Status of immigration bills as of December 8 2022

Now that we are closing in on Democratic control of the House, I want to review the pressing  legislative initiatives for immigration.  There is no assurance that any of these initiatives will meet the 60 vote threshold in the Senate.

The Eagle Act (HR 3648), originally introduced in 2021, will remove the country caps for H-1B visa. The main beneficiary of the act will be Indians. (Text here.)

Farm Labor, through the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 (HR 1603), passed by the House at that time. (Go here for the text). The farm industry has long tried to legalize its unauthorized workers. (Go here for my posting in May 2022). (Go here for the text,) Here is an argument for the act.

The Dream Act of 2021,( S. 264), which is the latest iteration of legislative efforts since Obama’s executive order of June 2012 which created legal protection for children brought illegally into the country but has antecedents going back to 2001. (Here is a recent argument for passage now.)

A Senators Tillis and Sinema bill, being rushed into introdution as of now, would lealize Dreamers, authorize Title 42, and add border security. The Wall Street Journal has endorsed it

The Eagle Act

The Eagle Act would do more: address a backlog in conversation of H1-B visas to Green cards, but will do that not by increasing the total number of Green Cards but claiming a share of them; and removing the aging out risk for children here due to dependency on parent visas, who reach 21 years of age. (Here and here.)

The text of the Eagle Act has as of today the original 2011 language unchanged: HR 3648, Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2022.

The White House endorsed the Eagle Act on December 6.


I cite two.  On is an opinion article on The Hill on November 11 chastises the Democrats for failing to fashion a bill which would be more palatable to Republicans. The author harks back to the most recent comprehensive reform bill, in 1986, which failed in stemming illegal migration, though the initiatives do not address general amnesty.

Second, the American Hospital Association criticizes the bill because it is almost exclusively focused on temporary tech workers and does nothing about the nursing shortage. The AHA writes: “Most foreign-trained nurses are not qualified to come into the U.S. on an H-1B visa. They instead must apply for legal permanent resident status, or a green card, to be granted employment-based immigration for themselves and their family members. We continue to support the green card process as the most effective way to offer permanent employment for nurses.”

Once again the labor shortage

The U.S. workforce now is three million fewer than would be the normal number based on pre-pandemic trends. (At the depths of the pandemic it was five million fewer.)  This places even greater than before dependence on the inflow of immigrants.

Today, the workforce participation rate of 25-54 year olds, which was at a near 21st Century high of 83% in 2019, is now at 82.5%, and the rate for 55 and older, which used to be at 40.3%, is now at 38.3%.

Growth of the workforce, which averaged about 1.4% per year prior to the pandemic, will be about 0.4% for the next ten years, according to federal forecasts—about 600,000 a year.  Most of this annual gain is due to immigration.

Biden’s initial immigration proposal in early 2021 was to increase immigration by about 500.000 a year, which would increase the annual inflow of workforce – type people from about 500.000 to 750,000.

Also go here.




Pay attention to India


Shruti Rajagopalan,  who writes the Substack blog Get Down and Shruti,  predicts that the country will be a global sources of IT talent, and that the U.S. is committing hari-kari because it is so hard for Indians to migrate here. Excerpts:

At present, both India and China have 1.43 billion people. The difference is that while China will depopulate and age over the next forty years, during the same time, India will add the same number of people China loses, over a quarter of a billion.

Globally, one in five people below 25 is from India. 47% of Indians, about 650 million, are below the age of 25. This group of young Indians has some unique characteristics.

First, they have grown up in a market economy, post-command-and-control socialism. Two-thirds of Indians were born after the 1991 big bang reforms and have not experienced rationing and long lines for essential goods (other than episodic shortages during Covid). They have lived in an India that has averaged about 6 percent annual growth for three decades. They have access to global goods and content, and this generation of Indians wants and expects to compete with the world.

Second, a large proportion of these young Indians have grown up with access to the internet, with more coming online each year. Close to two-thirds of the population has access to a smartphone, and by 2040, it will be over 95% of Indians. Indians have access to some of the cheapest mobile data plans in the world, and charges are $0.17 per gigabyte on average, with plans as low as 5 cents per gigabyte.

Third, compared to their parents and grandparents, this generation of Indians has grown up exposed to some English, though only the rich with elite education have native-level fluency.

Another difference compared to previous generations is India’s growing number of entrepreneurs and the vibrant startup culture.

Indians will be the largest pool of global talent. Barring immigration restrictions or diversity quotas, in the next few decades, Indian students will form the single largest international student cohort at most top universities in the English-speaking world.

Universities should plan for the future, hire and engage scholars working on India more seriously, start programs and centers focused on India to understand its political economy and culture better, have more papers on India in their top journals, and publish more books on India through their university press.

The single largest pool of talent will be STEM graduates. American and British labor markets face a massive shortage of STEM graduates, usually filled by foreign-born/trained students

The US has a particularly bad immigration system where Indians are concerned. First, the US issues too few work visas relative to the demand generated by US firms, especially for highly skilled STEM talent from large countries like India and China.

During the tech boom in the nineties, Indians easily moved to Silicon Valley and rose to the top. Top STEM talent today is reluctant to move to the US and deal with immigration problems for decades. The UK, Canada, or founding their own start-up in India, are far more appealing. Given changing global demographics, the country caps obstructing Indian talent is hara-kiri for the US labor market and innovation.

This is also bizarre as a policy preference, given that highly skilled Indian immigrants have an excellent track record of assimilating, are often considered the model immigrant community, have an incredible track record of leading blue-chip American companies, and are dubbed “The Other One Percent.” If nothing changes and Indian talent cannot easily flow to the US, in a few decades, US capital and US firms will move to India.

Countries that are depopulating, like Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Portugal, and Japan, should seriously think about attracting young Indian talent to settle permanently.

English is the 44th most spoken language in India (at native-level fluency). Only about 1.5 million Indians speak English as their first language. But about 15-20 million have relatively high levels of English fluency as a second language, and another 200 million can understand basic English.


Afghan admission to the US, as of late 2022

The immediatepost war admission to the U.S. of persons from one of our post WW 2 wars was about 100,000 (go here). We are close to that figure now…subsequent admissions will be in the 100s of 1000s.

From the New York Times: The [U.S] government has helped resettle more than 88,000 Afghans in the United States, according to the Homeland Security Department, many of them with temporary humanitarian parole status. And since the beginning of the Biden administration through Nov. 1, the government issued nearly 19,000 Special Immigrant Visas, which are reserved for Afghans who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan.

But approximately 63,000 applications for such visas are still being processed, the State Department official said. And because each applicant has, on average, more than four eligible family members who would also receive the visa, according to the State Department, the fate of more than 315,000 Afghans hangs on the adjudication of those applications.

A key voluntary organization is Evacuate Our Allies.

The Afghan Adjustment Act would:

Provide a pathway to permanent legal status for Afghan parolees and Afghans who were lawfully present in the United States prior to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.  Establish an Interagency Task Force responsible for creating and implementing a strategy to continue the relocation and resettlement of eligible Afghan partners from Afghanistan over the next ten years, and providing much-needed intra-governmental coordination.  Require the U.S. Department of State to respond to congressional inquiries related to SIV applications or U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) referrals. Expand SIV eligibility for Afghans who worked and served alongside U.S. forces, including members of the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command, the Afghan Air Force, the Female Tactical Teams of Afghanistan, and the Special Mission Wing of Afghanistan, as well as certain Afghan family members of U.S. service people and veterans.

SIV – Special Immigrant Visa – for Afghans and Iraqis is described here and here.

Recent emigration from Russia due to the war

The migration of persons from and to Russia due to the war is hard to estimate, but there is consensus that very many have left to former parts of the Soviet Union, while many Russians who had settled in Ukraine during the Soviet period have returned to Russia.

There have been two waves: the first immediately after the war began; the second, after the new draft announced on September 21.

The single best analysis of the first wave was published in English by Riddle on July 25:

A team of sociologists from OK Russians conducted several surveys on Russian emigration and found that the majority of migrants settled in Turkey (24.9%), Georgia (23.4%) and Armenia (15.1%). Following the outbreak of the war, Israel greatly simplified its repatriation rules for Ukrainian and Russian Jews in March 2022. About 2.8% of respondents moved to Israel. Slightly smaller numbers of migrants arrived in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan — about 2% of all respondents. The most popular European destination countries were Serbia (1.9%), Montenegro (1.7%), Estonia (1.6%), Germany (1.6%) and Spain (1.5%) (see Figure 1). The choice of countries was largely random and depended on the availability of tickets and the rules for entry and stay. This was noted by 58% of respondents. Less than half of the sample plan to stay in these countries (43%). A quarter plan to move on (18%), 35% felt confused at the time of the survey, and as few as 3% plan to return to Russia.

Pre-war migration patterns were complex due to the demographic of the Soviety Union.

As of 2020, Russia had 11 million foreign born persons, 3.2 million of whom came from Ukraine (which was about half of all Ukrainians living outside the country), and 2.6 million from Kazakhstan. (Go here.)

An expert on area migration said this in May 2022: “According to our estimates, from the late 1980s to 2017 inclusive, there are about three million people who were born in Russia and live in far abroad countries. That is, not 11 million [as in the UN data], but three. So, if you use UN statistics, you should, if possible, remove the former Soviet republics from it. That will be more correct. For example, many people were born in Russia and moved to Ukraine during the Soviet era. Or take the “punished” peoples: Latvians and Lithuanians returned from exile with children who were born in Russia.”

Western estimates of emigration due to the war are extremely tentative.

The Carnegie Endowment says that 100,000 people moved from Russia to Kazakhstan immediately after the invasion.

The Economist estimates for the first wave that “A survey of recent émigrés showed that about a quarter of those who left settled in Georgia. The same number went to Istanbul, and another 15% ended up in Armenia. (These places do not require visas for Russian citizens.) Nearly half of those who left work in computing and it, according to a survey carried out in March. Another 16% were senior managers; 16% more worked in the arts and culture.” Note that these figures are from early 2022.

The New York Times estimates that, for the second wave, 200,000 have left since the new draft began in early September.

Canada: top immigrant country

From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Statistics Canada reports that 8.3 million people, or 23 per cent of the population, are foreign born, topping the previous record of 22.3 per cent in 1921. 14% of American residents are foreign born.

Immigrants and permanent residents now make up a larger share of Canada’s population than they do in any other G7 country.

Canada’s population grew by 5.4 per cent from 2016 to 2021. New immigrants accounted for 71.1 per cent of that growth. The U.S. grew by 2.7% in those years; 14% was due to the growth in foreign born; growth would have been much higher had immigration not slowed down greatly.

(American Community Survey data here.)

From 2016 to 2021, immigrants accounted for four-fifths of Canada’s labour force growth. The U.S. workforce growth is almost entirely due to immigration, although this is not evident during the few years of immigration decline.  (Go here and here).

Between 2016 and 2021, 218,430 new refugees were admitted to Canada as permanent residents.  About the same number of refugees were admitted to the U.S, with eight times the total population. (Go here.)


The Latino vote in November 2022

“We should aim for new narratives about Latinos that are as complicated and divided as America itself.” — from There Is No One Story About Latino Voters: The results of last week’s midterm elections are good news for Latino voters, who should be viewed with more nuance by both parties, by Geraldo Cadava in The New Yorker, November 14:

In the spring of 2021, after months of analysis, a consensus emerged that Trump won thirty-seven or thirty-eight per cent of the Latino vote in 2020, rather than the twenty-seven per cent reported in the American Election Eve Poll or the thirty-two per cent reported by national exit polls. Today, most professionals have settled on the idea that exit polls aren’t definitive, and the only way to really know how Latinos voted is to wait for precinct-level results, which take time to analyze.…..

Governor Ron DeSantis won the Latino vote outright, and not only among anti-communists. He won sixty-eight per cent of the Cuban vote, but also fifty-five per cent of the Puerto Rican vote and fifty per cent of votes from “other Latinos” (Venezuelans, Colombians, Mexicans, etc.)…..

[The varied results from the November elections] display an image that’s more blurry than clear. That’s a good thing, if not for Republican or Democratic partisans then for Latinos. It shows that both parties have work to do in winning Latino voters, and should lead to more curiosity about Latinos, not as Republicans or Democrats but as a rapidly growing group of Americans. Democrats have argued that Latinos by and large support progressive policies, on issues that include reproductive rights, the cost of health care, climate change, and gun safety. Yet support for those policies hasn’t necessarily translated into votes. Democrats see this largely as a problem of messaging, but it would be a mistake for them to ignore how many Latinos are drawn to Republican support for American exceptionalism, charter schools, religious freedom, lowering taxes, and slashing financial regulations.

What would be most unfortunate is if Republicans and Democrats cherry-picked the results that favored their narrative the most, to help them argue that there’s no need to shift course and no lessons to be learned from what happened in 2022. If the current partisan narratives hold—that Latinos are moving back toward the Democratic Party (not universally true), or that Latinos are becoming Republicans (also not universally true)—the conversation two years from now will be the same as it has been for the past two years. Instead, we should aim for new narratives about Latinos that are as complicated and divided as America itself.

I have commented on the rise of the Hispanic electorate here, here and


U.S. vs foreign born compared by education level

I’ve been looking for this for some time – the shares of 25 + year old persons, U.S. born and foreign born, by educational level. I found data here, then estimated the two populations for 25 or older. The results are inexact, but confirm that which we knew: a disproportionate share of adults with less than high school education are foreign born.

The table, however, does not reveal that in the past 10 or so years, recent immigrants are much more formally educated than earlier arriving immigrants. This shift reflects how the dominant type of immigrant 1980 – 2005 was from Latin American, since then from to Asia. The Asian immigrant population has almost doubled since 2000. The table shows that among all living persons 25 + years, 34% of U.S. born persons and 34% of foreign-born persons had a college or advanced degree. In 2013, 41% of recent immigrants had college or advanced degrees. Go here, here and here.

Indian IT college grads are staying in India

The Times of India reports that recent IT graduates of Indian universities are no longer going abroad. Students say that the opportunities for an IT career are better in India. The Times writes that in the early ’90s, the outflow of computer science graduates was so great that the World Bank suggested a tax on IT and other professional talent leaving the country. Now less than 15% of recent graduate leave, and more are going to Japan than to the United States. And, the model of one-way brain drain needs to be replaced with a model of brain circulation throughout the world.

I recently posted on how the Indian IT industry was built in part on know-how gained by Indian IT professionals working temporarily in the United States. This is an example of circular migration, a fact of much migration today which is poorly documented.  Rising economies around the globe, higher global education levels, and increasing ease of migration, are behind this circular motion.