U.S. and U.K. private refugee sponsorships inspired by Canada’s program

These United States and United Kingdom programs, both spawned out of response to Afghan and then Ukrainian refugee crises, are very limited compared to Canada’s.  They do not have any legal power to initiate refugee applications. They allow citizen groups to be formally recognized as part of the resettlement process.

United States:

In October 2021, the State Department worked with the Community Sponsorship Hub—a new nongovernmental organization (NGO) designed to expand sponsorship in the United States by focusing on program development and capacity building—to launch community support for refugees. This allows five or more Americans to come together to welcome Afghan refugees after receiving rigorous training. The successful trial of Sponsor Circles set the stage for the Uniting for Ukraine program, which launched in April and has led to an extraordinary increase in the number of sponsors. Source: Foreign Affairs Magazine.

See this New Yorker article

United Kingdom:

Community Sponsorship is a UK government-backed, volunteer-led refugee resettlement scheme. Inspired by the Canadian Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, Community Sponsorship was introduced in the UK in 2016. The scheme enables groups of local volunteers to support a refugee family for their first year in the UK. It is eligible to those from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt who are displaced due to the Syrian crisis. (Wikipedia).

Faith based organizations for refugees and immigrants worldwide

Faith-based organizations have long served as key partners to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in providing services and protection to refugees and migrants. They include Lutheran World Federation, Islamic Relief Worldwide, and Caritas, a federation of 165 Catholic organizations.

For example, after the 2011 Côte d’Ivoire presidential elections, over half a million people were displaced. Local faith institutions and FBOs including parishes of the Roman Catholic Church, Caritas, Muslim mosques and communities, and Charismatic groups, stepped up to provide immediate emergency shelters and humanitarian assistance

An April 2018 study by Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA) and Boston College’s Center for Social Innovation highlighted dozens of pioneering faith-based programs providing protection for refugees and migrants (FADICA 2018, 1). These programs address root causes of migration, provide protection in transit, and facilitate successful resettlement through the provision of shelter, skills training, and trauma-healing.

Small-scale faith-based programs can have a huge impact for individuals to whom they serve as a lifeline in the midst of a treacherous journey. The Home for Migrants Shelter “Bethlehem” in Tapachula, Mexico at the Guatemalan border is one such program (SIMN 2014). Under the leadership of Scalabrinian priest Father Florenzo Rigoni, c.s., the shelter provides respite and vital services for migrants regardless of their identities and complexities. Pregnant girls, individuals with HIV and other infectious diseases, victims of sex trafficking, former prostitutes, and transgender individuals, are all welcomed and served through the on-site provision of wrap-around medical, financial, educational, and spiritual support at the shelter.

From here.


Mexican program to support its citizens in U.S.

The Migration Policy Institute reports that a new program by the Mexican government to support its citizens residing in the U.S. “represents one of the most significant, if overlooked, factors in US immigrant integration policy” today. As one third of all immigrants in the U.S. are Mexican, this initiative may well serve as a model for other countries with large numbers of citizens residing here.
The program even provides medical care to illegal immigrants.
The January 2010 report’s title is “Protection through Integration: The Mexican Government’s Efforts to Aid Migrants in the United States”
The report’s executive summary (further below in full): says:
“In recent years, the Mexican government has moved beyond traditional notions of consular protection by establishing a broad institutional structure, the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior or IME), to deliver an array of civic, health, education, and financial services to its migrants — 95 percent of whom live in the United States.”
“While evaluations of IME’s programs remain scarce, its projects offer a number of potential best practices in areas ranging from distance learning, outreach, civic engagement, and health care. We recommend sustaining and broadening evaluation and assessment of these programs. This is especially critical as other sending countries, such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay, look to Mexico as a model for providing services to its diaspora and other recipient countries look to work with sending countries to make migration work for all participants.”
The Executive Summary in full:
Mexican consular officials safeguard and protect the interests of their nationals in the United States, performing many of the same functions as any other diplomatic staff in a foreign country. As an immigrant-sending country, Mexico also offers its nationals in the United States low-cost transfer rates for remittances and programs that match migrant investment in communities of origin dollar for dollar.

Continue reading Mexican program to support its citizens in U.S.

New York City’s Immigrant-related policies

A Bloomberg Administration-friendly article in the Gotham Gazette reviews steps that the New York City government has supported the welfare of immigrant populations, including ESL and support of the DREAM Act. This is not a bad set of programs that municipal and state governments could adopt. Bloomberg himself is a grandson of an immigrant. The most spoken languages other than English are Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Russian, Korean and Italian.
Making New York ‘Immigrant Friendly’
By Larry Tung
As the election approaches, Bloomberg hopes to win votes in New York’s immigrant communities. While his recently announced initiatives on immigration could be seen as campaign promises, over the last eight years he has been widely seen as a strong and outspoken supporter for immigrants.
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
Immigrants have long been drawn to New York City because it provides many opportunities for all people, regardless of their immigration status. This remains true today, even in the face of the poor economy. As more cities and states have begun allowing their police to check people’s immigration status, New York City remains a safe haven for those without documentation.
In September 2003, Bloomberg signed Executive Order 41 to reinforce that protection. The order prohibited city workers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status when the person seeks services from a city agency or witnesses a crime.

Continue reading New York City’s Immigrant-related policies

Profile of a pro-immigrant advocacy coalition

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) is one of the largest (staff of 13) and oldest (21 years) advocacy coalitions working to improve the lives of immigrants.
MIRA worked last year with Senator Ted Kennedy’s office over the New Bedford ICE raid. It is supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students. It supported Governor Duvall Patrick’s decision to rescind prior Governor Mitt Romney’s order to employ state troopers to enforce federal immigration laws.
It has connections with over120 labor and community organizations. It is also loosely affiliated with coalitions in other states,, citing Illinois, California, New York and other coalitions emerging in Florida and elsewhere.
It describes itself as the only organization in Massachusetts that “brings together groups serving immigrants and refugees from many parts of the world, of various nationalities, races, and ethnicities. MIRA is a dynamic, multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalition that actively involves hundreds of grassroots immigrant organizations, human services agencies, legal service providers, religious groups, and human rights groups in cooperative efforts to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees.”

A great pro-immigrant blog

Go to Citizen Orange and subscribe today. I just heard about it. The several people involved in it come from diverse backgrounds and put together an inspiring and informative blog.
Here is how they describe themselves:
Citizen Orange is a U.S.-based, Guatemala inspired, weblog founded for the explicit purpose of organizing around global justice. It is the successor to Immigration Orange and operates on the principle that the pro-migrant movement in the United States has the greatest potential for eradicating a host of global injustices and generating respect for peoples born on a different piece of the earth.
In order to be successful the pro-migrant movement has to move the debate from questions of nationality to questions of global inequity. It has to move the debate from questions of legality to questions of justice. Migrants are first shackled to the arbitrary piece of land that they are born onto and then chained to the forces that compel them to leave. We need to remove those shackles and chains. Citizen Orange works for migrant emancipation.
Citizen Orange is an ally space. This means Citizen Orange does not seek to represent the migrant voice, but exists, instead, as a space to support migrants in their struggle for liberty. Humility compels us to make this extremely important distinction. Even though we are all migrants, the extremity of global migrant oppression forces us to recognize that even privileges we take for granted, like access to the internet, separate us from the vast majority of migrants.
This does not mean that we cannot relate to the migrant experience through our common humanity. We constantly strive towards understanding and empathy through Citizen Orange and our daily lives. It just means that we will not profess to speak on behalf of migrants. Citizen Orange is not the place to look for a space representative of the migrant voice. If you are searching, look through our blogroll for answers, or in a community near you. Citizen Orange is not the migrant voice, but we do seek to support it and amplify it through our efforts.

Tidbits from the first year of this blog

In passing into the second year of workingimmigrants.com, I have compiled some notable entries from the first year — Peter Rousmaniere
Relative role of U.S. in transborder migration
Number of cities in world with at least one million foreign born residents: 20
Number of these cities in the United States: 8
Number of these cities in India or China: zero
Size of foreign born population in the world today: 200 million out of 6.5 billion (3%)
Size of foreign born population in U.S. Today: 35 million out of 300 million (12%)

Relative role of China in intraborder migration

Number of internal migrants from rural to urban areas in China: 150 million out of total population of 1.2 billion.
Off-shoring of work and the polarization of the American workforce
MIT professor David Autor argues that highly routine mental and manual jobs are being outsourced overseas or eliminated by automation, but that mental and manual jobs involving a level of irregularity in decision making and face to face servicing are growing. This concept explains why some manual jobs are expected to grow in the future along with the growth of high end mental jobs.
Impact of all immigrant workers on American workforce
Share of new jobs 2002 – 2012 to be filled by an immigrant: one out of eight

Size of illegal workforce

Illegal workers in U.S. as of early 2006: about 7.3 million
Illegal workers as % of total U.S. workforce: 4.9%
Illegal workers as % of total U.S. workforce in jobs requiring less than high school degree and without strict documentation requirements: 9/7%
Where do illegal workers work?
Per the Pew Hispanic Center:
Some 55-60% of these undocumented workers are in formal employment and are paying social security taxes
About 3 million of the 7.2 million illegal workers are in occupations in which undocumented workers account for at least 15% of total employment in that occupation. These include construction labor (25%), cooks (20%). Maids and housecleaners (22%), and grounds maintenance (25%). among roofers, 29% of the total workforce is estimated to be undocumented workers.
One half of undocumented working men here are single. But a phenomenal 94% of undocumented men work compared to 83% for native Americans.
Economic impact of illegal population in U.S.
A Texas study says that illegal household payments of consumer and property taxes (via rent or home ownership) exceeds by about 30% the taxpayer burden for education, healthcare, and incarceration.
Do illegal workers displace American workers?
Some say yes, others say no.
It appears that illegal worker compensation is about 30% below what it would be with 100% worker protections afforded to Americans. Go here for a case study.
Waves of Hispanic work immigration since 1980s
1980s: agricultural workers, mostly on farms
1990s: meat processing workers, mostly in rural; towns
2000s: urban work including residential construction: in cities and suburbs
Employment of Indians in the U.S.
They own 20,000 hotels, or 50% of all economy hotels in the U.S.
There are 40,000 Indian physicians in the U.S, or about 4% of all doctors
Role of foreign born entrepreneurs in the U.S.
They are involved in one quarter of all technology start-ups.
Is there a nursing shortage?
Percentage of Philippine nurses working outside the Philippines
Foreign nurses in the U.S.Percentage of Mexican workforce that is working in the U.S.
Remittances from Mexicans in U.S. to Mexico
$25 billion in 2006
Total remittances from all parts of world to Latin America
$54 billion in 2005
Number of community-based immigrant worker centers
upwards of 200

Foreign day laborers in the U.S.

Estimated number on any particular day:
117,600 at 500 sites in the U.S.
Percentage who speak English very well:

NYCOSH online library on immigrant work safety

NYCOSH — the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health — has created a library online with many reports, news articles, and other materials about the work safety and health of immigrant workers. Most of the material is from 2002 through 2004. It was last updated in 9/06.
NYCOSH was instrumental in making sure medical assistance and worker rights counseling was made available to the 8,000 odd immigrant workers engaged in the rescue and recovery from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

A closer look at Immigration Voice

The Washington Post profiles Immigration Voice and its founder, Aman Kapoor. “Immigration Voice boasts 3,000 members; a fundraising goal of $200,000; and, most notably, a partnership with a high-powered lobbying firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC. The group’s transformation from an insular circle to a politically active movement offers a window into an alternative immigrant campaign being waged as the Senate this week resumes its work on immigration laws.”

Most members and all the core organizers of Immigration Voice hail from India, though Chinese membership numbers in the hundreds and is on the rise. Most arrived on an international student visa or a visa known as the H-1B, reserved for highly skilled workers who can stay for up to six years — unless an employer sponsors their green cards, which grant immigrants permanent residence in the United States and the right to live and work here freely. Over the past decade, the largest numbers of H-1Bs have been awarded to high-technology workers from India and China.

Many of the members are stuck in green card application purgatory:

About a half-million immigrants are caught in the green-card backlog, some as they wait for Labor Department approval or because quotas have been exceeded. In that time, they cannot be promoted or given substantial pay increases because that would mean a change in job description and salary. They turn to Web sites to compare their wait times with others, and their Internet handles, such as “stucklabor” and “waiting_labor,” exude their frustration.

While the immigrant marchers’ demands have covered a range of issues, including allowing immigrants to gain legal status and eventually citizenship, the members of this association are more narrowly focused: They want Congress to pass measures that would end the years-long wait for a green card. In fact, they warn that efforts to enable millions of illegal immigrants to remain here permanently would result in the same bureaucratic nightmare legal immigrants are now facing.

Another possible cause it has not been active in yet is increasing the number of H-1B visas:

Under a proposal introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the number of employment-based green cards being issued would increase from 140,000 to 290,000. Currently, no one country is supposed to take up more than 7 percent of the allotment, though unused green cards can be redistributed to countries that have already met their quota. That has made possible migrations in excess of 7 percent from nations such as India, China, Mexico and the Philippines. Under the proposal, the per-country cap would be increased to a hard and fast 10 percent. Proponents say this would prevent one country from dominating the category and would retain jobs for native-born Americans.

A profile of one volunteer:

During meetings on Capitol Hill, Maduros and at least one Immigration Voice representative lay out the group’s platform, weaving in the personal stories of members. Shilpa Ghodgaonkar, a Germantown housewife, has become a staple anecdote — and a frequent visitor on the Hill. For four years, she and her husband have been waiting for their green cards. Ghodgaonkar’s husband arrived on an H-1B visa, and she followed as his dependent, unauthorized to work here. To pass the time, she learned to cook. Then she volunteered as a career counselor in Montgomery County. Last year, she earned her MBA from George Washington University. In December, around the time Kapoor sent out his e-mail plea for mass mobilization, Ghodgaonkar had run out of options. “I just couldn’t keep quiet anymore,” Ghodgaonkar said. “I cannot be depressed anymore.”

Immigration Voice, or “Green Card applicants unite!”

Here is an activist organization worthy of the times: Immigrantion Voice I doubt there is another web source of infotmed information about professional working visa problems that is as informative as this site..

Immigration Voice is a non-profit organization (501 (c) (4) pending) working to alleviate the problems faced by legal high-skilled foreign workers in the United States. We act as an interface between this set of immigrants and the legislative and executive branches of the government.

The mission of Immigration Voice is to organize grassroots efforts and resources to solve several problems in the employment based green card process including (a) delays due to Retrogression (visa number unavailability for certain employment-based categories) (b) delays due to USCIS processing backlogs and (c) delays due to Labor Certification backlogs. We will work to remove these and other flaws by supporting changes to immigration law for high-skilled legal employment-based immigrants. High-skilled legal immigrants strengthen the United States’ economy and help maintain American technological superiority.

Under the tag “IV team” you’ll read about the activists in Immigration Voice: talented professionals caught in some small but interminable Kafkaesque nightmare. See this profile:

Aman Kapoor is the co-founder of Immigration Voice and is our liaison with other groups and agencies. Mr. Kapoor has been working in US for the last eight years. The prolonged employment-based immigration process has continued to hurt Mr. Kapoor’s career growth prospects. Mr. Kapoor possesses strong technical skills and has contributed in many high profile projects with large clients across the country. He has a Bachelors’ degree in Engineering and is presently pursuing his MBA in the U.S. His permanent residency application is being processed and the I-485 approval has been pending for more than 28 months. Mr. Kapoor and his family are now on third year EAD and continue to await approval of their Green Card application. Mr. Kapoor’s handle is WaldenPond and his email is aman@immigrationvoice.org