Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

Guest worker program for U.S.?

Monday, March 8th, 2021

The concept of a long-term guest worker visa is rarely discussed in the U.S. These visas would create a middle ground between temporary work visas and citizenship or permanent residency. I think the concept is very hard for Americans to consider because we are at least overtly opposed to the idea of some kind of second class citizenship or permanent residency.

Here is an excerpt from a report based on round table discussions held in Wisconsin and Texas:

The participants also made suggestions for introducing new temporary programs or expanding existing ones for migrant workers. They proposed ideas that could expand the scope of the existing H-2A temporary agricultural visa and H-2B temporary non-agricultural visa programs.
A man from Wisconsin said more temporary programs for lower skilled occupations could provide incentives for undocumented immigrants to enter the country legally:

“One thing that ought to be done—there should be some middle ground between permanent resident status and being undocumented. I think there has to be a way for people to come here to work and be legal without the expectations that they’re going to become citizens or become permanent residents. I think a lot of people come here to work and send money back. I would like to see low skilled workers have some limited visa so they can work or earn a living and be documented to the extent monitored … that would give them a way to be here legally, pay their taxes, social services, and healthcare. I see great benefit in that.”

Another participant from Texas floated a proposal that mirrored temporaryto-permanent systems in European countries, such as Germany where non-citizens can access permanent status after living in these countries for a specific number of years. He said, “Whoever wants to come legally, give them a period of one year to prove to the government that they can establish themselves in the U.S., stay with clear criminal histories, and show they are productive and engaged in the community.”

From Turning Challenges Into Opportunities: Perspectives on Immigration in Texas and Wisconsin during the 2020 Election Year

Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was enacted by the prior Democratic-controlled House In December, 2019, and was re-introduced this week. This and the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 are the two major immigration related legislative initiatives underway.

Farmworker-related legislation has been sought by a coalition of worker advocates and employer-based farm associations for some time. They are responding to a crisis in farm labor supply.

Some highlights of the bill:

Temporary legalization. A program for agricultural workers in the United States (and their spouses and minor children) to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment. Provides a process for farm workers to seek Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW) status—a temporary status for those who have worked at least 180 days in agriculture over the last 2 years. CAW status can be renewed indefinitely with continued farm work (at least 100 days per year).

Green card for current long-term workers. Those who want to stay can earn a path to a green card by paying a $1,000 fine and engaging in additional agricultural work: Workers with 10 years of agricultural work prior to the date of enactment must complete 4 additional years of such work. Workers with less than 10 years of agricultural work prior to the date of enactment must complete 8 additional years of such work.

Temporary workers. Reforms the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers.
Electronic Verification of the Agricultural Workforce. A mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment,

Here is another summary.

How Biden’s immigration bill will reshape green card flow

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

The National Foundation for American Policy has analyzed the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to estimate major changes in the number of persons awarded a green card. It compares actual data for 2016 with a projection for 2032.

The total number of green cards is forecast to increase by 28% from about 1,180,000 to 1,510,000. Family-related visas (immediate and relatives) are to remain basically flat, while employment-related visas are expected to grow by 285%. Family-related visas will decline from, 69% to 52% of all visas awarded; employment related from 12% to 34%. Refugee, asylee, and lottery visas will remain at about 18% of visas. (In chart below RAD = refugee, asylee, and diversity visas.)

Tenure in U.S. of unauthorized persons

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

I have posted on this recently and I am doing this again, in light of the impending legislative battle over the fate of unauthorized persons in the U.S.

In 2016, about two-thirds of unauthorized immigrant adults had lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, and the share has risen from less than half (41%) in 2007. 80% of unauthorized persons from Mexico had been in the U.S. for at least ten years

Only 18% of all unauthorized persons have lived in the U.S. for five years or less, a decline from 30% in 2007.

These are 2016 estimates. The percentage of unauthorized immigrant adults today who have been here more than ten years had certainly increased since then.

From here.



Quinnipiac Poll: immigration questions

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Here are results on immigration-related questions in the latest Quinnipiac poll:

Mexico Border: Americans say 54 – 42 percent that they approve of President Biden’s action to halt the construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

DACA: On Biden’s proposal to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, Americans overwhelming support 83 – 12 percent allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the United States and eventually apply for citizenship.

Other unauthotized persons: Overall, sixty-five percent of Americans say undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the United States should be allowed to stay in the United States and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. Nine percent say they should stay in the U.S. but not be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship. Twenty percent say they should be required to leave the United States.

Travel Ban/Muslim Countries: Americans say they approve 57 – 36 percent of Biden’s action to reverse a travel ban on predominately Muslim countries that was put into effect in 2017.

1,075 U.S. adults nationwide were surveyed from January 28th – February 1st with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Biden comprehensive immigration bill

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

The Biden administration submitted, as expected, an immigration bill on January 20: the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. I wrote about the bill on January 19 here. The highlight of the bill is legalization of substantially all unauthorized persons in the country as of 1/1/21. The Administration’s own summary of the bill is here.

It does not appear to significantly alter the design of the country’s visa system except for normalization, through temporary legal status, of the state of unauthorized persons. It does not create a workforce assessment function; Washington will remain without a capacity to assess how present and future immigration will impact the economy.

The bill requires that “DHS and the Department of Labor establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to make recommendations for improving the employment verification process.” Without employer verification enforcement of immigration laws is very weak – as it has been.

Popular ambivalence about immigration

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

A Morning Consult/Politico survey (in January/early February) reveals ambivalence about immigration, in particular changes by Biden of some representative Trump policies. Americans have been more ambivalent than is acknowledged. The following captures the tension: “We like immigrants, but we’d rather have fewer of them.” To me, who believes that immigration flows should increase, and even beyond the patterns in pre-Trump years, the survey findings are sobering.

Key to chart:

A: Re-evaluate Trump immigration policies
B: Review Trump’s public charge rule
C: End Muslim travel ban
D: Include undocumented persons in census
E: Expand refugee cap to 110,000 (currently under 25,000)

Trump immigration policy and its reversal by Biden

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

A “TrumpTracker” Immigration Policy Tracking Project catalogued every known Trump-era immigration policy from January 2017 through the end of the administration. The project identified 1,064 actions.

Biden executive actions so far (there have been many other actions beside executive actions). This list suggests how extensive and detailed the Trump changes were.

Reapportionment Count: Executive Order revokes the prior Administration’s orders excluding noncitizens from the Census and apportionment of House of Representatives seats, and ensures that the Census Bureau has time to complete an accurate population count for each state.

Dreamers: Presidential Memorandum directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take all appropriate actions under the law to achieve the goal of preserving and fortifying Dreamers’ protections.

Muslim/African Bans: Proclamation ends the Muslim Ban, including repeals of Proclamations 9645 and 9983 restricting entry into the United States from primarily Muslim-majority and African countries. State Department will restart visa processing for affected countries and swiftly propose remedies for harms caused by the bans, especially for individuals stuck in the waiver process and those who had immigrant visas denied.

Screening and vetting for travelers: Directs reviews of Trump Administration “extreme vetting” practices. Repeals Trump Interior Enforcement Executive Order

Trump Executive Order 13768, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” about interior immigration enforcement: Promises civil immigration enforcement policies that best protect the American people in line with our values and priorities.

Wall Construction: Proclamation immediately terminates the national emergency declaration used to justify some wall-funding diversions and immediately pauses wall construction projects to review legality of the funding and contracting methods used.

Enforced Departure for Liberians: Presidential Memorandum extends DED and work authorization until June 30, 2022 for Liberians. DHS will ensure that USCIS facilitates applications and timely adjudications for Liberians applying for residency under the Liberian Relief and Fairness Act.

Types of temporary skilled foreign worker programs

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

The United States does not have an immigration vision or overarching policy. Rather, it has an elephantine mass of laws including a huge grab bag of visa categories, largely under regulatory capture by special interests. Congress has abetted this state of affairs. One step towards a coherent policy would be to better manage the temporary acceptance of skilled workers. Here, I summarize what is in effect competition among the U.S, Canada, Australia and the U.K. for skilled workers. (Go here for the report from which this a taken.)

Each of these countries has a core program. The U.S. lags in all significant measures of efficiency including longer processing times, significantly higher filing costs, and escalating rates of denial. Australia has the highest temporary admission-to-population ratio at 2.62 skilled workers (new per year) per 1,000 people. Canada has a ratio of 2.52. The U.K. has a ratio of 0.85, and the United States has a ratio of just 0.26 skilled foreign workers per 1,000 people. To bring the U.S. up to 2 per 1,000 persons, that would cause the formal limit per year to go from 85,000 to 600,000. The data broadly suggest that skilled global talent is increasingly choosing to work in Canada and the United Kingdom over Australia and the United States.

United States: H-1B Visa (created in 1990). The H-1B visa program is the primary skills-based work visa program that permits global talent to work in the United States on a temporary basis. The temporary visa is valid for a period of three years from the date of filing with the option to extend for an additional three years. The formal quotas are so shot through with exceptions that it is impossible to estimate the total potential number of new visas per year. The number of requests for evidence (RFEs) since 2016 has increased from 21% of petitions received to 60% in the first three months of 2019. The number of visa denials has increased significantly from 6% to 26%.

Australia Subclass 457 (482) The Australian temporary work (skilled) visa, also known as subclass 457, was created in 1996 after a government report recommended that the entry of skilled workers be simplified and streamlined to bolster the Australian economy. The temporary work visa authorizes skilled immigrants, accompanied by their immediate families, to work in Australia for approved employers for a periodof up to four years. The program has no numerical cap.

United Kingdom: Tier 2 Visa. Established in 2008 to replace the provisions of work permit employment, the Tier 2 visa program covers skilled workers with an offer of employment from a UK-based employer. Similar to Australia’s temporary work visa, Tier 2 is a points-based system whereby points are awarded based on educational qualifications, future expected earnings, English language proficiency, company sponsorship, and funds available (to support oneself ).

Canada: Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program. Created in 1973, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows Canadian businesses to employ foreign nationals to fill temporary labor and skill shortages for up to four years. The program was initially intended for high-skilled workers but has been expanded to include low-skilled workers. In order to hire a foreign worker, employers require approval from the government to ensure that the foreign national possesses in-demand skills.15 The International Mobility Program (IMP), on the other hand, does not require such permission, so it is subject to a far simpler and quicker hiring process.

Biden First Day Plan for Immigration: legalize all persons

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

This is the most informed article on Biden’s plan to propose immigration reform in his first day of office. The Washington Post writes it includes an eight-year pathway to citizenship to all persons “without legal status” who have been in the country as of 1/1/21. There are about 10.5 million such persons. The plan gives them temporary status for five years and then grants them a green card once they meet certain requirements such as a background check and payment of taxes. They would be able to apply for citizenship three years later.

I expect that the steady increase in Hispanic vote and its significant shift towards Republicans will improve the odds of Republican support for this change. So long as the Hispanic vote was out of reach by Republicans (except for Cubans),  the”amnesty” card was easy for Republicans to play against the Dems. Now Reps have to think twice. According to Pew Research, legalization is top political concern of Hispanics today.

There are many other provisions to be introduced. I focus on this one because it is the most politically challenging. Every major attempt to reform immigration since 2000 has included normalization of unauthorized status persons. The last attempt was in 2017 which never got anywhere; the one before that which received some measure of congressional recognition was in 2013.

The Post goes on, “To win passage, the administration would have to retain all Democratic votes as well as persuade at least 10 Republican senators to cross the aisle. Some proponents of the 2013 effort — such as Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — remain in the Senate, although many others have since left.