Archive for July, 2019

Forum participants support immigrants, want laws obeyed

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

 

Under the auspices of the Kettering Foundation, the National Issues Forums Institute held 86 nonpartisan public forums in towns and cities in 28 states in 2018 and early 2019 on the issue of immigration. Here are two take-aways from the forums:

Support immigration. When asked at the end of the forums whether they agree with the premise of the third choice, that “current levels of immigration are too high, and the country is now becoming so diverse that we are endangering our ability to assimilate newcomers and maintain our national unity,” most rejected this perspective on the grounds that it reflects an outdated, ethnocentric understanding of who “real Americans” are. These views, which are consistent with recent national polls, help to explain why the percentage of Americans who favor cutting legal immigration is fairly low and has declined in recent years.

Do not want laws disobeyed. While participants often talked about unauthorized immigrants with considerable compassion and empathy, most also felt strongly about the importance of the rule of law. Few were comfortable with a system in which laws were routinely flouted and those who skirt the law were permitted to gain an advantage over those who enter through legal channels. Forum-goers in several communities made a point of noting that they live in “sanctuary cities,” which have declared that they will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in rounding up and arresting people who are here illegally. Many people, however, including those who are inclined to support liberal immigration policies, voiced serious misgivings about allowing cities to act in defiance of, and noncompliance with, federal laws.

A man from Louisiana waiting to get into the U.S.

Monday, July 29th, 2019

Now in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Allan Morales has spent nearly a year trying to get back to his family in Louisiana. Originally from Honduras, he worked in New Orleans for 14 years, roofing in the months after Hurricane Katrina then running his own body shop and detail service. He married and had two girls, now eight and four. Last spring, while driving with his wife in Kenner, a cop pulled him over for a traffic violation and asked for their papers. When the officer discovered they had none, he gave them a decision to make.

“One of you is coming with me,” he said. “Who’s it gonna be?”

If there’s a number that defines Morales these days, it’s the number one.

“Me,” he told the officer. “Take me.”

He spent 84 days in jail, then seven months in a detention facility near Alexandria, Virginia. In March he was deported back to Honduras. He fled north nine days later. He crossed into Mexico without a permit, which means he has no number that can carry him across the river, back to his daughters who ask, “Papa, why aren’t you here? Have you forgotten us?”

From the Guardian.

Revisiting the hourglass of immigrant workers

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

 

Here are charts which succinctly describe how immigrant workers form an hourglass: greater variance in education and in compensation.

The first chart shows the distribution of education status, comparing immigrants with native-born workers. Immigrant educational achievement concentrates at the extremes.  The very high less than HS share among immigrants are primarily Hispanic.  Recent inflows from Latin America have been more formally educated.

The second chart compares average wages by education status. Immigrants earn less except among college-educated where they are paid more.

Source: BLS for 2018

Spotlight on migration to the Persian Gulf States

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

The economies of Persian Gulf countries expanded between 2005 and 2015. This encouraged millions of migrants to move to the Middle East. Overall, the number of non-displaced, international migrants living in the Middle East grew by 61% between 2005 and 2015, from about 19 to 31 million. Sources of worker include Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Yemen. Two thirds of these migrants are in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (source).

The Gulf countries use the “kafala” system of employing migrant workers. The kafala system binds these migrant workers in a direct relationship with their private sponsoring recruiters or employers to a particular job for a specific period of time. The system codifies the centrality of sponsors, as workers cannot change their employment or leave the country without approval.

The United Nations in 2014 told Qatar the kafala system led to dangerous working conditions and exploitation. Hundreds of foreign workers have died in the massive construction buildup underway for the 2022 World Cup, with estimates that as many as 4,000 workplace deaths could occur. In 2015, Qatar had 1.7 million migrant workers, up from 600K in 2005.

In late 2018 Qatar passed an act which allows some migrant workers to leave; Human Rights Watch criticized it.

Most recently, as their economies have cooled, Gulf countries have been expelling migrants. This has impacted the flow of remittances back to source countries.

The death of immigration vision among Democrats

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

“Democrats used to talk about overhauling the country’s immigration system. Now, all they can promise is to end Trump’s abuses.” Leonard Krauze in Slate writes, “ Barack Obama vowed to pursue an expansive change of the American immigration system within the first 100 days of his administration. He then had a brief political opening to push for reform but chose to spend his considerable capital—and his majority in Congress—on health care, much to the chagrin of immigrant rights groups.

Eight years later, despite the obvious resistance of an increasingly intransigent Republican Party in Congress, Hillary Clinton pledged to push for full-fledged immigration reform within her first three months in office.

Democratic politicians seem united by the urgent need to overturn Donald Trump’s punitive enforcement policies through executive action. Gone are the promises of an ambitious legislative overhaul of the country’s immigration procedures.

Comprehensive reform is still the only definitive path toward normalcy for the undocumented community in the United States. The humanitarian crisis at the border is much the same: It needs to be tackled through imaginative and humane legislation, not with politically expedient stopgap measures that find a way around the law.”

Stephen Miller won: the leadership changes in immigration enforcement explained

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Jason Zengerle recounts and explains the turnover in key enforcement positions in the past few months. The key event was the pushing out of Nielson (Homeland Security) and Vitiello (ICE).

“A defining conflict of the Trump administration….has been the one between the small group of ideologues like Stephen Miller and the much bigger cadres of conventional Republican appointees who have gone to work for Trump.” Miller won. Between April and July, some key positions were filled by Miller allies. Here is a scorecard and Zengerle’s explanation of a key crisis.

Secretary of Homeland Security April — Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigns, replaced Kevin McAleenan, then head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as acting secretary.

Customs and Border Protection June – Acting Commissioner John Sanders, who took the position from McAleeen in April, is replaced by Mark Morgan, whose transferred from running ICE.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): June — Mathew Albense appointed acting director, replacing Mark Morgan. Albence had served as executive associate director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations arm. Last year he told a congressional hearing that family detention centers are “more like summer camp” than jail. Albence will be the fourth acting director of ICE since President Trump took office. Tom Homan as acting director in early 2017. Then Ronald Vitiello, then-acting deputy commissioner at CBP. The White House pulled Vitiello’s nomination in early April (explanation below). Then Mark Morgan.

Citizenship and Immigration Services: In July, Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general and avowed restrictionist, took over as the acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The underlying crisis that pushed Nielsen and Vitiello out:

Per Zengerle, in early 2019 Miller began agitating for ICE to expand its deportation efforts, pursuing not just felons for deportation but families as well. His entreaties struck a chord with Matthew Albence, then deputy director of ICE, who had been in charge of ICE’s removal and enforcement operations. “Stephen found an ally in Albence.”

Albence hoped to begin the operation without Nielsen’s knowledge or approval. In March, he took the plan to his boss, Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting director of ICE, and told him that he intended to start the operation in the next 72 hours. Vitiello told Albence that he needed to get Nielsen’s go-ahead. Albence and ICE officials then briefed Nielsen. After several meetings, Nielsen refused to give the operation — which came to be known inside D.H.S. as the “family op” — her O.K. on the grounds that ICE’s plans were still inadequate and that after the family-separation debacle the public backlash would be too intense.

But within weeks, Nielsen had resigned and Trump had withdrawn Vitiello’s nomination to be ICE director.

Background on Miller:

In 2014, as an aide to Sessions — who was an Alabama senator at the time and who holds similar views — Miller worked with media allies at Breitbart and The Daily Caller to gin up conservative outrage that was instrumental in scuttling bipartisan immigration-reform legislation. In 2016, as a staff member on Trump’s presidential campaign, he not only wrote the candidate’s hard-line anti-immigration speeches but also often served as the warm-up act at his rallies.

If electoral districts were based only on citizens or eligible voters

Monday, July 15th, 2019

The Trump administration pushed for the citizenship question in the census to enable legislators to draw electoral districts based on eligible voters. This is allowed by the constitution and some states have shown an interest in it.

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously stated in its April, 2016 Evenwel v. Abbott ruling that legislative districts may, but do not have to be drawn inclusive of all the people living within them, as has been the standard for at least the past five decades.

Justice Ginsburg wrote in the opinion, “Nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates—children, their parents, even their grandparents, for example, have a stake in a strong public-education system—and in receiving constituent services, such as help navigating public-benefits bureaucracies. By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”

But as Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas pointed out in their own separate written opinions, the Evenwel decision still allows for states to pass voter-only or citizen-only districting designs.

In December, 2015, Harvard political science professor Carl E. Klarner found that “utilizing [voting age population] for districting would result in a 12% reduction in Latino state legislators and a 13% reduction in Latino U.S. Representatives,” and that “Latino voting power in the mass public would decline by 4.6% in the U.S. House, 5.2% in state senates and 6.2% in state houses.”

A July 12, 2019 article in the New Yorker covers the Thomas Hofeller story and the Trump Administration’s effort to put a citizenship question into the census. It quotes Trump saying “ “Some states may want to draw state and local legislative districts, based upon the voter eligible population.”

According to the AP, “The concept [of using only voter-eligible populations] was introduced in legislation over the last few years in Missouri and Nebraska, where the state constitution already calls for excluding “aliens” from its apportionment.

In Texas, Hofeller calculated in his report that about a half-dozen Latino-dominated districts would disappear, including a portion of one in the Dallas area, up to two in Houston’s Harris County and two or three in the border counties of South Texas.”

Recent Mexican immigrants more likely to be college educated

Friday, July 12th, 2019

The share of Mexican immigrants with a college degree has increased in Texas. There are 145,000 persons from Mexico in Texas with a college degree. 45% of them are naturalized citizens. That’s 8% of the Mexican born population of the state, or 2.2 million.

Today almost one in five recent (since 2013) Mexican immigrants living in the state has a college degree versus 7% in 2000. This mirrors a nationwide trend that is increasing the level of educational attainment among recent Mexican and other immigrants. Temporary visa holders (ie business related) from Mexico are about 55% college educated.

Mexicans in Texas with a college degree tend to work in primary and secondary education and in construction.

There appear to be several factors driving these trends. First, educational attainment in Mexico has increased significantly. Another likely factor is rising violence in Mexico which reached historically high rates in 2017. This may be driving Mexican professionals to move to United States mostly living in border city such as McAllen and El Paso as well as nearby cities such as San Antonio

Finally many Mexican companies have made major investments in the US presence in the past decade, bringing senior executives and key personnel with them. Texas has led the way as a major destination in America for Mexican business investment.

However, 40% of Mexicans in the United States with a college degree have low English proficiency. This contrasts with the roughly 10% of college educated immigrants from other countries with low English proficiency.

From here.

“They are not from Norway, let’s put it that way”

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Adding “and they are very visible”, this is what a Minnesotan said commenting on refugee settlement in the state, especially St. Cloud, the Minnesota’s 10th-largest city, said in a conversation about an influx of Somali refugees. The city increased in population by 33% over the last 30 years, thoroughly 70,000 people. The share of nonwhite residents grew to 18% from 2%, mostly with East African immigrants from Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, and the numbers of Somalis are estimated to grow.

Only 6% of Minnesota Republicans (vs. 66 % of Democrats) want the state to increase its intake of refugees from then (2018) current level of about 1,000, and 47% (vs 7% of Democrats) want a temporary suspension of refugee intake.

50% of poll respondents in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional district (NE part of the state) in 2018 answered “yes” to this question: “Has discrimination against whites become as big a problem as discrimination toward blacks and other minorities?

Why the border crisis now?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Excellent short article in Axios on why there is a border crisis today.  The writer leaves out the paralysis in Washington preventing any kind of political consensus,