200 years of immigration to the U.S. in one graphic

The National Geographic has compressed close to two hundred years into a graphic that mimics the rings in a tree.

The creators say:

These immigration “rings” expand during years when certain welcoming factors are prevalent, such as when American immigration policies become less restrictive and its economy offers greater opportunity. The “rings” tend to stay slim during years of war or economic upheaval.

The origins of U.S. immigrant populations also transform from era to era. In the 1840s and 1880s, European immigrants came mainly from northern and western Europe, whereas the famous influx of the early 1900s, symbolized by Ellis Island’s gateway, emanated mostly from southern and eastern Europe. Immigration from Asia rose between 1970 and 2000, while large-scale immigration from Latin America began in 1950 and lasted for half a century. Immigration from Africa only becomes visible in the 21st century, though early U.S. Census data omits populations of slaves and indigenous communities.

A Unitarian view’s on immigration

We Unitarians understand that our shared covenant is not just an internal dialog but also a conversation with the world. The spark to right action is inclusion, expressed in our covenant. This leads to community, then to the safe and culturally prosperous city, then to a safe and more culturally prosperous society. No matter what is said in Washington to fracture America, we are masters of our covenant. And we choose inclusion.

The America that we know best is a society that practices the arithmetic of addition. In truth, our inclusion of people from other countries is part of our inclusion of all others here. That is, our approach to immigration should be in part informed by our advocacy of civil rights over the past 70 years. The immigration act of 1965 was in some respect an extension of the civil rights movement. Civil rights are expressed in the courts, but are expressed more fundamentally in recognizing the other, and in championing the value of lifting all boats in all aspects of life.

Any democracy is founded on the principle of self-determination. Our Unitarian covenant is an expression of this principal. We need, as Unitarians, to say to other Americans that inclusion of others from other countries works.

Including is how we strive to act. It strengthens our self-determination. To say this is not a wistful remembrance of past waves of immigration. We are speaking about today’s world. We as Unitarians not just here but nationwide, are called upon to speak truth for inclusion for our country.

From my reflection at the North Chapel, Woodstock, Vermont, July 8, 2018

Recent rapid immigrant-growing states

Between 2010 and 2016 the immigrant population grew by 9%. Among the 15 states with the fastest growth, immigration grew by 15%. These states include six northern plains states and two large states – Pennsylvania and Florida. They accounted for 40% of population growth in these 15 rapid states, compared to 33% of population growth nationwide. In PA and WV, immigrants made up for a decline in the native-born population.

Immigrant adults in the 15 states with the fastest immigrant growth have higher levels of education than U.S. immigrants overall: about 76% in 2016 reported having earned a high school degree or higher, compared to 71% of all foreign born and 91% of all U.S. born in the United States. But they have more higher ed experience than the entire U.S. population: 53% have a college BA, some college or an associate’s degree, compared to 40% for the entire country.

Immigrants in the 15 states participate in the labor force at a somewhat higher rate than their native-born counterparts—66% in 2016, compared to 62% of the U.S. born.

About 16% of immigrant families had an annual income below the federal poverty line, compared to 12-14% among the U.S. born.

From Migration Policy Institute


Goodlatte farm bill opposed by California farmers

Representative Bob Goodlatte’s farm bill is being pushed by conservatives. It would create a new class of guest worker for farms, require employers to use e-Verify, and require all illegal workers to “touch back” outside the U.S. before being eligible for the new guest worker visa. I have described the bill here.

According to the Dept of Agriculture, 47% of the country’s farm workforce is unauthorized to work.

In a news article in March, the opposition by farmers was manifest. “We’re having constant communications with Republicans in Congress about this,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of the Western Growers Association, headquartered in Irvine, Calif. Like other industry groups, Nassif says his members support an overhaul of the H-2A visa program for seasonal workers that the Goodlatte bill proposes. But the legislation creates more problems, he said, including the so-called “touchback” provision requiring current workers to return to their legal country of residence.

California’s agricultural sector has a particularly high reliance on seasonal workers and those in the country illegally. “We don’t believe, after talking to our farmers, that people here with false documents are going to raise their hand … and touch back,” said Nassif. Combined with the threat of mandatory e-verify checks, California farmers fear those workers will simply flee, and “then we lose our entire workforce,” he said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s congressional district includes most of Kern County, the fourth largest farm county in the country.

Who are these young deportees in Mexico?

New Comienzos (New Beginnings), headquartered in Mexico City, was founded in 2014 by a deportee from the United States, Isreal Concha, who had spent 30 years in the U.S. The organization has helped thousands of young deportees to orient themselves in Mexico. Some speak very little Spanish.

Its website pitches to deportees:

Legal/psychological help: “Thanks to the support of the Citizen Council, our community of dreamers, repatriated persons and binational families in Mexico have support in an emergency situation.”

English Certification: “Do you have 80% -100% of English? Would you like to obtain a free English certification from the SEP and INEA? “ (This will help them get a job in an English language call center.)

Programming Course: “Would you like to change careers and become a programmer? Now you can change your future and apply for this 5 month course where you can get great benefits.”

Volunteer at the airport: “Join us every Wednesday at 12:00 pm, CDMX Airport, Terminal 2, N Gate, to receive our newly deported compatriots. We are a community that supports each other.”

A New York Times article describes young deportees this way: “They dress differently, they think differently, they speak broken Spanish and they dream in English. They miss everyday American life and its special occasions. They long for American food, rattling off every conceivable American chain restaurant. Several insist that Mexican tacos couldn’t begin to compete with Taco Bell. They are American football fans rather than soccer aficionados. A handful confess they aren’t following the World Cup because the United States didn’t qualify.

They can still proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the United States national anthem. They loved observing United States holidays and several still do even back in Mexico. On Thanksgiving they expressed gratitude for opportunities the United States provided them. On July 4, they celebrated a country where “everyone praises each other’s successes.”

Continued widespread support for DACA

The National Immigration Forum in April reviewed 14 polls taken between January and April of 2018 and found consistent support for protection of DACA people. They account for from 700,000 to close to 2 million of the 11 million undocumented persons in the country.

“Throughout, there was significant public consensus for allowing these immigrants to remain in the U.S. While responses sometimes varied between polls, depending on how the question was asked, overall support remained consistent throughout this period. Sympathy for the Dreamers crossed party and ideological lines, as well as race and ethnicity. Weak support can be found only in self-identified “conservatives,” and in President Trump’s strongest supporters. Even with these groups, not every poll showed weak support, such as if a legislative deal for the Dreamers included funding for a border wall.

“Voters are more inclined to blame the president and Republicans in Congress if no permanent solution for the Dreamers is passed. Voters are skeptical that the president wants the Dreamers protected from deportation.

A package with the border wall?

“The CBS/YouGov poll also asked respondents if they would support allowing DACA recipients to stay in the U.S. if there was a package that included funding for the border wall. As with the Quinnipiac poll mentioned above, support flipped. Overall, just 42 percent of respondents approved of such a package. However, Republicans (62 percent), conservatives (58 percent) and Trump supporters (62 and 63 percent), said they supported allowing DACA recipients to stay in exchange for funding for the wall. Of those who said they did not support the president, just 21 percent supported the package. When support for DACA recipients is combined with the wall, responses correlate to support or opposition to the president and his signature campaign promise.”

The Democratic Party and Latinos

Thomas Reston, in Soul of a Democrat, addresses the national political agenda of Democrats regarding Latinos:

What we really have here is the current day test of the Democrats’ professed faith in the Jeffersonian political myth of the quality of man. The mission of the Democratic Party in America is to strengthen and stabilize the Republic in justice by recognizing and embedding new communities within the national mainstream…..You would think that the Democrats would take this job on as a political imperative of the first order. Already, the Latino community is well over 50 million strong and by the time today’s youth has retired it will amount to roughly 30% of the nation’s population

The true challenge Democrats need to grapple with is what kind of people Latinos are and what they believe in and what they have to contribute to the common culture of the United States.

Everyone is struggling now for a way to understand the relationship between Latinos and this country. Anglos who are alert are looking for useful explanation. Even Latinos are looking for the simple, clarifying narrative arc to explain their story to the country and need to explain it to themselves. Of course, the Latinos themselves must conceive this narrative in the first place. Even so this reality does not exempt political parties from the responsibilities to join in the effort to arrive a compelling explanation. This is exactly the kind of business political parties are supposed be in.

The political party that figures out how to explain this relationship by constructing a clear emotional and simple story links and Latinos to the United States is likely to have the inner track on achieving the loyalty of these communities far into the future.

(Pp. 211-213)

Three questions about refugees and asylees

How are they the same and differ?

They are the same, drawing from one key Congressional act, with a few key exceptions. The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.

Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” A refugee applicant most apply beyond the borders and not from within the U.S.

(main source is here.)

How many are there?

Total annual asylum grants averaged 23,669 between FY 2007 and FY 2016.  Nationals of China, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras combined accounted for half (49.4%) of the 20,455 individuals granted asylum in FY 2016.

For refugees, The Trump Administration set for FY 2018 a cap of 45,000, sharply lower than in prior years.

What is the new policy about asylum seekers?

This is mostly from Immigration Impact. Again, in order to establish eligibility for asylum, an applicant must have a reasonable fear of persecution on account of a protected ground: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Membership in a particular social group is not defined in the law or regulations. It is instead shaped by case law, which is where asylum claims relating to domestic and gang violence have developed over time. Failure of the government to protect a person from private violence has been grounds for asylum awards.

The Attorney General overturned an asylum case and stated a general rule that “In general… claims based on membership in a putative particular social group defined by the members’ vulnerability to harm of domestic violence or gang violence committed by non-government actors will not establish the basis for asylum, refugee status, or a credible or reasonable fear of persecution.”

A new guidance from USCIS was issued on July 11 to comply with “Matter of A-B-“, the case which the Attorney General overturned. That was a 2016 case involving a woman from El Salvador who was granted asylum based on severe domestic violence she experienced. The A-B- case itself drew from a prior case, “Matter of A-R-C-G-“, that in 2014 had clarified years of uncertainty to firmly establish that survivors of domestic violence can be eligible for asylum under U.S. law.

It is too soon to know how strictly this guidance will be implemented and whether asylum claims based on domestic violence or fear of gangs will continue to be viable based on specific or different articulations of a victim’s fear of persecution.

For extensive information from the State Department, published in October 2017, go here.


Displaced persons rising fast in the world

The UN reports that as of the end of 2017 about 23 million persons are outside their country of origin as refugees from persecution, conflict, or generalized violence. About ten countries account for the great majority of these refugees. Of these 3.1 million are seeking asylum under guidelines of the United Nations agreed to originally in 1951 and administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UN reports for the first time unaccompanied and separated children among the registered refugee and asylum-seeker population.

There are 68.5 million displaced persons in the world due to persecution, conflict, or generalized violence. 40.0 million are internally displaced. 19.9 million are refugees under the mandate of the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, plus another 5.4 million Palestine refugees. In addition, 3.1 million are asylum-seekers, meaning that they make a case that they have been persecuted by race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or particular social group with governmental involvement or connivance.

During 2017, 16.2 million people were newly displaced, including 4.4 million who sought protection abroad 6 and 11.8 million who were forced to flee but remained in their own countries.

As in previous years, Syria continued to account for the largest forcibly displaced population globally. As of the end of 2017, there were 12.6 million forcibly displaced Syrians, including 6.3 million refugees and 146,700 asylum-seekers. Colombia had the second-largest displaced population with 7.9 million victims of conflict, almost all internally displaced. The Democratic Republic of Congo was the third-largest displacement situation with 5.1 million Congolese forcibly displaced, comprising 620,800 refugees and 136,400 asylum-seekers.

Other large displaced populations include people from Afghanistan (4.8 million), South Sudan (4.4 million), Iraq (3.3 million), Somalia (3.2 million), Sudan (2.7 million), Yemen (2.1 million), Nigeria (2.0 million), and Ukraine (2.0 million).

The situation in Myanmar deteriorated rapidly in the second half of 2017. The flight of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh occurred at a particularly rapid rate. Over 2017, 655,500 arrived in Bangladesh, mainly concentrated in 100 days from the end of August.

In terms of returns, some 667,400 refugees returned to their countries of origin in 2017 — only 3% of the refugee population.

Which children do better than their parents, by race/ethnicity

We study five racial and ethnic groups: people of Hispanic ethnicity and non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Asians, and American Indians. By analysing rates of upward and downward mobility across generations for these groups, we quantify how their incomes change and predict their future earnings trajectories.

Hispanic Americans have rates of upward income mobility across generations that are slightly below those of whites. Hispanics are therefore on a path to moving up substantially in the income distribution across generations, potentially closing much of the present gap between their incomes’ and those of white Americans.

Asian immigrants have much higher levels of upward mobility than all other groups, but Asian children whose parents were born in the US have levels of intergenerational mobility similar to white children. This makes it more difficult to predict the trajectory of Asian Americans’ incomes, but Asians appear likely to remain at income levels comparable to or above white Americans in the long run.

In contrast, black and American Indian children have substantially lower rates of upward mobility than the other racial groups.

From: Race and economic opportunity in the United States, by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Maggie R. Jones, Sonya R. Porter 27 June 2018