Coronavirus and Chinese travel to U.S.

The Coronavirus puts at risk travel from China to the U.S. In 2018, leaving out Canada and Mexico, China was the third largest source of visitors after the U.K. and Japan.  In “travel exports” including education, China was the largest purchaser at $34.6B, or 14% of total travel exports. (That’s above Canada and Mexico,) A sharp reduction in Chinese travel to the U.S. could have a big negative impact on the American tourist industry, not to say American colleges as well. (Source here.)

Chinese tourist traffic to the U.S. between 2005 and 2018 grew at an annual rate of over 70%. (Source: Statistica.)

What Hispanics think of Trump

The Hispanic community is mixed in its opinion about Trump, shown in a September 2019 poll by Univision. Let’s look at “approve”: of Trump. South Americans were the most favorable, 39%, followed by Cubans (33%), Porto Ricans (21%, Mexicans (18%), Central America (14%) and Dominicans (11%). Approval rose with level of education – college grads 25% approved.

This progression parallels how they think if there is a problem of racism against Latinos and immigrants (Cubans at 49% “yes” and rising thereafter).

For a balanced sample of all Hispanics, 22% approved of Trump. Of Hispanics who voted Republican, only 38% approved. According to 538, 42% of Americans approved of Trump in September 2019.

Chinese immigration to the U.S.

China in 2018 replaced Mexico as the top sending country. After immigrants from Mexico and India, the Chinese represented the third largest group in the U.S. foreign-born population of nearly 45 million in 2018, with 2.5 million persons.

Chinese immigration in the United States has a long and fraught history. In response to negative public sentiments and organized labor lobbying, Congress in 1882 passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first legislation aimed at excluding certain foreigners based on their origin.

The 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act removed barriers for non-European immigration to the United States and created temporary worker programs for skilled workers. Chinese authorities relaxed emigration controls in 1978, and U.S.-China relations were normalized in 1979, beginning a second wave of Chinese migration to the United States.

China is the main source of foreign students enrolled in U.S. higher education In the 2018-19 school year, close to 377,000 students, or one third of all international students.

Chinese nationals received the second-largest number of employer-sponsored H-1B temporary visas in fiscal year 2018, after Indians. Chinese nationals received nearly half of EB-5 investor green cards in 2018.

The United States is the top destination for Chinese immigrants, accounting for almost 27 percent of the more than 12 million Chinese living outside of China. Other popular destinations include Canada (920,000).

Roughly half of Chinese immigrants reside in just two states: California (32 percent) and New York (19 percent).

From The Migration Policy Institute.

The Hispanic electorate in Nov 2020

Since 2000, the greatest racial/ethnic gainers in total eligible voters were Hispanics, from 7.4% to 13.3% of total eligible voters.

From 2004 though 2018, the number of vote-eligible Hispanics rose by 66% even though the entire population of the U.S, grew by only 10%.

A record 32 million Latinos are projected to be eligible to vote, exceeding the number of black eligible voters for the first time.

However, the turn out rate of Hispanics is relatively low. Since 1990, Hispanic turnout (actual voters / eligible voters) has averaged 15% below that of whites. So, even though Hispanic turnout increased by 40% between the two off-year elections of 2014 and 2018, it still in 2018 was only 40% vs. 56% for whites. In the presidential election in 2016, Hispanic turnout was 48% vs 63% for whites.

Complicating the picture for Democrats in 2020 is that in relatively few swing states there are many Hispanic voters.

For Democrats, Arizona is probably the state most important for high Hispanic turnout because of the relatively high Hispanic population (24% of all eligible voters, per Pew) and the chance to swing the election results from Republican to Democrat.

In five swing districts won narrowly by a Rep in 2018, the Hispanic electorate is at least 15%.


Rick Wilson on immigration in the 2020 Presidential campaign

Rick Wilson is a Republican electoral operative and author of the recently published Running Against the Devil, about how Democrats can beat Trump in November. He previously wrote Everything Trump Touches Dies. Here per Wilson is how Dems should respond to Trump on immigration (pp 240-241, Running Against the Devil):

What Trump will say: “Democrats are for completely open borders. Immigrants bring crime violence and disease. Immigrants will get free healthcare from you, the taxpayer. Immigrants are taking away your job and only the Wall will stop it.”

How Democrats should respond: “President Trump puts children in filthy cages without blankets, adequate food and water. or medical attention. His policies are killing people who want to come to America to seek asylum or legal status. America is a better country than this and we have always welcomed in immigrants to our shore. We believe immigration reform will make our borders more secure and our nation more prosperous.”

Hotels: 8 million workers, many of them immigrants

17% of the American workforce are foreign born, but 31% of hotel workers are foreign born. The wage levels tell why. Housekeepers at Marriott International, Inc. earn around $10.26. Comfort Inn and Suites pays the lowest at around $8.43. Holiday Inn Express pays $8.77.But Las Vegas hotels, staffed by union workers, pay housekeeper well above that, and annual total wages average about $29,000, The median annual wage income in the U.S. is about $37,000. Housekeeping is one of the non-customer facing jobs, such as kitchen crew and warehouse workers, which employ many immigrants with low formal education and poor English.

Photo credit: Earl Dotter.

How big a problem is birthright tourism?

Birthright tourism is an abuse of the immigration system, whether done by parents who need or do not need a visa.  How big a problem is it? Is it big enough a problem to warrant a more concerted enforcement effort?

Birthright tourism is the practice of temporary visits for the sole purpose of giving birth so that the child gains certain citizenship rights per the law of the host country. It differs from births by persons who legally or illegally, migrant to a country intending long term residence.

Birthright tourism is perceived as largely enabled by businesses engaged in the traffic, but there may be many cases of do-it-yourself parents.

In January 2019 the Feds busted a multimillion-dollar birth-tourism businesses in Southern California, the biggest federal criminal probe ever on childbirth tourism, in which pregnant women come to the United States to give birth so their children will become American citizens.

The businesses coached their clients to deceive United States immigration officials and pay indigent rates at hospitals to deliver their babies, even though many of the clients were wealthy, investigators said. Some Chinese couples were charged as much as $100,000 for a birth-tourism package that included housing, nannies and shopping excursions to Gucci.

The background

Following the Civil War, America enacted the 14th Amendment to ensure fair and equal treatment for recently freed black slaves that had been denied rights of citizenship under the Constitution. It states, in relevant part, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” The nation lacked an immigration policy at the time, so no provision was made in the language of the Amendment to clarify whether it applied to immigrants or only African slaves. In 1965, the US Congress passed the Immigration Act. Under a loophole in its provisions, when read in conjunction with the 14th Amendment, any babies born on US soil have automatic American citizenship, whether or not their parents were in the country illegally. This led to illegal alien parents crossing the border to give birth to a child who could act as an “anchor” to keep them in the country and provide them with permanent US residency.


The January 2019 arrests follows on other efforts in recent history. The basis of the arrests is visa fraud by the parents. A news article about a stream (several hundred a year) of pregnant Russian mothers to give birth said that “Russians interviewed by The Associated Press said they were honest about their intentions when applying for visas and even showed signed contracts with doctors and hospitals.”

There appears to be no public record of citizenship gained through fraud on the part of parents can be revoked. There is a fair amount of opinion that parents cannot claim residency on the basis of their baby’s citizenship; and that the birthright child cannot apply for their parent’s green card until they are 18.

How many?

Center for Immigration Studies proposed in 2015 a shaky estimate of 36,000, using a slight discrepancy in two sampled surveys of households.

What about births by unauthorized immigrant mothers?

Per Pew Research the number rose sharply in the 1990s, peaked in 2005, and is now probably about 250,000.

Temporary visa volume has been declining

Nationals of mainland China, Mexico, and India made up about 43% of all nonimmigrant visas issued by the State Department in FY 2018. That includes for business, tourism, temporary work, and schooling. Brazil, Argentina, the Philippines, Colombia, Israel, Ecuador, and Nigeria round out the top ten.

Note: Citizens of many countries (including Canada, most EU states, Australia and South Korea) can enter the United States for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes through the Visa Waiver Program.


The Migration Policy Institute as a long list of possible explanations for the decline:

The recent decline may be explained in part by the Trump administration’s immigration priorities: a series of executive orders and policies have tightened admission and visa issuance criteria. Among them: additional vetting procedures for certain nonimmigrants seeking to obtain or extend their visa; restricted definitions of certain specialty occupations for temporary workers; a ban on visas for nationals of seven predominantly Muslim-majority countries deemed to represent security threats (often referred to as the “travel ban”); and visa sanctions against countries that fail or refuse to facilitate the return of their nationals ordered deported from the United States. The decline may also owe to a perception that the United States has become a less welcoming place, amid rapid policy change and at-times harsh rhetoric, including by leading government officials, against immigrants.

These changes have also been cited as one of the reasons for the decline in new international student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities, which dropped for the third year in a row. Other factors include diminished government funding by countries such as Saudi Arabia and Brazil for their citizens to study abroad; changing policies in Australia, Canada, Japan, and China, among others, to increase recruitment of international students; and stepped-up efforts by traditional sending countries such as China, India, and Malaysia to offer higher-quality education at home.

Globalization = mass migration

After a holiday break, I am back.

Total global exports in 1980 were about $1 trillion. In 2018 they were $19.4 trillion. In the same period the number of persons living outside their country of birth went from 120 million to over 250 million (see graph).

Globalization links to international migration in several ways. Globalization of work makes more visible the disparities in income for the same work between countries.

An increase in the number of households with disposable income and more formal education increases the ease of migration.

Globalization, and migration, are aided by vast expansion of international air travel and by a huge drop in international communication barriers. International air travel in passengers grew from 640 million in 1980 to 4.2 billion in 2018.

Since 1990, remittance flows increased from $50B a year to over $550B.

It is not clear to me if and how globalization of work and trade leads to violent explosions of migration (Venezuela, Syria, Myanmar).