Trends in migration since 1960

International migrants as a share of the world population in 1960 was about 3.3%. In 1980 it dipped down to 2.5% of the world population, and in 2000 it was still 2.5%. since then it has grown to 3.4% in 2017, at an annual rate since 2000 of growth of 3%. The world’s entire population has grown since 2000 only by about 1.2% per year. There are 250 million international migrants today.

From here.

Venezuelan refugee crisis bigger than the Syrian crisis

The situation in Venezuela has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian crises this hemisphere has ever seen. Since 2015, 4.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country, about 16 percent of the population. The figure is strikingly similar to the 4.8 million people that had fled Syria by 2015. There could be as many as 6.5 million Venezuelans living outside of the country by 2020 (based on estimates from the U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR).

Since 2013 the Venezuelan economy has contracted by 65 percent, the largest contraction outside of war in 45 years. The only close comparators are countries in active conflict, such as Liberia, which lost 90 percent of its GDP during its bloody civil war. But the Venezuelan economic collapse, which preceded international sanctions, stands out because it was not triggered by external forces or internal unrest: It was manufactured by those in power, and thus, was totally avoidable.

From Brookings

Bi-partisan farmworker bill passes House

The House passed a bill on December 11 providing a path to citizenship for the more than one million farmworkers estimated to be in the U.S. illegally on a 260-165 vote, with 34 Republicans voting in favor of the deal, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Senate is expected to ignore it.

The use of temporary farmworker visas (H-2A) has surged in the past ten years:

The bill is a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation, particularly on immigration, where Republicans have generally not supported a citizenship path for any unauthorized immigrants, and Democrats are increasingly loath to support new enforcement measures.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports it, the Heritage Foundation opposes it.

The bill (1) It would create a pathway to legalization for current unauthorized agricultural workers, including an eventual option to getting a green card. (2) It would reform modernize the existing H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program, which . And (3), it would require all agriculture employers to implement a reformed “E-Verify” program to ensure their workers are authorized.

I posted details of the bill here. Also go here. A breakdown of farm labor is here.


A refugee from Liberia in Montana politics

The story of Wilmot Collins, a refugee running for the U.S. Senate, as told by the Economist (gated).

America did not settle a single refugee in October. In November it admitted under 1,500, the lowest total for that month since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. A new federal cap imposes a limit of 18,000 to be resettled next year, down from 85,000 in 2016.

The decades-long period in which America resettled more refugees than the rest of the rich world combined has come to an end. The country long abided by an international convention that individuals who feared persecution because of their political opinions or their membership of particular social groups should get asylum. During the cold war, refugees were overwhelmingly perceived as democrats fleeing communist repression.

Definitions have since expanded. That is partly due to changes in attitudes and domestic laws. In 1994 the first asylum-seeker won sanctuary on the basis of fearing persecution over sexual orientation. The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled in 2014 that Guatemalan women with repressive male companions could count as a group deserving refugee status. In 2016 it added a similar ruling to cover Salvadorean women who are abused. But the Trump administration is trying to curtail the broadening of who can count as a “persecuted group”.

Stricter resettlement policies come with a cost. They run the risk of shutting out people like Wilmot Collins. As a young man ensnared in Liberia’s civil war in 1990, Mr Collins cheated death. Trapped in gun battles in Monrovia, the capital, he was twice almost killed by government soldiers. Seized by a rebel while he foraged for food, he narrowly avoided execution. Elsewhere, rebels beheaded his brother. Half-starved and sick with malaria, he fled with his wife aboard a cargo ship.

Four years later—and only after lengthy vetting by un and American officials while in Ghana—he reached Helena, Montana’s sleepy capital. He and his wife left, he recalls, with “nothing but the clothes on our backs”, arriving in an alien, snow-flecked place. They stand out. Barely 0.6% of Montanans are African-American.

Public attitudes to refugees are sharply divided. Three-quarters of Democrats see a duty to take them in, according to a Pew poll last year; only one-quarter of Republicans agree (a drop from the previous year).

A few years back, after the mayor of Missoula, a city in western Montana, asked for more refugees, the International Rescue Committee opened a resettlement office.

Within days of Mr Collins’s arrival, a chance meeting with Montana’s governor led to his first job, at a children’s home. He has since been a caretaker and teacher. Six months after getting to Helena he also enrolled in the National Guard. Long spells in the navy and army reserves followed.

Two years ago he turned to politics. In his speeches he has confronted misconceptions that refugees pay no tax, take others’ jobs or even get free cars. He jokes indignantly that somehow he missed out on such mythical goodies.

In 2017 Mr Collins made history when Helena’s voters picked him to run their city. He became the first black mayor ever elected in Montana. After moderate early success as mayor—a funding boost for local services, a plan for affordable homes—he is running for the Senate with a promise to make Washington more civil. Montanans, even rural folk in remote areas, have been nothing but supportive, he says.

“On the whole, Americans have an open door,” he says, describing how he was met at the airport in Helena, in 1994, by a crowd of strangers who held a banner that read “Welcome home Wilmot”. But the America of 2019 is less welcoming than before. The refugee squeeze is just one sign of that.■

Increased migration of doctors and medical students

The past ten years have seen an increase in migration of doctors, as well as medical students. One quarter of practicing physicians in the U.S. are foreign born. Among countries (see table below) that percentage varies greatly. Advanced countries in general are experiencing a doctor shortage – not just the U.S.

The OECD reports that between 2010 and 2016, the proportion of foreign-born doctors across these OECD countries rose by 3% to 27% in 2016. The trend for nurses is similar with the percentage in 2016 at 16%.

Between 2000 and 2010, the proportion of foreign-trained doctors registered to practice medicine in Ireland rose from 13.4% to 33.4%.

Half of all medical students in Ireland are international students, nearly a third in Romania and a quarter in Poland. Many medical schools, such as in Central and Eastern Europe, have programs in English. (Go here.)

Noted medical writer and Atul Gawande’s parents are from India. Here is there background: Atmaram Gawande was born in 1934 to a family of seven brothers and five sisters in the village of Uti, Maharashtra, in western India. After graduating from the Nagpur Medical College in 1962, the elder Gawande moved to New York City to train in general surgery, where he ended up meeting Sushila, a paediatrician who he would go on to marry. Sushila herself had moved to the US from Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

In 1973, a few years after Atul and his younger sister Meeta were born, the Gawandes decided to move to Athens, Ohio, a small town that was looking for doctors. In Athens, Gawande senior went on to become a well-known urologist at the O’Bleness Memorial Hospital, serving over 25,000 local patients.

From here.

The farm worker crisis

The number of foreign farm workers entering through the temporary H 2A visa program jumped from 77,300 in FY 2011 to 257,700 in FY 2019, a 230% increase. In 2005 there were less than 50,000 visa holders. The five leading job titles were general farm workers, berries, tobacco, fruits and vegetables and apples. Jobs that require year-round employment, such as diary work, are not serviced by this visa.

Agriculture Dept data suggests that 600,000 of the 800,000 crop workers today are either visa holders (about 250,000) or working illegally (about 350,000). Farm workers are hard to count, thus the figures are approximations.

Put this into historical context: in 1950 there were 7.6 million family farm workers and 2.3 million hired workers. In 2000, the number of family workers declined by 75% and hired workers by half.

According to the Agriculture Dept’s official website, “the share of hired crop farmworkers who were not legally authorized to work in the United States grew from roughly 15% in 1989-91” about 50% today. Only a quarter are U.S. born.

Thus the farm workforce has become increasingly dependent on hired (and unauthorized) foreign workers. The average wage of crop workers is about $13 an hour.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, HR,5038, which on 11/21/19 was approved by an 18-12 vote of the House Judiciary Committee, is intended to normalize substantially all farm unauthorized workers into legal temporary status.

Are visa overstays a problem?

“…in the past 10 years, visa overstays in the United States have outnumbered border crossings by a ratio of about 2 to 1, according to Robert Warren, who was for a decade the director of the statistics division at the agency that has since been renamed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and who is now a senior visiting fellow at the Center for Migration Studies, a New York–based organization.” (The Atlantic)

from the Department of Homeland Security’s report for FY 2018:

An overstay is a nonimmigrant who was lawfully admitted to the United States for an authorized period, but remained in the United States beyond his or her authorized period of admission. During FY 2018, there were 54.7 million non-immigrant entries non-citizen entries into the U.S. with expected departures in FY 2018. The overstay rate for this inflow was estimated at 1.2%. [this means about 700,000 persons.]

For visitors from countries not needing a visa, the rate was 1.9%. For those with student visas, 3.7%; for visitors from Mexico, 1.4%.

Note that this is just for FY2018 entrants with an expected departure in the same fiscal year.

Sanders’ immigration policy

The Sanders campaign issued a statement on immigration. Below are the “key points” as summarized by the statement.

The statement follows the typical style of immigration statements by national politicians, which is to focus on (for inclusivists) very narrow, headline-oriented changes to accelerate existing flows of immigrants or (for restrictivists) to enforce headline-oriented proposals in current law enforcement.

Both types of statements fail to address (1) employer enforcement of laws, (2) overall goals for immigration, (3) how to resolve major issues such as farm labor and high-tech workers, and (4) oversight in Washington. There is still not a single agency in Washington tasked to monitor and access the economic and social trends in immigration.

“Key Points” : Institute a moratorium on deportations until a thorough audit of past practices and policies is complete. Reinstate and expand DACA and develop a humane policy for those seeking asylum. Completely reshape and reform our immigration enforcement system, including breaking up ICE and CBP and redistributing their functions to their proper authorities. Dismantle cruel and inhumane deportation programs and detention centers and reunite families who have been separated. Live up to our ideals as a nation and welcome refugees and those seeking asylum, including those displaced by climate change.

Miller on Confederate memorabilia

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch obtained copies of 900 emails between Stephen Miller and a Brietbart editor, Katie McHugh, sent in 2015-2016.

The SPLC writes,White nationalist Dylann Roof murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. Roof’s attack triggered a national conversation about racial hatred in the United States. In response, and other retailers made efforts to pull the Confederate flag from their websites and stores.

Miller sought to create a counternarrative to this news through Breitbart, the emails show. He emailed McHugh with the subject line “defies modern comprehension” on June 23, 2015, following the news about the retailers, and highlighted a statistic about the deaths of Confederate soldiers with a link to

Miller, June 23, 2015, 3:10 p.m. ET: “‘22.6 percent of Southern men who were between the ages of 20 and 24 in 1860 lost their lives because of the war.”

McHugh told Hatewatch that she and Miller spoke on the phone about the subject of Amazon yanking Confederate flag merchandise after the email. Miller appears to refer to that call in his next email and suggests that McHugh write about how Amazon was selling “commie flags.”

Miller, June 23, 2015, 3:31 p.m. ET: “That’s a really, really, really good point.

Have you thought about going to Amazon and finding the commie flags and then doing a story on that? I think you’ve hit on something potentially profound.”

On August 17, Trump tweeted: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”

Regions vary in immigrant experience

The Center for Immigration Studies reports and adds nuances to the dramatic differences among regions in immigrant experience, by tracking households who speak a language other than English at home.

In 1990, the distribution of foreign born in the U.S. was very roughly the same as in 1920: mainly California, the Northeast, and old industrial cities in the Midwest. Since then, immigrant populations spread out. States with the largest percentage increase in those speaking a foreign language at home from 1980 to 2018 are Nevada (up 1,088%), Georgia (952%), North Carolina ( 802%), Virginia (488%), Tennessee (459%), Arkansas (445%), Washington (up 432%), South Carolina (398%), Florida (393%), Utah (383%), and Oregon (380%).

A few states account for the great majority of non-English-at-home speakers. The states with the largest share of their populations speaking a foreign language at home in 2018 were California (45%), Texas (36%), New Mexico (34%), New Jersey (32%), New York and Nevada (each 31%), Florida (30%), Arizona and Hawaii (each 28%), and Massachusetts (24%).