Archive for August, 2020

The Indian community in Middlesex County NJ

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Middlesex County, just west of New York City, is an example of a local area where immigration has surged, especially South Asian, with employment gains in many sectors. It compares with Cupertino, CA, a center of Asian immigrants in California. Rutgers University and bio-medical employers dominant the economy.

Between 2013 and 2018, the immigrant population in the county increased by 8.6%, while the overall population increased by 0.1%.

It is the largest and most diverse South Asian cultural hub in the United States (Wikipedia). Monroe Township celebrates Diwali as a Hindu holiday. Carteret Borough’s Punjabi Sikh community, is the largest concentration of Sikhs in New Jersey. The County prints election ballots  in English, Spanish, Gujarati, Hindi, and Punjabi.

While representing 34.5% of the total population (most from Asia), immigrants represented an outsize share of workers in industries such as professional services (54%), wholesale trade (52%), transportation (51%) and manufacturing (50%).

Go here.

The Republican Platform on Immigration

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

This week’s Republican convention does not include a new platform statement. Here are highlight’s from the 2016 platform, as described at that time by the Migration Policy Institute:

The platform, for the first time in recent history, asks for a reduction in legal immigration by arguing that “it is indefensible to continue offering lawful permanent residence to more than one million foreign nationals every year.”

It contains two central themes embraced by presidential nominee Donald Trump since he made immigration a centerpiece of his campaign: building a wall on the southern border and screening immigrants from certain countries or with certain religious affiliations.

It calls for walling off the entire 2,000-mile border.

The platform advocates “special scrutiny” for foreign nationals seeking admission from terror-sponsoring countries or “regions associated with Islamic terrorism.”

In a major departure from one of Trump’s primary themes, and in a concession to the standard party position, the platform is silent on enforcement measures against the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants—refraining from taking a stance on the candidate’s call for mass deportations.

And it seeks major revisions of the criteria for granting refugee or asylum status—by limiting protection to “cases of political, ethnic, or religious persecution.” The United States is one of 145 signatory countries to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which defines a refugee as someone fleeing persecution based on “reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Elsewhere, the platform reprises the traditional fare of prior blueprints, but with a sprinkling of the more hard-edged rhetoric common today. These include preventing states from issuing licenses to unauthorized immigrants, mandatory five-year prison sentences for illegal re-entry, penalizing states and localities that are commonly known as “sanctuary cities,” and recognizing the role of states in immigration enforcement.

The rise of the Indian immigrant elite in the United States

Thursday, August 20th, 2020


Kamala Harris’ vice president candidacy shines a spotlight on the Indian immigrant population, which grew from virtually nothing in 1980 to 2.4 million as of 2015. 45% are naturalized citizens. Harris’ mother, who started graduate school at Berkeley when she was 19, in about 1957, was a very early Indian educated immigrant. (Atul Gawande’s physician parents immigrated in the early 19609s.)

In 2015, 77% of Indian adult immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29% of all immigrants and 31% of native-born adults. Among college-educated Indian immigrants, more than half had an advanced degree.

Indian immigrants have a much higher economic status than other immigrants and the average native-born person. Households headed by Indian immigrants had a median income of $107,000, compared to $51,000 and $56,000 for overall immigrant and native-born households, respectively.

As for type of employment, 73% were employed in management, business, science and arts, compared with 31% of all immigrants and 38% of native-born workers.

The Silicon Valley Elite. Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley not only build ventures in the United States, but they are also wired into a huge global network of entrepreneurs. 

Indian venture capitalists from around the world were behind the founding of The Indus Entrepreneurs in 1992 It worldwide board is composed of Indians. Some 10,000 members are scattered through 62 countries. It describes itself as follows: TiE connects the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem from early stage entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, professionals at leading corporations, venture capital, angel investors, thought leaders among others.

Some of the Indians who have co-led high tech ventures in the United States are graduates one of the six Indian Institutes of Technology, created in the 1940s. These graduates often invest in ventures founded by other graduates of these universities.

Australia’s COVID-19 immigration crisis

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

The Wall Street Journal describes how one of the world’s most thought-out immigration strategies, that of Austraia, is stymied due to the pandemic.

Natural increase of the Australian born population accounts for 40% of the population growth in Australia, while net immigration contribute 60%. (In the U.S., 38% of population growth is due to net immigration.)

Net immigration was 239,600 in FY 2019, 168,000 in FY 2020, and may drop to 36,000 in FY 2021. The decline will hurt the housing market, among other sectors. Furthermore, some 100,000 Chinese students may not be returning this fall.

There are 7.5 million immigrants in Australia, or 30% of the total population.

Here is the country’s skilled immigration points calculator.

Kamala Harris’ family and intermarriage across the U.S.

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

Kamala Harris is half West Indian Black, half sub-continent Indian. Her husband Douglas Emhoff had (I infer) two White parents.

In 1967, when miscegenation laws were overturned in the United States, 3% of all newlyweds were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity. Since then, intermarriage rates have steadily climbed. By 1980, the share of intermarried newlyweds was 7%. And by 2015 the number had risen to 17%. (Go here and here).

Newlywed intermarriage rates are generally much lower in the South than in the Pacific State, Florida and some Northeast metro areas – see the graph below.

Black domestic workers and COVID

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

The Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative conducted a survey on May 19-June 6, 2020 of 800 Black immigrant domestic workers in Massachusetts, Miami-Dade County and New York City. on the impact of COVID-19 on Black domestic workers. The study does not define country of origin so I guess it means immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean. Most worked in childcare or home cleaning. The percentage undocumented were MA 7% , Miami-Dade 45% and New York City 48%.

Job Loss. 70% either lost their jobs (45%) or received reduced hours and pay (25%).  Undocumented workers were nearly twice as likely as documented workers to be terminated (64% vs 35%). 67% of undocumented workers reported that their immigration status had a negative impact on their ability to find new work.

Housing Insecurity. 65% said that they are fearful or at risk of eviction or utility shut off in the next three months.
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No Safety Net. 76% of undocumented workers were fearful of seeking assistance or resources from the federal, state, or local government due to their immigration status.

Lack of Medical Insurance. 51% of respondents (and 88% of undocumented workers) reported that they do not have medical insurance. In Miami-Dade, 100% of undocumented workers report that they lack health insurance, compared to 42% in Massachusetts.


Indian caste discrimination in America?

Monday, August 10th, 2020

California’s fair-employment regulator is suing San Jose technology giant Cisco, alleging it allowed supervisors of upper-caste Indian origin to discriminate against an engineer from the caste formerly known as “untouchable.”

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing noted in its suit that members of the “Dalit” caste, known previously as “untouchables,” continue to face discrimination and segregation in India, and the agency alleged that at Cisco, “higher caste supervisors and co-workers imported the discriminatory system’s practices” into the team where the engineer worked. The engineer is identified anonymously as John Doe in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, which accuses Cisco of violating federal civil rights law and state employment laws. 

Doe’s team was made up entirely of employees who immigrated to the U.S. as adults from India, all but him from high castes, the suit alleged. “Doe was expected to accept a caste hierarchy within the workplace where Doe held the lowest status within the team and, as a result, received less pay, fewer opportunities, and other inferior terms and conditions of employment,” the suit claimed. “They also expected him to endure a hostile work environment.”

From here.

How the administration plans to estimate non-citizen numbers

Friday, August 7th, 2020

The Trump administration wants to deduct from census counts unauthorized persons when Congressional seats are apportioned. I have already posted on this. The Migration Policy Institute describes how it believes the administration plans to do it, even though it does not ask in the census a question about citizen status, much less unauthorized status. It plans do it by matching records of disparate federal databases.

Some anti-immigration groups have tried matching, name by name, between voter records and driver registrations, a conceptually simpler task, and end up with unusable messes. (See here for misadventures in TX, FL, SC and NH>)

An Executive Order of July 11, 2019 orders Executive Branch agencies to cooperate with the Census Bureau by using “administrative records” “the number of citizens, non‑citizens, and illegal aliens in the country.” The MPI says this means matching Census records with social security, Medicare, Medicaid, IRS, Homeland Security records perhaps state records. “The problem is that millions of citizens and legal immigrants cannot be matched to administrative records.”

The MPI says that prior efforts to match records “suggests up to 20 million U.S. citizens could be excluded” from the count of citizens.”

A 2018 internal analysis by the Census Bureau on such matching concluded it would not work as desired. The main problem is that surveys, such as the Census, produce “significantly lower estimates of the noncitizen share of the population than would be produced from currently available administrative records.” The authors cite “noncitizen respondents misreporting their own citizenship status and failing to report that of other household members. At the same time, currently available administrative records may miss some naturalizations and capture others with a delay.” The MPI adds that some “may use a different version of their name on the Census form than used in government records.”

The Census undercount will be worse “in densely populated urban areas where more people crowd in each housing unit, and in rural agricultural areas where migrant farmworkers live for part of the year. It is also difficult to collect data from younger people, especially those who move back and forth from home during their college years.”

Jobs occupied by low wage immigrants to decline

Monday, August 3rd, 2020


The Brookings Institution predicts that the pandemic will permanently drive down job numbers for some occupations not requiring more than a HS degree. Some today have high shares of immigrant workers with little formal education. The net effect will be a decline in the attractiveness of the American job market to non-English speaking immigrants with little formal education. The impact of migration trends will be gradual.

Elimination of jobs due to telework: “If telepresence displaces a meaningful fraction of professional office time and business travel, the accompanying reductions in office occupancy, daily commuting trips, and business excursions will mean steep declines in demand for building cleaning, security, and maintenance service; hotel workers and restaurant staff; taxi and ride-hailing drivers; and myriad other workers who feed, transport, clothe, entertain, and shelter people when they are not in their own homes. These services account for one in four U.S. jobs. While immigrants make up about 17% of all workers, they make up to 25% or more of the workers in these categories.

Elimination of jobs due to “automation forcing.” “A consequence of the crisis is what one might generically call automation forcing. Spurred by social distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders that generated a severe temporary labor shortage, firms have discovered new ways to harness emerging technologies to accomplish their core tasks with less human labor—fewer workers per store, fewer security guards and more cameras, more automation in warehouses, and more machinery applied to nightly scrubbing of workplaces…. In the meatpacking industry,
where the novel coronavirus has sickened thousands of workers, the COVID crisis will speed the adoption of robotic automation.” Immigrant workers with little formal education probably account for a quarter of these jobs.

Jobs still in demand for workers with little formal education will be client-focused, low productivity jobs such as health aides and personal aides, which required proficiency in English. This favors workers from the Caribbean, Africa, and Philippines, not Latin America.

By David Autor and Elizabeth Reynolds, Brookings Institution

American immigration policy and global talent

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

In 2016 I posted on global talent flows. Where does American immigration policy now stand on these flows?

If Trump is not re-elected, we may see a return of immigration policy that is friendly to talent, but will face challenges: (1) the pandemic’s disruption of travel, which may translate into changes in employment location, (2) a great imbalance of talented immigration into a relatively few metros, (3) the chronic resistance of both parties to workforce planning, which makes it very difficult to forge intelligent immigration reform.

The American economy participants in the global talent flow in three channels: as a desired location of getting advanced degrees; for temporary employment; and for permanent immigration. One channel cannot be cut off without adversely affecting the others.

Advanced degrees: According to a 2013 article, “Over the last half century, the United States has been the most important training ground for the global supply of science and engineering talent. Where S&E PhDs choose to locate after they have completed their education is likely to affect the global distribution of innovative capacity. “77% of foreign-born S&E PhDs state that they plan to stay in the United States.”

The higher education industry is the U.S. has become financial dependent on these students. “As of 2017, 81% of full-time graduate students in electrical and petroleum engineering programs at U.S. universities are international students, and 79% in computer science are. National Foundation for American Policy report in 2017 said that “both majors and graduate programs could not be maintained without international students.”

This flow of students to the U.S. is being diverted to Canada and other English speaking countries, but not to China.

Non-academic immigrants, temporary and permanent: Foreign workers make up about half of some STEM workforces in the U.S. This is part of a dramatic global migration of highly educated workers. The number of migrants with a tertiary degree rose nearly 130 percent from 1990 to 2010, while low skilled (primary educated) migrants increased by only 40 percent during that time. Then flow has headed to English speaking countries.

For the U.S. and other recipient countries, high-skilled immigration is linked to clusters of technology and knowledge production. The H-1B visa program is the nation’s largest temporary employment visa program. The visa holders are concentrated in metro areas of New York City, Dallas, Washington, Boston, and San Jose. These markets have depended on temporary and permanent foreign stem workers for their growth of knowledge industries.  Most areas of the country do not experience the flourishing of the knowledge economy and its foreign workers (as does the Boulder CO area to which I recently moved from Vermont).

The student flow and non-academic flows are intertwined. In San Diego, 28% of H-1B temporary visas went to foreign workers with advanced degrees from a U.S. university or college

Source of some data: Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, Çaǧlar Özden and Christopher Parsons. Global Talent Flows, Working Paper 22715. NBER, October 2016