Look closely at the actual trends in immigration….

Absence of a real dialog in Washington about immigration policy makes it difficult to lay out policy proposals for resolving persistent problems. (Both parties are at fault.) But let’s look at the trends. In sum, there has been and continues to be a gradual ameliorization of the status of immigrants, notwithstanding the thunder and lightning.

This improvement in status is marked in the dramatic increase in the eligible voters who are naturalized citizens, from 12  million in 2000 to 23 million in 2020.

Green card issuance has remained steady at about one million per year. (Here, here. and here). Naturalization has been happening at about 800,000 a year.

Immigration law enforcement has improved in last 10 years. After decades of poor enforcement, in the past ten years performance has improved – under both Obama and Trump.

The United States has by far the largest unauthorized population in the world. Some 3% of the population is unauthorized, compared to about ¼ of one percent for other advanced countries. This population leveled off during the 2008 Recession and is now down 10% to about 10.5 million. Enforcement increased during under Obama. Trump would like to claim credit.

More active enforcement is shown in higher court cases and deportations over ten years.

The skill level of immigrants has increased in last 10-15 years. During 1970s- late 2000s, immigration was hourglass-like – some highly skilled, few middle-skilled, many with little formal education. As I have noted before, American businesses (farming, meatpacking, textiles) were the primary immediate beneficiaries of the migration of those with little education, which surged early 1990s – mid- 2000s. Since about 2000, recent migration has been increasingly educated.

For instance, 72% of Indian immigrants have at least a B.A. The size of the Indian immigrant population rose from 450,00o in 1990, to 1 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2015, and is undoubtedly more now.

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