally last for six years. During the conditional period, the immigrant would be required to go to college, join the military, or work a significant number of hours of community service. At the end of the conditional period, those who meet at least one of these requirements would be eligible for regular lawful permanent resident status.” (From here.)

I have posted before on legal immigrant enrollment in the military. A summary of the legislation (as of April 2006), analysis, list of supporters, etc., is found at The National Immigration Law Center.

Max Boot, of the Council of Foreign Relations, has the most articulate advocate of such a program, such as in this
2005 op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times. He would open up the program for all foreigners:

The DREAM Act is a great idea, but I would go further and offer citizenship to anyone, anywhere on the planet, willing to serve a set term in the U.S. military. We could model a Freedom Legion after the French Foreign Legion. Or we could allow foreigners to join regular units after a period of English-language instruction, if necessary…..

In the past, the U.S. military had many more foreigners than we do today. (During the Civil War, at least 20% were immigrants. Now it's 7%.) The British army, among many others, has also made good use of noncitizens. Nepalese Gurkhas still fight and die for the Union Jack despite not being "culturally bonded" to it. No doubt they would do the same for the Stars and Stripes.

December 18, 2006

NY Times editorial on Swift Company raids

Today, 12/18. Here it is:

December 18, 2006
Swift Raids

When federal immigration officials raided six plants owned by Swift & Company, the world’s second largest beef and pork processor, last Tuesday, they brought Spanish translators. They knew exactly what kind of worker is found in low-paying, strenuous jobs in this country: recent Latino arrivals with limited skills and, in many cases, no legal papers. Nearly 1,300 people — almost 10 percent of Swift’s work force — were taken away in what the government said was the largest but not the last assault on the underground immigrant economy.

The raids have led some people to heap scorn on Swift and, of course, on the illegal immigrants, particularly the dozens of detainees who have been charged with identity theft and other crimes. But doing so misses the bigger picture. Swift and its workers are merely Exhibit A in an immigration system that is failing in all of its parts.

It is a system that rewards illegality and pays lip service to lawfulness and order.

Continue reading "NY Times editorial on Swift Company raids" »

December 14, 2006

Things are heating up for a reform bill

Two items: the possible fallout from ICE raids of meat processing plants, and a comment on my posting of a Wall Street Journal story about immigrant workers on Hilton Head Island. In my view, the ICE raids, as reported in the Los Angeles Times and commented on in the Seattle Times, will have a net effect of spurring a reform bill. An anti-reform advocate has it right: these kinds of raids provide a kind of cover for White House / Congress collaboration on a reform bill. (It should be clear that I strongly favor a bill with a good guest worker program in it).

But this is more than just about immigration workers: it has to do with low wage workers. As commentor James Albers notes, employer abuses to lower its costs of doing business adversely impacts legal and illegal workers. We have here not a 7.5 million worker problem (the number of illegal workers) but more like a 30 million worker problem, exacerbated by exploitation of illegal labor.

James Albers' comment:

Some observations. First, any contractor can gain a competitive advantage by not complying with required labor standards, be they workers' comp, social security, or health and safety compliance. This is not exclusively an 'illegal' worker problem, though it may be exacerbated (i.e., more exploited) when workers don't have legal status. Second, Mr. Hairston comments regarding his assuming the "moral and ethical high ground" with his proposed ordinance are hollow. He didn't have a problem subcontracting work to undocumented workers as long as he could sit back and make an easy profit paying just 25% of the contract. (Guess he needed more time to enjoy the 'luxury' home he built.)

I don't believe this type of cut-throat competition is desirable, as it can lead to a dilution of labor standards. However, hiring workers' "off the books" is pervasive in certain types of construction work, especially small residential and remodeling projects. Illegally designating workers as 'idependent contractors' is another way builders and contractors reduce their costs and gain a competitve advantage. In general, there should be stronger enforcement of labor standards that reduce the opportunities for contractors to dilute standards to reap a competitive advantage. But it's not fair to characterize this problem as an 'illegal' worker issue.


December 3, 2006

MA Governor Romney’s foot caught in illegal worker raccoon trap

Last Spring his Lt Governor, Kathleeen Marie Antoinette Healey, opined that if the children of illegal households wanted to go to college, they should just pony up the money to enroll in Wellesley or another private college rather than ask for in-state tuition rates at the U. of Massachusetts. A few weeks ago, her gubernatorial campaign flat as a dime, she darkly warned against giving illegal workers driver licenses because they might “get onto airplanes”. Now the outgoing prexy-aspiring / business whiz Mitt Romney found himself on the front page of the Boston Globe with evidence that he was using using illegal workers to work on his house. He issued an immediate see-no-evil reply. According to today’s Globe, he is dressing up the State Troopers, the guys with the funny hats, to chase after illegals:

“Troopers can detain people they determine are illegal immigrants during regular police duties….This authority will be given to two dozen or three dozen troopers who undergo 4 1/2 weeks of training in immigration laws, civil rights, and ways to avoid racial profiling, he said. The troopers will probably be members of special units that pursue violent fugitives or combat street gangs.”

See below for the text of “Troopers can arrest illegal immigrants in Romney deal, Critics warn of profiling, police mistrust”

Continue reading "MA Governor Romney’s foot caught in illegal worker raccoon trap" »

December 1, 2006

Key Democrat tells Homeland Security to back off on new rules about employment of illegal workers

Since June the Bush Administration has sought to beef up surveillance of corporate hiring of illegal workers through more active use of “no match” findings for employee social security numbers. Homeland Security has just issued proposed regulations for a more aggressive approach. And, according to an article in the Washington Times, the Democratic Congressman due to chair the key House committee is yelling about it.

A Mississippi Democrat in line to become chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has warned the nation's largest uniform supplier it faces criminal charges if it follows a White House proposal to recheck workers with mismatched Social Security numbers and fire those who cannot resolve the discrepancy in 60 days.

Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a letter to Cintas Corp. it could be charged with 'illegal activities in violation of state and federal law' if any of its 32,000 employees are terminated because they gave incorrect Social Security numbers to be hired. Cintas has issued letters to 400 employees in five states telling them they will be indefinitely suspended if they cannot resolve their mismatched Social Security number within 60 days.

As reported in the New Standard on 11/9,

Four years ago, Temple University researchers studied a pilot project that lets companies use databases from Homeland Security and the SSA to verify employment status. Those databases were found to reject one of every five properly documented applicants.

Continue reading "Key Democrat tells Homeland Security to back off on new rules about employment of illegal workers" »

November 28, 2006

Two reservations about an immigration reform bill

Darrell Schapmire sent in a comment from which I have extracted a few passages and am placing here. He has some serious reservations about an immigration reform bill. I have placed below two of his concerns. I think that advocates of immigration reform along the lines of the Senate bill – of which I am in favor – need to address his concerns.

Schapmire says that “the sinkhole” nature of the low wage labor market in the United States will result in debasement and erosion of any immigration controls Washington legislates.

We are also ignoring the sinkhole nature of the demand for cheap labor. This, to me, is the great sucker punch for the American public. Twenty years before Simpson-Mazzoli, we had similar legislation passed in Congress for a small number of immigrants. The law passed in 1986 was supposed to eliminate the problem of illegal immigration and the problems that go along with it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I would predict that when the current group of illegals is given amnesty, businesses will not only hire----but in many cases actively recruit----more illegal workers because they are "cheaper." We need to understand that business demand for "cheap labor" is insatiable. We also need to understand that there is no limit to the number of people who would come here, given the opportunity.

Comment: to avoid this scenario this time around, I believe the following must happen. First, labor protections for workers/employers in guest worker status and enforcement against workers/employers in illegal status need to be clearly superior to the status quo of today, in order that these measures sharply discourage both the supply and demand for illegal workers.

It will take five to ten years to get the protection and enforcement measures right, perhaps capped by Supreme Court decisions over the constitutionality of mandatory identity cards. In the past under Presidents Johnson and Reagan, the immigration reforms were sold to the public on the cheap. Border fences alone, and uniform driver licenses alone, are ideas coming from the let’s fix this cheap mindset.

Schapmire’s other concern I want to highlight deals with lack of commitment to an American way of life:

Beyond all of these it is disturbing to me that the current debate on immigration has simply centered around the economic and security aspects. These issues are, most assuredly, vital to our future. But this debate ignores one central fact: the perpetuation of our democratic republic does not depend so much on having a ready supply of workers as its existence depends on having a citizenry that is committed to our way of life. We need new residents to have not only their stomachs, but also their hearts and minds, fully invested in being Americans first. I am not personally satisfied that this is the case with some many of the people now coming to this country as illegal workers. I need only see pictures of tens of thousands of people demanding rights in the streets while waving the flags of another country.

Only 3% of Hispanic day laborers say they speak English very well. Given the vast transborder traffic in labor and jobs today, it is not clear to me if Schampire’s concerns about a immigrant working family commitment to an American way of life is translatable into a clear litmus test of commitment vs. lack of commitment.

The glue holding American society together is composed of (1) widely shared, core expectation that one’s way of life can improve, (2) access to educational resources, (3) mobility in the job market, and (4) skepticism towards ideologies. If these conditions hold, severe social isolation of groups cannot persist. I am not concerned if large numbers of Americans feel in their bones that they remain true to Mexico, Ukraine, or Laos.

November 13, 2006

Senate Bill 2612: Guest worker provisions

Following on my last posting which summarized provisions for currentl illegal workers in the Senate immigration reform bill, I look today at the guest workers provisions. My personal comments are under "PFR"

Title IV Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Reforms

H-2C visa program for “up to 200,000 workers annually. (Originally the language called for 350,000 visas annually, which is the approximate number of new illegal working immigrants per year). This program provides a path towards legal permanent residence.

PFR: I bet that the 200,000 worker cap will be relaxed.

The bill establishes worker protections for the worker, including the same benefits and working conditions as similarly situated workers, workers’ compensation insurance, a provision that no H-2C worker may be treated as an independent contractor, whistleblower safeguards, and other protections.

PFR: This provision has implications going far beyond guest workers. The independent contractor prohibition means that guest workers will have privileged status over Americans, because many workers – such as FedEx drivers, are independent contractors.

Employers must petition for approval to hire H-2C workers, certifying that American workers are not available at prevailing wages.

The federal government can deny an application from an employer if (1) the work is not agricultural AND (2) the unemployment rate of non-high school graduates in the metropolitan area location of the work has an unemployment rate of at least 9%. This provision is somewhat disingenuous because the problem for this workforce not fully reflected in the unemployment rate – many of these individuals, especially blacks, have withdrawn from the job market.

Prior illegal status can be overlooked “for prior conduct” and be eligible for H-2C Status.

November 12, 2006

Senate Bill 2612: rights of current illegal workers

Immigration reform with a guest worker program may come up early next year in Congress. Let's look at what the Senate bill from this Spring says. Below is a summary of Title VI in Senate 2612, the bill passed by the Senate but stalled due to the House’s draconian, enforcement only bill. This title deals with the rights of current illegal workers. Where I comment, I start with “PFR”.

The National Immigration Forum is the source of this analysis.

There are 7.5 million illegal workers in the U.S, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Roughly 5 million of these workers have been here for at least five years. They are allowed to stay so long as they meet the requirements for the 5 year plus workers below. Roughly 1 million have been here between two and five years. They can stay per the rules below. That leaves 1.5 million workers who are out of luck. All these figures are really soft.

Title VI Work authorization and legalization of undocumented individuals

For those in the U.S. for more than five years:

They had to have worked for at least three years during the five year period. The applicant must speak English. And, they need to pay $2,000, plus a $750 “state impact fee”, for a total of $2,750, “in addition to application fees.”

The bill’s language creates a path for these individuals to gain permanent residence status.

PFR: The 3 out of 5 years requirement will not be a problem for men, who have an employment rate estimated to be over 90%, For Hispanic women with children, the employment rate is estimated at below 60%; however, spouses and children of the principal applicant are OK.

For those in the U.S. under five years but more than two years:

These people will come under a new Deferred Mandatory Departure (DMD) status. They had to have been in the U.S. and working before 1/7/06 (this date will obviously be adjusted forward). They must pay $1,000 per application plus $500 for each spouse and child, and the applicant must also pay a $750 state impact fee. The application must be filed within six months of the first day on which the application form is made available (there appears to be no such timeliness standards for the over five year applicant).

The awardee will be able to work in the U.S. for three years. There is no clear path for these individuals to gain permanent residence status.

For those who entered the U.S. after 1/7/06:

On the face of it, these individuals must leave the U.S. However, they can apply for the AgJobs provision, which creates and agricultural worker program that includes earned legalization for undocumented farm workers. They can also apply for H-2C status (which I will describe in the next day or two).

PFR: I have posted on AgJobs before. This is a major concern of Californian farmers: they need the workers.

The dog that didn’t bark: failure of anti-immigration as a campaign position

Immigration reform with a guest worker program is on track for being one of the most important issues in 2007 -- in part because the anti-immigration candidates were beaten, across the country.

The National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration organization, analyzed the elections results where a Senate, House or gubernatorial candidate voiced anti-immigration positions. Its assessment: “First and foremost, [the electorate] defied the pre-election conventional wisdom that had immigration emerging as the wedge issue that would help the Republicans either limit their losses or even retain control of the House of Representatives. Candidates that backed broad and practical reforms performed much better than candidates who espoused a hard enforcement-only or enforcement-first position.”

Perhaps the sentinel event was the defeat of a strenuously ani-immigration candidate in AZ. “In Arizona-8 Republican Randy Graf lost to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords by 54% - 42%. This was a closely watched race for a toss up district along the U.S.-Mexico border in a state in which immigration is the number one issue. Graf made the prophetic statement, "If this issue can't be won in this district [by hard-liners], the argument can be made that it can't be won anywhere in the country."

Further xcerpts from the Forum’s analysis…

Continue reading "The dog that didn’t bark: failure of anti-immigration as a campaign position" »

November 8, 2006

Electoral result: We'll enact a guest worker program next year

1. The House is now run by people who want it. 2. The Senate, whichever way it goes (it is 5 AM on 11/8) is even more liking it, and 3. Bush wants it. But especially, the Dems want it to court the Hispanic vote in 2008. Count on it happening next year.

November 1, 2006

Immigration reform - for 2007?

President Bush and a Congress controlled in part or whole by Democrats will most likely collaborate in passing a liberal immigration reform package, with a guest workers program.

Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute writes in the Nov-Dec issue of Foreign Affairss, sizing up the case for immigration reform that is basically pro-immigration. I have excerpted from his article,.

Here is his summary

The United States is far less divided on immigration than the current debate would suggest. An overwhelming majority of Americans want a combination of tougher enforcement and earned citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. Washington's challenge is to translate this consensus into sound legislation that will start to repair the nation's broken immigration system.

Continue reading "Immigration reform - for 2007?" »

October 31, 2006

Arizona, microcosm of views on immigration: candidates positions

The Christian Science Monitor ran an extensive report on how the immigration issue is playing out among Nov. 7 political; candidates. Bottom line: immigration is a big issue, but cutting both ways. Read this about polling results:

"Our surveys show that immigration is the most important issue for likely voters in this state," says Fred Solop, a political scientist at Northern Arizona University and director of the Social Research Laboratory there. But voters aren't distinguishing between competing proposals, he adds: "They just want something to be done."

And read this from the Chamber of Commerce

"Arizona is a microcosm of the nation when it comes to views on this issue. We're ground zero for the debate," says Farrell Quinlan, a spokesman for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce in Phoenix. "Our economy is growing, and a lot of industries have grown to rely on that source of labor."

And this dose of reality:

In peak migration season, more than 8,000 immigrants cross from Mexico into Arizona every day, according to the National Border Patrol Council. Many find jobs in the state's booming construction, tourism, and farm industries. But the surge in newcomers exacts a heavy toll on schools, hospitals, and law enforcement, as well as on the migrants themselves, who in summer months perish by the scores in Arizona's harsh border regions.

The article goes on….

The state's all-Republican congressional delegation - some of whom are in unexpectedly close contests for reelection - is deeply divided on the immigration issue. Sharing [retiring Republican Representative [Randy] Kolbe's [moderate] view are Rep. Jeff Flake, in the upscale Phoenix suburb of Mesa, and the very popular Sen. John McCain. They'd like to see an approach to immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for some of the 12 million people now in the US illegally.

On the other side are Graf and Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who represents the also-upscale Fifth Congressional District in Scottsdale. They say their colleagues' plan amounts to amnesty for illegal immigrants and would reward people for breaking the law. The nation must secure its borders first, they say. Then there's Sen. Jon Kyl, up for reelection this year, who favors expanding a guestworker program but who would also require undocumented workers to leave the US before applying for citizenship.

Senator McCain's approach is to put party loyalty ahead of immigration differences. He has endorsed both Graf and Representative Hayworth, rather than candidates whose views on immigration are closer to his own. He is also stumping for Senator Kyl.

Arizona, a microcosm of views on immigration – the ballot questions

The East Valley Tribune, A Pheonix area newspaper, gave a run-down on the immigration related ballot issues for Nov.7. Republican legislatures passed bills “ranging from tough sanctions on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers to giving law enforcement agencies the authority to arrest illegal immigrants under state trespassing laws.” Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed them all.

Here are the four ballot questions:

Proposition 103 would declare English as the official language and prohibit some government agencies from conducting official business in other languages. The concept isn’t new to the state; Napolitano rejected a similar measure in 2005.

And in 1988, voters approved a measure declaring English the state’s official language. But it was ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Arizona Supreme Court because it was too broad and would have prevented elected officials from communicating with voters in another language.

Proposition 300 would prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving in-state college tuition, state-subsidized child care and adult education services, such as English classes.

If Proposition 102 passes, it would amend the state constitution to prevent illegal immigrants from being awarded punitive damages in court.

Voters also will have to decide if illegal immigrants arrested on a felony charge deserve the right to be released on bail.

October 10, 2006

I'll bet the fence is never built

Here's why:

1. Building it creates mighty bad eminent domain problems.

2. It is disliked by many border area Americans who depend on Mexican labor crossing over daily.

3. The Hispanics middle class is ever bigger, ever richer, and more politically vocal. (The number of Hispanics earning over $100,000 grew by 64% between 2000 and 2005, compared with 40% for all other groups on average.)

October 3, 2006

Ten top migration issues of 2005

According to Migration Information Source, several of the “top ten migration issues" of last year were related to U.S. immigration in general and working immigrants in particular.

The most relevant ones were:

US Immigration Reform Moves Forward
This year, members of Congress have sponsored numerous reform proposals that have pushed the debate forward and generated significant media coverage.

Temporary Work Programs Back in Fashion
The legacy of guest-worker programs has kept most Western countries from considering new schemes even when faced with low-skill labor shortages. But those attitudes began to shift in 2005.

Remittances Reach New Heights
In 2005, research into the size of remittances and their role as a development tool reached a new peak.

Growing Competition for Skilled Workers (and Foreign Students)
The intensifying competition for professionals such as doctors, nurses, and IT workers, as well as foreign university students, was on the minds of media pundits and policymakers this year.

Others were:

Challenges of Immigrant Integration: Muslims in Europe
Only recently have European politicians and public opinion leaders talked about the need to focus on the integration of immigrants and their children.

Linking Security and Immigration Controls: The Post-9/11 US Model Goes Global
Since 9/11, the United States has helped push its border inspection and security agenda and a focus on biometric solutions onto the agendas of other countries.

EU Disunion: Immigration in an Enlarged Europe
Only the UK, Ireland, and Sweden have allowed accession-state nationals to work without permits since May 1, 2004 — and hundreds of thousands from Eastern Europe have arrived.

September 23, 2006

Canada’s use of skills based point system for immigration: do we need it?

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held hearings on September 14 to explore the merits of skills based point system for managing much of permanent immigration. Canada has been using such a system for years. Here is what I gleaned from a presentation by Queen's University professor Charles M. Beach.

Beach said that Canada has “the highest per capita immigration rate in the world” – about 225,000 persons per years out of a population of 30 million. Our legal permanent immigration is somewhat under a million a year; Canada’s rate is over double of ours.

Canada has three immigration tracks: economic, family, and humanitarian (mainly refugees). The economic track has grown relatively to the others as Canada’s immigration rate has grown from the 1980s. The economic category accounted for 35% of immigrants in 1980, but 59% in 2000.

The country’s Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has considerable legal latitude to set target levels and make changes to the skills base system.

This system was introduced in 1967. Originally it was focused in part on trying to target immigration to meet periodic labor gaps, but that approach being cumbersome was abandoned towards a more generic skills scoring protocol. It had an effect: changes early in the 1990s led to a large increase in the rate of higher educated immigrants. The strategy: don’t fill labor shortages, but foster labor productivity and growth.

Since the mid 1990s, three factors in the scoring system dominant: education, age and French/English fluency. Maximum points for these categories respectively are a four year university degree, 21 - 49 age range, and fluency in both languages. If you get these maximum points you earn 59 of the 70 out of a 100 points you need for acceptance. Of these factors, education carries the greatest weight.

Douglas S. Massey of Princeton University also testified. I have posted on him before and find his a voice of reason. Massey noted that employment based immigration is about 20% of total American immigration. We gave much more weight to family affiliations. Canada and Australia have more employment-focused immigration policies needed to compete with the United States. We don’t need such a system. “In the long run, the primary source of America’s stock of skills, talents and education must come from investments made init sown human capital” – through education, training and research. Immigration to Massey is a “poor substitute” for investments in education and training. Massey also noted that many immigrants have problems earning enough, and that the highest educated immigrants are not necessarily the happiest. Massey recommended, in effect, an approach which balances employment focused immigration policy with one of family integration and fuller implementation of the population aspects of NAFTA.

September 22, 2006

How an ICE raid crippled a rural Georgia town

The New York Times carried an AP story of the economic and social impact of an ICE raid in a poultry plant in a small town in southeast Georgia. “This Georgia community of about 1,000 people has become little more than a ghost town since Sept. 1, when federal agents began rounding up illegal immigrants. The sweep has had the unintended effect of underscoring just how vital the illegal immigrants were to the local economy.”

More than 120 illegal immigrants have been loaded onto buses bound for immigration courts in Atlanta, 189 miles away. Hundreds more fled Emanuel County. Residents say many scattered into the woods, camping out for days. They worry some are still hiding without food. Last month, the federal government reported that Georgia had the fastest-growing illegal immigrant population in the country. The number more than doubled from an estimated 220,000 in 2000 to 470,000 last year.

My posting with Pew Hispanic data says that in early 2005 there were about 165,000 illegal immigrant workers in the state. Assuming a 65% workforce rate, 470,000 might be a stretch. OK, and so…

Since the mid-1990s, Stillmore has grown dependent on the paychecks of Mexican workers who originally came for seasonal farm labor, picking the area's famous Vidalia onions. Many then took year-round jobs at the Crider plant, with a workforce of about 900. Crider President David Purtle said the agents began inspecting the company's employment records in May. They found 700 suspected illegal immigrants, and supervisors handed out letters over the summer ordering them to prove they came to the U.S. legally or be fired. Only about 100 kept their jobs.

So it was the 100 remaining who were effectively targeted.

The poultry plant has limped along with half its normal workforce. Crider increased its starting wages by $1 an hour to help recruit new workers.

September 5, 2006

House Republicans to stop beating the immigration reform drum

This, as reported through several media in particular the New York Times, is pleasant to hear, at the very least. I suspect that the decision was made on the basis that House Republicans and Senate Republicans were at odds over immigration reform, and that the get-tough House approach ran counter to the White House's view.

August 15, 2006

Why the Basic Pilot program is a failure

Earlier this month, James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., a scholar at the Heritage Foundation, took apart the basic Pilot Program, created in 1996, as an ineffective tool to confirm legal status of workers. He proposed instead that Homeland Security be given access to IRS taxpayer files, which he says will nab employers that persistently hire illegals because it will more accurately determine fake and borrowed social security numbers. I am posting here to address the critique of the Basic Pilot Program.

The program works voluntarily by employers setting up an account with the Social Security Administration. The employer enters online the SSN number a new employee has given it. If the feds come back with a report of no match, then the employers needs to either get better proof from the worker or fire the worker.

The author notes that 10% of all submissions create mismatches. I contend that any verification program—whether to catch illegal workers, catch student truancy or confirm theater reservations – with an exception rate of 10% and is shot full of ambivalent motivations will never succeed on a big scale.

He contends:

Essentially, Basic Pilot could not and cannot identify imposters or stop unauthorized workers from creating false documentation, nor can it hinder employers from illegally hiring unauthorized workers.
Basic Pilot does not address the prin­cipal means illegal workers use to get jobs. There are many ways an undocumented worker can get around the issue of work authorization. These include:

* using fraudulent documents;
* using information that belongs to another, thereby committing identity theft; and
* being hired by an employer who does not follow the law.

Basic Pilot did not prove efficient at eliminating any of these. Basic Pilot cannot stop undocumented workers from falsifying information or using some­one else’s information, thereby disallowing those legitimate workers whose information was stolen the authorization to work.

The report in full:

Continue reading "Why the Basic Pilot program is a failure" »

July 31, 2006

More aggressive enforcement by ICE re: employers

The NY Times is reporting a sharp increase in enforcement activity directed at employerts for hiring illegal workers. “While the old immigration agency brought 25 criminal charges against employers in 2002, this year Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already made 445 criminal arrests of employers, officials said. Some 2,700 immigrant workers were caught up in those operations, and most were deported, the officials said."

Hiring illegal immigrants “has been a low-risk, high-reward enterprise,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, the agency’s special agent in charge for Ohio and Michigan. “We want to send the message that your cost of business just went up because you risk your livelihood, your corporate reputation and your personal freedom.”

The article deals largely with arrests made relating to a labor contractor, Garcia Labor, “because of a contract it had with ABX Air, a cargo airline that flies express shipments for DHL, with a fleet of 112 airplanes based at its privately owned airport in Wilmington, Ohio. From 1999 to 2005, the indictment charges, Garcia Labor sent more than 1,000 illegal immigrants, mostly Mexicans, to sort freight at ABX Air.”

I previously reported on a highly publicized ICE stricke against IFCO.

July 28, 2006

The immense challenge of employee/employer verification, Part 2

This is what the U.S. is confronting in processing immigrant workers, per a Washington Post article:

In Tallahassee, Aman Kapoor, a computer programmer who is in the final stages of obtaining his green card, has been called for fingerprinting five times. "Next time if they call me, I am just going to leave my fingers there," said Kapoor, one of the founders of Immigration Voice, a group that advocates for legal immigrants. "Give me back my fingers once you are done."

In another case cited by the Post,

Arturo Zavala entered the United States illegally from Mexico in 1976 and picked mushrooms in Pennsylvania for a decade before he became a legal resident. But that menial labor was not the toughest part of life here. More difficult was gaining permission for his wife, daughter and two younger sons to join him and his eldest son here. The family finally reunited in 2001, 14 years after Zavala received his green card as part of a 1986 amnesty program for illegal immigrants.

And what about this?

In 2004, the agency submitted 1.9 million sets of fingerprints and 1.5 million names to the FBI, numbers that would grow tremendously if the Senate bill became law, according to the GAO. As of now, 113,000 FBI name checks have been pending more than six months, and 40,000 more than two years, officials said.

More from the article:

Continue reading "The immense challenge of employee/employer verification, Part 2" »

The immense challenge of employee/employer verification, Part 1

I have held off posting for some days, awaiting something useful to report. Today I am posting twice on the same issue: the enormous information system and manual challenges of registering illegal workers and verifying employer compliance with immigration laws. The root trouble behind both of these problems is the absence in the U.S. of a comprehensive system of employment verification. Erecting such a system is a perhaps five year effort. Enforcing immigration laws while the system is not satisfactorily in operation is fraught with problems, which employers groups are very quick to point out.

This posting is about a Rube Goldberg program being proposed to verify employer compliance at this time, without a satisfactory system in place.

According to the New York Times, ICE is trying to launch a plan for employers to be relieved of any liability for hiring illegal workers, by means of a complicated process of payroll audits, inspections and online verification.

Per the Times, “Under the new program, which is voluntary, employers must pass a series of hurdles to demonstrate that no illegal immigrants are among their employees and will then be certified as clean. They would have to submit to an audit of their employee records by immigration agents and join the Basic Pilot Employment Verification Program, a federal database that companies can use to confirm that employees’ identification documents are not fraudulent. Companies would also be expected to name a compliance officer to monitor the status of immigrant workers and to train their staff to verify documents.”

In return, employers would be certified by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency as having a clean bill of health on hiring. Immigration officials in Washington announced the effort in response to growing alarm among employers about the agency’s recent crackdown on companies that employ illegal immigrants. Federal immigration agents have brought federal criminal charges against some employers who were repeat violators, putting some of them in jail.

Continue reading "The immense challenge of employee/employer verification, Part 1" »

July 13, 2006

Two loopy proposals to control those pesky illegals

Here are two actual proposals to control the illegal immigrant population in America. One is to implant into each immigrant a computer chip. The other is to stretch an electrified fence along the Mexican border, set at a below – fatal level of power. Both proposers were apparently sober at the time.

According to one account, “Scott Silverman, Chairman of the Board of VeriChip Corporation, has alarmed civil libertarians by promoting the company's subcutaneous human tracking device as a way to identify immigrants and guest workers. He appeared on the Fox News Channel [on May 18, 2006], the morning after President Bush called for high-tech measures to clamp down on Mexican immigrants.

The VeriChip is a glass encapsulated Radio Frequency Identification tag that is injected into the flesh to uniquely number and identify people. The tag can be read silently and invisibly by radio waves from up to a foot or more away, right through clothing. The highly controversial device is also being marketed as a way to access secure areas, link to medical records, and serve as a payment device when associated with a credit card.
VeriChip's Silverman bandied about the idea of chipping foreigners on national television Tuesday, emboldened by the Bush Administration call to know "who is in our country and why they are here." He told Fox & Friends that the VeriChip could be used to register guest workers, verify their identities as they cross the border, and "be used for enforcement purposes at the employer level." He added, "We have talked to many people in Washington about using it...."

Thanks to Stephanie King, a staffer on the Hill, for sending this excerpt from the publication, The Hill (no direct link available)

Steve King (R-IA) equates immigrants to livestock
It was prop time on the House floor Tuesday night when Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), making the case for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, showed a miniature version of a border wall that he "designed."
He had mock sand representing the desert as well as fake construction panels as C-SPAN focused in on the unusual display. But it got really interesting when King broke out the mock electrical wiring: "I also say we need to do a few other things on top of that wall, and one of them being to put a little bit of wire on top here to provide a disincentive for people to climb over the top."
He added, "We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time." King spokeswoman Summer Johnson disputed the notion that it was an immigrant-livestock comparison, saying, "He was comparing a fence to a fence - a border fence to an Iowa farm fence." The outspoken proponent of border security, however, did not mention an Iowa farm fence during his show-and-tell performance.

July 12, 2006

Illegal workers, employers, being pressured by state and local legal action

The Wall Street Journal this morning (subscription required) reported on activity in many states to put pressure on illegal workers and their employers. This activity is being fanned directly as a result of Congress’ failure to pass a reform law. The article cites instances in CA, CO, GA, MA and PA.

This year, more than 500 pieces of immigration-related legislation have been introduced in state legislatures, and 57 of them have been enacted in 27 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In April, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, signed into law a bill that will restrict public benefits and certain employment rights for illegal immigrants, starting next year. On Monday, Colorado legislators passed similar measures.

I have posted before on the Georgia law.

Last month, several Pennsylvania legislators introduced a package of bills that would, among other things, prohibit public spending on services or benefits for illegal immigrants. Several Pennsylvania towns are considering local sanctions against landlords that rent to or businesses that employ such immigrants.
Some of the state and local initiatives may run afoul of federal law and face legal challenges from immigrant-advocacy groups. "These local measures are couched as rental or trespassing laws," says Maria Blanco, an attorney at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco. "The bottom line is their motivation is to control immigration, and that is within federal purview."
In the northeastern Pennsylvania town of Hazleton, population 31,000, Mayor Louis Barletta introduced a proposal last month that calls for revoking permits granted to businesses that employ illegal immigrants, imposing fines on landlords who rent to them and making English the city's official language. The city council has given preliminary approval to the initiative, and it is expected to pass this week. At the state level, the Pennsylvania Legislature plans to hold hearings later this summer on a package of bills dubbed "National Security Begins at Home." In addition to barring state spending on health care, education and other services for illegal immigrants, the legislation would allow law-enforcement spending on illegal immigrants to be billed to the immigrant's country of origin.

Until recently, the issue of illegal immigration has popped up only sporadically at the state level, with the most famous case being California's proposition 187 to deny services to illegal immigrants. It was passed in 1994 and ruled unconstitutional four years later. But the latest initiatives signal that the immigration debate has taken on a new fervor and divisiveness. The measures appeal to residents who feel illegal immigrants are overtaxing local schools and other public services and taking unfair advantage of legitimate taxpayers. "There are flashpoints that feed into the average person's fears," says Michael Manning, a priest in San Bernardino, Calif., about 65 miles east of Los Angeles, where a petition that would ban renting houses to illegal immigrants and punish their employers led to a city council showdown.
Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court, on technical grounds, disqualified a petition for a November ballot initiative that would have asked the state's voters to bar illegal immigrants from receiving state services. Undeterred, the state's Republican governor, Bill Owens, called a special legislative session to tackle illegal immigration. Late Monday, Colorado lawmakers ended the five-day special session by passing legislation that would deny most state benefits to illegal immigrants 18 years or older, and require those applying for or renewing benefits to prove legal residency.

July 8, 2006

Bloomberg: Economy would fail if illegal immigrants deported

The AP reported that NYC Mayor Bloomberg told a Senate hearing on July 6th that New York City has a half million illegal immigrants. That suggests there are about 300,000 illegal workers in the City. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated there were 475,000 illegal workers in the entire New York State in 2005.

The AP story goes on:

The economy of the country's largest city and the entire nation would collapse if illegal immigrants were deported en masse, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a Senate committee hearing today. New York City is home to more than 3 million immigrants, and a half-million of them came to this country illegally, Bloomberg testified. "Although they broke the law by illegally crossing our borders ... our city's economy would be a shell of itself had they not, and it would collapse if they were deported," he said. "The same holds true for the nation."
The hearing, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., in Philadelphia, was one of several held nationwide as congressional Republicans take to the road to discuss overhauling immigration laws.

July 7, 2006

Why the hotel industry wants a guest worker program

This I got from Workforce Management Online, or -- no link available. The website says that “the lodging industry is particularly concerned about issues of liability, both pertaining to the verification of worker documentation and to the use of subcontractors, says Shawn McBurney, vice president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association in Washington, D.C.”

The 10,000-member trade and advocacy organization worries about of the accuracy of the Department of Homeland Security's Basic Pilot Program, which is a database used for verifying the legal status of workers. Homeland Security's database has an average error rate of 1.4%, McBurney says. This rate, however, could increase once more participants join the system, potentially exposing hospitality employers to inadvertently hiring undocumented workers, he explains.

I have blogged before that the error rate problem is actually much worse. One third of all positives (i.e. "the worker’s illegal") are false – and hence the employer liability.

Another source of anxiety for the hospitality industry stems from proposed language in the House’s current version of the immigration reform bill that suggests employers could be liable for the actions of their subcontractors. Should this aspect of the bill come become law, it would virtually be a 180-degree departure from the current protocol in which subcontractors carry the responsibility of hiring decisions.
This could be a hard blow to the hospitality industry, where subcontracting is widely practiced to meet demand for large volumes of workers. Many of the 1.5 million workers in the hospitality industry were hired through subcontractors, allowing employers to save money, reduce paperwork and avoid the hassle, McBurney explains. Subcontracting can get quite convoluted because, oftentimes, subcontractors hire other subcontractors, muddying transparency and hindering accountability.

July 5, 2006

Industries lobbying for a guest worker program

Employers anxious to normalize the legal status of undocumented workers and to expand working immigration have come together in an organization active since 2001, the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC). The list of business associations affiliated with EWIC provides an excellent overview of those industries that depend heavily on undocumented workers. They are in effect lobbying for a guest worker program. I have pasted this membership list below.

EWIC appears to be run out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on 1615 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. (202) 463-5931 contact:

It describes itself as “a coalition of businesses, trade associations, and other organizations from across the industry spectrum concerned with the shortage of both skilled and lesser skilled ("essential worker") labor. EWIC stands ready to work with the Administration and Congress to push forward on important immigration reform issues.

“EWIC supports policies that facilitate the employment of essential workers by U.S. companies and organizations. Current immigration law largely prevents the hiring of foreign essential workers. EWIC supports reform of US immigration policy to facilitate a sustainable workforce for the American economy while ensuring our national security and prosperity.”

The following membership list, taken from the WWIC website, is complete except for the roughly 10 individual employer names (the most notable of which are Tyson Foods and Marrriott).

American Health Care Association
American Hotel & Lodging Association
American Meat Institute
American Nursery & Landscape Association
American Road & Transportation Builders Association
American Staffing Association
American Subcontractors Association, Inc.
Associated Builders and Contractors
Associated General Contractors
Building Service Contractors Association International
California Landscape Contractors Association
Farm Equipment Wholesalers Association
Federation of Employers & Workers of America
International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions
International Franchise Association
National Association for Home Care
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
National Association of Home Builders
National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds
National Club Association
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Restaurant Association
National Retail Federation
National Roofing Contractors Association
National Tooling & Machining Association
National Wooden Pallet and Container Association
Outdoor Amusement Business Association
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association
Professional Landcare Network
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Society of American Florists
Travel Business Roundtable
Tree Care Industry Association
Truckload Carriers Association
United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association
US Chamber of Commerce

July 4, 2006

Bush may shift more towards House’s immigration proposal

The New York Times reported that the White House may be willing to back off from the Senate bill, and support a bill which focuses on enforcement and moves onto a guest worker program in a few years. If he does that, the Senate's reaction will be important to watch for -- especially the Senate Democrats, whose support may be essential to get any bill passed in the Senate. Delaying a guest worker program is bad news for illegal immigrants and businesses, both of whom are subject to more aggressive law enforcement.

The Times reports:

Republicans both inside and outside the White House say Mr. Bush, who has long insisted on comprehensive reform, is now open to a so-called enforcement-first approach that would put new border security programs in place before creating a guest worker program or path to citizenship for people living in the United States illegally.
"He thinks that this notion that you can have triggers is something we should take a close look at, and we are," said Candi Wolff, the White House director of legislative affairs, referring to the idea that guest worker and citizenship programs would be triggered when specific border security goals had been met, a process that could take two years.

The Times summarizes a plan identified with Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence:

In a sign of that willingness, the White House last week invited a leading conservative proponent of an enforcement-first bill, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, to present his ideas to Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the Oval Office. Mr. Pence would require illegal immigrants — even those in the United States for decades — to leave the country briefly before returning, with proper documentation, to participate in a guest worker system. Private employment agencies would set up shop overseas to process applications; after six years in a guest worker program, an immigrant could apply for citizenship.

June 28, 2006

Senate immigration bill to lift ceilings on foreign nurses

I like to follow the issue of nursing immigration because it shows how U.S. immigration policy deals with a specific, large, and well defined class of professional workers. The Senate immigration reform bill removes caps for nurses for seven years.

According to the NY Times, foreign nurses have to pass U.S. nursing tests to qualify for visas. The articles goes on to say:

Last year, American nursing schools rejected almost 150,000 applications from qualified people, according to the National League for Nursing, a nonprofit group that counts more than 1,100 nursing schools among its members. One of the most important factors limiting the number of students was a lack of faculty to teach them, nursing organizations say. Professors of nursing earn less than practicing nurses, damping demand for teaching positions. Under the current immigration system, experts estimate that 12,000 to 14,000 nurses have immigrated to the United States annually on employment visas.
The primary sources for American employers will be the Philippines, India and China. Typically, nurses who enter the U.S. under the special J category for nurses obtain a green card for permanent residency and can bring their immediate family.
A nurse in the Philippines would earn a starting salary of less than $2,000 a year and at least $36,000 in the United States, said Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, a medical professor at the University of the Philippines who led the country's National Institutes of Health.
Britain is reportedly making financial compensation to Malawi to recognize that country’s loss of nurses to migrate to the U.K. If any nation has demanded such compensation or financial aid from the U.S., it has not been reported.

June 26, 2006

Phased immigration reform?

Phased immigration reform?

Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post

June 24, 2006

Massachusetts Governor wants state police to round up illegal immigrants

Governor Mitt Romney is intent on using state police to round up illegal immigrants. This initiative as the state’s Attorney General scuffed at the idea of deploying state law enforcement resources to capture illegals. But since the AG’s remarks, the Boston Globe ran a story that many undocumented workers are engaged on state – financed construction projects.

Last year, Romney’s Lt Governor opposed a law to give illegal immigrant children in-state tuition at state colleges, saying, Marie Antoinette-fashion, that they should apply to private schools.

Per the Boston Globe

Governor Mitt Romney is seeking an agreement with federal authorities that would allow Massachusetts state troopers to arrest undocumented immigrants for being in the country illegally. Under the agreement Romney is seeking, troopers would have greatly expanded powers: They could check an immigrant's legal status during routine patrols such as during a traffic stop and decide whether the immigrant should be held. Federal immigration authorities would provide the troopers with 4 1/2 weeks of training in immigration laws and procedures, civil rights, and avoiding racial profiling.

If the proposal is approved, Massachusetts would join a handful of states and localities that have entered into such pacts since they were first authorized in 1996. That list includes Florida, Alabama, and a few counties in California and North Carolina, where a limited number of officers have been trained to enforce immigration laws.

Continue reading "Massachusetts Governor wants state police to round up illegal immigrants" »

June 20, 2006

Republican Senator: REAL ID is a real stinker

Senator John Sununu represents NH, one of the states intending to be an early implementor of the REAL ID program -- creating a national standard of high tech driver's licenses. He roundly criticized the program in a recent column in the 5/17 Manchester Union Leader (no link available). "The flaws of REAL ID are fundamental and are slowly being realized by observers across the country." Here it is, somewhat excerpted. I have posted on it in the past.

WHEN THE 9/11 Commission released its report nearly two years ago, the commissioners made several recommendations which they believed would, if implemented, make us safer. One such recommendation stated, "The federal government should set standards for the issuance of . . . sources of identification, such as drivers' licenses."

Continue reading "Republican Senator: REAL ID is a real stinker" »

June 18, 2006

George Will on short vs long term politics on immigration

Washington Post columnist George Will writes today about the Republicans' temptation to attack Democrats for the Senate bill on immigration reform, calling it an amnesty sell-out. This attack we may see more of despite the fact that 33 Republican senators voted for the bill. Will notes that short term goals may yield long term losses:

Republicans very much want to pass an immigration bill as proof their party can govern. For that reason, there is no reason to expect Senate Democrats to compromise by passing something like the House bill. Nothing very different from it has any chance of being accepted by the House. So, safely assuming that the House-Senate conference fails to produce a compromise acceptable to both houses, when Congress returns to Washington after the Labor Day recess, the House may again pass essentially what it passed in December, just to enable Republicans to campaign on the basis of a clear and recent stance against exactly what Santorum's ad stands against.

The cost of this, paid in the coin of lost support among Latinos, the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority, may be reckoned later, for years. Remember this: Out West, feelings of all sorts about immigration policy are particularly intense, and if John Kerry had won a total of 127,014 more votes in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, states with burgeoning Latino populations, he would have carried those states and won the election. But for now, the minds of Republican candidates are concentrated on a shorter time horizon -- the next 4 1/2 months.

June 15, 2006

Poll: Senate's immigration bill more popular than House's

A Wall Street Journal poll taken 6/6 reports that 50% of respondents preferred the Senate bill, while 33% preferred the House bill. Answering the question "does immigration help more than it hurts?", 44% said yes vs. 37% who said yes on 12/5/05. Negatives were 45% and 53% respectively.

June 13, 2006

Homeland Security's SAVE program to verify employment

The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program Is Homeland Security’s online system of alien status determination. It is being promoted now as the “Basic Pilot.” It is voluntary. The media reports a 1.4% error rate, which I infer is the percentage of times when a person is reported not a “qualified alien” when in fact she or is he or even may be a citizen. However, the quality problems are far worse than that figure implies.

The Washington Post reported in May: that only 6,000 employers were enrolled, out of 8 million. A Government Accountability Office report issued in August criticized it for its inability to catch identity fraud, for flaws in the databases and for the possibility that employers will abuse the system. Nearly one in three noncitizens the electronic system cannot initially verify are later cleared based on a manual search of the records, according to government statistics. This 33% "false positive" rate is extremely high -- in my experience, such a high rate dooms the program because it is a rare employer who would want to accept a false positive rate of more than 10%.

The GAO says that the search does not include, for statutory constraint issues, the 250 million entry Earnings Suspense File of deductions sent in without a valid SSN.

Per DHS, the Basic Pilot involves verification checks of the SSA and DHS databases, using an automated system to verify the employment authorization of all newly hired employees. Participation in the Basic Pilot Program is voluntary, and is free to participating employers.

The Basic Pilot program has been available to all employers in the States of California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas since November 1997 and to employers in Nebraska since March 1999. The Basic Pilot Program began operation in November 1997; was terminated in late 2001; and was reactivated in 2003. It is being expanded to all states.

Below is a description of how the program works, and the FAQ page from Homeland Security.

How it works (much per an HR website):

Continue reading "Homeland Security's SAVE program to verify employment" »

June 11, 2006

Easy to buy fake IDs in Los Angeles

Newsday carried a story about how you can pick up a package of fake IDs for yourself for $300 in Los Angeles. “Around MacArthur Park, sellers who openly offer fake IDs do not actually carry any of the documents. Instead, they negotiate prices as high as $300 for a package containing a driver's license, Social Security card and green card. Next, they send the buyer to a less crowded area a few blocks away, where a picture is taken and the customer pays up. The picture and cash change hands a few times before arriving at an apartment where a laptop, printer and laminating machine spit out the documents. Within an hour, a runner -- perhaps a young man dressed as a student, or an elderly woman -- delivers the documents near the site of the original deal.”

Federal authorities in April arrested nearly 1,200 illegal immigrants and a few managers working at IFCO Systems plants from Southern California to New York. More than half of the 5,800 employees at the pallet and crate manufacturing company in 2005 had invalid or mismatched Social Security numbers, authorities said. In the past, authorities could often break up a network by raiding a central "document mill" where Social Security cards, passports and licenses might be drying on a large printing press, said Kevin Jeffery, deputy agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles.Now documents are made with illegal software on laptop computers. That mobility makes them harder to bust.

June 8, 2006

Colorado split on immigration reform

The state has one of the higher rates of illegal immigrants – 6.5% of the labor force, well above the 4.9% average for the country. Washington delegation members embrace aggressive anti-immigrant positions; the legislature has passed new policing laws; yet on March 25, 50,000 people showed up for a pro immigration rally in Denver.

Congressman Tom Tancredo, Chairman of the 97-member House Immigration Reform Caucus, attacked the Senate’s amnesty bill. According one profile of him, Tancredo believes that “immigration is a life-or-death issue in the culture war to save America”.

At the federal level, Senator Allard voted against the Senate’s immigration bill. Senator Salazar did not vote. A reportied by the Rocky Mountain News, The state legislature passed and Governor Bill Owens signed a bill to create a small immigration enforcement unit in the state police, and to require state contractors to sign up for the federal government’s online program to check a worker’s immigration status. Meanwhile, Denver Mayor Frederico Pena has been organizing a pro-immigration group.

Gov. Bill Owens this week signed into law bills that will create an immigration unit in the Colorado State Patrol and require state contractors to sign up for an online federal program that checks a worker's immigration status.

Continue reading "Colorado split on immigration reform" »

May 26, 2006

Roll call vote for S. 2611 62 yes 36 no

Akaka (D-HI), Yea
Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Allard (R-CO), Nay
Allen (R-VA), Nay
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Bond (R-MO), Nay

Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
Burns (R-MT), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Byrd (D-WV), Nay
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Chafee (R-RI), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Nay

Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
Craig (R-ID), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
Dayton (D-MN), Yea
DeMint (R-SC), Nay

DeWine (R-OH), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Nay
Domenici (R-NM), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Nay
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Ensign (R-NV), Nay
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Feingold (D-WI), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea

Frist (R-TN), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Yea
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Gregg (R-NH), Yea
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Inouye (D-HI), Yea

Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Jeffords (I-VT), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kennedy (D-MA), Yea
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Yea

Levin (D-MI), Yea
Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lott (R-MS), Nay
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Martinez (R-FL), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea

Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Nay
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Rockefeller (D-WV), Not Voting

Salazar (D-CO), Not Voting
Santorum (R-PA), Nay
Sarbanes (D-MD), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Nay

Stevens (R-AK), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Nay
Talent (R-MO), Nay
Thomas (R-WY), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Yea

May 25, 2006

Senate passes S. 2611 62 to 36

The vote by region. I am trying to get the vote by senator:


Midwest, 16,8, 0
Northeast 16,2, 0
South 13,18,1
West 17,8,1
Total 62,36,2

Senate ready to vote on final S.2611 with guest worker provision intact

Go to for amendment by amendment summaries of the bill. I could not find any that materially affected the guest workers provisions. In fact, the Senate decisively turned down on 5/16 an amendment to remove the guest worker title to the act (see below). As I have noted before, the whole issue of identification requirements is held hostage by bureaucratic delays and confusion about getting these IDs in place, and that will take yearsto resolve.

The Liberty Post summarized the floor debate and final vote 69- 28 against an amendment to repeal the guest worker provision.

Senator Dorgan then offered amendment #4017, to repeal the guest worker program in S.2611 (Title IV).

Continue reading "Senate ready to vote on final S.2611 with guest worker provision intact" »

May 24, 2006

Summary of Senate Bill 2611

This is the bill passed by the Senate. The summary below, taken from the Library of Congress' leigslative website, is for the 4/7/06 version of the bill. I copy from below the critical section missing in the House bill: a guest worker program: Establishes a temporary guest worker program (H-2C visa). Provides: (1) that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall determine H-2C eligibility; (2) for a three-year admission with one additional three-year extension; (3) issuance of H-4 nonimmigrant visas for accompanying or following spouse and children; (4) for U.S. worker protection; (5) for implementation of an alien employment management system; and (6) establishment of a Temporary Worker Task Force.

Continue reading "Summary of Senate Bill 2611" »

May 22, 2006

My prediction for an immigration reform bill this year

I predict that Congress will not resolve in conference committee its bicameral differences over the legilsation. Thus, every member of Congress will be able to report to her or his district at least one vote on immigration reform, without there being a bill that gets to the President to sign.

All parties now, having taken the measure of public sentiment and having inspected their voting constituencies, feel that being on record for passing a bill is at least marginally better in terms of the November Congressional races than not being on record for passing a bill. A conference committee deadlock allows everyone to say that she or he has tried to pass a bill.

I have a very hard time with the notion that House Republican conservatives will retreat from their anti-guest worker stance. And the Senate will nevet drop its relatively strong guest worker program.

How much illegal workers pay to Social Security: over $6B

One of the many ironies in the country’s upheavals over the illegal immigrant issue is that, right now, Social Security is collecting over $6 billion a year in payroll deductions from these workers. This is the size of the annual take – the estimate for 2002 is $6.4 billion – flowing into a suspense account because the social security number used for the deduction was not recognized on the government’s database. None of this money today can or is claimed by the workers making the contributions.

The total recorded payroll associated with this inflow is over $200 billion and growing by about $50 billion, suggesting that more and more illegal immigrants are participating in formal wage income as opposed to cash compensation.

The total take adds up to about 1.5% of American payrolls. Assume that these workers are being paid on average one third of legal Americans. This suggests that 4.5% of the contributors to social security today are illegal workers.

-- from the NY Times.

May 20, 2006

Millions of illegal working immigrants may be here on expired visas

According to an article in the Boston Globe, a large minority of illegal workers may have entered the U.S. with a valid visa, then stayed on after the visa’s expiration. The Globe estimates that 40% of all illegal immigrants (which it estimates at 12 million) are here in this manner. This expired visa figure seems to be very high, but I am willing to grant that there are many over-extenders of visas and that a large share of these people work. I expect that the vast majority of non-Hispanic illegal workers in the U.S. are here by way of visa overstays. It is possible that the total 12 million estimate needs to be increased to reflect their numbers, for instance in computer-related jobs.

The Globe reports that “Immigration analysts say visa violators represent a greater portion of undocumented immigrants in the Boston area, with its huge student population and large concentration of European immigrants.

But no amount of border enforcement will have an impact on ''visa overstays," because they don't cross the border illegally in the first place, said Deborah Meyers, a senior analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank. ''The overstay component has been overlooked," Meyers said. ''It's very important to make sure you're actually trying to solve the whole problem, not just the most visible parts of the problem. . . . From a security perspective, in some ways the overstay population is a bigger threat."
Two of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were in the United States on expired visas. At least six others had otherwise violated immigration laws but were nonetheless able to stay in the United States, according to the 9/11 Commission report. Of the $1.95 billion border security request Bush filed last week, only $30 million will go toward tracking down and monitoring those who overstay legally obtained visas, said Michael P. Jackson, deputy secretary of Homeland Security.

Department of Homeland Security had only 51 full-time agents assigned to track down the more than 4 million people who overstayed visas and were in the country in 2004. Of the 301,046 leads the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency received in a one-year period on possible visa violations, fewer than half were investigated. Only 4,164 were referred to field agents to pursue, and 671 apprehensions were made.

There is a program called US-VISIT which photographs visa holders entering the country. But, according to the Globe, “US-VISIT has serious limitations. It tracks everyone entering the country, but it is a pilot program, tracking only those leaving through 12 airports and two seaports. Expanding that program nationwide is several years off. "

May 16, 2006

House, Senate and Bush ideas on illegal immigrants compared

The NY Times published today a checklist comparison of these three points of view. You can find the president’s address in here.

Full Text of House Bill (H.R.4437) here

Full Text of Senate Bill (S.2611) here

Temporary Worker Program

House (passed): No such provisions. Eliminates the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.

Senate (not yet passed): Creates a temporary worker program, with a potential path to legal permanent residence for individuals currently outside the U.S. Employers seeking to hire foreign workers would first have to try to recruit an available American worker.

President in speech: Has called on Congress to pass a guest worker program for more than two years. Said that "to secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program."

Legalization of Undocumented Immigrants

House: No such provisions.

Senate: Provides legalization criteria for three different groups. The major one, called the "Earned Legalization Program," would provide a path to legal permanent residence for undocumented immigrants who have been here for five years and employed for three of those and who meet other requirements.

President: While rejecting "an automatic path to citizenship," Mr. Bush said that immigrants should be given a chance to gain citizenship after they "pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law."

Worksite Enforcement

Continue reading "House, Senate and Bush ideas on illegal immigrants compared" »

Bush's May 15 speech on illegal immigration in outline and full text

President Bush in his May 15 speech for the White House presented a five point plan – four substantive and one rhetorical – to resolve issues with illegal immigration. He did not address any other immigration issues, such as changing the quota for legal immigration

POINT ONE: Beef up border controls and handling of arrested persons. He said that by the end of his presidency the size of the Border Patrol will have doubled from 9,000 to 18,000. State and local law enforcement authorities will be given special training. He will assign 6,000 National Guardsmen, drawn apparently from border states. More detention center beds will be created.

Proper training and coordination with state and local law enforcement is a difficult undertaking. I have addressed this a bit in an analysis of a recently passed illegal immigration bill enacted by Georgia.

POINT TWO: Temporary worker program. He clearly wanted to keep this topic low profile. Out of a 2,700 word speech he devoted on paragraph, about 200 words, to this program. I have covered this topic extensively. Search under “guest worker” and “Judiciary” with my pessimistic assessment of passage potential this year.

POINT THREE: Tamper proof identification to verify legal status of workers. I have addressed the tamper proof card issue here, and – regarding driver license “Real ID”, here. Also, go here for how federal agencies do not cooperate.

POINT FOUR: A path to citizenship for illegal immigrants here already for more than a few years. “They will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules…” The Pew Hispanic Center at one place estimated that 40% of unauthorized persons (4.4 million) as of March 2005 have been in the United States since 2000 which means that 60% (6.6 million) have been here since before 2000.

It has also made these tenure estimates: Time in the US: Five years or more: 6.7 million; Two to five years: 2.8 million; Less than two years: 1.6 million, Total: 11.1 million

POINT FIVE: a rhetorical flourish – requiring immigrants to speak English. This point sort of sailed in from nowhere.

Only 3% of unauthorized Hispanic persons say they speak English “very well.”

Continue reading "Bush's May 15 speech on illegal immigration in outline and full text" »

May 15, 2006

Rare use of Social Security numbers and IRS data to search for illegal immigrant workers

Liz Chandler of Knight Ridder has reported on an impasse in the federal government which has prevented the use of federal records to locate and arrest illegal immigrants. “Most immigrants simply use Social Security numbers to get work, experts say. They make up numbers, buy them on forged cards, or steal them,’ she wrote. But prosecutors cannot easily access this information, and cannot access IRS data at all. And Social Security and the IRS do not cooperate.

Excerpting from her article:

Two federal agencies are refusing to turn over a mountain of evidence that investigators could use to indict the nation's burgeoning workforce of illegal immigrants and the firms that employ them. The IRS and the Social Security Administration routinely collect strong evidence of potential workplace crimes, including names and addresses of millions of people who are using bogus Social Security numbers, their wage records and the identities of the bosses who knowingly hire them. The two agencies don't analyze their data to root out likely immigration fraud - and they won't share their millions of records so that law enforcement agencies can do that, either. Privacy laws, they say, prohibit them from sharing their files with anyone, except in rare criminal investigations.

Continue reading "Rare use of Social Security numbers and IRS data to search for illegal immigrant workers" »

May 14, 2006

Political pork and the tamper-proof identification card

The NY Times today ran a long story on how Homeland Security’s lagging efforts to prepare such a card have been in part controlled by a Kentucky congressman referred in his own district as Prince of Pork. Other efforts to produce a reliable card such as the Real ID program for motor vehicles are largely dead in the water. (State motor vehicle departments have a hard enough time answering their phones.) Until one is available, it is very difficult to regulate the movement of illegal immigrants. Concerned as I am about the dangers of such a card to civil liberties, I believe that a tamper proof card can be valuable in certain instances to protect the public as well as the guarantee certain rights and benefits to the carrier.

Following are excerpts from the article:

The Department of Homeland Security has invested tens of millions of dollars and countless hours of labor over the last four years on a seemingly simple task: creating a tamperproof identification card for airport, rail and maritime workers. Yet nearly two years past a planned deadline, production of the card, known as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, has yet to begin.

Instead, the road to delivering this critical antiterrorism tool has taken detours to locations, companies and groups often linked to [13 termer] Representative Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who is the powerful chairman of the House subcommittee that controls the Homeland Security budget. Work has even been set aside for a tiny start-up company in Kentucky that employs John Rogers, the congressman's son.

Continue reading "Political pork and the tamper-proof identification card" »

May 10, 2006

Pandering and posturing in Arizona about illegal immigrants.

On August 12 2005 a new Arizona law went into effect making it, according to one report, ‘a felony punishable for up to two years in prison to smuggle humans across the border. “ The primary, perhaps only, real effect of the law so far has been to provide the sheriff of Maricopa Country, Joe Arpaio, another publicity stunt. Some time ago, he instructed his deputies to ask citizens to voluntarily submit fingerprints in order to combat the supposed epidemic of identity theft. And he has ordered prisoners, male and female, to wear pink underwear. In 2004 he told jailed illegal immigrants that they had to register for the draft. This time, Arpaio interpreted the law to mean he can round up any and all illegal immigrants and charge them with trespass, conspiracy to smuggle themselves into the United States.

The legislature passed another law making in a felony to be an illegal immigrant in Arizona. The governor vetoed it, perhaps mindful of the reality that major parts of the state’s economy could grind to a halt.

According to a May 5th AP article, a posse of 100 volunteers and sheriff's deputies will patrol the Phoenix area and arrest any illegal immigrants, the county sheriff said. The group likely will be deployed across parts of Maricopa County by the weekend, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday. Volunteers will be drawn from the department's 3,000-member posse, whose members are trained and are often former deputies.

"It's important to send the message out to stay in Mexico and don't come roaming around here hoping you're going to get amnesty," said Arpaio. [His] deputies have already arrested about 120 illegal immigrants using a new state smuggling law. "We're going to arrest any illegal who violates this new law," he said. "I'm not going to turn these people over to federal authorities so they can have a free ride back to Mexico. I'll give them a free ride into the county jail."
Under the law, as interpreted by the Maricopa County attorney, illegal immigrants can be arrested and prosecuted for conspiracy to smuggle themselves into the country. The law's authors have said they intended it to be used to prosecute smugglers, not the immigrants being smuggled.
Lawyers for nearly 50 undocumented immigrants charged with conspiracy to commit human smuggling have filed motions to have the charges dismissed. A Los Angeles attorney brought into the case last week by the Mexican Consul General's Office in Phoenix plans to file another motion claiming Maricopa County Attorney officials are violating state and federal law because it's the federal government's job to control illegal immigration.

May 3, 2006

Illegal Immigrants, Immigration Reform and the Catholic Church

Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, a key advocacy group, wrote on 5/1 about the church’s positive, perhaps even militant stand, in regarding undocumented workers rights. He write about recent events and gives a short history of the experience of Catholic immigrants in the early decades of the 20th Century, when they often suffered from discrimination. “Cardinal Roger Mahony electrified the US immigration reform debate by announcing on March 1, 2006 (Ash Wednesday), that he would instruct archdiocesan priests and lay Catholics to ignore provisions in a House-passed “enforcement only” bill (H.R. 4437) — were they to pass — that would make it a crime to assist unauthorized immigrants.”

In February 2003….bishops in the United States and Mexico released Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope, a pastoral statement that called for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Strangers No Longer built on themes established in other pastoral statements by US bishops (One Family Under God in 1995 and Unity in Diversity in 2000), annual statements by the Holy Father on migration, and a long history of Catholic teaching documents. The US bishops have conducted extensive rollout of these documents through public gatherings, within the relevant church structures, and to lay Catholics, in response to what it sees as increasingly harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation.

Kerwin provides an historical perspective: “….The church sees parallels between the last great wave of immigrants to the United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the current wave.”

Continue reading "Illegal Immigrants, Immigration Reform and the Catholic Church" »

Strangers No Longer: Catholic Church's statement on Hispanic illegal immigration

This February 2003, pastoral letter signed by Mexican and American bishops in the Catholic Church forms a foundation for the church's strong support of immigration reform that gives undocumented immigrants legal protections. The letter addresses the broad social issues of all Hispanic immigration.

Selected numbered paragraphs:

102. We recognize the phenomenon of migration as an authentic sign of the times. We see it in both our countries through the suffering of those who have been forced to become migrants for many reasons. To such a sign we must respond in common and creative ways so that we may strengthen the faith, hope, and charity of migrants and all the People of God. Such a sign is a call to transform national and international social, economic, and political structures so that they may provide the conditions required for the development for all, without exclusion and discrimination against any person in any circumstance.

103. In effect, the Church is increasingly called to be "sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Lumen Gentium, no. 1). The Catholic bishops of the United States and Mexico, in communion with the Holy Father in his 1995 World Migration Day message, affirm that

In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters. It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community. Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble.

The Church must, therefore, welcome all persons regardless of race, culture, language, and nation with joy, charity, and hope. It must do so with special care for those who find themselves–regardless of motive–in situations of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion.

Continue reading "Strangers No Longer: Catholic Church's statement on Hispanic illegal immigration" »

May Day Immigrant rallies and aftermath

The media appears to be bemused by the May Day rallies. What is their impact? My guess is that the rallies may have hardened the get-though sentiment among Republicans in the House of Representatives, while they also may have moved forward political organization among Hispanics. It may result in higher voter registrations among Hispanics.

An article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer starts with: “A day after more than 1 million immigrants and supporters skipped work to march in rallies across the nation, some advocates say the mixed messages surrounding the "Day Without Immigrants" show a need for a unified front and the movement's own Cesar Chavez. An estimated 400,000 people marched in both Chicago and Los Angeles, but fewer than 10,000 turned out in cities including Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix, which all have large Hispanic populations.

With so many organizers pushing their own plans for the May 1 rallies, and no single group at the forefront, there wasn't a unifying plan. And there were conflicting signals from various leaders questioning whether a boycott that disrupted the economy would do more harm than good. Even individual immigration-reform leaders are torn over how best to keep the momentum going. The grass-roots flavor of the recent demonstrations has generated excitement and publicity, but empowering an umbrella organization or dynamic figurehead could galvanize the effort the way Chavez did for farm workers and Martin Luther King Jr. did for the civil rights movement.
"It's always good to have a figure that melds it together," said Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, a major organizer and supporter of rallies Monday. "But right now, we are seeing hundreds of leaders coming together. Many of them are people nobody had ever heard of," Medina said. "This organic organization will outlive any one charismatic figure." Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, director of immigration studies at New York University, said he believes any consolidation of local groups won't happen until leaders see what comes out of Congress. "Clearly the ball now is in the court of the political class," Suarez-Orozco said. "But in the long run, the elephant in the room is how (the marches) will be translated into political muscle."
Organizers in many cities see that effort already under way. Reform activists in Oklahoma, California, Alaska and Illinois said they have started voter registration or citizenship drives in recent weeks - making good on the promise emblazoned on thousands of marchers' signs that read: "Today we march, tomorrow we vote." Medina said SEIU planned to sponsor citizenship forums in major cities and work with churches and activist groups to do voter registration drives.

April 29, 2006

Using fear of raids to estimate the numbers of illegal immigrants

it’s been clear for several years that if you want to find out how many workers are working illegally, spread a rumor and see how many don’t show up the next day. The NY Times ran an AP story on this phenomenon arising out of the big IFCO raid of last week, which I have blogged.

The article says: “Len Mills, executive vice president of Associated General Contractors of South Florida, estimated at least 50 percent of workers on construction jobs in the region had not shown up for work. ‘This is costing millions of dollars a day, and I don't know who is going to pay for it,’ he said.”

Rumors of random sweeps were rampant from coast to coast Friday, prompting many immigrants to stay home from work, take their children out of school and avoid church. Their absences added to immigrants' fears, as some thought their friends and co-workers had been arrested. Mills said he believed even some legal workers were afraid. Katie A. Edwards, executive director of Florida's Dade County Farm Bureau, said nearly a third of farmworkers did not come to the fields this week.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Dean Boyd said the agency has received hundreds of calls about immigration raids in recent days. ''However, we don't conduct random sweeps,'' he said. ''All our arrests are the result of investigations, evidence and intelligence.'' ICE officials acknowledged they have stepped up arrests under their ''Operation Phoenix,'' an existing program to find and deport fugitive illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds.

On Friday, ICE announced the arrests of 106 illegal immigrant fugitives and 19 immigration status violators throughout the Midwest over the last 10 days. Of those, 46 had criminal records, according to the department. Earlier this week, ICE announced the arrest of 183 fugitives in Florida alone.

April 28, 2006

Immigrant labor and agriculture today: fully integrated

The Washington Post ran an article highlighting the tight relationship between immigrant workers and food production, especially corporate meat processing, in America. I have discussed this before. Steve Striffler's book, Chicken, is an excellent description of the evolution of the poultry industry hand in hand with Hispanic labor. See my posting on meat processing as a de facto guest worker program.

The article said that “The meat production unit of privately held Cargill Inc on Tuesday said it decided to close down operations at five U.S. beef plants and two hog plants next Monday while employees participate in mass immigration rallies. Similar rallies on April 10 cut U.S. meat production at top meat producer Tyson Foods Inc. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said on Tuesday Tyson was not encouraging workers to participate in planned rallies if it meant missing shifts. “

Continue reading "Immigrant labor and agriculture today: fully integrated" »

RICO suit against Mohawk Industries heard by U.S. Supreme Court

I have previously blogged about how a Chicago based law firm is waging a legal fight against employers who hire lots of illegal workers, calling the practice a violation of the nation’s anti-racketeering law, RICO. Well, the Mohawk Industries case was heard this week by the Supreme Court. Mohawk along with other carpet manufacturers hires large numbers of Hispanics at its Datlon, GA, operations. I’ve been there: huge, faded but well staffed buildings on one side of town; a slice of flag waving America on the other.

The Washington Times
ran an article about the oral presentation before the Court.

The article says that “Winning parties in RICO cases can be awarded triple damages -- notably higher awards than winners in non-racketeering criminal cases. Congress expanded RICO in 1996 to include violations of immigration law.”

The article goes on:

Continue reading "RICO suit against Mohawk Industries heard by U.S. Supreme Court" »

April 26, 2006

Dept. of Labor helps illegal workers in Katrina clean up to get paid

Today’s Wall Street Journal (no link available) reports that the U.S. Dept. of Labor has been actively supporting efforts by illegal workers to get paid for their work from employers who have stiffed them. Credit much of the effort to coordination between the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (no link found) and the Dept. of Labor. For instance, “In February, the Labor Department, acting on worker complaints partly compiled by activists from a Mississippi-based advocacy group, collected nearly $142,000 in back pay from a subcontractor working for Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., for Mr. Hernandez and almost 120 other workers. KBR says it didn't have a direct relationship with the subcontractor responsible for paying the workers.” In fact, the offending employer was a sub-contractor of a sub-contractor.

The article goes on:

Continue reading "Dept. of Labor helps illegal workers in Katrina clean up to get paid" »

Can the U.S. reduce its illegal immigrant population by attrition?

A study issued by the Center for Immigration Studies thinks so. "Attrition Through Enforcement: A Cost-Effective Strategy to Shrink the Illegal Population," estimates that half of the illegal population can be reduced in five years by spending on average $400 million a year, or $2 billion. That comes to annual reductions of 1.5 million persons a year.

Elements of the strategy include using IRS data to track back to illegal workers who file tax returns; much stricter enforcement of work status verification rules (the I-9 form); state and local laws to discourage illegal settlement; tighter border entry-exit record keeping; doubling ICE enforcement resources by $120 million a year; inducing states to pass laws prohibiting the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Personal observation: This plan smacks of police-state thinking: opening up of IRS files, coordination of state and local law enforcement, and massive ICE enforcement action. Nonetheless it is worth a cold blooded examination of this along with all other proposals to address the issue of illegal immigrants. I remain strongly in favor of the approach being taken by the Senate Judiciary committee.

April 24, 2006

Illegal immigrants want to stay, become U.S. citizens

In an earlier posting, I reported that the National Immigration Forum surveyed several hundred Spanish speaking undocumented workers in late 2005, and released the results at the end of March. That posting mainly addressed their use of documentation for work. This posting addresses preparation and desire to become American citizens. In short, the vast majority does wish to stay here and become citizens. A large minority of them is here with their spouses and/or children.

The results:

Continue reading "Illegal immigrants want to stay, become U.S. citizens" »

April 23, 2006

Federal government unable to enforce immigration laws effectively

The National Journal has run an analysis of Bush Administration’s struggle to enforce laws pertaining to illegal immigrants. These are 11 to 12 million people, and the government has 325 agents dedicated to rounding them up, and 28,000 holding cells for them. According to the article, the government reported that last year it deported 200,000 persons. However, some 500,000 slipped in illegally. And some 100,000 caught by the government last year disappeared prior to deportation – they were released pending deportation proceedings. Washington is trying to get more expedited deportations (without an judicial review). I doubt the 200,000 figure. I suspect that it includes a lot of people who were nabbed at borders and thus had not penetrated into the United States. The article excerpted below has information on resources used, persons arrested, and the judicial system.

The article, “Washington’s immigration law mess,” reports:

Continue reading "Federal government unable to enforce immigration laws effectively" »

April 21, 2006

What is behind the ICE initiative on illegal immigrants

It is my impression that the ICE raid on a 5,000 workforce, IFCO, netting over 1,000 illegal workers and a large handful of middle and low level managers, is 90% bark and 10% bite. There are several compelling reasons why ICE would undertake this kind of action, and several more why it will be hard to repeat on a regular basis. ICE needs to show that it had not abandoned enforcement of the illegal worker provisions of law passed in the 1980s – IRCA. Another motivation at this time – though the raid was apparently a year in planning – is Karl Rovian. It is efficient way to challenge the easy-does-it demeanor of congressional Democrats regarding day-to-day enforcement. It may be effective in putting the Democrats on the defensive, on this one single issue of national visibility around which the party has coalesced around, speaking with a common voice.

And here are the reasons why I think that ICE can pull off at best just a few raids of magnitude. First, they consume a lot of resources, and ICE has only 325 agents assigned to immigration law enforcement. Second, they take time, many months, to plan. Third, ICE may have thought through the downsides of such raids. They will focus on low level managers because it is much more difficult to establish the culpability of senior executives. They will elicit sympathy from a potentially large number of parties such as churches.

The Bush Administration would, I believe, prefer to focus on illegal immigrants who have not obeyed orders to leave the country or who have committed crimes (many of which I expect are minor). One major barrier prevents this: the execution of such a search and arrest program requires the participation of local police forces, who not only have shown they have other priorities, but who also are not used to working with this population. I note that the Georgia law just passed went so far as to require local law enforcement personnel to be certified to enforce immigration law. One way or the other, the Administrator will get into a tussle with local law enforcement it is leans on them to implement a policy hatched in Washington.

April 20, 2006

ICE raids an employer, IFCO, for hiring illegal workers

ICE woke itself up from its indifference and made a aggressively publicized enforcement raid on an employer, pursuant of IRCA, Immigration Reform and Control Act. The Washington Post reported that ‘Federal agents on Wednesday arrested seven current and former managers of IFCO Systems, a manufacturer of crates and pallets, on criminal charges, and more than 1,100 people were arrested on administrative immigration charges at more than 40 IFCO sites in the U.S.” This is more of a publicity stunt, because ICE likely has no real resources to make many raids, but the raid might well work to temper the enthusiasm of many employers for hiring undocumented workers and to drive many employers more underground. According to the Post, ICE has only 325 agents to cover the entire country. I expect that raids of this size -- in many company sites, apparently -- will be rare.

The last enforcement action of this magnitude may have been the Tyson case, which I have written about here. That ended in no convictions of the company, but only of fall guys.

Continue reading "ICE raids an employer, IFCO, for hiring illegal workers" »

April 19, 2006

New Georgia law on undocumented workers S. Bill 529: worth a look

Georgia Governor Sunny Perdue signed Senate Bill 529, Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, on April 17. This law includes some very interesting provisions which, in effect, codify the role of states in immigration status verification, employer and employee responsibilities, and the provision of public services to undocumented persons. The law surely contains some problematic language. However, I am impressed by the evenhandedness and reasonableness of many of the provisions. For instance, local law officials must be certified by the state in order to enforce federal immigration law; undocumented persons under 18 can presumably continue to receive public benefits; and persons 18 and over can continue to receive Good Samaritan services. There is a special section devoted to stemming human trafficking.

This may well become a model for other states. I have excerpted large sections of the law.

For a complete copy of the law, go here. For the summary provided by the Governor’s office, go here.

Governor’s Office fact sheet on the law: go here:

Excerpts from the law:

Continue reading "New Georgia law on undocumented workers S. Bill 529: worth a look" »

April 16, 2006

Medicaid's new strict identification requirements to create barrier to illegal immigrants.

The New York Times reports that “more than 50 million Medicaid recipients will soon have to produce birth certificates, passports or other documents to prove that they are United States citizens…The new requirement takes effect on July 1." To what end? "The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will save the federal government $220 million over five years and $735 million over 10 years. Estimates of the number of people who will be affected vary widely. The budget office expects that 35,000 people will lose coverage by 2015. Most of them will be illegal immigrants, it said.” -- An infinitesimal number, about one fifth of one percent of illegal residents.

I have posted already about barriers created unadvertantly through imposing strict documentation requirements, for instance in Mississippi regarding the dispensing of prescribed pain medications to work injured persons.

Under the law, the Deficit Reduction Act, states cannot receive federal Medicaid money unless they verify citizenship by checking documents like passports and birth certificates for people who receive or apply for Medicaid.
In general, Medicaid is available only to United States citizens and certain "qualified aliens." Legal immigrants are, in many cases, barred from Medicaid for five years after they enter the United States. Under a 1986 law, applicants for Medicaid have to declare in writing, under penalty of perjury, whether they are citizens and, if not, whether they are "in a satisfactory immigration status."

Congressional poll on immigration bill

The National Journal surveyed Congressional members about their preferences for an immigration bill. Only 7% of Republicans want the guest work-focused bill approved by the Senate Judiciary committee; compared to 53% of Democrats. To me, this signals the death of prospects for a bill to be passed this year, as I have noted before.

Here are the results: first, the option, then the Republican response, then the Democrat response.

enforcement bill only: 32%, 11%
temporary guest worker program plus tighter borders: 54%, 11%
path to citizenship plus tighter borders: 7%, 53%
enact nothing: 2%, 26%
other: 5%, 0%

April 14, 2006

Ten reasons why illegal immigrants should file income tax returns

The very well managed site, by Jennifer and Peter Wipf, on immigration issues has has a checklist of reasons why it is in the interest of undocumented workers to file income tax returns. Bob Alcorn, a Dallas CPW, prepared the list. Here is a summary.

According to Alcorn, “Non-citizens who reside in the U.S. for more than 183 days [generally] meet the definition of a ‘tax resident,’ or a ‘resident for tax purposes.’ They are "subject to the tax laws as if they were citizens (with some minor differences).”

1. It's the Law.
2. Proof of Presence
This proof may be required if and when any future guest worker program or amnesty provisions are made.
3. Proof of Spouse's Presence and/or Spousal Relationship
Tax returns indicate your marital status (single, married, head of household), thus possibly later improving or proving a spouse's eligibility for any guest worker or amnesty claims.
4. Proof of Dependents' Presence and/or Relationship
5. Proof of Income and Self-Sufficiency
6. Possible Eligibility for Tax Benefits/Credits
Tax returns allow you to receive certain tax benefits - such as the Child Tax Credit, including the refundable portion of the Additional Child Tax Credit if you otherwise qualify.
7. Tax Payer Identification Number Eligibility
Filing tax returns provides a legitimate basis for getting an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Having a legitimate TIN is actually much less of a red flag than using a fake Social Security number at work or for finances and taxes.
8. Proof of Income as Basis for a Mortgage and Other Credit
9. Demonstration of Good Moral Character
In any immigrant legalization process, the applicant needs to demonstrate "good moral character."
10. It's Good to be Prepared, Just in Case

April 12, 2006

Economic impact of a guest worker program on American agriculture

Fox News
carried on 4/10 a story, “Farmers Keep Wary Eye on Immigration Debate” which has some good interview quotes. The nub of the article is that farm owners need Hispanic workers and they need them cheap ($10 and hour). A guest worker program will provide the workers, but I expect at a noticeably higher cost. I have noted that the bill sent out by the Senate Judiciary Committee had an “AgJobs”

Here is my posting about my own remote state of Vermont depending on Hispanic workers to keep its diary industry alive --if only for the tourism industry.

From the Fox News article:

Cutting farmers' access to cross-border workers without giving them an alternative could cost the industry up to $9 billion in annual production, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has long lobbied for a streamlined temporary worker program.

Continue reading "Economic impact of a guest worker program on American agriculture" »

This week’s immigrant demonstrations make big impact

"People Power" is how the New York Times painted the large and many orderly demonstrations this Monday. In Washington DC, Ted Kennedy addressed the crowd like a modern day Henry V, evoking future memories of that day. Demonsrtators read from sheets the following phonetized pledge of allegiance: “Ai pledch aliyens to di fleg, Of d Yunaited Esteits of America, An tu di republic for wich it stands, Uan naishion, ander Gad, Indivisibol, Wit liberti an yostis, For oll”

The immigration rallies of recent weeks have drawn an astounding number of people around the country: Monday's "national day of action" was attended by an estimated 180,000 in Washington, 100,000 each in Phoenix and New York City, 50,000 each in Atlanta and Houston, and tens of thousands more in other cities.

Adding in the immense marches last month in Los Angeles and Chicago, the immigrants and their allies have carried off an amazing achievement in mass political action, even though many of them are here illegally and have no right to vote.
The marchers in white T-shirts poured out of the subway doors and merged into a stream, flowing like blood cells through the tubular innards of the Washington Metro, past turnstiles and up escalators and out into the delicate brilliance of a fine spring day. On the street, they met up with the others — young parents, old people, toddlers in strollers, teenagers in jeans and jewelry — and headed to the Mall, where they and their American flags dissolved into a shimmering sea of white, red and blue.

The AP reported the following:

"This is bigger than the civil rights movement in the sixties. This is huge," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday on CBS' "The Early Show." "What this is building is enormous pressure on the Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration bill _ tighten border security, more border patrol agents, secure the border from drugs and illegal traffic, but also a sensible legalization plan that brings the 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows," he said.

Out of Many, One: The Far-Reaching Touch of the Crowd” was the title of an analysis in the Washington Post on 4/11 by a reporter clearly impressed by the orderliness of the demonstration. “The crowd as historical actor is acting again.”

April 11, 2006

A few handy figures about immigration to work in the U.S.

There is no easy way to estimate the net change from year to year in foreign workers coming to the U.S. and the number of foreign workers in the U.S. at any time. The following figures can help. One can infer from these figures that upwards of half of the net increase in foreign workers has been illegal workers. The entire set is divided among official permanent admissions, official temporary admissions, and illegal entrants.

Number of foreign-born persons in the U.S. today: 35 million

Subset of 35M who have become American citizens: 12 million

Subset of 35M who are eligible for citizenship but have elected to become citizens as yet: 8 million

Simple math suggests that about 15 million foreign born people in the U.S. are neither citizens nor on a citizen track. The estimated 12 million illegal immigrants make up the large majority of these persons.


Number of persons (adults, children, retirees) formally admitted into the U.S. each year for permanent residence (which can lead to citizenship): roughly about 1 million

(This and other official figures below are rough due to volatility from year to year, driven in part by paperwork backlogs)

Subset of these 1M persons who are working age adults: 400,000?

Subset of these 400,000 +/- working age adults who were admitted on the basis of employment criteria (“employment based preferences”) as opposed to family ties, other: about 150,000


Number of new H-1B temporary professional workers formally admitted each year (i.e. Bill Gate's programmers): 95,000

Number of new H-2A temporary agricultural workers (special agricultural workers) admitted each year: 200,000? less those returning

Number of other temporary workers admitted for miscellaneous programs: to be found but probably well under 50,000 (types: H-2B, H-1C, E, L, O, P, R, for nurses, ministers, ahtletes, etc, etc.)


Number of new illegal workers each year: roughly 350,000

Lessons from immigration reform in 1986

David North closely analyzed the 1986 reform effort – IRCA, or the Immigration Reform and Control Act, and found lessons for today. In his paper published at an immigration lawyer website, he lists six attributes of IRCA worth noting:

1. Large numbers—often much larger than anticipated—of aliens sought legalization and the overwhelming majority of applications were accepted.

2. The compromises leading to the passage of the legislation led to an extremely complex program, full of internal inconsistencies. [This is already evident in the guest worker and amnesty provisions proposed in 2006 – PFR]

3. There was a great deal of many different kinds of fraud in the program; much of the apparent fraud did not lead to the denial of applications.

4. The promised balance—of a large legalization program for currently illegal aliens joined with a strict enforcement program against the future arrival of illegal aliens—did not eventuate. Yes, there was much legalization, but there was little enforcement of the law forbidding the employment of the undocumented (employer sanctions). [It may well be that the law enforcement system in the U.S. is so poorly acculturated to personal identity enforcement (“big brother”) that it will always be messy – PFR]

5. Within the legalization process there was a built-in (if probably unconscious) bias toward Hispanics and away from other undocumented populations. [We will see a lot of Europeans and Asian computer specialists coming out of the woodwork – PFR]

6. Demographic considerations (are there too many of us?) and equity in the labor market (are we widening the disparity between rich and poor?) were largely overlooked. [These issues have of course been much more openly addressed, especially in the past few months. There is a lot of research on these issues, serving as a foundation for books and articles. - PFR]

April 9, 2006

Opinions by Washington Post, NYT's Nicholas Kristoff

I am excerpting two opinion pieces from this weekend: the Washington Post’s editorial 4/8/06, 'Nirvana,' Lost Thanks largely to Democrats, the Senate missed an opportunity, and Nicholas Kristoff’s column today 4/9/06 in the New York Times, “Compassion that hurts.”

The editorial says that the compromised bill was working in the right direction and that Democrats killed it. I have a problem with an unstated premise of the editorial, that the compromise bill would not be savaged on the floor of the Senate. More likely, no bill will come out of conference with the enforcement-focused House of Representatives. Sure, Democrats at the time would very much like to run in November with a partisan pro-Hispanic position and no legislation enacted with a Republican majority in Congress.

Kristoff essentially repeats arguments made and cited before by me, that massive immigration by poorly educated Hispanics are to the detriment of America’s poorly educated. (To find the several entries, search for Borjas and Camarota.)

The Washington Post’s editorial (link not available):

Continue reading "Opinions by Washington Post, NYT's Nicholas Kristoff" »

April 7, 2006

U.S. Senate struggles on April 6 with immigration bill compromise

The Senate this week came up with a compromise which in my judgment is doomed to fail, for at least two reasons. First, the anti-amnesty lobby wants to shred it. Second, it will be incredibly hard to enforce. To me, this is a means by some Senate Republicans to record a pro-business, pro Hispanic voter vote for a McCain-like bill before such a bill is mauled in conference committee by the House. The business lobby and Hispanic community appears to be strongly in support of the McCain-like bill as it will provides for a continuity of residence and work.

The Senate is (as of right now) proposing in effect to modify the bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is modeled after the MeCain bill. This bill pretty much allows all illegal immigrants to stay in the country for a nominal penalty and sets them on the road to long term residency or citizenship. I addressed the Committee’s March 27 work here.

The compromise creates artificial categories of immigrants defined by duration of illegal residency so far in the U.S. The Pew Hispanic Center quickly came out with an estimate of the duration of illegal residency so far. It says it has “produced estimates of the unauthorized population according to the categories established in the legislation now before the Senate. These estimates are based on the March 2005 Current Population Survey. For a full report based on that data please go to” here.

Time in the US

Five years or more: 6.7 million
Two to five years: 2.8 million
Less than two years: 1.6 million

Total: 11.1 million

Based on analysis of other data sources that offer indications of the pace of growth in the foreign-born population, the Center developed an estimate of 11.5 to 12 million for the unauthorized population as of March 2006.

April 5, 2006

Case study of Nevada: Do immigrants take jobs from Americans?

The Las Vegas Sun talked to two immigration experts. Jeff Passel, from the Pew Hispanic Center, said the relatively high illegal worker population did not seem to have a negative impact on unemployment among citizens. Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies said that the damage is evidenced in lower workforce participation, to him a truer measure.

Per Passel, Nevada had the second-highest proportion of unauthorized workers in the nation in 2004, the state's unemployment rate of 3.8% was one of the country's lowest - a full point lower than the national rate of 4.8%.

( My posting here estimated the size of undocumented workforce relative to total state workforce as of March 2005. Note the high percentage for NV.)

Nearly one in 10 workers in Nevada was unauthorized in 2004, second only to Arizona, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Center report. Of the 10 states with the highest shares of illegals in the work force, seven had unemployment rates below the national average. NV’s unemployment rate of 3.8% for 2004 was a point below the national rate of 4.8%.

However, Steven Camarota says you need to look at unemployment rates just for the most impacted cohorts, such as male teenagers. In 2004 male teenagers between 16 and 19 had a 16% unemployment rate.

More importantly, one needs to look at the drop in labor force participation. In 2000, 55.1% of Nevadans between 16 and 19 were either employed or looking for work. By 2004, that number slipped to 45.8%. Among people age 20 to 24, the participation rate dropped from 81.3% to 77%. The number of blacks participating in the state's work force fell from 71.1% to 64.9%.

Douglas Massey of Princeton: a blast of fresh air on Mexican immigrant workers

Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University professor, has closely studied Mexican immigrants and comes up with energetic, constructive interpretations of worker migration into the United. States. I will summarise several of his books. He also wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times on Monday. One of his most intensely argued points is that border security-alone advocates hugely misperceive what the Mexican worker migration is all about. Massey's broad view puts our immigration issues in the context of 160 million immigrants troughout the world.

Crossing the Border (2004) (co-editor)

The full title: “Crossing the Border: Research from the Mexican Migration Project” (2004). Per the review in Amazon, the book draws from “the largest, most comprehensive, and reliable source of data on Mexican immigrants currently available". It is a myth-breaking book:

Continue reading "Douglas Massey of Princeton: a blast of fresh air on Mexican immigrant workers" »

April 2, 2006

The Tyson Foods - illegal immigrant case: past and present.

Steve Striffler’s highly informative book, “Chicken: the dangerous transformation of America’s favorite food”, gives the story behind the indictment and trial of three Tyson Food executives for systematically hiring illegal Hispanic immigrants. I will relate in skeletal form the story. It starts with the arrival of a 20 year old man from Chihuahua into the U.S. in 1979, runs through the poultry industry boom in the 1990s, the federal indictment of and subsequent jury vote in favor of Tyson Foods, and a current effort to sue Tyson for RICO violations.

Continue reading "The Tyson Foods - illegal immigrant case: past and present." »

The Farmworker Justice Fund

This organization, now in its 25th year, promotes improvement in working and living conditions of farmworkers, especially immigrant migrants. It has backed AgJobs legislation, the topic of a future posting.

It’s “Pro-Farmworker Agenda” focuses on

1. Farm Labor Housing and Housing Development Capacity: Farmworkers’ low wages, reluctance to allow farmworker housing in some communities, failure to maintain existing housing, inadequate government funding and other causes have led to a crisis-level shortage of housing and inadequate sanitation.

2. Workers’ Compensation: Farmworkers continue to be discriminated against in many state regarding access to workers’ compensation for work-related injury and illness.

3. "Right to know" about toxic occupational chemicals. Farmworkers have been denied coverage under the hazard communication program of the Occupational Safety and Health Act ….We suggest a federal pilot program in several states to examine whether granting farmworkers the right to know about occupational chemicals reduces the incidence and severity of work-related illness and injury.

4. Farmers’ transition away from toxic pesticides to safer pest control methods would substantially benefit farmworkers by reducing their exposure to toxic chemicals at work.

5. Freedom of Association: Farmworkers employed in an industry substantially supported by government deserve the right to join and organize labor unions free from retaliation, but they presently lack that right. The federal National Labor Relations Act grants that right to other workers but specifically excludes farmworkers. We suggest amending the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the principal federal employment law regarding farmworkers, to grant workers the right to organize, join and participate in labor unions without being discharged or discriminated against in any way by their employers or labor contractors.

6. Unemployment compensation benefits: Business difficulties and the nature of seasonal agriculture prevent many farmworkers from working year-round. Most workers in seasonal industries, such as construction and tourism, can rely on unemployment compensation if they cannot find other jobs during the off-season. a minimum, a business receiving government support should provide unemployment insurance.

7. Transportation to and from work: Many farmworkers do not own their own motor vehicles and live or work in rural areas where there is not public transportation. In many locations, a dangerous business practice has developed. Contractors take money from farmworkers and deliver them to the work site, often in dangerous vehicles, many of which are minivans that lack seats and seat belts.

8. Overtime Pay: Federal law excludes agricultural workers from the payment of time-and-one-half for work in excess of forty hours per week. In California, state law grants overtime to farmworkers after ten hours of work in a day and California remains a highly productive, profitable agricultural state.

9. A Living Wage: The federal minimum wage is utterly inadequate as a minimum wage rate, especially for seasonal employees like farmworkers, whose annual earnings average only about $7,500. A government-supported business should be expected to provide decent work, which includes compliance with all labor laws and a living wage.

April 1, 2006

David Brook’s illuminating column about immigrants

New York Times columnist David Brooks penned what may turn out to the most interesting pro-immigration argument by a moderate conservative. He says that he supports Hispanic immigration for four reasons.

"My first argument is that the exclusionists are wrong when they say the current wave of immigration is tearing our social fabric...My second argument is that the immigrants themselves are like a booster shot of traditional morality injected into the body politic. Immigrants work hard...My third argument is that good values lead to success, and that immigrants' long-term contributions more than compensate for the short-term strains they cause...My fourth argument is that government should be at least as virtuous as the immigrants themselves."

I have quoted his column in full:

Continue reading "David Brook’s illuminating column about immigrants" »

Large Los Angeles immigration rally echoed protests about Proposition 187 in mid 1990s

On Saturday, March 25, a huge, largely Hispanic attended rally in Los Angeles protested anti-illegel immigrant proposals in Congress. Some compared the rally to Hispanic protests against a mostly Republican-backed crack-down law passed by California in 1994, which a federal court later overturned. As noted below, Prop 187 had "devastating impact" on Republican access to Hispanic votes.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times,

A crowd estimated by police at more than 500,000 boisterously marched in Los Angeles on Saturday [March 25] to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall along the U.S.' southern border. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa briefly addressed the rally. "We cannot criminalize people who are working, people who are contributing to our economy and contributing to the nation," Villaraigosa said.
Spirited but peaceful marchers — ordinary immigrants alongside labor, religious and civil rights groups — stretched more than 20 blocks along Spring Street, Broadway and Main Street to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting, "Sí se puede!" (Yes we can!). Saturday's rally…. coincides with an initiative on the part of the Roman Catholic Church, spearheaded by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, to defy a House bill that would make aiding undocumented immigrants a felony. And it signals the burgeoning political clout of Latinos, especially in California.
"There has never been this kind of mobilization in the immigrant community ever," said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "They have kicked the sleeping giant. It's the beginning of a massive immigrant civil rights struggle."
Largely in response to the [immigration] debate in Washington, hundreds of thousands of people in recent weeks have staged marches in more than a dozen cities calling for immigration reform. In Denver, police said Saturday that more than 50,000 people gathered downtown at Civic Center Park next to the Capitol to urge the state Senate to reject a resolution supporting a ballot issue that would deny many government services to illegal immigrants in Colorado. Hundreds rallied in Reno, the Associated Press reported. On Friday, tens of thousands of people were estimated to have staged school walkouts, marches and work stoppages in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta and other cities. In addition, several cities, including Los Angeles, have passed resolutions opposing the House legislation. At least one city, Maywood, declared itself a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.

Proposition 187

Californian Hispanics may be smarting from the attempt, Repblican-led, to crack down illegal immigrants . Wikipedia recounts this 1994 legislative adventure as follows:

California Proposition 187 was a proposition introduced in California in 1994 to deny illegal immigrants social services, health care, and public education. A number of people and organizations were involved in bringing it to the voters. It was introduced by assemblyman Dick Mountjoy (Republican from Monrovia, California) as the Save Our State initiative. It passed with 59% of the vote, but was overturned by a federal court.
Proposition 187 included several additions to the law, falling into two categories.
* All law enforcement agents who suspect that a person who has been arrested is in violation of immigration laws must investigate the detainee's immigration status, and if they find evidence of illegality they must report it to the attorney general of California, and to the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Local governments are prohibited from doing anything to impair the fulfillment of this requirement. The attorney general must keep records on all such cases and make them available to any other government entity that wishes to inspect them.
* No one may receive public benefits until they have proven their legal right to reside in the country. If anyone applies for benefits and is suspected by government agents of being illegal, those agents must report in writing to the enforcement authorities. Emergency medical care is exempted as required by federal law but all other medical benefits have the same test as above. Primary and secondary education is explicitly included.

The LA Times' story went on:

Some Republicans fear that pushing too hard against illegal immigrants could backfire nationally, as with Proposition 187. Strong Republican support of that measure helped spur record numbers of California Latinos to become U.S. citizens and register to vote. Those voters subsequently helped the Democrats regain political control in the state. "There is no doubt Proposition 187 had a devastating impact on the [California] Republican Party," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political consultant. "Now the Republicans in Congress better beware: If they come across as too shrill, with a racist tone, all of a sudden you're going to see Republicans in cities with a high Latino population start losing their seats."

March 29, 2006

Study asserts H-1B visa program undercuts American computer programmers

The Center for Immigration Studies just released a critique of the H-IB visa program. The core message of the study is that employers use the visa program to hire professional workers at wages well below the actually prevailing wages of comparable workers – despite a statutory prohibition. I have entered below the executive summary of “The Bottom of the Pay Scale: Wages for H-1B Computer Programmers” by John Miano and, following that, a useful primer of the program from his study.

H-1B visas by occupation are computer 28%, education 14%, administrative 13%, engineering 12%, health 9%, managers 8%, all others 18%. Visas by country of origin are mainland India 36%, China 9%, Canada 5%. all others 50%.

Executive Summary

The temporary visa program known as H-1B enables U.S. employers to hire professional-level foreign workers for a period of up to six years. Employers must pay H-1B workers either the same rate as other employees with similar skills and qualifications or the "prevailing wage" for that occupation and location, whichever is higher….The analysis demonstrates that…actual pay rates reported by employers of H-1B workers were significantly lower than those of American workers. ….[R]ather than helping employers meet labor shortages or bring in workers with needed skills, as is often claimed by program users, the H-1B program is instead more often used by employers to import cheaper labor.

Key Findings

On average, applications for H-1B workers in computer occupations were for wages $13,000 less than Americans in the same occupation and state.

Wages on approved Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) for 85% of H-1B workers were for less than the median U.S. wage in the same occupations and state.

Applications for 47% of H-1B computer programming workers were for wages below even the prevailing wage claimed by their employers.

Employers can easily manipulate their need to show that the H-1B worker will be paid a prevailing wage. The Department of Labor is hamstrung in enforcing more rigor into this part of the application process.

Employers making applications for more than 100 H-1B workers had wages averaging $9,000 less than employers of one to 10 H-1B workers.

The report goes on to say that many U.S. employers use “bodyshops” (labor service providers) for H-1B workers, thereby making it easier for the employer to obscure how it may be firing American workers in order to hire H-!B workers. And the report says that any investigation of H-1B abuses must be personally approved by the Secretary of Labor.

A primer of H-1B visa program

Continue reading "Study asserts H-1B visa program undercuts American computer programmers" »

March 28, 2006

Senate Committee approves McCain bill on March 27

The Washington Post reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12 to 6 in favor of the McCain bill, which combines a guest worker program, citizenship options, and immigration enforcement. The voting took place under a strict deadline imposed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and as demonstrations erupted across the country against tough enforcement of immigration laws. The 12 vote majority included 4 Republicans (Specter, Graham, Brownback and DeWine and all 8 Democrats.

The Post described the amended legislation as follows:

The panel's bill would allow the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in this country to apply for a work visa after paying back taxes and a penalty. The first three-year visa could be renewed for three more years. After four years, visa holders could apply for green cards and begin moving toward citizenship. An additional 400,000 such visas would be offered each year to workers seeking to enter the country.
Senators also accepted a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would offer 1.5 million illegal farmworkers a "blue card" visa that would legalize their status. The committee also accepted a provision by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) that would shield humanitarian organizations from prosecution for providing more than simple emergency aid to illegal immigrants, rejecting an amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) to require humanitarian groups providing food, medical aid and advice to illegal immigrants to register with the Department of Homeland Security.

The Post described popular demonstrations:

At least 14,000 students stormed out of schools in Southern California and elsewhere yesterday, waving flags and chanting to protest congressional actions. About 100 demonstrators, including members of the clergy, appeared at the Capitol yesterday in handcuffs to object to provisions in the House bill that would make illegal immigrants into felons and criminalize humanitarian groups that feed and house them. More than a half-million marchers protested in Los Angeles on Saturday, following protests in Phoenix, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

ICE no longer to impersonate OSHA personnel

Hazards Magazine
has reports that Immigration Customs and Enforcement (within Homeland Security) has reversed its controversial policy. Per Hazards:

On February 16, AIHA [American Industrial Hygiene Association] sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security opposing word that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau would continue posing as OSHA personnel to conduct immigrant workforce enforcement. AIHA's letter went on to say that while we understood the need for illegal immigrant enforcement, using OSHA personnel to conduct "sting" operations was not the way to go, and would undoubtedly result in making it much more difficult to improve the health and safety of immigrant workers.
Last week, AIHA received a letter (dated March 17) from the Director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Marcy Forman. Ms Forman stated "Effective immediately, the use of ruses involving health and safety programs administered by a private entity or a federal, state, or local government agency (such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) for the purpose of immigration worksite enforcement, will be discontinued by ICE".

This from a press release issued by Aaron K Trippler, Director Government Affairs, American Industrial Hygiene Association, Fairfax VA.

March 27, 2006

Paul Krugman on immigration reform

The New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugram, expresses today deep his caution on immigration reform and a guest worker program. In “North of the Border,” he writes that a guest worker program will likely have the effect of creating a formal sub-class of non-voting workers. Repeating some content some of my prior postings, Krugman writes:

First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.
Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration — especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration.

Krugman ends with these comments about Bush’s guest worker plan:

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's plan for a "guest worker" program is clearly designed by and for corporate interests, who'd love to have a low-wage work force that couldn't vote. Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no incentive to become integrated into our society.
What about a guest-worker program that includes a clearer route to citizenship? I'd still be careful. Whatever the bill's intentions, it could all too easily end up having the same effect as the Bush plan in practice — that is, it could create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.
We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I'd rather see Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.

March 24, 2006

Legal and illegal immigration survey results

CT-based Quinnipiac University conducted in February a poll on attitudes about public policy options for legal and illegal immigration. Legal immigration has become more popular: 59% opposed more immigration in 2002, but only 38% in 2006.

Overall results

39% want to reduce current levels of legal immigration, with 24% want increased levels and 33% say maintain current levels. Some 57% say that illegal immigration is a "very serious" problem, 31% say "somewhat serious."

Immigration: split between red and blue states:

In red states (Bush won by at least 5%) were 42% want to reduce [legal?] immigration. In blue states voters (Kerry won by at least 5% ) were 35% - 36% on the immigration question.

On illegal immigration:

62 – 32% opposed to making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens; 54 – 41% opposed to making it easier for illegal immigrants to become legal workers. 50 – 42% opposed to eliminating the automatic U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants' children born in the U.S.

Immigration bill debate heats up in Washington; filibuster threatened

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times had front page articles today in the immigration debate in Congress. A bush proposal for a guest worker program is still very much alive; so are proposals from McCain, Specter and Frist. The McCain and Specter bills have guest worker provisions; the Frist bill is focused on closing the Mexican-U.S. border to illegal workers, which are now 7.5 million in number.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) said to the Associated Press, "Rarely have I seen an issue that divides people so clearly, with so little possibility of seeking a middle ground." The article printed in the Washington Post refers to the illegal immigrant debate as “an early battle of the 2008 presidential campaign, as his would-be White House successors jockey for position ahead of next week's immigration showdown in the Senate…. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced that he will not accept [a guest worker] program until "we have proven without a doubt that our borders are sealed and secure. At the same time, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) promised this week to filibuster Frist's enforcement-only bill.”

The New York Times, also today, says that Bush said Thursday that his message is: ''If you are doing a job that Americans won't do, you're welcome here for a period of time to do that job”… “The president is working hand-in-hand with employers who want cheap labor to clean hotel rooms, pick crops and do other tasks that they say keep their businesses competitive. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., says he understands those economic issues, but his focus is on the main concern voiced by the social conservatives -- national security.

''The most important thing is that we keep our borders safe, we keep America safe,'' said Frist spokeswoman Amy Call. ''It's obvious there are drugs, there are criminals coming through those borders. There are also people from known terrorist organizations coming through those borders.''

The Times article goes on: Three-quarters of respondents to a Time magazine poll in January said the United States is not doing enough to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country. Roughly the same amount said they favor a guest worker program for illegal immigrants, but 46% said those workers should have to return first to their native countries and apply. About 50% favored deporting all illegal immigrants.”

March 23, 2006

Washington Post columnist: "We don't need guest workers"

Robert Samuelson in the 3/22/06 edition of the Washington Post argues that a guest worker program will lock more poor workers into the American economy, taking jobs away from Americans and disincenting employers from making labor saving improvements. He cites as an example the California tomato industry as one which innovated after cheap labor Mexican labor dried up. Two comments: 1. A guest worker program such as the McCain or Specter bill will increase the cost of immigrant labor, thus to some extent rebalancing the labor costs which Samuelson sees as having gone askew. 2. He does not address what we do with today's 7.5 million undocumented workers.

Below are some excerpts.

Economist Philip Martin of the University of California likes to tell a story about the state's tomato industry. In the early 1960s, growers relied on seasonal Mexican laborers, brought in under the government's "bracero" program. The Mexicans picked the tomatoes that were then processed into ketchup and other products. In 1964 Congress killed the program despite growers' warnings that its abolition would doom their industry. What happened? Well, plant scientists developed oblong tomatoes that could be harvested by machine. Since then, California's tomato output has risen fivefold.
We'd be importing poverty. Since 1980 the number of Hispanics with incomes below the government's poverty line (about $19,300 in 2004 for a family of four) has risen 162 percent. What we have now -- and would with guest workers -- is a conscious policy of creating poverty in the United States while relieving it in Mexico.
It's a myth that the U.S. economy "needs" more poor immigrants. They're drawn here by wage differences, not labor "shortages." In 2004, the median hourly wage in Mexico was $1.86, compared with $9 for Mexicans working in the United States, said Rakesh Kochhar of Pew. With high labor turnover in the jobs they take, most new illegal immigrants can get work by accepting wages slightly below prevailing levels.
Hardly anyone thinks that most illegal immigrants will leave. But what would happen if new illegal immigration stopped and wasn't replaced by guest workers? Well, some employers would raise wages to attract U.S. workers. Facing greater labor costs, some industries would -- like the tomato growers in the 1960s -- find ways to minimize those costs. As to the rest, what's wrong with higher wages for the poorest workers? From 1994 to 2004, the wages of high school dropouts rose only 2.3 percent (after inflation) compared with 11.9 percent for college graduates.
Business organizations understandably support guest worker programs. They like cheap labor and ignore the social consequences. What's more perplexing is why liberals, staunch opponents of poverty and inequality, support a program that worsens poverty and inequality. We've never tried a policy of real barriers and strict enforcement against companies that hire illegal immigrants. Until that's shown to be ineffective, we shouldn't adopt guest worker programs that don't solve serious social problems -- but add to them.

March 21, 2006

Bill Gates on H1B visas; Manhattan Institute on immigration reform

In keeping track of published opinions about immigration reform, I will cite from a 3/21/06 David Broder column on Bill Gates’ efforts to increase temporary professional work visas, and from a 3/15/06 Wall Street Journal column by a conservative think tank about immigration reform. Bottom line messages: liberalize immigration. The only problem: no politician wants to be accused of somehow backing an amnesty program, and their panic about this means that all immigration liberalization is stalled.

Gates wants a lot more foreign programmers here. He says there is a tight employment market now for computer and mathematical operators (less than 3% unemployment rate), and wants to ceiling on temporary professional worker visas to go from 65,000 to 115,000. An H1B visa holder is a “specialty worker” admitted for a temporary term (including extension possibilities) on the basis of professional education, skills, and/or equivalent experience. In 2003, the ceiling went from 195,000 to 65,000.. I have previously posted a plea by the chairman of Intel to raise the H1B ceiling.

The Manhattan Institute fellow, Tamar Jacoby, in “Bitter Sweet Spot,” says we need to do something about “an underground economy the size of Ohio that makes an ass of the law and endangers our security.” However, Jacoby is clearly at a loss as to how Congress will pass legislation allowing most or all illegal immigrants to stay and not have that called amnesty.

That is a rock upon which no Republican wants to run his or her boat -- which is what happened in the past 48 hours to Senator Frist. Out of the blue he proposed a get tough bill without solving the long term status of illegal immigrants, and was slapped down by Senator Specter, intent on getting his own bill through. I posted already an analysis of the worker protections in the Specter bill.

Jacoby sharply critiques the Specter bill because while it provides as the McCain bill does for an adjustment from undocumented worker to form guest worker status, the Specter bill keeps the work permanently in guest status, not offering a citizenship path.

Follow her essentially liberal reasoning:

Continue reading "Bill Gates on H1B visas; Manhattan Institute on immigration reform" »

March 17, 2006

Stalemate for Immigration reform this year?

Per the 3/17/06 Christian Science Monitor (link not available),"Steven Camarota [research director for the Center for Immigration Studies] doubts that Congress will agree on an immigration bill this election year. He sees too great a divide between the views of "elites" and the "public" over the economic and social merit of a massive inflow of foreigners. A legislative stalemate would result in a continuation of what a study for the conservative Heritage Foundation calls "a policy of benign neglect."

The elites, including business leaders, would like an amnesty for the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States - though it wouldn't be called an amnesty but a "guest worker program," perhaps. They welcome cheap immigrant labor. Contrariwise, polls show the public is strongly opposed to letting undocumented immigrants (many with fake papers) obtain citizenship.
The Republican Party is divided on how to deal with the issue, making a resolution even less likely. Democrats are also divided, but they can just sit back and watch the fuss. Fear of terrorism has led to more calls for reform. Almost four of every 100 people in the country today sneaked across the borders or overextended their visa, according to numbers in a new Pew Hispanic Center report. Some 850,000 illegal immigrants have entered the country annually for each of the past six years. If so many illegals can get in, the theory goes, couldn't terrorists use the same routes and get in as well?
On Dec. 16, the House passed a tough border-security bill. It includes a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border, the first-ever criminal penalties for illegals, and a requirement that businesses check the status of new hires on a federal electronic database. If enforced, the bill could stem the flow of new illegal immigrants. If Mexicans, Central Americans, and others can't get jobs in the US, they won't come. The Senate is still working on legislation. But proposals include a guest-worker program that would include what Mr. Camarota regards as amnesty in disguise for illegals living here now.
In rich nations, no program of guest or temporary workers has ever led to such workers going home after their time was up. To think they will is "just silly," Camarota says. In Germany, most Turkish "guest" workers have remained. The same is true of South Asians in Britain and North Africans in France. If a tough law is passed to limit illegals, any plan to send them home would not be enforced, Camarota predicts. Politically powerful business and religious groups would block such action. Making matters more difficult, illegals bear some 380,000 children a year. These babies become US citizens automatically.

March 16, 2006

Wall Street Journal article on employer use of illegal immigrants

The article explores at length employer resistance to burdensome documentation requirements. Bottom line: employers need workers and don’t care if they are undocumented workers. The “Basic Pilot” system set up by the federal government in the 1990s to improve verification has huge holes in it – which employers in effect favor.

The article published today (3/16/06) says that “But that can work to an employer's advantage. As the number of Americans in low-skilled jobs shrinks, employers depend on illegal immigrants for an estimated 400,000 low-wage jobs in need of filling each year. Illegal immigrants keep costs low and the economy humming, so employers have shown little enthusiasm for enforcing immigration laws in the past.”

Business Groups Fault U.S. Plan To Identify Illegal Workers, by June Kronholz

Continue reading "Wall Street Journal article on employer use of illegal immigrants" »

March 13, 2006

The “Real ID” program to catch illegal immigrants: Stalled? Dead?

This program, hatched by Congress last Spring to impose immigrant IDs through the states’ driving license systems, seems to be going nowhere, a reflection of the lack of serious thought put into the idea at the outset. I am presenting here a summary of the bill and excerpts of an information technology magazine article from 2005.

Homeland Security Watch has been monitoring progress and as of late January 2006 found the program to be in a near-complete mess, with wildly ranging estimates of costs and an array of opponents. Consider this: to make Real ID work, you need to get the Registry of Motor Vehicle Departments to not only get their individual IT systems up to snuff, but then to coordinate with a single national IT standard.

Now for a summary of the bill and an early analysis of the IT challenges....

Continue reading "The “Real ID” program to catch illegal immigrants: Stalled? Dead?" »

Sen. Specter Guest Worker bill to expand foreign worker programs for professionals

Per Schusterman's Immigration Update, these are (1) Employment-Based (EB) Immigration -- the “green card” permanent immigration program. A current cap of 140,000 would be raised to 290,000 per year. The other (2) is the H-1B non-immigration program. The cap is now 65,000. It would be to 115,000 annually. Thereafter, the cap would be controlled by a "market based escalator mechanism". However: persons with advanced degrees in math, science, technology and engineering would be exempt from the cap.

EB in depth: See for a for in-depth treatment by Stephen Yale-Loehr and Michael J. Bayer. An excerpt:

The U.S. immigration system has five employment-based (EB) immigrant visa categories that allow up to 140,000 people a year obtain permanent residence (also known as “green cards”) in the United States through their work or skills. These categories are set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which codifies most but not all U.S. immigration laws. This article summarizes the five employment-based categories.
The INA gives first preference to “priority workers,” including noncitizen workers of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives. Second preference goes to professionals with advanced degrees and workers with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. The third employment-based category includes professionals without advanced degrees, skilled workers, and unskilled workers. The fourth EB category provides visas for certain “special immigrants,” such as religious workers. Finally, the fifth EB category reserves a certain number of visas for immigrant investors seeking to enter the United States to start a commercial enterprise that will create or save at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.

The H1B program is overviewed here.

Continue reading "Sen. Specter Guest Worker bill to expand foreign worker programs for professionals" »

March 6, 2006

More than 70% of Congress supports a guest worker program

According to The Washington Times, 3/4/06, “The National Journal Insiders Poll, a survey of members of Congress, found both parties are ready to accept a plan that would allow more foreigners to legally come to work in the United States. Support was 73% among Republicans and 77% among Democrats."

In July the Insiders Poll found that immigration and border security topped the list of issues 'most on the minds of your constituents these days' for Republicans in Congress. In that poll, 17 of 37 Republicans put immigration tops, far above the No. 2 issue of the economy. For Democrats, though, immigration was at the top of the list for just two of the 35 members who responded.

March 5, 2006

Employer obligations in Sen. Specter's guest worker bill

Thanks to Tony Herrera for giving us the URL of Sen. Specter's bill, which as posted is unnamed and unnumbered. The meat of employer obligations is in Title IV, Section 403, "Employer obligations", starting on page 204. Without having carefully compared the language with that of Sen. McCain's bill, I surmise that the employer's obligations and penalties in some respects seem either identical or similar. For instance 204 (b)(3) states that "All workers in this H2C category will be provided the working conditions and benefits that are normal to workers similarly employed in the area of intended employment." The employer must provide workers comp insurance, regardless of what is normally done.

Sen. Sepecter's bill does not have the foreign labor contractor provisions of Sen. McCain's S.1033. Instead, the employer appears free to hire directly or through contractors, but bears per Title III all the legal liability of employer failures to comply. The bill expects to roll out the program throughout the entire economy starting with employers with workforces of at least 5,000. I cannot yet find a prohibition of independent contractor status, which is a remarkable feature of the McCain bill as I pointed out in an earlier posting.

March 3, 2006

Sen. Specter bill on illegal immigrants: some key provisions

I have not located an actual copy of the 300 page –plus bill so I am quoting from a New York Times article. His bill treats workers here before 1/4/04 (my estimate: 6.7 million) more generously than those who have since come (my estimate: 600,000), and all future applicants.

Senator Introduces Bill Creating Guest Worker Program, by Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times, February 25, 2006.


The proposal would require employers to attest that they had tried to recruit American workers before bringing in additional foreigners from abroad and to pay prevailing wages. The plan would not place a restriction on the number of foreigners who could take part in the guest worker program. Those workers would not have the right to become permanent residents or citizens.
Under Mr. Specter's proposal, the guest worker program would be open only to foreigners living outside the United States. Applicants would be sponsored by employers - though they would be allowed to switch employers during their time here - and would undergo background checks and medical screening. If approved, applicants would be allowed to bring their spouses and children to the United States.
Work permits would be granted for three years, after which the worker would have to return to his country for a year and apply again. The guest worker could then be authorized for a second and final work permit for three years.
Illegal immigrants already here
The draft would also authorize millions of illegal immigrants who arrived in this country before Jan. 4, 2004 to remain here indefinitely, along with their spouses and children, as long as they registered with the Department of Homeland Security, paid back taxes and remained law-abiding and employed, among other conditions.
Illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States after Jan. 4, 2004 could also participate in the guest worker program, but only if they returned home and applied from their countries. Those illegal workers who arrived in this country before Jan. 4, 2004 could stay in this country indefinitely, provided that they underwent background checks and did not remain unemployed for 45 days or more.

The undocumented worker debate in Washington this week

The Center for Immigration Studies has brought together several newspaper articles about the current status of immigration reform in Washington. The debate is 99% focused on undocumented workers, and involves internal divisions among Republicans. Some want a get tough program alone; others like Specter and Frist want to ensure a continued supply of labor.

Specter trying to forge a consensus

Congress to Debate Illegal Immigration” by Suzanne Gamboa of the AP, 3/2/06 as printed in the Washington Post writes that “Pressure to move forward intensified this week as governors meeting in Washington said they consider immigration one of their major concerns and made them an agenda item in their private meetings with Bush and his Cabinet.

The House managed to pass a border security bill last year - pleasing conservatives clamoring for an immigration crackdown. But that came only after House leaders beat back an attempt by some GOP members to include President Bush's proposal for a temporary worker program.

In contrast, the Senate is wading right into the thorny guest worker issue. Debate was starting Thursday with the Senate Judiciary Committee taking up an immigration reform bill drafted by the committee's chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

Specter told fellow senators in advance that the bill is 'a framework for building a consensus.' Specter's plan would allow immigrants who entered this country before Jan. 4, 2004 and who have jobs to participate for up to six years in the temporary worker program.

[My guess is that since then there has been a net increase of 600,000 in the number of undocumented workers – PFR]

Continue reading "The undocumented worker debate in Washington this week" »

February 27, 2006

McCain Guest Worker bill S 1033: strong worker rights provisions

The current draft of S. 1033 probibits non-immigrant aliens using the Act to work in the U.S. from being employed as independent contractors. They will instead be employees of a foreign labor contractor. This provision is decidedly helpful to the worker in any industry that sees a lot of sub-contractors of questionable financial competence and sees aggressive use of independent contractor status to lower worker costs. Best example: construction, in particular residential construction. Jon Coppelman of WorkersCompInsider considers the independent contractor provision is very beneficial to the worker and questions if it will survive the legislative process. (He himself is a formeer union carpenter.)

My summary of some provisions:

Recognizes role of foreign labor contactor.

The term `foreign labor contracting activity' means recruiting, soliciting, hiring, employing, or furnishing, an individual who resides outside of the United States for employment in the United States as a nonimmigrant alien described in section 101(a)(15)(H)(v)(a).

The worker will not be treated as independent contractor

Notwithstanding any other provision of law-- A) a nonimmigrant alien is prohibited from being treated as an independent contractor; and (B) no person may treat a nonimmigrant alien ….as an independent contractor.

Enjoys all labor “rights and remedies”

A non-immigrant alien shall not be denied any right or any remedy under Federal, State, or local labor or employment law that would be applicable to a United States worker employed in a similar position with the employer because of the alien's status as a nonimmigrant worker.

February 24, 2006

Line up of endorsers of McCain guest worker bill

McCain's bill calls for gradual conversion of undocumented workers to a legal status. It is free of the Rube Goldberg complexity and get-tough approach of proposals of Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

According to the Phoenix Business Journal

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is teaming with top labor unions, other business interests and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in support of a guest worker program and legal way for undocumented workers already in the U.S. to stay in the country. Arizona Congressmen Jeff Flake and Jim Kolbe, as well as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, behind the bill

Also behind the bill are U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) are the Service Employees International Union, the second largest union, the Laborers International Union, the American, bishops group and the American Health Care Association. The Arizona state chamber also backs that guest worker effort. The ALF-CIO has taken a position in opposition to guest worker legislation.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) officially endorsed a guest worker program.

Other heavyweight business interests backing guest worker include the Travel Industry Association of America, Ford Motor Co., Eastman Kodak, DaimlerChrysler and the California Chamber of Commerce.

Go here to get a copy of the bill, Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act – S. 1033

The New York Times today carried a profile of Eliseo Medina, vice president of the Service Employees International Union, the nation's second-largest union, and an advocate of Bush’s guest worker program proposal.

H-2A visas - snapshot of wage and worker comp rules

The wage or rate of pay must be the same for U.S. workers and H-2A workers. The hourly rate must also be at least as high as the applicable Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), federal or state minimum wage, or the applicable prevailing hourly wage rate, whichever is higher. The AEWR is established every year by the Department of Labor. For 2005, the minimum wage set by DOL for Washington State is $9.03.

The employer must provide workers' compensation insurance where it is required by state law. Where state law does not require it, the employer must provide equivalent insurance for all workers. Proof of insurance coverage must be provided to the regional administrator before certification is granted.

Thai worker case in WA reveals turmoil in use of foreign workers

A case involving a employer in Washington State who hired Thai workers on a temporary visa program puts into sharp relief today’s turmoil in using foreign workers under federally run special visa programs. The employer is being investigated by federal and state officials. And local American workers are suing the employer.

According to Rural Migration News, the state of Washington reached a $230,000 settlement with Los Angeles-based Global Horizons September 22, 2005 over the treatment of 170 H-2A visa Thai workers who picked apples in the state in 2004. Global agreed to reimburse their travel costs and improperly deducted wages.

The H-2A temporary agricultural visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature, and for which the employer attests there are not sufficient numbers of American workers.

Per the report,

Thai H-2A workers say that they had to pay $2,000 each in Thailand to get the H-2A contracts, putting up their homes and land as collateral for the cost of getting work visas. According to the Thai workers, only persons with land and other assets that they could pledge to Global were allowed to get H-2A contracts. Once in the US, 24 of the Thai workers abandoned their contracts.
Local workers are suing Global in federal court, alleging that they were not hired when they applied for the jobs that Global filled with Thais.
Washington's Department of Labor and Industries and the Employment Security Department sent a letter to Global Horizons on December 20, 2005,saying that it was in violation of state laws requiring timely payment of unemployment taxes. Under the September 2005 settlement, Global was to retain an independent third party to investigate and provide reports on the company's treatment of workers, which it had not done.

The wage or rate of pay must be the same for U.S. workers and H-2A workers. The hourly rate must also be at least as high as the applicable Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), federal or state minimum wage, or the applicable prevailing hourly wage rate, whichever is higher. The AEWR is established every year by the Department of Labor. For 2005, the minimum wage set by DOL for Washington State is $9.03.

The employer must provide workers' compensation insurance where it is required by state law. Where state law does not require it, the employer must provide equivalent insurance for all workers. Proof of insurance coverage must be provided to the regional administrator before certification is granted.

February 19, 2006

2004 Green card awardees: what work they do

Not available for technical reasons.

February 17, 2006

Illegal immigrants pay taxes, like we do

This is the occasional reminder that I consider substantive differences few among these alternatives: illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, and undocumented workers. I personally use “undocumented workers”. But when citing a source such as a news article I usually defer to the source’s preference.

Contradictions abound. Do Lou Dobbs' illegal aliens pay taxes? Apparently a lot – with no prospect of getting Soc Security or Medicare benefits.

According to the New York Times, since enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986, which imposed stricter alien identification rules, a lot of underground taxpayers appeared. The Feds have

…Received a flood of W-2 earnings reports with incorrect - sometimes simply fictitious - Social Security numbers. It stashed them in what it calls the "earnings suspense file" …. The file has been mushrooming ever since: $189 billion worth of wages ended up recorded in the suspense file over the 1990's, two and a half times the amount of the 1980's.
In 2002 alone, the last year with figures released by the Social Security Administration, nine million W-2's with incorrect Social Security numbers landed in the suspense file, accounting for $56 billion in earnings, or about 1.5 percent of total reported wages.

February 15, 2006

IRS gives taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) to undocumented workers

This from The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Ft Lauderdale), February 12, 2006 Undocumented workers must report income, by Allan Wernick

The law requires undocumented immigrants to report income to the Internal Revenue Service under the same rules that apply to other earners. If you want to file a tax return but don't have a Social Security number, you can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number as a substitute. An ITIN is a nine-digit number used for tax purposes. You get the number by including IRS Form W-7 the first time you file a tax return.

Many undocumented immigrants want an ITIN for banking and other purposes. The IRS now issues ITINs to undocumented immigrants only if they file a tax return. Given this rule, workers who worked 'off the books' and didn't file in the past might want to consider filing this year.

According to the IRS, to get an ITIN you must have a legal obligation to file a return. You have that obligation if you earned $400 or more as an independent contractor. Examples of an independent contractor are day laborers doing yard work for different homeowners each day and part-time housekeepers working, as needed, cleaning apartments.

Continue reading "IRS gives taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) to undocumented workers" »

February 11, 2006

NY Times: U.S. officials defend fake OSHA sting

More on the immigration agency's sting tactic, and on a similar but abandoned tactic by Houston police,

Following up on my posting a few days ago, I see that the New York Times (subscription may be required) today ran an article about the controversial tactic of immigration officials to conduct sting operations by impersonating OHSA training officials. The tactic appears to be focused on workers at defense installations and appears to assume that terrorists may gain access to critical defense installations through cleaning and grounds keeping contractors, and then exploit the vulernabilities of illegal immigrants.

ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) used the tactic in July, 2005, to lure and arrest workers from Latin America and Europe working at Seymour Johnson Air Force near Goldsboro, in North Carolina.

I have found one other use of sting tactics to arrest undocumented workers – an operation by the Houston police department in 2005, which it said it will not repeat (see below).

And in Chicago, federal and other law enforcement agencies undertook in 2003 a massive non-sting search for terrorism suspects – to in the end arrest undocumented people working as food service workers and such, none of whom had terrorist connections (see below).

Continue reading "NY Times: U.S. officials defend fake OSHA sting" »

February 10, 2006

H-1B visas and the engineering workforce shortage, per Chair of Intel

Craig Barrett, Chair of Intel, recently wrote a commentary for the Financial Times (payment required) and afterwards responded to reader questions.

Begun in 1998, the H-1B program has annual caps which in 2003 was 195,000. In 2004 the cap was cut to 65,000. As of 2004, close to 1,000,000 H-1B visa holders were believed to be working in the United States, up from about 360,000 in 1998. This means an annual addition of about 150,000 workers a year into the American workforce.

Compare this stream to the supply of engineers coming from American higher education (many of whom are foreigners)? In 2004, there were about 70,000 bachelor, 40,000 master, and 6,000 doctoral degrees were awarded by American colleges and universities. This is from the American Society of Engineering Education

H1B Visa (Professional in a Specialty Occupation) allows a U.S. employer to fill a position requiring the minimum of a baccalaureate in the particular field with a qualified worker from abroad. The foreign worker must possess that U.S. degree or an acceptable foreign alternative. In some cases, a combination of studies and relevant experience may substitute for the degree if it is determined by a credentials expert to qualify the foreign professional. The large majority of H1B visa holders are believed to be engineers.

Per Barrett:

Continue reading "H-1B visas and the engineering workforce shortage, per Chair of Intel" »

February 8, 2006

Immigration officials to continue to impersonate OSHA safety trainers

In July 2005 federal immigration officials impersonated OSHA safety trainers in a sting to lure and arrest illegal aliens working for subcontractors at an airforce base in North Carolina. See below for the first paragraphs of a New York Times article on that event.

The blog Confined Space now reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials reportedly plan to continue this tactic, according to Inside OSHA (paid subscription):

Immigration officials told immigration and labor groups during a closed-door meeting Jan. 30 that the department will continue to have its agents pose as officials from other agencies, including OSHA, to nab illegal immigrants at work sites, despite earlier signals the policy would be dropped. The meeting was set up to discuss last year's controversial sting operation where ICE officials posed as OSHA employees, which had prompted an outcry from labor groups and concerns from OSHA.
OSHA was not present at the meeting.
ICE officials told attendees of the meeting that the department's first priority is national security and public safety and they would not change their controversial sting policy, according to sources involved in the discussions. In a letter sent to [the National Immigrant Law Center] NILC last year, ICE officials said they would no longer continue the practice, however, they now say they view everything from a threat-based level and would continue to increase their work site enforcement of food production companies and industries related to national security, the sources say.

Continue reading "Immigration officials to continue to impersonate OSHA safety trainers" »

February 3, 2006

TN's program for driver’s license and Real ID

What is going on with driver's licenses and immigrants? And what is Real ID?

The State of Tennessee is cited as a state intent on making a driver’s license or certificate available two individuals without requiring a valid social security number. According to a recent AP story published in the Washington Post (registration required), Tennessee continues to have a liberal policy towards awarding of driver’s licenses. This is at a time when state governments are beginning to struggle to comply with the Real ID requirements Congress imposed in 2005, to be effective in 2008.

The AP reported on 1/29/06 that

Tennessee has issued more than 51,000 certificates since it became the first state to offer them in July 2004, but not every certificate has gone to someone living there.
The disclosures come as Tennessee's certificate system is being studied as a possible model for handling "non-conforming drivers" under the Real ID program recently enacted by Congress that will set a national standard for driver's licenses by 2008.
Although the words "not valid for identification" appear in bold red letters on the face of the wallet-size certificates, banks accept them as legal ID.
“What we tried to do in Tennessee was to recognize that there are people who may be legally here but they are not completely documented," Gov. Phil Bredesen said.
Tennessee had started licensing illegal immigrants, without a Social Security number requirement, in early 2001. More than 180,000 obtained licenses before 9-11 fears set in. The driving certificates were created in 2004 to satisfy homeland security concerns while allowing illegal immigrants to drive with certified proficiency.

Here is a brief analysis of Real ID when Congress passed it in May 2005 as part of a supplemental budget act. The following was excerpted from

According to the bill, the Homeland Security Department will be responsible for setting those standards. Under the Real ID Act, driver’s licenses and personal ID cards must include the cardholder’s legal name, date of birth, address, gender, signature, card number, digital photograph, physical security features to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication and common machine readable technology with defined minimum data elements.
State motor vehicle administrators must verify the validity of at least four feeder documents, such as a Social Security card or passport, before issuing driver’s licenses or personal ID cards.
By Sept. 11, states must sign a memorandum of understanding with DHS to use the automated Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements system to verify the legal presence of a driver's license applicant who is not a U.S. citizen. States must capture digital images of applicants and electronically exchange driver histories with other states.
According to the bill, the new measures would take effect in three years, possibly affecting travel and access for some individuals. For example, federal officials could stop people from boarding a plane or entering a building if they have a driver's license or personal ID card from a state that does not comply with the federal standards.

The National Immigration Law Center issued in October 2005 a comparison of application requirements for U.S> Passport and “Real ID” Driver’s License.

The National Employment Law Project contributed analysis used in the NILC's study.


February 2, 2006

Size of the illegal alien population (2000 - 2005)

We will be addressing this matter multiple times as we explore in the future alternative ways of measuring the size of this population. This posting focuses on methods of measurement.

The Center for Immigration Studies summarizes how the Federal Current Population Survey handles this matter, in its Immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of America's Foreign-Born Population in 2005.

It is well established that illegal aliens do respond to government surveys such as the decennial census and the Current Population Survey. While the CPS does not ask the foreign-born if they are legal residents of the United States, the Urban Institute, the former INS, the Pew Hispanic Center, and the Census Bureau have all used socio-demographic characteristics in the data to estimate the size of the illegal population.15 Our preliminary estimates for the March 2005 CPS indicate that there were between 9.6 and 9.8 million illegal aliens in the survey. It must be remembered that this estimate only includes illegal aliens captured by the March CPS, not those missed by the survey. By design this estimate is consistent with those prepared by the Census Bureau, Immigration and Nationalization Service (INS), Urban Institute, and Pew Hispanic Center.16 While consistent with other research findings, it should be obvious that there is no definitive means of determining whether a respondent in the survey is an illegal alien with 100 percent certainty. We estimate that in 2000, based on the March 2000 CPS, that there were between seven and 7.2 million illegal aliens in the survey. This means about 2.5 to 2.7 million, or about half of the 5.2 million growth in the foreign born between 2000 and 2005 was due to growth in the illegal population. We also estimate that 3.6 to 3.8 million or almost half of the 7.9 million new arrivals are illegal immigrants.