Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

How the administration plans to estimate non-citizen numbers

Friday, August 7th, 2020

The Trump administration wants to deduct from census counts unauthorized persons when Congressional seats are apportioned. I have already posted on this. The Migration Policy Institute describes how it believes the administration plans to do it, even though it does not ask in the census a question about citizen status, much less unauthorized status. It plans do it by matching records of disparate federal databases.

Some anti-immigration groups have tried matching, name by name, between voter records and driver registrations, a conceptually simpler task, and end up with unusable messes. (See here for misadventures in TX, FL, SC and NH>)

An Executive Order of July 11, 2019 orders Executive Branch agencies to cooperate with the Census Bureau by using “administrative records” “the number of citizens, non‑citizens, and illegal aliens in the country.” The MPI says this means matching Census records with social security, Medicare, Medicaid, IRS, Homeland Security records perhaps state records. “The problem is that millions of citizens and legal immigrants cannot be matched to administrative records.”

The MPI says that prior efforts to match records “suggests up to 20 million U.S. citizens could be excluded” from the count of citizens.”

A 2018 internal analysis by the Census Bureau on such matching concluded it would not work as desired. The main problem is that surveys, such as the Census, produce “significantly lower estimates of the noncitizen share of the population than would be produced from currently available administrative records.” The authors cite “noncitizen respondents misreporting their own citizenship status and failing to report that of other household members. At the same time, currently available administrative records may miss some naturalizations and capture others with a delay.” The MPI adds that some “may use a different version of their name on the Census form than used in government records.”

The Census undercount will be worse “in densely populated urban areas where more people crowd in each housing unit, and in rural agricultural areas where migrant farmworkers live for part of the year. It is also difficult to collect data from younger people, especially those who move back and forth from home during their college years.”

Biden position on immigration

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

The Biden campaign task force issued a 1,800 word statement on immigration policy. It embraces an inclusive vision of immigration. The Trump policies will be reversed and immigration will be increased.

The war over immigration is primarily a cultural war, not a war over jobs. This is hard to find stated explicitly by either side.

The Biden statement implies that that immigration should be assessed on its impact of American culture and that this impact is overwhelmingly positive. In contrast, a hard restrictionist position on immigration, in my view, focuses on competition for jobs but has an underlying and unstated position that American culture suffers from immigration

The Biden prioritizes non-economic-based immigration (“Our family, humanitarian, and diversity pathways have contributed immeasurably to the vibrancy and productivity of American society and should continue to be the centerpiece of our immigration system.”)

It contains nothing surprising except perhaps for going further than some might expect to limit immigration law enforcement — making it government policy to shield “sensitive locations like our schools, houses of worship, health care facilities, benefits offices, and DMVs from immigration enforcement actions.”

SCOTUS: Trump cannot now terminate DACA

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Here is the Supreme Court decision released this morning.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was an executive order issued on June 15, 2012. As of late 2019, about 825,000 individuals had obtained official protection.

Here are some findings in a 2019 survey of DACA beneficiaries:

The average age of arrival to the United States among respondents is 6.1 years old, and 69% reported not having any immediate family members who still live in their respective countries of birth.

46% reported already having a bachelor’s degree or higher. After receiving DACA, 58% moved to a job with better pay. Among respondents 25 years and older, 20% have obtained professional licenses after receiving DACA. Among respondents 25 years and older, median annual earnings total $44,583. (this compares with median for Hispanics 25 and over, of $38,272).

Here are the outlines of a possible deal between the administration and DACA supporters:

Provisions for Dreamers:

Expand the category of persons covered. [This will cause the target population to grow from about 800,000 to upwards of two million.]

Create for them a secure path to a green card and citizenship. 

For their parents: “it is now clear that addressing their status in this bill would cause one side or the other to block the legislation, and so we believe it should not be included at this time.”

Provisions for enforcement:

Technology: Deploy region-specific technology to appropriate sectors of the southern border, such as radar surveillance systems.

Infrastructure: rebuild roads and barriers, improve security and enforcement technology at ports of entry through additional cameras/surveillance of traffic/pedestrian areas.

Personnel: Increase the number of CBP officers at ports of entry; increase training for CBP officers and Border Patrol agents.

Require annual reporting to Congress and the public on extensive metrics on how the increased efforts have affected entry attempts and successful or unsuccessful border crossings

The shutdown of immigration explained

Friday, April 24th, 2020


The supposedly temporary shutdown of immigration is in effect an executive order to put into place a dramatic change in immigration proposed bt the RAISE act, drafted by Republican senators and which the White House endorsed in 2019 — to remove pretty much all immigration except for skilled workers. In other words, the administration is the second in a row to try to change immigration in a big way through executive order.

Before the President’s Proclamation on April 22 (text here), the administration had already suspended routine visa processing at its consulates and embassies abroad. In 2019, 9.2 million visas were issued at consulates and embassies abroad. The US’s borders with Canada and Mexico are closed to nonessential travel. Migrants at the Mexican border were turned away. (Go here.)

The suspension is largely directed at family reunification, affecting an annual inflow by green cards of about 350,000 persons, such as the parents, siblings, and adult children of U.S. citizens, and spouses and young children of permanent residents. (Go here). It would cut refugee entries by about half.

Boundless created a chart showing that the effect of reducing family-related immigration falls heavily on non-European would-be immigrants.

The suspension does not affect spouses and children of citizens, temporary farmworkers (H-2A), temporary skilled workers (H-1B), international students, and the EB-5 program which allows rich foreigners to buy green cards for themselves and their families.


Coronavirus and non-citizen immigrants

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

In 2017, there were 22 million noncitizens residing in the United States, accounting for about 7% of the total U.S. population. Noncitizens include lawfully present and undocumented immigrants.

Their healthcare coverage:

Noncitizens are significantly more likely than citizens to be uninsured. Among the nonelderly population, 23% of lawfully present immigrants and more than four in ten (45%) undocumented immigrants are uninsured compared to less than one in ten (8%) citizens. (go here.)

The stricter public charge rule, which went into effect on February, well cause many of these people to withdraw from Medicaid and other financial and health assistance program. (go here).

Paid sick leave coverage:

There is no survey on which non-citizen immigrants enjoy paid sick leave. However, many of these persons (including in all likelihood most undocumented workers – 8 million) are low wage earners, and 47% of the lowest quarter of workers in wage earnings have paid sick leave compared to 90% of the top quarter (private sector).  More info on paid sick leave issues is here.

Sanders’ ambivalence on immigration

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

Bernie Sander’s position on immigration reflects a deep skepticism about globalization. He has taken positions to support the legal and economic protections of low wage immigrants, is squarely in favor of granting unauthorized workers citizenship status “within five years,” and supporting family reunification-related immigration But (per his website) he takes no position on immigration of skilled workers and guest worker programs. And he opposed NAFTA, which led to more integration of the Mexican and American economies including their workforces.

If president, I expect that he will attempt to reverse all of Trump’s executive orders but also take the position that immigrants take jobs from Americans.

His historical record on immigration reflects the ambiguous position of Democrats on immigration. Unions until the 2000s often were opposed to immigration that appeared to compete with Americans for jobs. Democrats became increasingly more supportive of immigration. After 2010, Democrat turned. much more positive than Republicans about immigration (prior post here).

He voted against 2007 immigration bill, even though it promised legal status for unauthorized immigrants. The failure of passage resulted in the almost complete breakdown in bipartisan approach to immigration and to the extensive use of executive orders by Obama and then Trump to make immigration reform without Congressional approval. His vote supports the notion that Sander is not one to work toward compromise on difficult issues.

The bill was the last serious effort for some kind of comprehensive immigration reform, and compromise between the goal of normalization of status and enforcement. Supporters included Senator Kennedy and the senate Dem and Rep leadership. (An analysis of the bill is here.)

Vox writes that “Sanders broke with prominent Democrats to oppose a key comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007 that would have provided a path to citizenship for millions of unauthorized immigrants living in the US. He opposed measures to increase the number of guest workers and offer green cards to citizens of countries with low levels of immigration. And he once voted for an amendment supporting a group of vigilantes that sought to take immigration enforcement into their own hands along the border (though he has since disavowed the group.)”

Update on severe restrictions on asylum processing at Mexican border

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

The Trump administration has severely restricted asylum entries through the Mexican border. There are many initiatives. I’ve identified five of them here with their current legal status as of February 28.

The broader context: For El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala., total asylum cases averaged around 2,500 a year for many years until the shot up starting in the mid 2010s and reached around 30,000 in 2019. (This is counting by fiscal year of the decision of an immigration court, likely in Houston or San Diego). Very few had come from Mexico but even those surged up. These four countries over the past 20 years have accounted for about 25% of total asylum decisions, compared to about 19% from China. But China’s volume has been pretty stable.

This started before Trump. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that more individuals from the Northern Triangle region sought affirmative asylum in the United States between 2013 to 2015 than in the previous 15 years combined, and the volume has since gone up much more. (from here.)

The Wall Street Journal summarizes the administration’s action in four prongs listed below (I added a fifth):

Third-Country Ban (“Asylum Ban 2.0”): Migrants who cross through another country en route to the U.S. without applying for asylum in that nation aren’t eligible for U.S. asylum, essentially making all border crossers other than Mexican nationals ineligible.  This policy was implemented in July, 2019.  Status: in September, 2019, the Supreme Court upheld this policy.

Remain in Mexico: In 2019, the administration sent more than 61,000 migrants back across the border, where they are required to live in dangerous Mexican border cities as they await U.S. court dates. Status:  on February 28 a federal appeals court temporarily blocked this provision, which the administration began to implement in November, 2019.

Safe Third-Country Agreements: About 1,000 asylum seekers from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S. border have been flown to Guatemala, where they were told to apply for asylum. The administration signed “safe third-country” agreements with these three nations to accept asylum seekers from elsewhere. Status: The first arrangement was made in July 2019 (Guatemala) and began transporting persons in November, 2019.

Prompt Asylum Claim Review: The administration funnels other asylum seekers into this program, under which they are held and given just days to make their claim, a time frame that lawyers say makes it hard to mount a successful case. Status: this policy, called PACR, was initiated in October, 2019.

Crossing illegally bars asylum status: the administration began to implement this in 2019. Status: In August a federal court ruled this to be illegal.

Extensive details on these and other Mexican border measures are here

Why was Nigeria added?

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Why did the Trump Administration add Nigeria to the travel ban?

The press reported that “Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters that the six countries failed to meet U.S. security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions. The problems Wolf cited ranged from sub-par passport technology to a failure to sufficiently exchange information on terrorism suspects and criminals.

It is one of the few countries with an estimated temporary visa overstay rate of 10%. But that was not one of the reasons cited by DHS.

The Nigerian Foreign Minister was “blindsided” by the ban.

NY Times columnist Jamelle Douie thinks that Trump is trying to bring back the Immigration Act of 1924, which essentially barred Asians and African from migrating to the U.S. “Which is to say that it does not matter that Nigeria isn’t much of a national security threat or that Nigerians are among the most successful immigrants to the United States, surpassing native-born Americans in income and educational attainment. What matters is that they’re black and African and, for Trump, at the bottom of a racial hierarchy.”

Impact of new “Public Charge” rule – part 1

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

In October 2018, the Trump administration issued its plan to toughen the public charge rule, which is one guide to reviewing applications for Green Cards. With the federal court decision that approved the new rule, it is to go into effect on February 24.

The rule was revised to prevent immigration be people who would be a drag on the economy.

Opponents described how many American citizens could not pass the new rule.

About half of all U.S.-born citizens would likely be deemed a public charge — and by extension and implication, considered a drag on the United States — if this definition were applied to them.

*In just a single year, 1 in 4 U.S.-born citizens receive a benefit included in the final rule’s public charge definition.

*If one considers benefit receipt of the U.S.-born citizens over the 1997-2017 period, some 41 to 48 percent received one of the benefits included in the final rule’s public charge definition.

*If data covered U.S.-born citizens over the course of their full lifetimes, receipt of benefits included in the new rule would be about half of the population.

*A significant share of individuals working in the United States — 15 percent — receive one of the benefits included in the new rule in just a single year. These are workers upon whom our economy relies.

” having family income below 125 percent of the poverty line — about $31,375 for a family of four, which is more than twice what full-time work at the federal minimum wage pays in the United States — would count against an individual in the public charge determination.

The expired definition of public charge is, by contrast, far narrower. In a single year, just 5 percent of U.S.-born citizens and 1 percent of individuals working in the United States meet the current benefit-related criteria in the public charge determination.

How the new rule expands the definition of public charge:

First, it broadens the list of public benefit programs considered in a public charge determination to include health coverage through Medicaid (with limited exceptions), food assistance through SNAP (food stamps), and housing assistance (Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 Rental Assistance, and other subsidized housing programs).

Second, instead of looking at whether more than half of a person’s income comes (or would likely come in the future) from cash assistance tied to need, as they do now, immigration authorities will determine, using several enumerated factors, whether an individual is “more likely than not at any time in the future to receive one or more public benefits” for a certain time period (to be codified in 8 C.F.R. § 212.22(a))—even if the benefits reflect only a small share of an immigrant’s total income.

From a deposition by Danilo Trisi, submitted as part of a suit to block the new rule.

Also go here for another analysis.

Go here for the DHS’ press release on January 30.

EB-5 reforms, update

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Selling green cards to foreigners in exchange of their investing in building projects in areas needing investment has been dominated by real estate developers who use tortured rationales to build in affluent areas, and sometimes mis-appropriate the funds. This is a good case of an obscure government program captured by vested interests, including the President’s relatives. Reforms that have been sought are years are likely to be killed this winter.

The EB-5 program, first introduced in the early 1990s, provides green cards to foreigners who invest in the U.S. The program has incurred big scandals in the past few years. They include a $84 million dollar fraud in Vermont due to negligent state oversight (Jay Peak), a $40 million scandal in Miami (Palm House), and the Kushner family abuse of EB-F in some New Jersey projects for affluent condo buyers.

A team of researchers at NYU’s Stern School of Business closely tracks this program. Dem Senator Leahy and Rep Senator Grassley have been pushing for reforms, and in 2019 the two introduced a reform bill in June. Republican senators Graham, Cronyn, and Rounds are attempting to avoid he reforms through their own bill.

Reformers (such at the NYU team) focus on three issues: increasing the threshold of investment, strengthening incentives for investments to be in targeted areas (rural, urban distressed neighborhoods), and greater transparency to prevent diversion of funds by better management of regional EB-5 Centers.

A summary comparison of the proposed reforms and the counter-attack is here.

This 2015 Forbes article shows how threat of reforms spur demand by foreign investors.