Australia: immigrant nation

Australian residents have double the foreign born population than the U.S. in terms of percentage of total population and their foreign-born population is growing much faster than ours.

The Australian population, per its government report issued on June 27, grew 8.8% between 2011 and 2016 to 23.7 million. Compare that to the 3.8% U.S. population growth in the same period. Had U.S. grown as fast as Australia since 2011, we would have today 15 million more people and 10 million more workers.

1.3 million new migrants arrived in Australia since 2011, with China (191,000) and India (163,000) being the most common countries of birth. That is equivalent to about 75% of growth in population. Compare that with the growth of the foreign-born population in the U.S. of about one million a year, equivalent to 40% of the growth of the total U.S. population since 2011.

A quarter of Australian residents are foreign born, compared to 13% of the U.S. population. For the first time in its history, the majority of foreign-born persons Australia are from Asia, not Europe. Today, Mexican and other Latin American born immigration are probably half of our immigrant population while Asians comprise about 28%. But recent Asian immigrants outnumber Latin American immigrants.

New Brain Gain for the U.S.

The world is better educated, education is more international, and we are receiving the results without any change in official immigration policy. The politics of immigration today is largely unaware of these trends.

In New Brain Gain from the Migration Policy Institute, facts are presented.

The share of recent immigrants who have college degrees has been higher than the share of native-born Americans with college degrees since at least 1990, is not before. Since 2010, close to half of recent immigrants had graduated from college before arriving – 86% of Indians, one quarter of Latin Americans, and about 65% of Europeans. In contrast, about 30% of native-born Americans have college degrees.

The rise in college education among immigrants is mostly attributable to the increase in Asian immigration and the rise in the educational level of Latin American immigrants.

In about half the American states, recent immigrants are over 50% college educated and in six states (NH, MI, DE, DC, IA and VT) over 60% college educated. California, the most populous immigrant state, shows 50% of recent immigrants as college educated. A large state with a political leadership that tends to be restrictive in preferred policy is Texas. Its native-born population is 30% college educated; the total immigrant population is about 23% college educated, and about 45% of recent immigrants are college educated.

Still, most recent arrivals are not proficient in English. The share of recent immigrants who were English proficient was 34% in 2000 and in 2015 43%.  Between these years, unauthorized immigration from Mexico largely dried up and Asian immigration rose; also international student enrollment rose steeply.

The Migration Policy Institute includes all foreign person visas, including temporary work and student visas. Education is rising around the world, most notably re: American immigration among Latin Americans. Student visa volume has risen by a lot, and college enrollment has turned into an important immigrant channel for college-educated foreigners. This has happened even while the total share of global international students has declined from 23% in 2000 to 19% in 2013.

In sum, the world is better educated, education is more international and we are receiving the results.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump extends, withdraws protections of unauthorized persons

Last week, Homeland Security assured protection of about 1.1 million unauthorized persons but withdrew Obama’s proposed protection of another 3.6 million persons. There are about 11 million unauthorized persons in the country.

The media reported widely that the Secretary of Homeland Security extended the Obama Administration’s protection of unauthorized persons who arrived in the United States as children in recent years. This protection, DACA, was issued on June 15, 2012.

Pew Research reported that more than 750,000 persons have received formal protections under DACA and that about 1.1 million are eligible. This total figure accounts for about 10% of unauthorized persons in the U.S.

However, at the same time the Secretary removed another provision that protected parents of children who were American citizens – DAPA. That provision was created by Homeland Security on November 20, 2014. It was challenged in the courts, which put a hold on the order. The Trump administration cancelled the order.

DAPA applied to an unauthorized person with the children who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, who has been in the country since before 2010, and who is not subject to other priority removal policies, such as relating to persons with criminal records.

The Migration Policy Institute and Urban Institute estimated in early 2016 that DAPA would have covered 3.6 million unauthorized persons – that is, persons with at least one child who is legally able to stay in the country. The report said that “Providing work authorization for these unauthorized immigrant parents could raise the average DAPA family’s income by 10 percent. Despite very high male labor force participation, the poverty rate for DAPA families is 36 percent, compared with 22 percent for all immigrant families, and 14 percent for families with U.S.-born parents.”

DACA and DAPA were cases of “deferred action.” Homeland Security described this type of action in the November, 2014 memorandum as follows:

“Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion by which the Secretary deprioritizes an individual’s case for humanitarian reasons, administrative convenience, or in the interest of the Department’s overall enforcement mission. As an act of prosecutorial discretion, deferred action is legally available so long as it is granted on a
case – by-  case basis, and it may be terminated at any time at the agency’s discretion. Deferred action does not confer any form of legal status in this country, much less citizenship; it simply means that, for a specified period of time, an individual is permitted to be lawfully present in the United States. Nor can deferred action itself lead to a green card.”

Changing the business model of seasonal business?

The Trump administration effectively cut in half the number of temporary H-2B visas for 2017. This has caused employers to scramble to find workers for landscaping, amusement park, resort housekeepers and similar jobs. The New York Times and the Washington Post ran stories of desperate employers.

As reported by the NY Times, “Eric Haugen, who runs a landscaping company in the Denver area, regularly posts ads in newspapers, on Craigslist and on street signs for positions that pay $14 to $25 an hour, with health care and benefits. ‘We hire every single person who shows up’ for an interview, he said. We are lucky if one reports to work.’ ”

“On Mackinac, the 393-room Grand Hotel is short staff. ‘Without them, we would be looking at changing our entire business model,’ Jennifer King, general manager of the property, said.”

Daniel Costa of the Economics Priority Institute told Congress in 2016 that “Despite such claims from industry groups—other than employer anecdotes—no credible data or labor market metrics have been presented by non-employer-affiliated groups or organizations—let alone by disinterested academics—proving the existence of labor shortages in H-2B occupations that could justify a large expansion of the H-2B program.”

A labor shortage can be defined as (1) rising real wages relative to other occupations, (2) faster-than-average employment growth, and (3) relatively low and declining unemployment rates.

Wage trends: for the top 15 H-2B occupations, “there was no significant wage growth for workers; wages were stagnant (growing less than 1 percent annually) or declined for workers in all of the top 15 H-2B occupations between 2004 and 2014.”

Employment growth: “the top 15 H-2B occupations had widely varying rates of employment growth. Six experienced employment declines; seven experienced growth that was positive and above the 5.5 percent growth rate for all occupations; and two experienced growth that was lower than the percentage change for all occupations.”

Unemployment rates: The average annual unemployment rate for all workers in the United States in 2014 was 6.2 percent. During 2013–2014, none of the 15 H-2B occupations was at or below the overall U.S. unemployment rate for 2014.

A Cambodia-born state representative in Massachusetts

Starting in 1975, some 150,000 Cambodians came to the United States as refugees. Since the mid 1990s immigration has been mainly on a non-refugee status. There are today a quarter million Cambodian immigrants. One of the earliest settlements was Lowell, Massachusetts, where today 13% of the population is Cambodian.

Here is Rady Mom’s story:

The Khmer Rouge came. One night you were sleeping in your bed, the next night on the ground. We dodged all the bullets to get out. Here are photos of my family at the Khao-I-Dang camp in Thailand, and my family today. The Chester Park Church in Duluth, Minnesota, sponsored us and 34 other families. We moved from Duluth to Lowell, Massachusetts in 1984. In 2005 I ran for city council but lost. In 2015 I was elected as state representative for 18th Middlesex District State, the first Cambodian elected state office holder. You see a lot of people going to Cambodia to seek wives, and to give financial support to relatives there to launch businesses.

I am a third generation practitioner of acupressure. Today I work under the guidance of Grand Master Wong, who lives in Lowell.

Mexican Crab pickers along Chesapeake Bay

Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute reports on how Mexico temporary workers in Maryland are paid $3 an hour less than local American workers in the same job: manipulation of local wage surveys. He writes:

H-2B workers from Mexico are paid $9.50 an hour. These 80 workers are classified under the occupational title of “Meat, Poultry, and Fish Cutters and Trimmers.” According to DOL survey data, the national average wage for this occupation is $12.27 per hour, and the Maryland statewide average wage is $13.32 per hour. The workers are paid less per hour than the statewide and local average wage of for this work in the eastern shore of Maryland ($12.87).

How are employers allowed to pay such low wages to their H-2B workers? By using their own local wage surveys. The George W. Bush administration changed the H-2B wage rules to allow employers to use these wage surveys. The rule was later found by a federal court to have been illegally promulgated, and Obama’s DOL proposed to fix this early in the administration with a rule that required employers to pay their H-2B workers the local average wage according to DOL wage survey data.

For nearly the rest of the Obama administration, H-2B employers managed to stop the wage rules from being enforced, both through litigation and by convincing Congress to defund DOL’s enforcement of the rules. Eventually, in April 2015, DOL and the Department of Homeland Security promulgated a new H-2B rule which required employers to pay the local average wage, and which included new, stricter rules for private wage surveys. But employers got a rider in the fiscal 2016 omnibus appropriations bill expanding the use of private wage surveys.

The quick, talented women who come from Mexico on H-2B visas to pick crabmeat in Maryland deserve to be paid $3 to $4 dollars more per hour—at least the local or state average wage for the jobs they do. And who knows? At $13 an hour, maybe some Maryland residents would want to give crabpicking a try, just as they did before the H-2B visa was created.

Deportations for non-criminals soar

Even the good hombres……

Andres Magana Ortiz, 43, a businessman in Hawaii who has lived in the United States for nearly three decades. He has fathered three children born in the United States, the oldest of whom is 20 years old and attends the University of Hawaii. His wife is a U.S. citizen. He is well established in Hawaii’s coffee farming industry and worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in researching pests afflicting the island’s coffee crops, allowing the government to use his farm without charge to conduct a five-year study. A federal judge, Stephen Reinhardt, called him “by all accounts a pillar of his community.”

The Department of Homeland Security began proceedings to remove Magana Ortiz when it filed a notice for him to appear in 2011 with the Immigration Court in Honolulu. He is about to be deported, having lost all appeals, removed to Mexico and will be subject to a 10-year bar against his return to the United States. He has no black marks against him, except two drunk driving incidents long ago that were not the grounds for his deportment.

The Washington Post wrote that in Trump’s first 100 days in office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 41,318 immigrants, up 37.6 percent over the same period last year, the agency said Wednesday. Almost 3 out of 4 of those arrested have criminal records, including gang members and fugitives wanted for murder. But the biggest increase by far is among immigrants with no criminal records.

“This administration is fully implementing its mass-deportation agenda,” said Gregory Chen, government relations director for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “They’re going after people who have lived here for a long time.”

Acting ICE director Thomas Homan said the statistics released Wednesday show that agents still prioritize lawbreakers: 30,473 criminals were arrested from Jan. 22 to April 29, an 18 percent increase from the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, arrests of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled to nearly 11,000, the fastest-growing category by far.

“Will the number of noncriminal arrests and removals increase this year? Absolutely,” Homan said. “That’s enforcing the laws that are on the books.”