Author Archive

Income tax and social security tax payments of illegal immigrants – a legal analysis

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

I located an article in the Harvard Latino Law Review analyzing the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants
Francine Lipman, The Taxation of undocumented immigrants: separate, unequal and without representation published in October, 2006. The article focuses in-depth on income tax and social security tax issues, and is heavily annotated. I found the article in the reports section of the website for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, or

Where to find country population, migration and related projections

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Go here, A U.N. website, to find past figures from 1950 and projections through 2050. It shows that Japan and Italy will begin to experience population declines in 2010-2015 and France after 2035. Canada and Australia will have very strong immigration rates (over 5% of population in many years). The U.S. follows. The immigration rates of Western European countries are much less. Mexico will export people at a substantial rate.

France’s new skilled labor focus on immigration

Friday, January 19th, 2007

The Migration Policy Institute published a paper describing France’s new immigration law of 2006. Below are quotes from the study, which says that France is well aware that it must compete with other global players for international talent. Countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia all actively recruit migrants and select them according to criteria that range from education and language skills to adaptability and age. I have already posted on Canadian policy and an extensive article in the Economist about the effort of other countries to recruit highly skilled labor (use “search” to find them.)
Comparisons between the U.S. and France
Population: U.S. 300 million France 61 million
Percentage foreign born: U.S. 12.5% France 10%
Unauthorized residents: U.S. 3% France 2%
Work based entry as % of total immigration: U.S. 22% France 11.9%
Family reunification as % of total immigration: U.S. 58% France 64%
Foreign students: U.S. 621,000 France 250,000
Students from abroad:
France has double per capita the number of foreign students and is trying to keep them in France to work. Between 2001 and 2003, the number of foreign students increased by 50 percent — a significantly larger increase than that which occurred in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, or the United States. (Australia is ahead of all in recruiting foreign students.) The new law would require foreign students to receive approval to study in France from their country of origin. Once in France, foreign students who receive a masters or higher degree would be allowed to pursue a “first professional experience” that contributes to the economic development of both France and the student’s country of origin
The law in general:
France introduced in July 24, 2006 a new immigration law with fur objectives: recruiting skilled workers; facilitating foreign students’ stay; tightening the rules on family reunification; and limiting access to residence and citizenship. In sum, it aims to overhaul France’s immigration system by giving the government new powers to encourage high-skilled migration, fight illegal migration more effectively, and restrict family immigration.
Although the new law does not take effect until early 2007, one of its pillars is already making itself felt. The number of people deported for not having the required documents reached nearly 13,000 by the end of July 2006, more than halfway to the Interior Ministry’s 2006 goal of 25,000, inciting protests from tens of thousands of French citizens.
The unrest illustrates that France will not have an easy transition to a selective immigration system that emphasizes employment-driven immigration at the expense of the 113,000 immigrants who arrive in France annually for family-related reasons and that carries out a robust campaign against illegal migration.
Skilled based immigration:


Case study of employment results of a large ICE raid on a poultry plant

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

The Wall Street Journal ran an informative article today on the effect of a major ICE raid upon employer – employee relations. Evan Pérez and Corey Dade wrote the article. I posted on the raid of Crider Inc., a Stillmore, GA, poultry plant in May, 2006. The WSJ article describes the before and after:
BEFORE: employees mostly Hispanic. Workers provided company housing. Black employment since late 1990s had declined from 70% to 16%. High productivity, poor benefits and working conditions, and few employee complaints. Wages barely above minimum wage. Parking lot wage payments, in which checks were issued and immediately cashed by the employee, preventing any record of employment history. I infer that worker savings probably sent to Mexico.
AFTER: Wages increased 30% – 50%. Workforce is 65% black, 30% white, 5% Hispanic. Workers provided company housing. Much of workforce converted to independent recruiting contractor status and/or engaged through employee hiring firm. Productivity sags 10%. More complaints about worker health and safety. Labor shortages. Company searches across U.S. for people willing to work, such as Hmong migrant workers. I infer that worker savings now put into local housing, cars.
NATIONALLY, WHAT A GUEST WORKER PROGRAM WOULD DO: Boost wages by at least 30%. Prohibit independent contractor abuses. Better health and safety. Remove vulnerability of Hispanic workers to fear of deportation. Worker shortages. More investment in technology to reduce workforces.
Excerpts from the article, with some notes by me:


Shortages of farm labor hit Florida, California. Are they due to immigration enforcement?

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

In Florida, H-2A farm guest worker program is increasingly used to solve labor shortages on farms. In California, after a catastrophic pear season last year, farmers are ernest about getting a broad guest worker program into place. The increased demand may be due to stricter enforcement against illegal workers. In any event, H2A use is up 500% in Florida.
In Florida:
Florida growers and farmworker advocates say that the number of guest workers being employed picking Sunshine State crops is up 500 percent. Last year, there were about 1,000 guest workers legally in the United States under the federal program — referred to as H2A — with about 16 employers applying for workers.
In 2006, that ballooned to about 5,000 with more than 70 employers applying, says Greg Schell, a Lake Worth labor attorney and farm worker advocate. The unresolved immigration debate is likely to force even more employers to tap the H2A program, under which a guest worker visa is good for 364 days.
President Bush has been pushing for an extensive revamping of immigration law. He wants a guest worker program and the possibility of eventual citizenship for many illegal immigrants already in the country. In the past, H2A has not been broadly used by Florida growers because of its costly and complicated nature. Exactly who is going to be paying the additional costs of the program for farmers in unclear, but, all things being equal, growers are likely to pass the cost along to consumers.
Spencer said that labor was the primary obstacle to getting his crops to grocery store aisles during the past year. The shortage was unprecedented for an industry that relies so heavily on Latino immigrant workers. There has also been a drastic increase in the number of H2B workers. It is a sister program open to industries other than agriculture that tops out at a set number of issued work visas. The measure has been used in the past in landscaping, manufacturing and construction.
In California:
Growers say aggressive security patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border have created a labor shortage that’s left apples hanging on trees in Washington state, marred berry harvests in Oregon and delayed the onion harvest in Texas. The American Farm Bureau Federation has warned labor shortages could cause $5 billion in losses to the agriculture industry.
The economic threat is particularly acute in the nation’s top agricultural state where more than one-third of the nation’s farmworkers are employed, California farmers say. Last summer, a quarter of the pear crop in rural Lake County rotted on the field when pickers never showed up, said Toni Scully, a pear packer there.
“Throughout the summer, farmers were cobbling together workers to meet their immediate needs,” said Jack King, national public affairs manager for the California Farm Bureau Federation. “When we failed to push something through last year, we vowed we’d be back.”

Can a work injured illegal immigrant obtain benefits? In Indiana, it depends

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Thanks to (subscription required) I have a case study of the snarl-ups often experienced today when an illegal immigrants suffers a work injury, about which there is no dispute it happened. Her or his payments can still be cut off. A guest worker program will eliminate all of these trap doors, which I have found the large majority of work injury experts are unaware of.
The matter at hand in this Indiana case is whether the injured worker is entitled to benefits after having reached “maximum medical improvement” and is still disabled – that is, simply is not going to get any better. The worker, Benjamin Marrufo, says through his lawyer that he is still not at “MMI.” The problem for him in reaching MMI is that the court may decide (as it appears to in other jurisdictions) that an illegal worker is not eligible for ongoing permanent benefits.
The article says….
Mindel [his lawyer] disputes that his client is at MMI, and said that under Indiana workers’ compensation law his client cannot request an independent medical examination because of his illegal status. To be eligible for an independent medical evaluation, an injured worker must have received total temporary disability — which an undocumented cannot collect under the law, Mindel said, adding that he doesn’t expect his client’s claim to be a test for the state high court.
Marrufo is a 47-year-old Mexican national who admittedly came to the United States eight years ago. He filed a workers’ compensation claim for a May 2006 back injury and received medical benefits.
He did not receive any temporary disability for loss of wages during his recuperation, his attorney said.
Indiana courts have not decided whether undocumented workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. State courts in California, New York, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota and Alabama [and other states – PFR]have all ruled that illegal aliens are entitled to medical benefits. Most of the courts, however, have said no to wage-replacement benefits or vocational rehabilitation because the worker is in the country illegally.
A South Carolina lawmaker this year will push to exclude undocumented workers from his state’s workers’ comp system.
“My bill is a very simple bill,” Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia, was quoted as saying last month. “It says that if a person applies for workman’s compensation, they must show that they are a legal citizen.”

Mexican immigrant worker economics – remittances are the goal

Monday, January 8th, 2007

The Arizona Republic presented information from the most recent Inter-American Development Bank about Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. The article starts with a personal profile: “Take Martin Armenta, for example. The Phoenix resident takes home $380 a week after taxes from his job as a cook. Yet he sends more than a third of his paycheck to his wife and two children in Sonora. How does he do it? With some serious scrimping. Armenta, 31, shares a three-bedroom house with seven other immigrant men, watches TV for entertainment and never goes out to eat.”

The key to creating jobs and other forms of economic development in Mexico and Latin American countries will be using remittances to finance micro-loans and mortgages. Those types of banking tools are currently unavailable to most poor people in Latin America, said
Sergio Bendixen, a Miami-based pollster who surveyed 2,511 Latino immigrants for a study of remittances commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank. Communities in the U.S. also stand to benefit from remittances by creating co-ops that encourage immigrants to invest money here instead of sending it home, de la Garza said.

Sending more home

The Inter-American Development Bank survey found that between 2004 and 2006, the percentage of immigrants sending money regularly increased from 61 to 73 percent. Still, the majority of immigrants who send money home earn wages considered working-poor or lower-middle-class by U.S. standards. About three-fifths earn less than $30,000 a year. A third earn less than $20,000, according to the survey, which was released in October.

About half of Latino immigrants find a job within a month of arriving in the U.S., the survey said. The first jobs they find tend to pay low, about $900 a month. But on average that is six times the amount they were earning in their home country.

Frugal lifestyle

In Mexico, incomes vary widely, but government information suggests that the vast majority of Mexican workers makes less than $21 a day.

Armenta said he sends money home to his wife and two children, ages 9and 3, every week to help them buy food, clothing and medicine. The family owns its home in Ciudad Obregón, the second-largest city in Sonora. His biggest expense is a $150-a-week car payment for the 1990 Ford pickup truck he bought shortly after arriving in Phoenix. The remainder of his $380 weekly paycheck goes to pay for auto insurance, gasoline, rent and food. Armenta’s monthly share of the rent, split eight ways, is about $230, including utilities. The only furniture in the house he rents is a sofa and a few chairs. For entertainment, Armenta watches TV. He doesn’t have cable. He also doesn’t have a bed. He said he sleeps on the floor. Armenta said he never goes out to eat.

Major problems in immigration and future guest work info systems

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

A Washington Post article reports on an inspector general audit of Citizenship and Immigrant Service computer system weaknesses. These weaknesses are contributing to huge backlogs now for legal applications. It sounds like a guest worker program with amnesty will crush the system.
Per the article:

As the White House and Congress prepare to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, U.S. officials have concluded that they lack the technology and resources to handle the millions of applications for legal residency that could result from the changes and that several efforts to modernize computers have gone astray.

A report released Dec. 20 by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner cited a long list of setbacks and concurred with internal USCIS reviews that the bureau “lacks the processing capacity, systems integration and project management resources needed to manage a potential increase in workloads.” A project to replace the nationwide computer network has been halted because the agency lacks $72 million to complete it. A staff reorganization was frozen because of deficiencies “that hinder day-to-day IT operations,” according to the report.

A quote from the audit itself:

Our September 2005 report discussed inefficiencies in USCIS’ IT environment that hindered its ability to carry out its immigration benefits processing mission successfully. Specifically, USCIS’ processes were largely manual, paper-based, and duplicative, resulting in an ineffective use of human and financial resources to ship, store, and track immigration files. Adjudicators used multiple and non-integrated IT systems to perform their jobs, which has reduced productivity and data integrity. IT software and
hardware systems also were not well configured to meet users needs.

Further, although federal guidelines require effective planning and management of IT to increase efficiency of business operations, USCIS has not had a focused approach for updating its legacy systems and manual workflow practices. Rather, IT planning and implementation were conducted in a reactive and decentralized manner across the organization. Additionally, USCIS relied on personnel rather than technology to meet its backlog reduction goals.

The article in full:


150 million internal migrants in China today

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Thanks to Immigration News Blog for picking up the NY Times story on Shenzhen, the vast fulcrum of China’s mammoth internal worker migration movement. There are 150 million internal migrants within China. This number compares to the 200 million estimated transborder migrants currently in the work. Assuming a labor force participation rate of 80%, this means there are 30 million more internal migrant workers in China than the entire American workforce. Internal migration provides almost all the workers for the manufacturing centers along the coast, including Shenzhen, which is near Hong Kong.
From this article:

Shenzhen was a sleepy fishing village in the Pearl River delta, next to Hong Kong, when it was decreed a special economic zone in 1980 by the paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Since then, the city has grown at an annual rate of 28 percent, though it slowed to 15 percent in 2005.


Yu Di, a 19-year-old from Hubei Province with a junior high school education, said he worked in a grimy watch-casing factory, loading and unloading heavy boxes from a truck 11 hours a day, six days a week. With a salary of about $80 a month — and no benefits — Mr. Yu has to borrow money from his parents just to cover his living expenses. He lives in a dim and filthy dorm room, crammed with 12 bunk beds and mattresses made of bare springs covered with cardboard. “The only thing I regret is not working hard in school,” he said.

In the room next door, Zhou Hailin, 20, who grew up in Guang’an, the hometown of Deng Xiaoping, seems better off. Mr. Zhou, who came to the city four years ago, earns about $120 a month as a machinist in the same watch factory.

To do so, though, he must work eight-hour shifts, plus three or four hours of mandatory overtime, six days a week. A typical workday, he said, ends at 10:30 p.m., when he often goes to visit a sister who works in another factory nearby.

The complete article follows….


“Open Doors Wider for Skilled Immigrants”

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

A columnist commented on the new study of immigrant entrepreneurs in high tech, which I posted on below, and referred to his and others’ study of this matter over the years. He concludes: “My view: Let’s build really high [immigration] fences, but have big gates. Let’s be very selective in whom we admit, but open the doors to as many as we need.”

Skilled immigrants provide one of the U.S.’s greatest strengths. They contribute to the economy, create jobs, and lead innovation. A new study I helped lead at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, where I am an executive-in-residence, shows they are fueling the creation of hi-tech business across our nation and creating a wealth of intellectual property. To keep our global competitive edge, we need to attract more of the world’s best and brightest. And we need them to come here and put down deep roots

Vivek Wadhwa, the founder of two software companies, is an Executive-in-Residence/Adjunct Professor at Duke University. He is also the co-founder of TiE Carolinas, a networking and mentoring group.