Immigration top problem for Reps, not for Dems

The Gallup Poll reports: 16% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP vs. just 4% of Democrats and Democratic leaners mention immigration as the most important problem of the country. Only 7% of Republicans cite the federal budget deficit at the top problem.


Illegal workers pay into Social Security, rarely benefit

From the Social Security Administration:

While unauthorized immigrants worked and contributed as much as $13 billion in payroll taxes to the OASDI [Social Security and Disability Insurance] program in 2010, only about $1 billion in benefit payments during 2010 are attributable to unauthorized work. Thus, we estimate that earnings by unauthorized immigrants result in a net positive effect on Social Security financial status generally, and that this effect contributed roughly $12 billion to the cash flow of the program for 2010. We estimate that future years will experience a continuation of this positive impact on the trust funds.


Recent events show that comprehensive reform will not happen

Two events of the past few days show that it will be practically impossible for comprehensive reform of immigration in this administration. The chief reasons are that (1) President Trump can inspire his base by executive branch action (such as the recent publicized raid on 7-11s) without Congressional involvement and (2) Congressional involvement will always require compromise with pro-immigration forces.

The Washington Posts’ article “Inside the tense, profane White House meeting on immigration” captures the practical impossibility of compromise.

According to the Post, Trump talked by phone with Democratic Senator Durbin, and assured in the call that Durbin and Republican Senator Graham were in agreement over a comprise for the DREAMERS, and invited them to the White House. This is what they experienced:

“But when they arrived at the Oval Office, the two senators were surprised to find that Trump was far from ready to finalize the agreement. He was “fired up” and surrounded by hard-line conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who seemed confident that the president was now aligned with them, according to one person with knowledge of the meeting.

“Trump told the group he wasn’t interested in the terms of the bipartisan deal that Durbin and Graham had been putting together. And as he shrugged off suggestions from Durbin and others, the president called nations from Africa “shithole countries,” denigrated Haiti and grew angry. The meeting was short, tense and often dominated by loud cross-talk and swearing, according to Republicans and Democrats familiar with the meeting.

“Trump’s ping-ponging from dealmaking to feuding, from elation to fury, has come to define the contentious immigration talks between the White House and Congress, perplexing members of both parties as they navigate the president’s vulgarities, his combativeness and his willingness to suddenly change his position. The blowup has derailed those negotiations yet again and increased the possibility of a government shutdown over the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers.””


Africa Is Sending Us Its Best and Brightest

From Tyler Cowen’s column in Bloomberg: One of the most striking facts about immigration to the U.S., unbeknownst even to many immigration advocates, is the superior education of Africans coming to this country. If we consider adults age 25 or older, born in Africa and living in the U.S., 41.7 of them have a bachelor’s degree or more, according to 2009 data. For contrast, the native-born population has a bachelor’s degree or more at the much lower rate of only 28.1 percent in these estimates, and foreign-born adults as a whole have a college degree at the rate of 26.8 percent, both well below the African rate.

In addition, about three-quarters of African migrants speak English, and they have higher than average rates of labor force participation. They are also much less likely to commit violent crimes than individuals born in the U.S.

Economist Edward Lazear suggests a simple experiment. Consider immigrants to the U.S. from Algeria, Israel and Japan, and rank them in order of most educated to least educated. The correct answer is Algeria, Israel then Japan. Although that’s counterintuitive at first glance, it’s easy enough to see how it works. If you are Algerian and educated, or aspire to be educated, your prospects in Algeria are relatively poor and you may seek to leave. A talented, educated person in Japan or Israel can do just fine by staying at home. These kinds of considerations explain about 73 percent of the variation in the educational outcomes of migrants.

In other words, Trump is not only being offensive, he is also quite wrong

Roadmap for DACA deal

Bipartisan Policy Center proposes a deal involving permanent protections for Dreamers and border enforcement. Here are some excerpts:

There is a bipartisan deal to be had on DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals]; permanent status for DREAMers in exchange for additional border security. That high-level outline seems like an easy win for the president, Congress, and DREAMers. Not only that, but it makes for good policy. Finding agreement will mean that DACA legislation cannot become a “wish list” for either interior enforcement on the right or more expansive immigration reforms on the left.

Provisions for Dreamers:

Expand the category of persons covered. [This will cause the target population to grow from about 800.000 to upwards of two million.]

Create a secure path to a green card and citizenship.

Their parents: “it is now clear that addressing their status in this bill would cause one side or the other to block the legislation, and so we believe it should not be included at this time.”

Provisions for enforcement:

Technology: Deploy region-specific technology to appropriate sectors of the southern border, such as radar surveillance systems.

Infrastructure: rebuild roads and barriers, improve security and enforcement technology at ports of entry through additional cameras/surveillance of traffic/pedestrian areas.

Personnel: Increase the number of CBP officers at ports of entry; increase training for CBP officers and Border Patrol agents.

Require annual reporting to Congress and the public on extensive metrics on how the increased efforts have affected entry attempts and successful or unsuccessful border crossings

Six Questions about the Limited English Proficient (LEP) Workforce

What does “Limited English Proficiency” mean and how is it measured?

The U.S. Census asks survey recipients if they speak a language other than English at home. If the answer is “Yes,” the next question is what language, and then “How well does this person speak English?” See below. Any answer other than “Very well” defines the respondent as Limited English Proficient.

How many LEP workers are there?

Nearly one in 10 working-age U.S. adults, or about 19 million. Sixty percent are high school graduates, including 15% with a college degree. The median earnings of English proficient workers are 39% higher than LEP workers overall, and 30% higher among those with bachelor’s degrees.

Are LEP persons all immigrants?

No. 13% of the LEP population is native-born, half of whom were born in California, Texas, or Puerto Rico. Of the native-born LEP adults, 77 percent speak Spanish, 3 percent speak French, and 3 percent speak German. Over 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are LEP. Estimates suggest that about a third of LEP persons may be unauthorized immigrants.

Why don’t they “just learn English?”

The number of adults served by English language and civics training programs dropped from 1.1 million earlier in the 2000s to about 700,000 in 2011. States have traditionally contributed about three-quarters of the funding for adult English education, but face deficits and many have cut their education budgets.

Are most of them Spanish speakers?

Yes. 66% of the U.S. LEP population speaks Spanish. 18.4% are speakers of Asian and Pacific Island languages. Asian and Pacific Island language speakers are most likely to be LEP. 47% of speakers of these languages are LEP, compared to 45%. Among languages with at least 100,000 speakers who are LEP, those who speak Vietnamese are most likely to be LEP, at just over 60%.

Where to they live?

Mostly in large cities. The top five metro areas for total LEP population are: New York City area (18.3 % LEP), Los Angeles area (25.7%), Miami area (23.2%), Chicago area (13.0%), and Houston area (17.8%).

The metro areas with the highest share of working age persons who are LEP are: McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX (32% LEP), El Paso, TX (29.8%), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana (25.7%), Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (23.2%), and. Fresno, CA (22.8%)

— from research by Jill Wilson of the Brookings Institution

Non immigrant visitors to the U.S.

There is no unduplicated count of visitors to the U.S. that are not permanent resident (green card) holders – i.e. persons who are not “immigrants.” (Green cards are issued to about one million persons a year.)

Canadians and Mexicans are by far the most frequent visitors to the U.S. For short tourism or business stays Canadians do not need a visa but Mexicans do. I cannot find an unduplicated count of these visitors, but in total annual border crossings Canadians accounted for about 104 million of the 181 million border crossings in 2016, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Aside from Canadians and Mexicans, about 22 million persons enter legally through the Visa Waiver Program, available to citizens of most developed countries, allows visitors to travel to the United States for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. The countries with the most visitors in this category are the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany. France, Australia and Korea.

Then there are about 10 million persons who receive one of 24 different temporary visas generally allowing them to stay more than 90 days. They are commonly referred to by the letter and numeral that denote their subsection in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); for example, B-2 tourists, E-2 treaty investors, F-1 foreign students, and H-1B temporary professionals. Eight of the 10 million come for business or tourism. About two million come in special categories, such as (2016 figures) were temporary workers (883,000), students (513,000), and cultural exchange visitors (380,000). Visas issued to foreign nationals from Asia made up 45% of these visas issued in FY2016.

How the Koreans in New York City evolved

The history of Korean immigration in the New York City area is rich with lessons about the pathways for an immigrant population.

Due to racist immigration restrictions, there were hardly any Koreans in the United States before the 1965 reform act. There was a surge between the mid 1970s and the 1990s, then a subsiding, as economic and political conditions on Korea improved. About one tenth of them came to the New York City area. For the most part they were not well educated and had problems with English. They lived in enclaves in Queens.

They took to self-employment, starting or buying small businesses as neighborhood groceries in poor communities. The Korean grocery became a common feature. Korean grocers served a traditional economic function of middlemen between economic classes. Then, grocery chains killed off the neighborhood grocery, and they turned to services for the middle class—nail salons and dry cleaners. Koreans currently dominate these sectors. Immigrants in the U.S. are more than native Americans inclined to running small businesses because they offer compared to employment relatively better economic prospects.

In the area in Lower Manhattan, at Broadway and 32nd St., became known as Korea Town due to the concentration of import and wholesale companies….these companies have almost completely left and the area transformed to Korean restaurants, salons and shops.

Gradually more formally educated Koreans arrived, such as graduate students who may have studied on the West Coast and migrated to New York. Starting in the 1990s, and accelerating after 2000, many Koreans left New York City for middle class communities in Bergen County in New Jersey, where there are a lot of Korean amenities.

There about 150,000 Korean immigrants in the New York City area now. Nationwide, these immigrants are better educated than native born Americans. The Korean population for the entire country, one million, has been flat for some years.

Much of this is from a chapter on Koreans in New York City by Pyong Gap Min, in One out of three: Immigrant New York in the 21st Century.

Public charge policy changes could severely reduce green cards

The administration’s proposed public charge policy could reduce the awarding of green cards (now about one million a year) by several hundred thousand, per analysis by the Kaiser Foundation.

On October 10, the Trump Administration published proposed rules which would greatly expand the criteria under which applicants for a green card would be denied due to public charge rules. The expansion is complicated, a comparison with existing rules is here. The comment period for new rule ended December 10.

The proposed rule would expand the programs that the federal government would consider in public charge determinations to include previously excluded health, nutrition, and housing programs, including Medicaid. It also identifies characteristics DHS could consider as negative factors that would increase the likelihood of someone becoming a public charge, including having income below 125% of the federal poverty level (FPL) ($25,975 for a family of three as of 2018).

Who is affected by the public charge standard?

The proposed rule would directly affect noncitizens seeking to obtain LPR status. DHS data show that 1.1 million individuals obtained LPR status in 2017, including about 550,000 living within the U.S. who adjusted to LPR [green card] status and about 580,000 who entered the U.S. as a new arrival. About 380,000 of the 550,000 individuals who adjusted to LPR status within the U.S. did so through a pathway that would likely be subject to a public charge determination. Some groups, including refugees and asylees, are exempt from public charge determinations.

How many of these people without a green card could be barred under the proposed rules?

Nearly all (94%) noncitizens who entered the U.S. without LPR status have at least one characteristic that DHS could potentially weigh negatively in a public charge determination under the proposed rule. The most common characteristics that DHS could consider negative factors are a household size of three or more (78%), no private health coverage (59%), and no high school diploma (40%). In addition, over one-third (34%) have income below the 125% FPL standard the proposed rule would establish. Just over one in four (26%) are enrolled in a public program that the rule identifies as a public benefit.

Over four in ten (42%) noncitizens who originally entered the U.S. without LPR status have characteristics that DHS could consider a heavily weighted negative factor …. current enrollment in a public benefit (26%), not being employed and not a full-time student (and aged 18 or older) (27%), and having a disability that limits the ability to work and lacking private health coverage (3%).