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August 19, 2009

health uninsured rates among immigrants: far higher

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates, from federal household survey data, that the healthcare uninsured rate among immigrants is 33% vs the 13% rate for native born Americans. Over a quarter of uninsured Americans are immigrants. The high uninsured rate is high among both legal and illegal immigrants.

Many of course get health insurance for free from community clinics and hospitals under free care provisions. This adds to the cost of health insurance, as hospital free care costs can be made up for by charging insurers more. Universal health insurance coverage will effectively remove this transfer of costs onto private health insurance, at least health insurance for legal immigrants.

The CIS summary in full:

As Congress and the nation debate health care reform, the impact of immigration policy is an important component of that discussion. This Memorandum provides information about immigration’s effect on the nation’s health care system. The analysis is primarily based on data collected by the U.S. government in March 2008 about insurance coverage in the prior calendar year (2007).

Among the findings:

* In 2007, 33.2 percent of all immigrants (legal and illegal) did not have health insurance compared to 12.7 percent of native-born Americans. (Table 1)

* Immigrants account for 27.1 percent of all those without health insurance. Immigrants are 12.5 percent of the nation’s total population. (Figure 1)

* There are 14.5 million immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) who lack health insurance. They account for 31.9 percent of the entire uninsured population. Immigrants and their children are 16.8 percent of the nation’s total population. (Figure 1)

* In 2007, 47.6 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children were either uninsured or on Medicaid compared to 25 percent of natives and their children. (Figure 2)

* Lack of health insurance is a significant problem even for long-time residents. Among immigrants who arrived in the 1980s, 28.7 percent lacked health insurance in 2007. (Table 2)

* The high level of uninsurance among immigrants is partly explained by the large share who have low levels of education. This means they often have jobs that do not provide insurance. Moreover, their lower incomes often make insurance unaffordable.

* Cultural factors may also contribute to the high rate of immigrant uninsurance. College-educated immigrants are twice as likely as college-educated natives to lack health insurance.

* In an earlier study, the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that 64 percent of illegal immigrants were uninsured in 2006, accounting for one out of seven people without insurance. If the U.S.-born children (under 18) of illegal immigrants are included, they account for one out of six people without insurance.

* Among legal immigrants (non-citizens), 27 percent were uninsured in 2006.

August 17, 2009

immigrant employment and unemployment -- figures

The Center for Immigration Studies issued two reports today, August 17, about native and immigrant employment.

Share of jobs held by immigrants:

One report looked at percentage of 465 occupations and what share of workers were immigrants. Overall, immigrants comprise about 13% of the workforce. The jobs with over 50% going to immigrants are plasterers, agricultural product sorters, personal groomers, and tailors, dressmakers and sewers.

The immigrant share of the following jobs are: maids and housekeepers, 45%; taxi drivers, 42%; butchers, 37%; grounds maintenance workers, 35%; and construction laborers, 35%.

As for upscale jobs, the following are the immigrant share: medical scientists, 44%; physical scientists, 37%; computer hardware engineers, 30%; physicians and surgeons, 27%; software programmers, 23%; and registered nurses, 13%.

Unemployment rates:

In June 2009, the official unemployment rate for native-born Americans was 9.7 percent, but the broader U-6 measure was 16.3 percent. The U-6 measure includes people who would like to work but have not looked for a job recently, as well as those working part-time involuntarily. For all immigrants, the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent and the U-6 measure was 19.7 percent.

There are 12.7 million unemployed native-born Americans, but using the U-6 measure the number is 21.7 million. 2.348 million immigrants workers were unemployed; the U-6 measure was 4.828 million.

The unemployment rate for native-born Americans with less than a high school education is 20.8 percent. Their U-6 measure is 33.2 percent. The unemployment rate for immigrants with less than high school education is 12.8 percent. Their U-6 measure is 27.1 percent.

The unemployment rate for young native-born Americans (18-29) who have only a high school education is 18.5 percent. Their U-6 measure is 30.3 percent. The unemployment rate for young immigrants (18-29) with only a high school education is 9.6 percent. Their U-6 measure is 24.2 percent.

The unemployment rate for native workers with college degrees was 4.8 percent; for immigrants with college degrees, 7.1 percent. Their U-6 measures were, respectively, were 8.9 percent and 11.6 percent.

August 10, 2009

Obama expects immigration reform legislation later this year

He looks forward to it being passed in 2010. Such from his press conference in Guadalajara, Mexico today. Here is the article from the Washington Post:

By William Branigin, Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 10, 2009

President Obama, attending a North American summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, vowed Monday to pursue comprehensive U.S. immigration reform later this year with a view to enacting legislation in 2010 that would provide a "pathway to citizenship" for millions of illegal immigrants in the United States.

In a joint news conference in Guadalajara with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Obama also pledged continued support for Mexico's war on powerful drug cartels, saying he was confident the battle could be waged "in a way consistent with human rights."

In their two-day summit, the three leaders said they discussed those and other topics, including trade, a recent coup in Honduras and efforts to combat the spread of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

Questioned about criticism in Latin America that the United States has not been doing enough to support restoration of the ousted president of Honduras, Obama pushed back, accusing such critics of hypocrisy.

"The same critics who say that the United States has not intervened enough in Honduras are the same people who say that we're always intervening and Yankees need to get out of Latin America," Obama said. "You can't have it both ways. . . . If these critics think that it's appropriate for us to suddenly act in ways that in every other context they consider inappropriate, then I think what that indicates is that maybe there's some hypocrisy involved in their approach to U.S.-Latin America relations that certainly is not going to guide my administration's policies."

Asked about the prospects for immigration reform in view of the blows to his administration over health care legislation and mid-term elections next year, Obama dismissed the idea that the elections would play a role, saying he would not act "on short-term political calculations."

He said he regards immigration reform as being in the long-term interest of the United States. "We have a broken immigration system," he said. "Nobody denies it." Continuing on the current path means tensions with Mexico, danger for those trying to cross into the United States illegally, unfairness for those trying to immigrate legally, exploitation by unscrupulous employers, the depression of U.S. wages and other ills, Obama said.

"It's not fair, and it's not right, and we're going to change it," he said. But he said it was "very important for us to sequence these big initiatives in way where they don't all just crash at the same time." He said meetings have begun on immigration reform among House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano coordinating the discussions.

"I would anticipate that before the year is out we will have draft legislation, along with sponsors potentially in the House and Senate, who are ready to move this forward," Obama said. Then, next year, "we should be in a position to start acting," he said, although he acknowledged that "this is going to be difficult." The overhaul would give illegal immigrants in the United States the opportunity "to achieve a pathway to citizenship so that they don't have to live in the shadows," Obama said. "So I'm confident we can get it done."

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.

Lead Senate sponsor Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said the bill could serve as 'the baseline' for any immigration reform legislation that the Senate may consider.

The Senate already has shown its appetite for increased immigration enforcement. It recently amended the Department of Homeland Security's appropriations bill to require federal contractors to check the work eligibility status of all of their employees.

Another amendment would prohibit DHS from rescinding a never-implemented Bush administration regulation that would force employers to fire employees if their Social Security numbers don't match government records and the discrepancy can't be resolved.

Chamber open to 'workable' system

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups have filed lawsuits challenging the mandatory use of E-Verify by federal contractors and the legality of the proposed Social Security number 'no-match' rule.

It also petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court July 24 to review the constitutionality of an Arizona law that requires businesses in that state to use E-Verify.

'Employers are being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of conflicting state and local immigration laws,' said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center. 'The Supreme Court needs to step in and make it clear that it's up to the federal government to set national immigration policy.'

Making E-Verify mandatory could be part of that national policy, if the requirement is rolled out in stages and small businesses are exempted, said Angelo Amador, the chamber's executive director of immigration policy.

Contractors also should not be liable for undocumented workers hired by subcontractors, he testified July 23 at a House hearing on E-Verify. The verification requirement also should apply only to new employees, not existing ones, he said.

'Reverifying an entire work force is an unduly burdensome, costly proposition, and unnecessary given how often workers change jobs in the United States,' Amador testified.

Eight trade associations representing the construction industry made similar points in a joint statement submitted at the hearing.

'A new employer verification system must be workable not only for the Fortune 100 companies in the U.S., but also the small employer who has three employees, and who thinks they might have an email address but couldn't tell you what it is, because they've never tried to use it,' said the statement.

Any mandatory verification system must include a telephone option, according to the statement, and not require companies 'to buy a lot of expensive equipment.'

Others want to scrap E-Verify

Other business groups, however, want Congress to scrap E-Verify because of errors in government databases and its inability to detect identify theft. They instead favor development of a new employment verification system that would use advanced technology -- such as biometric scans -- and fewer, more-secure identity documents.

'We believe employers are entitled to a quick, unambiguous and accurate answer from the government to the query whether an employee is authorized to accept an offer of employment,' states the Human Resource Initiative for a Legal Workforce, which primarily represents large employers. 'Unfortunately, mandating E-Verify without change will not meet this need, and may make the challenges more difficult for reputable employers and legal employees.'

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services added a photograph screening capability to E-Verify in 2007, but it only works for DHS-issued identify cards. It would like to include driver's license photos in its screening tool, but so far, no state has agreed to provide this information to USCIS.

'We are working to find ways to detect and deter fraud to the extent possible,' said Gerri Ratliff, deputy associate director of the agency's National Security and Records Verification Directorate. 'Incorporating driver's license information and photos would strongly support this effort.'