Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

Biden and immigration

Friday, November 20th, 2020

Here is a post-election summary of some of the elements in the Biden immigration platform. They come down to two types: (1) reversal of Trump administration executive orders and (2) streamlining some channels of immigration. From here.

Missing are an initiative to assess immigration for the future of the workforce and society, and effective controls over unauthorized immigration (which includes e-Verify).

Here is my July 15 posting on Biden’s 1,800 word statement on immigration.

Immigration post-Trump

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

I have not posted since before the election. Now is time to make some initial observations on what the election results mean for immigration policy.

The starting point is the removal of a president with the most coherent immigration policy in generations – a policy basically to cut the inflow of immigrants in half, across the board, but with a tilt in favor of those with high formal job skills. And, this policy is to be run almost entirely through executive order, relying very little or not at all on Congressional approval.

The president replacing him is an immigration inclusivist, without expressed policy choices that would give liberals, moderates, and perhaps even some fiscal conservative much heartburn.

A key point to make today that there is little public support for the Trump policy of severe cutback in immigration. It appears to be supported by only his fervent supporters, and even then only a segment of his fervent supporters.

John Hibbing, in his 2020 book The Securitarian Personality, has polled Trump supporters. His key restrictionist followers are what Hibbing call “securitarians.” They are generally financially comfortable, have a good sense of well-being, and are preoccupied with threats to the country’s well-being and safety as they see it. One of the leading threats to them are immigrants who take advantage of America’s wealth. In one sense, their view is correct: overall, immigrants gain economically vs. their chances in their country of origin more than the U.S. economy appears to.

In the graph below, we see how Trump supporters feel threatened by immigrants a lot more (this is not being personally threatened, but the fabric of true America being threatened). The population segments are Liberals, Moderates, Conservatives who are not strong Trump supporters, and Trump supporters.

The next graph shows that immigration is the most important issue for Trump supporters.


Target: 1,700,000 new green cards a year vs. 780,000 in 2020

Friday, October 9th, 2020

The annual growth in the U.S. civilian labor force has declined from 1.2% in the late 1990s to a projected 0.4% in the next ten years. Half of that growth today is due to immigration. As births are now below replacement rate, labor force growth in the future will trend into negative territory except for immigration. For the U.S. to return to at least a 1% annual growth in the labor force, we will probably need to more than double our immigration flows.

An immigration goal might look like this: design the flow of immigrants so that the net annual flow results in 70% of them joining the labor force when they receive their green card (if they are not working here already). Aim for that 70% to equal or exceed 0.75% of the current workforce. This 0.75% today equals 1,200,000 a year. That translates into (1,200K/.7) = 1,700,000 new green cards a year.

A second Trump term will drive immigration down further. A Biden Administration may lead to embracing a this kind of goal. Democrats however do not articulate a coherent immigration strategy in their platforms. For a nation of immigrants, there exists no progressive strategy on the table.


The Congressional Budget Office just issued a revision of its longterm forecasts. It has lowered its near-term immigration flow by about 20% and it has lowered its labor force increase projections through 2050. Female fertility in the U.S. today is about 1.6 children per female, well below the replacement rate of about 2.1 per female. This bodes for a near-zero annual increase in the labor force when today’s children become adult. The ONLY reason the labor force will increase will be through immigration.

Translating an annual flow of new green cards – perhaps about 790,000 today – into labor force additions requires us to estimate how many of these new recipients join the labor market. With the limitation information provided by the CBO in its new report, I can’t do that. However, it offers a shortcut. The CBO says that net annual immigration in 2020 is 2.9 per 1,000 people in the population.

If Dems win the WH and Senate, perhaps a surprise in immigration policy?

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Trump’s immigration policies may be wrong but they are at least coherent. If the Dems take over Washington, I speculate that their approach to immigration might become more coherent. What shape will that take?

For some years, I have perceived that there is an underground consensus among liberals and conservatives on several aspects of immigration. First, that immigration needs to be more regulated. Jerry Kammer uses that word in his extremely valuable 2020 on immigration, Losing Control. There is an unexpressed feeling among the great majority of persons who pay attention to immigration that, for a country of immigrants, it is shameful that there is no coherent management of immigration.

The second shared but unexpressed consensus is that the unauthorized population needs to be normalized into legal status.

Then there are two ways in which a new consensus may emerge under Dem control.

First, it will emerge that key part of the Democratic constituencies want to limit low skilled immigration. Bernie Sanders has spoken that way. Kammer in his book reviews the misgivings in the organized labor community about low skilled immigration. Hispanics are ambivalent about low skilled, illegal immigration. With Dem control of Washington, it will be politically safe for some Dems to discuss this openly.

Second there is a slowly but then perhaps quick to emerge consensus, that immigration policy must be framed more in response to global trends, of which I see two major ones: the huge amount of skilled talent in the world, and the rise of China as a peer competitor. An immigration policy which addresses these trends will be relatively inclusive and relatively more focused on skilled immigration.

Get Kammer’s book. Lots of good stuff, including how Chuck Schumer screwed up immigration reform in the 1980s and 2010s.

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.)”