Archive for December, 2019

Trends in migration since 1960

Friday, December 20th, 2019

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

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

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

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

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

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

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

Friday, December 6th, 2019

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.