Mexican Americans vs. Cubans in political clout

Mexican Americans are relatively weaker than Cuban Americans in national politics. Mexican Americans account for 11% of the total population but only 3% of Senators and 6% of Congresspersons. Cuban Americans account for 0.7% of the population by 3% of Senators and 1.7% of Congresspersons.

There is 1 Mexican American Senator for every 10 million persons of Mexican descent but 1 Cuban American Senator for every 666,000 Cuban American.

The Senate includes three Mexican Americans — Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Alex Padilla, (D-Calif.). — with the Mexican American population overall of about 37 million people. Roughly a quarter of Mexican-Americans are unauthorized. They were subjected to decades of discrimination. Many have little formal education – until very recently less than 10% of new Mexican immigrants had a college degree. . They are concentrated in states which are not swing states, such as Texas and California.

Cuban Americans, who number just 2 million, are represented by three Cuban American senators: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). Large numbers of Cubans, many from elite, mostly white wealthy families, started arriving in the 1960s after Fidel Castro overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista. Over 20% are college educated. They form a potent voting bloc in a swing state – Florida.

Cold War Cuban refugees were given clear and quick paths to U.S. citizenship. Since 1966, the Cuban Adjustment Act treats all Cubans as refugees. Cubans who arrive in the United States are eligible for legal permanent residence one year after arrival. Under a1980 law, certain Cubans are also eligible for welfare benefits similar to refugees. No other nationality group has such preferential or immediate access to green cards and welfare benefits. Cuba has refused to take back its nationals who have been ordered deported.

Mostly from Axios, here.

Frey on the shift from white children

William Frey, the demographic expert at Brookings, writes that “the 2020 census is likely to show that children of color will comprise more than half of the nation’s total child population, with Latino and Hispanic children comprising 25.5% and Black children comprising 13.8%. Moreover, as younger, diverse generations age (and due to some projected immigration), more than half of the projected young labor-force-age population (ages 18 to 34) in 2030 will be people of color. This stands in contrast to the 35-and-older population, where white Americans are projected to comprise a substantial majority (62%).

A child is a person under the age of 18.

Texas and Florida are dramatic examples of the shift away from white children. Here are the net changes in the child population from 2010 through 2018.

The great educational success of Nigerian Americans

Researchers are noting the specially high educational attainment among Nigerian Americans. 

First gen Nigerian Americans are super educated. 63% of first-generation Nigerian immigrants to the United States are college educated. In comparison,  40.1% of non-Hispanic whites age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher (26% of. Blacks, 52% of Asians an 19% of Hispanics.) in Nigeria only 7% of the population are college graduates.

Second gen Nigerian Americans excel. They are more highly concentrated at the upper levels than for any other group. For example, among second-generation Asian men, 7.3% obtained PhD or professional degrees, compared to 14% for second-generation Nigerian American.

The group with the highest level of educational attainment is second-generation Nigerian American women. 71.1% have bachelor’s or higher degrees (vs. 68.2% for second-generation Nigerian American men.).

Our Black population is increasingly immigrant in origin. In 1060, only about 0.7% of the African American/black population was foreign born. (In that year 5.4% of the U.S. population was foreign born). The number of immigrants from Africa doubled from about 800,000 in 2000 to more than 1.6 million in 2010. By 2016, the first generation had grown to about 10%, while the second generation had grown to 8% of the African American/black population. (In that year, about 13% of the total population was foreign born).

“People of Color” and immigrants

With regard to immigrant populations, “We must abandon the broad style of diversity politics that [uses the term] “people of color.” Those categories might help us navigate the academy and the workplace, but they only resonate with a small, generally wealthy portion of our population.”

This quote is from an article by Jay Caspian King, who writes for The New York Times Magazine. He wrote on November 20, 2020:

In the wake of the election, there has been a concerted call to stop treating Latinos and, to a lesser extent, Asian-Americans as a monolith. Such a reckoning is long overdue and certainly necessary. It’s fundamentally true that a Cuban-American in South Florida shares very little in common with a Guatemalan fishery worker in New Bedford, Mass. — who, in turn, does not identify in any real way with fifth-generation Texans along the Rio Grande Valley.

Similarly, former Vietnamese refugees in Orange County, Calif., will have a different level of sensitivity toward charges of “Communism” than a second-generation Ivy League-educated Indian-American just up the freeway in suburban Los Angeles. Though the full picture of the electorate is not yet clear, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of these populations ended up ignoring or even championing the xenophobia of the first Trump administration while others found it abhorrent and against their particular interests.

The easiest and perhaps most logical move would be to disaggregate “Latinos” and “Asian-Americans” — and stop treating them as a coherent population whose voting preferences can be explained through the language of polling averages and who can be reached through big-picture Democratic messaging.

Broad antiracist and antixenophobic messaging will not work for growing populations who mostly see themselves outside of America’s racial hierarchy or, in many cases, believe their interests align better with middle-class white voters.

Differences between sending and host immigration countries

One way to look at international migration is to compare incomes between a host country, such as the U.S. and Germany, to the major source of immigrants, such as Mexico and Poland. In the table below, I show five host countries (U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and Germany) with their leading source countries. For the U.S. I include another source country, El Salvador.

The table shows the host country, the leading source country, the percentage of all immigrants associated with that host country, and the ratio of personal income. Personal income is GDP per capita, adjusted by Purchasing power parity (PPP), which uses local prices adjust for the purchasing power.

In this table we see two host countries with a significant share of immigrants from a contiguous country: the U.S. with Mexico, and Germany with Poland.  The table reveals the economic incentives to migrate and implied control of a host country over immigration flows. For example, the ratio of adjusted income between the U.S. and Mexico is 3.1, and between the U.S. and El Salvador 7.2.  Even in today’s hot Mexican border environment, a migrant might be very incented to slip over the border or to apply for asylee status.

Host Sending % of Imm Diff $ Per Cap
US. Mexico 23% 3.1
U.S. El Salvador 3% 7.2
U.K. India 10% 7.1
Canada China 9% 3.1
Australia U.K. 17% 1.1
Germany Poland 33% 1.7

How much of a country’s population is foreign-born?

How much of a country’s population is foreign-born? Not on the list is Japan, at 2% , China at 0.1%, Russia at 8% (likely almost all from former Soviet Union countries), and Germany at 16%.

Key to tab
A Three Gulf States (ave.)
B Saudi Arabia
C Australia
D Switzerland
E Isreal
F Canada
G Sweden
H United Kingdom
I United States
J Italy

For data, go here and here.

Total Immigration flat, unauthorized population down

The total foreign-born population in the U.S. was 40 million. In 2019 it was 45 million. After 2015 the total number stopped growing. How did that happen? Not due to a decline in legal in-migration into the country (which went up), but due to an absolute decline in unauthorized persons. And there appears to have been an increase in the number of legal immigrants who left the country. (These estimates arise from several ways to ascertain the foreign-born population.)

The share of the immigrant population that was unauthorized declined from 29% in 2010 to 23% in 2019.

Regarding unauthorized persons, between 2010 and 2019, those from Mexico fell 28 percent. During the same period, the undocumented population from three Central American countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) rose by 28%. Taking into account persons from all countries, the total number of unauthorized persons population declined by 1.4 million, or 12 percent, to 10.4 million.

The undocumented population in California continued its decade-long decline, falling by 23 percent from 2.9 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2019.

Mainly from here.

A troubled guest farm worker system in the U.K.

I recently posted on discussion in the U.S. about a guest worker program, the Seasonal Workers Pilot. The United Kingdom introduced such a program which has horrible results, as reported by the Financial Times. Excerpts:

Two labour providers, Concordia and Pro-Force, are permitted to recruit people from places such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to work in edible horticulture on strict six-month visas. The pilot started in 2019 with an annual quota of 2,500 workers. It was extended to 10,000 workers in 2020 and to 30,000 workers in 2021, with an additional two recruitment agencies set to be added.

The workers on the farm that employed Russia [one worker from Russia], Castleton Fruit in north-east Scotland, were on zero-hour contracts, which do not guarantee any work, and were paid for the amount of fruit they picked rather than by the hour. Under the law, pickers on this “piece rate” system must be “topped up” to the minimum wage of £8.72 [$12.10] an hour if they have not picked enough to earn this amount. Because of this, the supervisors would check everyone’s work every two hours, and the workers who had not picked fast enough would be sent back to the caravans for the rest of the day, unable to earn any more money.

Between March 2020 and February 2021, Focus on Labour Exploitation, an NGO, investigated the experience of workers in Scotland on the pilot programme, in a project part-funded by the Scottish government. FLEX surveyed 84 farm workers and interviewed 62 on 12 different farms, of which 39 were on the scheme.

The researchers found that more than half were on piece rates, and three-quarters felt like they were always or usually being pushed to do more work than was possible in the time they had. Two-thirds reported receiving threats of loss of work, 60 per cent said the information they were given about earnings before travelling proved inaccurate, and a similar proportion said they were refused transfers to other farms.

A Home Office minister stated in a written parliamentary answer in 2019 that “the scheme operators are not permitted to offer zero-hours contracts to workers” but the Financial Times has seen worker contracts that do not guarantee any hours, including one titled “Terms and conditions of zero hours employment”.

Research suggests that, over the course of decades, UK farmers have intensified these jobs in response to the rising minimum wage and the pressure from powerful supermarkets for flexibility, speed and low prices. For example, according to British Summer Fruits, an industry body, government data suggest that prices paid to farms for strawberries barely rose between 2008 and 2018. The UK has some of the lowest food prices in western Europe.


Central American governments and emigration to US

Juan Orlando Herandez. president of Honduras, was an unindicted co-conspirator in his brother’s trial for drug smuggling into the U.S., and has been reported to having accepted bribes from drug smugglers. Three former attorneys general from Guatemala and El Salvador who have been forced into exile over the past four years.

Excerpts from an article on Central America:

Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are not just poor and violent; they are beset by corruption and ineffectual, often predatory governance. On nearly all of the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators, including the effectiveness of government, rule of law, and control of corruption, countries in northern Central America lag well behind even their Latin American and Caribbean peers.

Over the past three decades, irregular migration from northern Central America has steadily grown, resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of non-Mexicans (predominantly Central Americans) apprehended at the southern U.S. border—from the low 10,000s in the 1990s to nearly 700,000 in fiscal year 2019. The Biden administration is now bracing for even more irregular migration across the U.S.-Mexican border. Through a series of executive actions, it has begun to reform antiquated border-processing infrastructure and the overtaxed asylum system, slowly unwinding Trump-era policies that eliminated migrants’ ability to claim asylum at the U.S. border and crippled the already limited capacity to deal with increased migration.

The United States cannot, of course, impose change. Rather, it should lift up local actors who are already responding to legitimate, popular demands for better governance. Where governments are open to reform, such as empowering national prosecutors to root out corruption and reforming laws to allow for the collection of more income and wealth taxes, Washington should provide political and technical support for those efforts. But where corrupt governing elites are resistant to change, Washington should partner with civil society.

The Trump administration turned its back on anticorruption efforts led by three former attorneys general from Guatemala and El Salvador, who have been forced into exile over the past four years. The United States must never betray such officials again. Instead, it should create a protection program to allow vulnerable officials and civil society leaders to seek refuge in the United States, signaling clearly that such actors are U.S. allies.

From Central Americans Are Fleeing Bad Governments To Stanch Migration, Washington Must Address a Deeper Crisis, By Dan Restrepo

Construction workforce woes and immigrants

Besides farming and STEM jobs, immigrants have supported the residential construction industry, which is now facing a shortage of workers.

Foreign-born workers now account for almost a quarter of workers in the construction industry, and close to 30% of construction tradesmen. In some states, reliance on foreign-born labor is even more pronounced. Immigrants comprise close to 40% of the construction workforce in California and Texas. In Florida, New Jersey and New York, close to 37% of the construction labor force is foreign-born and in Nevada, one out of three construction industry workers come from abroad. (From here. Also here.)

Legend for table:
A carpenters
B laborers
C painters and paper hangers
D carpet installers
E brick masons
F drywall workers
G roofers

Source of data on trades here.