Toronto destination for high tech immigrants

Toronto is the fourth hottest high tech talent market in North America, after San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, ahead of New York, Boston, Austin and the rest. This is partly due to the city’s comfort with immigrants (51% of residents are foreign-born) and to Canada’s more hospitable approach to skilled immigration.

Toronto’s population of software developers, engineers and programmers grew by more than half between 2012 and 2017. The 82,100 technology jobs it added over that period made it North America’s fastest-growing tech centre.

“There’s a chill going on south of the border,” says Toby Lennox, chief executive of Toronto Global, the group tasked with attracting foreign investment to North America’s fourth-largest city. “Right now we’re positioning ourselves to be a lot more welcoming.”

Canada already grants foreign students work permits for up to three years after graduation, and in June 2017 the country’s immigration and employment authorities launched what they called their Global Skills Strategy, with the goal of making it easier for employers to bring in highly skilled foreign workers.

Among its promises was that work permits for such individuals (and their families) would be processed within two weeks, subject to police and medical checks. Within little more than a year, more than 12,000 people had applied, of whom 95 per cent had been accepted.

Some had applied for American H-1Bs and been turned down

The most common professions among those admitted under Canada’s skilled worker policies were developers, computer analysts, university professors and software engineers.

From the Financial Times

More on the Texas voter fraud folly

The Texas Secretary of State’s and Attorney General’s suggestion in late January that 95,000 non-citizens were on the voter lists has turned predictably into a giant mess.

The state relied on a match of driver license and voter list databases. That is despite the chronic problems of large database matching and the high probability that many persons recorded over the past years as non-citizens on the driver license database later become citizens The state has since been walking back its claims.

The Brennan Center was skeptical from the start. Within days of the state’s first announcement it wrote:

Texas has a history of using faulty claims of fraud to justify onerous voter ID laws. In 2011, Texas passed the country’s strictest voter ID law, suggesting it was necessary to prevent supposedly rampant voter fraud. After the Brennan Center and others sued to prevent the implementation of that law (and won), it became clear that the state had virtually no evidence of voter impersonation at the polls. In ruling on the case, the court noted that in the ten years preceding the law’s passage, though there were 20 million votes cast in the state, only two instances of in-person voter impersonation were prosecuted to conviction.

In 2012, Florida officials conducted a similar weak match with driver’s license records that indicated that as many as 180,000 non-citizens were on the state’s rolls. As in Texas, that number made for some splashy headlines, but after accounting for the fact that people may have become citizens after renewing their licenses, the number was whittled down to 2,600 cases. Even that turned out to be a drastic overstatement, as in the end just 85 voters were identified as non-citizens and removed from the rolls.

That same year, the then-director of South Carolina’s DMV used a similar “weak-match” method to claim ineligible individuals voted in previous elections. He claimed that 950 dead people had voted since they died. After a review of the records in question by South Carolina officials, it was determined that no one had cast a ballot from the grave – or had used a dead person’s identity to vote.

After the 2016 election, a weak-match system identified 94,610 New Hampshire voters that were supposedly registered in another state. President Trump claimed he lost the state because “thousands” of people came into the state by bus to vote against him. A follow-up review by the New Hampshire secretary of state ruled out all but 142 of those matches as possibly legitimate cases of double-voting, and only referred 51 of those cases to the state’s attorney general for further investigation

Picking strawberries by machine instead of immigrant worker

Mechanization of produce farming is moving ahead, notably with strawberries, which are easy to crush. Half of hired farmworkers today are unauthorized workers.

The Washington Post reports that the future of agricultural work has arrived here in Florida, promising to ease labor shortages and reduce the cost of food, or so says the team behind Harv, a nickname for the latest model from automation company Harvest CROO Robotics.

Harv is on the leading edge of a national push to automate the way we gather goods that bruise and squish, a challenge that has long flummoxed engineers. Designing a robot with a gentle touch is among the biggest technical obstacles to automating the American farm.

“The labor force keeps shrinking,” said Gary Wishnatzki, a third-generation strawberry farmer. “If we don’t solve this with automation, fresh fruits and veggies won’t be affordable or even available to the average person.”

Who are the workers today? These figures are from the National Agricultural Workers Survey for 2015- 2016:

Sixty-nine percent of hired farmworkers interviewed in FYs 2015-2016 were born in Mexico. 49% are unauthorized. On average, foreign-born farmworkers interviewed in 2015-2016 first came to the United States 18 years before being interviewed. Most respondents had been in the United States at least 10 years (78%),

In 2015-2016, 77 percent of farmworkers said that Spanish was the language in which they are
most comfortable conversing. 30 percent of farmworkers reported that they could not speak English “at all”. 41 percent of workers reported they could not read English “at all”.

The average level of formal education completed by farmworkers was eighth grade. Four percent of workers reported that they had no formal schooling and 37 percent reported that they completed the sixth grade or lower.