Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dairy workers: at least half are immigrants

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

 

From 2017 interviews in Spanish with dairy workers throughout New York State: 90% are men, 61% from Mexico, 34% Guatemala, 2% Honduras, 2% Puerto Rico; 93% are undocumented; 73% speak little to no English; 62% are married; 70% have children.

Two-thirds had sustained a work injury; more than 80% were estimated to live and work on farms with too few workers to fall under OSHA’s jurisdiction for inspection and sanctioning (that is, below 11 non-family workers). Typically paid $9 an hour; 97% live in on-farm housing provided by their employers.

New York is a major dairy state. In 2015, it ranked fourth nationally in terms of milk production.

A national survey, done in late 2014, reports much less dependence on immigrant workers but shows better the impact of immigrant workers on the entire dairy industry. It reports that immigrant labor accounts for 51% of all dairy labor, and dairies that employ immigrant labor produce 79% of the U.S. milk supply. Dairy farm workers are paid an average wage of $11.54/hour. Dairy farms employed an estimated 150,418 workers in 2013. An estimated 76,968 of those are immigrants.

A bill was introduced in March, 2019 to expand the current H-2A visa program to allow for its use by dairy farmers. Under current law, dairy workers are not allowed to utilize H-2A visas because the dairy industry is not considered seasonal. The bill would allow for an initial three-year visa with an option to extend for another three years.

Insightful profile of an immigrant family

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

This Sunday’s NY Times Magazine contains an article on a Filipino immigrant family in Houston. Having read tons about immigration in the past 15 years, this article best captures in few words some truths about immigration.

The U.S. has by far the largest flow of permanent immigrants in the world. Note the word “permanent.” The article relates how a Filipino family switched from temporary immigration in the Persian Gulf to permanent immigration to the U.S. An underlying problem for the U.S. is that we do not know how to do — we feel very ambivalent about — temporary immigration, even though historically much of the former Mexican wave of immigration (declining since the 2000s) to the U.S. was in reality temporary in intent.

Permanent immigration is a multi-generational investment by both the host country and the immigrating households. Think of your image of immigration: most likely there a multi-generational dimension when you consider individuals you have known. The NY Times article addresses three generations. People living on the coasts have been used to the multi-generational story for years.

Immigrants are among the more ambitious within their country of origin. This Filipino family reflects that. This raises the issue of talent drain from the country of origin (which goes well beyond doctors).

The Trump administration has defined immigration opposition around somewhat manufactured law enforcement crises, and the Democratic presidential candidates are drinking the Trump cool-aid by focusing on law enforcement issues. Not a single one has articulated a sound vision for immigration.

Below the somewhat manufactured law enforcement crisis (which Dems including the Vermont congressional delegation have bought into) is an important underlying concern — it used to be called assimilation, but some years ago I began to see it as a question of civil (or civic) culture. U.S. born people want immigrants to have dual parent households, speak English, go to school, work, separate their trash, show up at community meetings, etc. Cultural expressions such as Cinco de Mayo and Asian dance performances are pleasant embellishments. You can see much of this work out in this article through the lens of young sisters and their parents.

Very few asylum applications are accepted

Friday, August 9th, 2019

About 40,000 people applied for asylum on the Mexican border in 2018. About 5,000 were approved.

As of mid July there were about 18,700 asylum seekers on the Mexican side of the border. Only a few dozen cases are heard daily. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Since only about 20% of asylum claims are eventually approved in court, according to government figures, the Trump administration says the clear majority are spurious claims. Nearly half are denied but the rest are either not decided, abandoned or withdrawn.” That 20% figure appears high in light of application resolution figures provided by the Dept of Justice, below. the data are estimates based on tables in the article

 

 

Sharp increase in temporary worker denials

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied 32 percent of initial H-1B skilled temporary worker petitions in the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year, up from 24 percent in FY 2018 and just 5 percent in FY 2012.

H-IB visas are used by companies to bring in for three years, extendable to six years, skilled professionals, such as Indian IT workers. The quota for these workers is always consumed in an annual competition to obtain the visas. For instance, In 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it had received 190,000 H-1B applications, or 105,000 more applications than the 85,000-annual limit would permit.

Under Trump, there has been a sharp increase in the frequency of denials of applications made within the quota.

Below are the denial rates for some major employers, 2015 vs. 2019.

 

Expect most climate change-related migration to be relatively local

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Climate change is inducing several hundred thousand Bangladeshis to migrate within their country, but globally there will be little international migration due to climate change. This assessment is made by Valerie Mueller of Arizona State University. She says, “The research suggests that we are unlikely to see massive global migration movements, except among areas already experiencing conflict. It seems that, in the case of Syria and elsewhere, climate change may be a risk multiplier for conflict-prone migration…. People that move in response to a climatic event typically move short distances….. many climatic events, such as soil salinity from sea level rise, floods, landslides, hurricanes, heat stress, etc. are highly localized…. Often, migration in response to climate change is a method of last resort among those who lack alternative options to cope with a disaster. For example, in our study in Bangladesh, we find that some households diversify into aquaculture, in response to the rise in soil salinity from sea level rise and other human-induced causes, while others migrate.”

Source: interview here.

Forum participants support immigrants, want laws obeyed

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

 

Under the auspices of the Kettering Foundation, the National Issues Forums Institute held 86 nonpartisan public forums in towns and cities in 28 states in 2018 and early 2019 on the issue of immigration. Here are two take-aways from the forums:

Support immigration. When asked at the end of the forums whether they agree with the premise of the third choice, that “current levels of immigration are too high, and the country is now becoming so diverse that we are endangering our ability to assimilate newcomers and maintain our national unity,” most rejected this perspective on the grounds that it reflects an outdated, ethnocentric understanding of who “real Americans” are. These views, which are consistent with recent national polls, help to explain why the percentage of Americans who favor cutting legal immigration is fairly low and has declined in recent years.

Do not want laws disobeyed. While participants often talked about unauthorized immigrants with considerable compassion and empathy, most also felt strongly about the importance of the rule of law. Few were comfortable with a system in which laws were routinely flouted and those who skirt the law were permitted to gain an advantage over those who enter through legal channels. Forum-goers in several communities made a point of noting that they live in “sanctuary cities,” which have declared that they will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in rounding up and arresting people who are here illegally. Many people, however, including those who are inclined to support liberal immigration policies, voiced serious misgivings about allowing cities to act in defiance of, and noncompliance with, federal laws.

A man from Louisiana waiting to get into the U.S.

Monday, July 29th, 2019

Now in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Allan Morales has spent nearly a year trying to get back to his family in Louisiana. Originally from Honduras, he worked in New Orleans for 14 years, roofing in the months after Hurricane Katrina then running his own body shop and detail service. He married and had two girls, now eight and four. Last spring, while driving with his wife in Kenner, a cop pulled him over for a traffic violation and asked for their papers. When the officer discovered they had none, he gave them a decision to make.

“One of you is coming with me,” he said. “Who’s it gonna be?”

If there’s a number that defines Morales these days, it’s the number one.

“Me,” he told the officer. “Take me.”

He spent 84 days in jail, then seven months in a detention facility near Alexandria, Virginia. In March he was deported back to Honduras. He fled north nine days later. He crossed into Mexico without a permit, which means he has no number that can carry him across the river, back to his daughters who ask, “Papa, why aren’t you here? Have you forgotten us?”

From the Guardian.

Revisiting the hourglass of immigrant workers

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

 

Here are charts which succinctly describe how immigrant workers form an hourglass: greater variance in education and in compensation.

The first chart shows the distribution of education status, comparing immigrants with native-born workers. Immigrant educational achievement concentrates at the extremes.  The very high less than HS share among immigrants are primarily Hispanic.  Recent inflows from Latin America have been more formally educated.

The second chart compares average wages by education status. Immigrants earn less except among college-educated where they are paid more.

Source: BLS for 2018

Spotlight on migration to the Persian Gulf States

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

The economies of Persian Gulf countries expanded between 2005 and 2015. This encouraged millions of migrants to move to the Middle East. Overall, the number of non-displaced, international migrants living in the Middle East grew by 61% between 2005 and 2015, from about 19 to 31 million. Sources of worker include Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Yemen. Two thirds of these migrants are in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (source).

The Gulf countries use the “kafala” system of employing migrant workers. The kafala system binds these migrant workers in a direct relationship with their private sponsoring recruiters or employers to a particular job for a specific period of time. The system codifies the centrality of sponsors, as workers cannot change their employment or leave the country without approval.

The United Nations in 2014 told Qatar the kafala system led to dangerous working conditions and exploitation. Hundreds of foreign workers have died in the massive construction buildup underway for the 2022 World Cup, with estimates that as many as 4,000 workplace deaths could occur. In 2015, Qatar had 1.7 million migrant workers, up from 600K in 2005.

In late 2018 Qatar passed an act which allows some migrant workers to leave; Human Rights Watch criticized it.

Most recently, as their economies have cooled, Gulf countries have been expelling migrants. This has impacted the flow of remittances back to source countries.

The death of immigration vision among Democrats

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

“Democrats used to talk about overhauling the country’s immigration system. Now, all they can promise is to end Trump’s abuses.” Leonard Krauze in Slate writes, “ Barack Obama vowed to pursue an expansive change of the American immigration system within the first 100 days of his administration. He then had a brief political opening to push for reform but chose to spend his considerable capital—and his majority in Congress—on health care, much to the chagrin of immigrant rights groups.

Eight years later, despite the obvious resistance of an increasingly intransigent Republican Party in Congress, Hillary Clinton pledged to push for full-fledged immigration reform within her first three months in office.

Democratic politicians seem united by the urgent need to overturn Donald Trump’s punitive enforcement policies through executive action. Gone are the promises of an ambitious legislative overhaul of the country’s immigration procedures.

Comprehensive reform is still the only definitive path toward normalcy for the undocumented community in the United States. The humanitarian crisis at the border is much the same: It needs to be tackled through imaginative and humane legislation, not with politically expedient stopgap measures that find a way around the law.”