Senate and House immigration bills

The Senate bill is available, to be read. Here are official summaries of the two competing immigration reform bills.

Senate’s Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act 2024 here.

See this instant analysis of the Senate bill and Republican response to it here by Austin Kocher

House Republican’s H.2 Secure the Border Act of 2023 here.

See this analysis of H.2 by the National Immigration Forum.






Does American industry stereotype East Asians as less creative?

From MIT Sloan School:

Hardworking, geeky, adept at math — these are some of the stereotypes that American culture attaches to East Asians, such as ethnic Chinese, Japanese, Koreans. But East Asians aren’t often portrayed as wells of creativity, a trait highly valued in U.S. culture. The opposite is more often true, with adjectives like “robotic” applied to East Asians’ achievements: When Chinese American figure skater Nathan Chen won a gold medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics, for instance, a Washington Post article credited his win to an “almost robotic zeal” rather than any creative flair.

New research by MIT Sloan associate professor Jackson Lu reveals how this creativity stereotype contributes to a phenomenon known as the “bamboo ceiling”: Despite the educational and economic success of East Asians in the United States, they remain underrepresented in leadership roles.


I’m drawn having read this article to consider what kind of creativity is being asked for. Here is a passage in George Castaneda’s book, America through Foreign Eyes (2022) about a crucial economic advantage of the U.S, as seen by a Chinese visitor. (Pg 140):

“The United States was the first and only modern economy and society to nail the two processes together, technological innovation and business, inventions and profits, engineering and economics, management through people like Frederick Taylor and creative imagination. As a Chinese traveler in 1918 “no matter what the branch of science, once it is transmitted to the United States, Americans use their talents to imitate it, put it in the practical use, and develop it.”


Can immigration finally work for Republicans as a wedge issue?

Republicans have repeatedly returned to immigration as a wedge issue, to appeal to and bring over a some Democrats.  This has been Trump’s desire from the minute he stepped off the elevator. There is no state that I know in which an anti-immigration movement, and specifically an anti -unauthorized person movement, has had a lasting impact by swinging politics in the direction of Republicans absent other major issues (but I could be wrong).

The reality is the the great majority of Americans don’t care that much about immigration, and extremely few care enough to vote for the other party (as opposed for example to abortion).

My question now is whether House Republicans can effect what Trump so much wanted in 2020, which was to make immigration so big an issue that it will swing voters his way to win in November. Here is some polling figures from December that the Republicans have an uphill fight; that they are in effect doubling down on their appeal to their base rather than moving the electorate at large; that the electorate wants a bipartisan rather than a partisan solution. Yet House Republicans are exultatingly branding their immigration policy as hyper-partisan combat.

California Proposition 187 barred unauthorized persons from certain public services. It passed, 59% to 41%, in 1994, but was gutted by court decisions. A lasting impact was that Latinos were turned off by the Republican Party, immigrant advocacy grew, and the Republican Party ever since has held no more than one third of the seats in the state’s Senate.

In the mid 2000s, many localities across the U.S. tried to pass laws barring landlords from renting to unauthorized persons.  These measures were blocked by law and eventually the movement was dead by 2011.

YouGov polled Americans in early December poll of Americans on a wide range of issues, including immigration. Opinion polls about preferences in immigration, for example whether to increase or decrease the number of persons granted asylum, are, in my opinion, so conjectural and based on so little shared facts as to be close to worthless.

Happily, the pollsters asked people a question the responses to which I believe can be relied on. The question was about a preference for a bipartisan deal involving national security and immigration. How much does the public want a deal a key attribute of which is that it is bipartisan? It appears, a lot. This is the opposite of the House’s expressly partisan strategy.

The question is “Congress is considering a bipartisan deal that would pair aid to  Ukraine and Israel with border security funding and stricter asylum standards for entering the United States. Do you support or oppose this deal.”

On this question 16% of respondents said they don’t know how to decide; 19% of those with less than college education said they do not know. There is pretty strong support for a bipartisan deal. For example, 58% of Republicans strongly support or somewhat support a bipartisan deal. 46% of Democrats strongly support or somewhat support a bipartisan deal. Union households are particularly in favor of a bipartisan deal – 59%.

When you remove the people who say they don’t know you find a surprising result — that over 65% of Republicans want a bipartisan deal while only about 55% of Democrats want one.

Are Dems, Reps or both responsible for polarization?

Washington Post columnist Jason Willick writes that Democrats have moved to the left – more inclusive – while the Republicans have remained evenly divided between inclusive and restrictive members.

Jason cites this research article, saying (I assume drawing from the article) “In 1994, just 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans on both sides wanted immigration levels to increase. They drifted apart gradually in the 2000s and suddenly in the 2010s. In 2022, 41 percent of Democrats, compared with 10 percent of Republicans, supported higher immigration levels.”

I covered this split in 2023 here.

Polarization vs politization?

In reality, while polls reveal a lot of polarization on both sides, what is not well reflected in the polls is the saliency, or the importance of immigration – how important it is to the people being polled – and what they want to do about it politically. We need to pay attention to how groups in America politicize immigration.  When we take that into account it becomes evident that many conservatives tend to have very pronounced cultural misgivings about immigration and are willing to communicate these misgivings politically by supporting Trump.  There is no Democratic politician or Democratic movement that is anywhere near Trump in pushing an inclusive policy.




What is the controversy about parole in the immigration system?

The Senate negotiations over immigration include the subject of “parole.” Here is my posting on the Biden Administration’s use of parole to greatly expand legal temporary entry into the U.S.

Here is what the Migration Policy Institute wrote a few days ago about parole:

“Because of temporary protections, such as parole, extended to hundreds of thousands of arriving migrants, approximately 2.3 million people living in the United States hold liminal legal statuses, a ballooning population in limbo that may prove an enduring legacy of the Biden administration.”

Here is a Congressional Research Service 2020 analysis of parole.

A core issue today is whether the administration is permitted to use parole for large groups of people – which it has, for 100s of thousands of persons – or to restrict its use to a case by case basis. The Trump administration attempted to make it clear that only case by case use is acceptable.

Here is an analysis from the Migration Policy Institute study of border security about the use of parole now at the Mexican border.

“The Immigration and Nationality Act (1965) allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to  use parole on a case-by-case basis to grant noncitizens permission to lawfully enter the country for a  ertain length of time for humanitarian reasons or for significant public benefit…

Parole can be used by Border Patrol, OFO, and ICE as part of migrant processing at and between ports of entry (POEs). Humanitarian parole can be used at POEs, at the discretion of an officer, for people without travel authorization who present an acute medical or humanitarian need. Additionally, migrants who arrive at a POE…and express fear of returning to their origin country may receive discretionary parole in addition to receiving a notice to appear in immigration court. Those processed with a CBP One [the new app based interview scheduling system] appointment generally receive two years of parole while those without an appointment typically receive one year of parole.

Between POEs, Border Patrol has used the parole authority for faster processing during times of high migrant arrivals when its facilities face overcrowding. Previously, when Border Patrol capacity met or exceeded a certain threshold border-wide, agents were given the authority to grant eligible migrants a 60-day parole.”

News reports on the Senate’s draft Mexican border provisions

The border crossing surge, as I posted yesterday, is overwhelming a case of persons crossing the border at other than an official port of entry.  The great majority of these “illegal,” or “irregular” migrants seek to give themselves up while applying for amnesty.

CNN reported on January 26 (later in the day, confirmed by the Washington Post)  that the Senate is negotiating provisions which will likely drastically cut back on the surge by “shutting down” the border, presumably authorizing Border Patrol to refuse to accept any application for amnesty.  House Republicans who do not, in my opinion, want a resolution to the border crisis under Biden’s watch, will find these provisions threatening.

The CNN report:

Under the soon-to-be-released package, the Department of Homeland Security would be granted new emergency authority to shut down the border if daily average migrant encounters reach 4,000 over a one-week span. If migrant crossings increase above 5,000 per day on a given week, DHS would be required to close the border to all illegal migrants.

Moreover, if crossings exceed 8,500 in a single day, DHS would be required to close the border to migrants illegally crossing the border. Under the proposal, any migrant who tries to cross the border twice while it is closed would be banned from entering the US for one year.

The goal of the trio of negotiators – GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut – is to prevent surges that overwhelm federal authorities. The Biden administration and Senate leaders have been heavily involved in the talks, and more details of the deal are expected to be released in the coming days.

In December alone, there were over 300,000 migrant encounters. The source said if the new legislation were in effect, the border would be shut down now to illegal migrants (Immigrants legally making appointments or legally traveling in and out of the US would still have access to ports of entry.

How many “irregular” crossings at the Mexican border that create the crisis?

Here is concise description of border crossings which constitute the current border crisis. This is important to digest.

There are 25 official ports of entry (POE) on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  Some are used only for vehicles, trains, pipelines or electrical transmission. A few, such as El Paso TX and San Ysidro (CA) are heavily used by people walking across. The great majority of border crossings have been “irregular,” that is, between the POEs.

The Migration Policy Institute, in a January 2024 report on border control writes that in FY 2021 – 2023, 700,000 persons were recorded arriving at POEs, 5.9 million were processed between the POEs, and 1.7 million were estimated to have crossed undetected (‘gotaways”). This is an astounding  and questionable number of undetected persons. The MPI’s source is a Congressional Homeland Security committee. I suspect that the committee relied on old rule of thumb ratios between recognized and surreptitious crossings (such as about 30%). Such an old ratio is likely invalid in years in which massive waves of migrants cross the border with an explicit goal of being apprehended and claim asylum.

The MPI writes:

Of the 6.6 million migrant encounters recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border between FY 2021 and FY 2023, 5.9 million (90 percent) were processed by the U.S. Border Patrol between Ports of Entry (POEs). That is an average of nearly 2 million encounters each fiscal year since FY 2021 with migrants of increasingly different nationalities and characteristics.  The sustained volume and quickly changing composition of border arrivals have posed significant operational and logistical challenges for the Border Patrol and other agencies with a role in processing arriving migrants.

[The great majority—5.9 million – are “give ups.”]

How migrants arrive irregularly between POEs has changed significantly. Migrants who learn they are likely to be processed quickly and released from Border Patrol custody, as is the case with Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians, tend to seek out and surrender to U.S. authorities soon after crossing into U.S. territory. These encounters, commonly referred to by Border Patrol agents as “give-ups,” reflect migrants’ intention to seek asylum once in the United States, often with the misguided perception that they will qualify for protection despite CLP restrictions. Mexicans and Central Americans, who are often aware that they may be detained and removed, are more likely to attempt to evade detection. Since FY 2021, an estimated 1.7 million migrants [i.e. were detected but not encountered by the Border Patrol (also known as“gotaways”).

[Here is what happens quickly to the encountered irregulars:]

The Border Patrol generally has 72 hours to process migrants before transferring custody to other agencies, such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service USCIS). Agents attempt to process and transfer custody of unaccompanied children within 24 hours to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).  Processing other vulnerable populations (e.g., families with children or migrants who are sick may take longer. Ultimately, how long migrants spend in Border Patrol detention for processing depends not only on the agency’s internal capacity but also on the capacity of USCIS to conduct credible fear interviews for migrants who express the intent to seek asylum after being placed in removal proceedings and that of ICE to coordinate removal hearings and carry out removals.

Americans less demanding of immigrants than most other countries — except for American conservatives

A Pew Research survey shows that American are more accommodating of immigrants than other countries — except for American conservatives.

Across 21 countries surveyed, a median of 91% say being able to speak their country’s most common language is important for being considered a true national, and 81% say sharing their country’s customs and traditions is important for true belonging. Views on the importance of birthplace and religion to national identity are mixed.

A remarkable finding: Americans are noticeably less demanding that people show emblems of national identity than do people in other countries.

Regarding speaking the national language, 78%  of Americans considered it important compared to 91% of the 21 country median.

On sharing the country’s customs and traditions, it was 71% for Americans and 81% for the entire 21 countries.

On being born in the country 50% for Americans bs 58%.

And on being a member of the country’s dominant religion, 37% of American agreed vs. 41% of the entire 21.

In the U.S. self-described conservatives were more insistent in each question than American liberals, usually by a spread of 30 points.  The strongest disparity of American conservatives was regarding religion: 16% of American liberals said it was important; 60% of American conservatives, and as noted above 41% of the entire 21 state set. Western European countries hovered around 30% or less.

Republican recruiting the immigration topic for 2024 elections

After taking some time off, I am back. The most salient immigration issue today is Mexican crossings. The Republican immigration bill H.2 is almost entirely focused on this issue, As I observe below, they is using this topic to address more salient other concerns of large numbers of voters.

Democrats consolidated their support for immigration, while the Republicans as a whole have not moved anti-immigrant, from 2003 to 2023 per Gallup polls. The reality is that only a small segment of the population and electorate consider immigration as a major issue.

Republicans’ views that immigration is good for the country have dropped slightly (55% to 52%), while Democrats’ views have risen a lot (55% to 83%), resulting in 30% partisan gap, a relatively large one. Republicans becoming more likely (55% to 58%) and Democrats (45% to 18%) less likely to say that immigration should be decreased.

Having said that, the issue is far more salient among a many but no all Republicans.

September 25, 2022 interview with Joel Rose of NPR: “In our polling, Republicans just seem to care a lot more about immigration than Democrats or independents do. I mean, we see in our polling, about a third of Republicans consistently list immigration among their top concerns. And for Democrats, it’s just not in that top tier.”

The partisan issue is not immigration per se, but societal deterioration.

In my view, the Republican Party is attempting to show that American society is experiencing a crisis in the American way of life, and that they recruit and mold issues to reinforce their argument.  For example, Republicans link the Fentanyl problem to migration beyond ports of entry.  In this way, they can blame the Fentanyl problem on the Biden Administration even though Fentanyl overdose deaths soared –tripled–during the Trump years.

This is what is driving the move to impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas: to make him out as an agent of social deterioration.

And they basically make up figures about how Islamic fanaticism is a danger in the U.S. due to illegal immigration.   Since there has been essentially no Islamic terrorism attacks in the U.S. in recent years, this allegation gets no traction.

The Asian countries are aging much faster that the United Stares

Japan has the highest old-age dependency ratio (the ratio of the population over 65 to the working age population aged 15-64) of any major economy in the world. Japan’s ratio was 48.8% in 2020 and is projected to increase by 59%, to reach 77.7% by 2050. This reflects Japan’s longstanding low fertility rates and high life expectancy.

South Korea is aging rapidly as well. Its old-age dependency ratio was 22.3% in 2020 and is forecast to increase by 258%, to 57.7% by 2050. Like Japan, low fertility and rising life spans are driving this.

China today is young. Its ratio is sa low at 17.8% in 2020, but that is set to climb by 274%, to 48.9% by 2050. This represents a huge demographic shift for the world’s most populous country.

Singapore had an old-age depndency ratio of 17.8% in 2020, projected to reach 60.4% in 2050. Singapore shares the challenge of low fertility and rising old-age ratios with its Asian peers.

The United States has much more favorable demographics, with an old-age dependency ratio of 25.5% in 2020, expected to rise by 38%, to 35.3% in 2050.. This is overwhelmingly due to the relatively young Hispanic population (median age 30) vs the entire population (38) and white population (44).

Canada is and will be more aged that of the U.S., from 33% by 72% to 57%.

Thanks to Claude and ChatGPT.