Huge impact of immigrant Asians on social mobility

A major study performed by Harvard researchers found extremely strong upward mobility among children of low income immigrant Asian mothers. The retail store worker’s child who graduated from U.C. Berkeley is not an urban legend.

The researchers looked at the income rank in society of people in their late 30s compared to the income rank of their parents. The purpose of the study was to understand mobility – up, no change, or down – from the parents to the child. They studied patterns by geography and racial/ethnic groups. Of interest to me is that they compared the results of whether the mother was born in the U.S. or was an immigrant.

For whites, Hispanics, blacks and native Americans, there was virtually no difference in mobility of children of native-born or immigrant mothers. But for Asians the mobility is dramatically higher where the mother was an immigrant with relatively low income. That is, children of low income Asian mothers are far more likely to work their way out of low income status, compared to all other types of lower income households: native born Asian mothers, and whites, Hispanics, blacks and native Americans.

As reported here.

Poll: weak support for legal immigration

From a poll the results of which are relatively restrictionist. Support for the current perceived level of immigration is not as strong as people think.


From a poll by the PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.

Deportation of a long time American resident to Liberia

Afomu Kelley was just 11 years old when she left Liberia with her mother in the early days of a civil war in 1990. She remembers standing in a crowd jostling to board an airplane to the United States for what she thought would be a six-week vacation.

Instead, the war in Liberia escalated and Kelley, now 40, never returned to the West African country. She grew up in Northern Virginia, where she finished high school early, and attended the University of Maryland. She has an American accent. Sometimes she doesn’t feel like an immigrant.

But at the end of this month, she may be forced to return to a homeland she barely remembers.

On March 31, the program [Temporary Protected Status] that has allowed Kelley and more than 800 other Liberian immigrants to live legally in the United States for decades will end, the result of President Trump’s decision to terminate a protection against deportation that has been in place for nearly 28 years.

“It is cruel to tell me that I have to go back to a place that I don’t know,” said Kelley, who lives in Greenbelt, Md., with her daughters, ages 9 and 11. “I don’t even know the street I lived on. But I can tell you every diner between here and New Hampshire.”

From the Washington Post

What is Temporary Protected Status?

Per the Migration Policy Institute, TPS allows nationals of certain countries to temporarily live and work lawfully in the United States if DHS determines that they are unable to safely return due to natural disaster, armed conflict, or other extraordinary and temporary circumstances. TPS can be granted for periods of six to 18 months, after which DHS, with the input of the State Department, re-evaluates the designation. If country conditions still threaten the safety of returning nationals, or if the foreign government is unable to handle returns.

Many persons have held TPS for almost two decades, and have established strong community ties in the United States. Currently, ten countries have TPS, with Salvadorans making up 60 percent of the nearly 437,000 TPS recipients.

Court Injunction

On October 3, 2018, a federal court judge in California issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration from terminating TPS for over 250,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed in March 2018, claiming that the government terminated TPS designations as a result of a predetermined agenda and in violation of the law. The ruling is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On March 1, 2019, DHS issued a notice in the Federal Register stating that while the preliminary injunction is in place, the affected TPS holders will retain their status and work permits through January 2, 2020. DHS will continue to extend the validity of their immigration documents in nine-month intervals. Also, it states once the litigation is completed, and if the courts have issued a final ruling that the terminations were proper, DHS will allow for a 120-day “orderly transition” period.

From here.


Atlantic Monthly article calls for reduced immigration

David Frum, a senior editor of the Atlantic, writes correctly that immigration’s “most important effects are social and cultural, not economic.” He does not cite any social or cultural reasons in favor of immigration. He associates and implies there is a causal relationship between increased immigration in Europe and the U.S. in the past 40 years with societal breakdown, and even with economic inequality. But immigration’s rise worldwide is just one aspect of globalization. Reducing immigration rates will only partly correct for globalization’s effects.

He believes that by lowering immigration (meaning the reduction in permanent visa awards) we can “more quickly and successfully absorb the people who come here.”

He is right that absorption of immigrants into the country’s civic culture is key. He is somewhat careless and too summary in identifying where and why the absorption is not going well. It has gone well in major urban areas which have been absorbing immigrants for over a century. It is probably going well with college educated immigrants, who make up an ever larger share of recent immigrants.

It has not gone well for inland and especially non-urban areas where the immigrant share of the population went from, say, 1% to 5%. It is not going well with persons with very little formal education (mainly from Latin America).

Dailing down immigration is a deceptively simple solution. It would be a good thing for those wedded to inclusion of immigrants (such as I) to address the absorption issue accurately and to offer sensible policy changes. That will counter the Trump administration’s alarms of panic, which go pretty much unrebutted.

He ends the article this way:

The years of slow immigration, 1915 to 1975, were also years in which the United States became a more cohesive nation: the years of the civil-rights revolution, the building of a mass middle class, the construction of a national social-insurance system, the projection of U.S. power in two world wars. As immigration has accelerated, the country seems to have splintered apart.

Many Americans feel that the country is falling short of its promises of equal opportunity and equal respect. Levels of immigration that are too high only enhance the difficulty of living up to those promises. Reducing immigration, and selecting immigrants more carefully, will enable the country to more quickly and successfully absorb the people who come here, and to ensure equality of opportunity to both the newly arrived and the long-settled—to restore to Americans the feeling of belonging to one united nation, responsible for the care and flourishing of all its people.

Florida compact on immigration

21% of residents of Florida are foreign-born, up from 13% in 1990. The source of the largest number of immigrants is Cuba (about 5% of the state’s population). The Caribbean and Latin America account for 75% of all immigrants.

The Florida Compact on Immigration is a set of principles to guide the immigration discussion at the state and federal level signed by more than 70 Florida business, industry, and civic leaders committed to reforms that strengthen Florida’s economy and attract the talent and business to fill critical workforce shortages and accelerate the state’s growth. The Florida Compact on Immigration supports federal immigration reforms, as well as statewide policies that recognize the valuable contributions immigrants make to Florida as workers, business owners, taxpayers, and consumers.

Here are excerpts of the compact, released on March 14:

Florida needs a robust workforce and policies that prioritize attracting and retaining international talent. Our immigration system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses while protecting the interests of workers. This includes a visa system that is both responsive and effective at meeting the demands of our economy. And it should acknowledge the critical role immigrants play in Florida’s economy as workers, taxpayers, and consumers.

Common sense approach: Our immigration policies should provide a sensible path forward for immigrants who are here without legal status, are of good character, pay taxes, and are committed to becoming fully participating members of our society and culture — in particular, Florida Dreamers and TPS holders.

Effective enforcement: A broader reform effort ultimately needs to include ways that accurately, reliably, and affordably determine who is permitted to work— and ensure an adequate workforce for a growing economy.

Families: Our immigration policies should prioritize keeping close families together so as to ensure the most supportive home environments for all children.

Competitive communities: Local policies should nurture an environment that helps all residents to have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed.

Foreigners in prison Part Two

For centuries, prisoners in the United States were housed together regardless of their citizenship status. That changed in 1999 when the federal government began to send noncitizens into separate prisons. Today, tens of thousands of people — more than half of all noncitizens in federal prison — live in an institution segregated by citizenship. The vast majority of these people are Mexican nationals. Nearly all of them are Latino.

The rise of the all-foreign prison raises pressing questions about federal immigration power and noncitizens’ equal protection rights. Yet no legal scholarship examines these unusual institutions. Few even know they exist. Drawing on extensive data from the Bureau of Prisons, internal agency documents, interviews, and other primary sources, this Article provides the first account of the all-foreign prison. It notes that these prisons are insulated from meaningful judicial review by an alienage jurisprudence that affords deference to any federal policy characterized as migration control. And it critiques this doctrine, arguing that courts need a more coherent and defensible conception of the relationship between national sovereignty and noncitizens’ equal protection rights. To that end, this Article advances a simple claim: only core immigration activities — setting rules on entry, exit, and naturalization — should count as migration control. Other species of state action, including segregating foreign national prisoners, may affect where and how immigrants live their lives. But they are not the kind of migration control that warrants deference from federal courts.

From Emma Kaufman, Segregation by Citizenship, Harvard Law Review, March 2019

Foreigners in prison Part One

There are currently close to nineteen thousand noncitizen inmates being held in ten privately run prisons in seven states. Immigration detention is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.), which detains about forty thousand undocumented immigrants on any given day. But many immigrants who’ve been convicted of crimes, like Galindo, are under the supervision of a different branch of the federal bureaucracy, the Bureau of Prisons (B.O.P.). As the legal scholar Emma Kaufman notes, in a new article in the Harvard Law Review, inmates in foreign-only, or Criminal Alien Requirement (C.A.R.), facilities make up ten per cent of the over-all population in federal prisons, and they have far fewer protections. Kaufman writes, “All foreign prisons are not only places where foreigners are separated from the rest of the penal population. They are also stripped-down institutions with fewer services than other federal prisons.” Because the inmates will be deported at the end of their terms, they have become a “distinct class of prisoners” whose status has led “prison officials to funnel foreign nationals into remote prisons with fewer resources.”

From the New Yorker

Majority of Americans would fail citizenship test

A majority of Americans in every state except Vermont would fail a test based on the questions in the U.S. citizenship test, according to a survey by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Only four out of 10 Americans would have passed the test, and just 27% of those under age 45.

People did relatively well on the most basic questions. Seven out of 10 knew that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and that Franklin Roosevelt was president during World War II. But only 43% knew that Woodrow Wilson was president during World War I (nearly one out of four thought it was Roosevelt), and only 56% knew which countries we fought in World War II.

Fewer than a third could correctly name three of the original states. More than six out of 10 incorrectly thought the Constitution was written in 1776. (It wasn’t written until 1787.) Nearly four out of 10 thought Benjamin Franklin invented the light bulb.

Methodology: The survey was conducted using 20 history-specific questions from the practice tests for people taking the citizenship exam.

From here.

Frederick Douglass — a “composite” America

Jill Lepore writes in Foreign Affairs how Frederick Douglass was the most articulate advocate after the Civil War to defend the identity of America as a nation of immigrants. She wrote:

The most significant statement in this debate [about American identity] was made by a man born into slavery who had sought his own freedom and fought for decades for emancipation, citizenship, and equal rights. In 1869, in front of audiences across the country, Frederick Douglass delivered one of the most important and least read speeches in American political history, urging the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments in the spirit of establishing a “composite nation.” He spoke, he said, “to the question of whether we are the better or the worse for being composed of different races of men.” If nations, which are essential for progress, form from similarity, what of nations like the United States, which are formed out of difference, Native American, African, European, Asian, and every possible mixture, “the most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world”? (March / April 2019 issue)

In a prior posting here, I wrote:

In a speech in Boston in 1869, Frederick Douglass argued that Chinese should be allowed to immigrate and become citizens. He presented his vision composite nationality under conditions of “perfect human equality.”

Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882mprohibited Chinese labor migration to the United States and barred Chinese residents from obtaining U.S. citizenship. The law was repealed in 1943. (see here.)

Douglass: I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours. Right wrongs no man. If respect is had to majorities, the fact that only one fifth of the population of the globe is white, the other four fifths are colored, ought to have some weight and influence in disposing of this and similar questions. It would be a sad reflection upon the laws of nature and upon the idea of justice, to say nothing of a common Creator, if four fifths of mankind were deprived of the rights of migration to make room for the one fifth.

The voice of civilization speaks an unmistakable language against the isolation of families, nations and races, and pleads for composite nationality as essential to her triumphs.

Our Republic is itself a strong argument in favor of composite nationality. It is no disparagement to Americans of English descent, to affirm that much of the wealth, leisure, culture, refinement and civilization of the country are due to the arm of the negro and the muscle of the Irishman. Without these and the wealth created by their sturdy toil, English civilization had still lingered this side of the Alleghanies, and the wolf still be howling on their summits.

The grand right of migration and the great wisdom of incorporating foreign elements into our body politic, are founded not upon any genealogical or archeological theory, however learned, but upon the broad fact of a common human nature.

Man is man, the world over. This fact is affirmed and admitted in any effort to deny it. The sentiments we exhibit, whether love or hate, confidence or fear, respect or contempt, will always imply a like humanity.

If our action shall be in accordance with the principles of justice, liberty, and perfect human equality, no eloquence can adequately portray the greatness and grandeur of the future of the Republic.