Venezuelans at the border

Tens of thousands of Venezuelan refugees are stranded in Mexico and along paths they have taken to reach the Mexican border with the United States. This is a crisis within a broader crisis of ayslum surges,  in part due to a welcoming attitude of the Biden administration, but mainly due to the failure of recent administrations to upgrade asylum management with faster, more assured determination processes. Worth noting that Texas as sued the federal goverment to put a stop to its current reform efforts

Our refugee policy response to Afghanisan and Ukraine has been relatively inclusive. Our policy toward Vanazuealn refugees is a harsh and possibly illegal shutdown (discussed at length here).

Venezuelan refugees comprise a more world-scale serious refugee challenge than Syria or Ukraine, with as of now 25% of the country having left. This has reshaped the situation at our Mexican border: while total encounters have surged, Venezuelans have contributed mightily to the surge, and on October 12 DHS shut the door to all but a few.


For instance, from FY 2019 through FY 2022 (ending Sept 30), the total number of encounters of all nationalities at the Mexican border increased from one million to 2.4 million, or 240%. The number of those who were not from Mexico and Central America increased from 117,000 to one million, or about ten times, while the number from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala declined. Here.

In FY 2022 alone, U.S. border officials recorded 187,716 encounters with Venezuelans.

The Department of Homeland Security stated on October 12 that “unique encounters of Venezuelan nationals rose 293 percent between FY 2021 and FY 2022, while unique encounters of all other nationalities combined increased 45 percent. Panama is currently seeing more than 3,000 people, mostly Venezuelan nationals, crossing into its territory from Colombia via the Darién jungle each day.”

Total immigration court backlog for Venezuela were 6,492 in 2018 and 147,812 in 2022

DHS’s October 12 action

The agency announced that “Effective immediately, Venezuelans who enter the United States between ports of entry, without authorization, will be returned to Mexico.” It is citing as authorization Title 42, which is (before March 2020) an obscure provision which enables the U.S. to expel entrants on the grounds of preventing infection.  24,000 parole slots will be opened up. For a time line of DHS’s use of Title 42, go here.

Asylum officers and the backlog: a time line

Pre-Biden: Immigration courts encounter immense backlogs, in part due to failure of Obama and Trump administrations to obtain from Congress funding for additional judges. Ge here.

August 2021: The Biden administration says it wants to assign to asylum officers authority to interview and decide on asylum cases, rather than depend entirely on immigration courts.  It aims to hire an additional 1,000 asylum officers and another 1,000 support staff, a senior DHS official told Reuters ahead of the announcement. The hiring spree would more than double the current crop of about 800 asylum officers and could be funded either by Congress or immigration application fee increases. (Reuters),

December 2021: Asylum court case backlog reaches 54 months

March 24, 2022DHS issues rule.

Per the NY Times, Under the new policy, which the administration released on Thursday as an interim final rule, some migrants seeking asylum will have their claims heard and evaluated by asylum officers instead of immigration judges. The goal, administration officials said, is for the entire process to take six months, compared with a current average of about five years. The plan is to release many asylum seekers through a parole status while they go through the process, which critics say will draw even more hopeful migrants to the border. (Go here.)

April 2022: Texas AG Paxton sues to prohibit the use of asylum officers for credible threat interviews.

June 2022: DHS begins to refer approximately a few hundred noncitizens each month to USCIS for an Asylum Merits Interview (AMI) following a positive credible fear determination. (Go here.)

Want to become an asylum officer? Go here.


The upcoming Hispanic vote in November 2022

Hispanic support of the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 dropped 8-9% from 2016. Democrats have been relying on the support of roughly 90% of Black voters and 70% of Hispanic voters. (Go here.) Will the Hispanic Democratic vote in November be 65% or lower?

The Wall Street Journal reported on October 18: “In the closing weeks of the 2022 midterm cycle, survey research suggests the trends of recent years are likely to continue. In 2018, Republicans won only 25% of the Hispanic vote. This year, the four most recent national surveys of likely voters place the Republican share of Hispanic voters between 34% and 38%. In Florida, where Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Charlie Crist by 8 points in the race for governor, he leads by 16 among Hispanics. In Texas, where Democrat Beto O’Rourke trails Gov. Greg Abbott by 7 points overall, he is managing no better than a statistical tie among Hispanics.”


In Sept 2020 I wrote: Hispanics comprise about 13% of the eligible voters and rising. 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%. That is an annual increase of 3% of Hispanic eligible voters, vs. an absolute decline in white eligible voters. These trends will continue for some years.

In October 2021 Ronald Brownstein wrote: “…lots of working people of all races … want opportunity … They want a way to get ahead of their own effort.” “There are things that people trust Republicans on and you have to neutralize those disadvantages by moving to the center on them, and that includes the size of government, that includes the deficit.”

Hispanic education attainment has increased.  Hispanic home buying is expected to surge.

Climate change migration: some observations about India

This is a longish post on climate change and migration. The effect on climate change upon migration at a global level is a matter of conjecture. Several hundred million people are expected to migrate internally to due climate change by 2050.

Here I fill in the picture with a few observations about India. I draw on two studies which depict the climate related stresses and discuss government programs to mainly provide economic support.

Rapid and slow onset of climate disruptions and migration

One study, co-authored by my friend Nikhil Raj, focused on two sub-state regions:

Kendrapara had been one of the most fertile and prosperous regions of Odisha state, which lies on the Indian Ocean coast southwest of Kolkata. But climate extremes, in the form of rapid-onset events, have proven that even stable ecosystems and prosperous economies can collapse. More frequent rapid onset events such as cyclones and floods coupled with slow onset events such as sea-level rise and sea water intrusion have caused loss of livelihood assets, soil erosion and land degradation.

All Kendrapara respondents reported a change in precipitation and higher temperatures over the last five years. More than half reported that environmental stressors (floods, cyclones, erosion, and so on.) have become more hazardous and frequent in the last decade.

Palamu district in Jharkhand state, west and northwest of Kolata, is one of the most exposed and vulnerable regions to slow onset climate change impacts. Over time, the climate of Palamu has shifted from sub-humid to semiarid, causing frequent and prolonged drought and frost.

Source: Social protection and informal job market reform for tackling the climate migration nexus. (IIED Working Paper Sept 2022.)

Teasing out climate-based from total internal migration.

Another study based on surveys in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states reports. These cases examplify how climate change related migration aound the world of signficant numbers may be centered in rural areas where there is a pre-existing pattern of circular or permanent migration to cities.

The relationship between climate change stress and its impact on migration is complex to understand. It is very difficult to distinguish individuals for whom climatic factors are the sole motivation for migration because several economic and sociopolitical factors interplay with climate drivers to increase the vulnerability of a household. Separating out permanent from circular migration is difficult. Some 200 million persons are estimated to engage in circular migration.

Migration in three studied states is massive. Migration from the three states is predominantly seasonal (61.4%).  Overall, about 31% of households intend to migrate in the future. Respondents who do not intend to migrate said that the fear of leaving their family unprotected and family commitments are barriers to migration. Around 80% of the respondents said that migration improves migrants’ economic security, education and work opportunities. It also enables them to bring new ideas and practices back to the village.

Almost 94% of households reported that the main reason behind migration is economic, with most migrants moving in search of better employment opportunities. The second most frequently mentioned reason was family obligations (17.8%).

As many as 35% of respondents in Uttar Pradesh reported that they were not working in their own villages due to climate shocks. More than two thirds (70%) of the respondents indicated that drought/irregular rainfall is a significant stressor. In addition, 23% of households mentioned flood as a significant stressor, while 8.3% mentioned hailstorms. More than 70% of the households in study regions said that the frequency of droughts had increased significantly in the last 5–10 years.

Source: Connecting the dots: Climate change, migration and social protection (IIED Working Paper October 2021)



My five-session course on immigration

I led this course online at OSHER at Dartmouth

Session 1: Basic facts about American immigration; how it works. Trends in immigration in the U.S. How people view immigration through their own lens. Absence of oversight in evaluation and planning; absence of leadership. Failure of reforms since 1986.

Session 2: Migration worldwide in all forms: voluntary, forced, expulsion, catastrophe-driven, refugee, internal How voluntary migration has become easier, less risky, since the 1970s. Persistent demand for migration into the U.S.

Session 3: Economics and culture of migration in the U.S. high skilled and low skilled; permanent and temporary. Reform proposals. Does immigration help or hurt the economy? Cultural aspects of migration.  What people expect of immigrants (English proficiency, work, etc.). Has immigration affected civic life and social trust? Reform proposals.

Session 4: Illegal migration. How authorized population in U.S surged after the 1986 reform act. The economics of smuggling. Employers role in verifying employment status.  Reform proposals.

Session 5: Build your own U.S. immigration policy. Volume targets, permanent and temporary. How to manage them.  How to resolve and reduce illegal immigration.  What is your vision? How to achieve comprehensive reform?

Unauthorized workers and their IRS, Social Security and Medicare payments

Investigators who are very critical about illegal employment present useful information about how workers who work without legal authorization generate very large contributions into the U.S. Treasury.

Most of this flow is into a suspense account for payments which do not match social security records. Social Security Administration’s Earnings Suspense File (ESF). “The total logged in the file has increased tenfold from $188.9 billion in 2000 to $1.9 trillion in 2021.”

These flows are largely the result of the IRS providing workers an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) to persons without a valid social security number. They also result from persons using an invalid social security number, for instance issued to some one who died.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform found that the federal government collects about $22 billion annually in tax receipts from illegal aliens, with the bulk going toward Social Security ($12.6 billion) and Medicare ($5.9 billion), programs from which noncitizens are ineligible to receive benefits. FAIR estimated that illegal migrants also paid $3.3 billion in federal income tax and another $1 billion in state income taxes. The lower income tax figures are due to most illegal workers are low wage.  There is no way for these workers to capture the benefits of these payments or obtain refunds.

You can access a law review article on the legal issues involving these payments here.

The Trump administraion intended to use these kinds of mismatches to estimate the size of the unauthorized population by census district (go here.)


What Afghan refugee resettlement looks like in the United States

National Immigration Forum has collected over a 100 reports on resettlement of Afghans.  (This Sept 9 analysis says that 50,000 in total are expected, with most of them still on military bases outside the U.S. ) The Trump administration attempted to cripple this complex settlement network.

There are five of the reports collected:

The Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City is working with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese Oklahoma City to prepare for hundreds of Afghan families arriving in the city.

Southern Colorado’s “KOAA News 5 is partnering with Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains and Vanguard Skin Specialists to fundraise for the [hundred plus] Afghan refugees who will be resettled in Colorado Springs by the end of the year.”

Afghan artists and women’s rights activists Zainab Ahmadi and Fawzia Abdaly joined Indianapolis artist Tiffany Black, along with almost 60 refugees, to create a mural honoring Afghan refugees’ journey to Indiana, which is now on display at the Indianapolis International Airport.

“Johnny,” a combat interpreter who helped American troops adapt to Afghan culture, has been resettled in Charlotte, N.C. — welcomed by Sen. Thom Tillis (R), among others.

With the help of the Utah Refugee Services Office, the International Rescue Committee and Catholic Community Services, “just over 900 Afghan refugees have moved to Utah – the largest refugee resettlement in state history.”

Anti and pro key words on immigration since 1850

An extraordinary work of analysis on immigration:

In the first comprehensive quantitative analysis of the past 140 y of US congressional and presidential speech about immigration, we identify a dramatic rise in proimmigration attitudes beginning in the 1940s, followed by a steady decline among Republicans (relative to Democrats) over the past 50 y. We also reveal divergent usage of positive (e.g., families) and negative (e.g., crime) frames—over time, by party, and between frequently mentioned European and non-European groups.

Most influential words for proimmigration and antiimmigration speeches, in three time periods, when approximating the predicted tone from our classification models with simpler logistic regression models.

Anti-immigration VS Proimmigration

Early (1880 to 1934)   ANTI Chinese, undesirable, exclusion, violation, restriction, permit, dangerous, restrict, smuggled, cheap, excluded, deport, laborers, war, VS PRO country, great, lands, gave, immigrants, entitled, property, relief, agriculture, served, give, rights, protection, glad, industrious

Transitional (1935 to 1972) ANTI aliens, country, illegal, alien, deportation, united, criminals, subversive, fact, deported, America, system, deport, undesirable  VS PRO life, humanitarian, families, migrant, opportunity, contributions, anniversary, citizens, hope, discriminatory, great, children, migrants

Modern (1973 to 2020) ANTI illegally, control, foreign, policy, enforce, entry, people, national, terrorism, illegal, terrorists, stop, smuggling, INS, dangerous VS PRO community, young, immigrant, life, contributions, Hispanic, heritage, dream, victims, Irish, proud, important, Italian, work, treatment, urge

Asian vs Mexican immigrant educational achievement

New Asian immigrants began to outnumber Latin American immigrants in 2015. This has lifted the formal educational status of recent immigrants, one of several trends which cause the immigrant population to more closely match the demographics of U.S. born persons. Other such trends include narrowing the disparity between the median immigrant / U.S. born work work income.