How illegal workers get and use documentation

The National Immigration Forum surveyed several hundred Spanish speaking undocumented workers in late 2005, and released the results at the end of March. Some of the more interesting items involve the obtaining and use of several sources of documentation. Only a minority are paid in part or all by check, and only 39% of those have taxes deducted from their paychecks. Here are some interesting points:
Survey information: Survey was conducted in Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago; Country of birth: 60% Mexican, the most divided evenly between Central and South America, with a small number of Dominicans; Duration in U.S. less than a year: 3%; 1 – 5 year, 42%; 6- 10 years, 34%; over 10 years, 21%; 74% never go back to home country. 75% work full time.
Identification used:
Home country driver’s license: 57%
Consular ID: 57%
Home country passport: 48%
Other kinds of documents: 45%
U.S. driver’s license: 13%
Other: 3%
What kind of documents did you need to show to your employer?
None: 67%
Facsimile of Social Security Card: 28%
Consular ID: 5%
Would you be able to prove that you have worked in the U.S?
Yes: 64%
No: 36%
How are you paid:
Cash only: 52%
Check: 21%
Check and cash: 28%
If you are paid in check, is money deducted from your pay check for taxes?
Yes: 39%
No: 61%

Another look at immigrant workers and declining labor force participation

The bumper sticker to this posting is that among several factors causing relatively fewer Americans to be employed or look for work, one of them is higher numbers of illegal workers. And one of the factors buried in the statistics of incremental decline in labor force rates is a positive one: not working in order to invest in education. Many young Americans continue to arrive at adulthood poorly educated, and they are vulnerable regardless of the presence of illegal workers. It is short-sighted to isolate the illegal workforce out of a more complex and more difficult set of conditions.

Continue reading Another look at immigrant workers and declining labor force participation

Medicaid’s new strict identification requirements to create barrier to illegal immigrants.

The New York Times reports that “more than 50 million Medicaid recipients will soon have to produce birth certificates, passports or other documents to prove that they are United States citizens…The new requirement takes effect on July 1.” To what end? “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will save the federal government $220 million over five years and $735 million over 10 years. Estimates of the number of people who will be affected vary widely. The budget office expects that 35,000 people will lose coverage by 2015. Most of them will be illegal immigrants, it said.” — An infinitesimal number, about one fifth of one percent of illegal residents.
I have posted already about barriers created unadvertantly through imposing strict documentation requirements, for instance in Mississippi regarding the dispensing of prescribed pain medications to work injured persons.

Under the law, the Deficit Reduction Act, states cannot receive federal Medicaid money unless they verify citizenship by checking documents like passports and birth certificates for people who receive or apply for Medicaid.

In general, Medicaid is available only to United States citizens and certain “qualified aliens.” Legal immigrants are, in many cases, barred from Medicaid for five years after they enter the United States. Under a 1986 law, applicants for Medicaid have to declare in writing, under penalty of perjury, whether they are citizens and, if not, whether they are “in a satisfactory immigration status.”

Congressional poll on immigration bill

The National Journal surveyed Congressional members about their preferences for an immigration bill. Only 7% of Republicans want the guest work-focused bill approved by the Senate Judiciary committee; compared to 53% of Democrats. To me, this signals the death of prospects for a bill to be passed this year, as I have noted before.
Here are the results: first, the option, then the Republican response, then the Democrat response.
enforcement bill only: 32%, 11%
temporary guest worker program plus tighter borders: 54%, 11%
path to citizenship plus tighter borders: 7%, 53%
enact nothing: 2%, 26%
other: 5%, 0%

Ten reasons why illegal immigrants should file income tax returns

The very well managed About.com site, by Jennifer and Peter Wipf, on immigration issues has has a checklist of reasons why it is in the interest of undocumented workers to file income tax returns. Bob Alcorn, a Dallas CPW, prepared the list. Here is a summary.
According to Alcorn, “Non-citizens who reside in the U.S. for more than 183 days [generally] meet the definition of a ‘tax resident,’ or a ‘resident for tax purposes.’ They are “subject to the tax laws as if they were citizens (with some minor differences).”
1. It’s the Law.
2. Proof of Presence
This proof may be required if and when any future guest worker program or amnesty provisions are made.
3. Proof of Spouse’s Presence and/or Spousal Relationship
Tax returns indicate your marital status (single, married, head of household), thus possibly later improving or proving a spouse’s eligibility for any guest worker or amnesty claims.
4. Proof of Dependents’ Presence and/or Relationship
5. Proof of Income and Self-Sufficiency
6. Possible Eligibility for Tax Benefits/Credits
Tax returns allow you to receive certain tax benefits – such as the Child Tax Credit, including the refundable portion of the Additional Child Tax Credit if you otherwise qualify.
7. Tax Payer Identification Number Eligibility
Filing tax returns provides a legitimate basis for getting an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Having a legitimate TIN is actually much less of a red flag than using a fake Social Security number at work or for finances and taxes.
8. Proof of Income as Basis for a Mortgage and Other Credit
9. Demonstration of Good Moral Character
In any immigrant legalization process, the applicant needs to demonstrate “good moral character.”
10. It’s Good to be Prepared, Just in Case

recruitment of foreign nurses to the United States

The New England J of Medicine on 10/27/05 carried an article about global patterns of recruitment of nurses. There is a global shortage of nurses. In the United States, the shortage is estimated at 126,000.
In an earlier posting, I reported that of the roughly 3,000,000 nurses in the country, about 11% are foreign workers. The authors say that the United States cannot expect to resolve a nursing shortage by foreign worker recruitment, in part because of global shortages of nurses. A letter responding to the article asserts that low compensation and few education slots are responsible for the nursing shortage.
The article reports that in 2005 a new law to expedite nursing recruitment from overseas was passed: the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief. The law provides for 50,000 new foreign nurses. The law discards a prior policy of requiring that each recruitment be backed up with a prevailing wage certification.

this problem is the fact that as baby boomers are growing older and their medical needs are increasing, enrollment in nursing schools is declining. Increasing demands on nurses, partially a result of the shortage of nurses, have led to early career burnout, with as many as 20 percent of nurses retiring early. The Department of Health and Human Services projects that by 2020, the shortage of registered nurses in relation to demand will reach 29 percent, with more than 1 million nursing positions left open.

About recruiting of foreign nurses in the United Kingdom….

For years, the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom relied heavily on the direct recruitment of nurses from African countries such as Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe — all former British colonies. These very countries have been among those hit hardest by the HIV pandemic; some have a prevalence of HIV infection of 30 to 40 percent, with a majority of the young, working population debilitated by disease, and are reporting huge nursing shortages themselves….More than half the nursing positions in Kenya and Ghana remain unfilled. As a result, many health clinics in Kenya have closed and many others are severely understaffed. The nursing shortage in the developing world is being felt more intensely even as increased foreign aid becomes available to provide drugs for millions of people with AIDS.

Continue reading recruitment of foreign nurses to the United States

Economists surveyed about impact of illegal immigrants

On 4/13 The WSJ reported a survey of economists about the undocumented workforce’s impact on the economy. Basically, the economists say that the workers have made it difficult for some Americans workers, but that the overall impact is positive. According to the article, “Nearly 80% of economists who responded to questions about immigration in the latest WSJ.com forecasting survey said they believe undocumented workers have an impact on the bottom rung of the wage ladder. Twenty percent believe the impact is significant, while 59% characterize the effect as slight. The remaining 22% said there is no impact.”

About half of the economists said the presence of illegal immigrant workers has slightly reduced the overall rate of inflation in the economy, while 8% said the inflation rate has been reduced significantly. But 41% said they believe undocumented workers have had no impact at all on inflation.

On balance, nearly all of the economists – 44 of the 46 who answered the question – believe that illegal immigration has been beneficial to the economy. Most believe the benefits to business of being able to fill jobs at wages many American workers won’t accept outweigh the costs.

Economic impact of a guest worker program on American agriculture


Fox News
carried on 4/10 a story, “Farmers Keep Wary Eye on Immigration Debate” which has some good interview quotes. The nub of the article is that farm owners need Hispanic workers and they need them cheap ($10 and hour). A guest worker program will provide the workers, but I expect at a noticeably higher cost. I have noted that the bill sent out by the Senate Judiciary Committee had an “AgJobs” component.here.
Here is my posting about my own remote state of Vermont depending on Hispanic workers to keep its diary industry alive –if only for the tourism industry.
From the Fox News article:

Cutting farmers’ access to cross-border workers without giving them an alternative could cost the industry up to $9 billion in annual production, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has long lobbied for a streamlined temporary worker program.

Continue reading Economic impact of a guest worker program on American agriculture

This week’s immigrant demonstrations make big impact

“People Power” is how the New York Times painted the large and many orderly demonstrations this Monday. In Washington DC, Ted Kennedy addressed the crowd like a modern day Henry V, evoking future memories of that day. Demonsrtators read from sheets the following phonetized pledge of allegiance: “Ai pledch aliyens to di fleg, Of d Yunaited Esteits of America, An tu di republic for wich it stands, Uan naishion, ander Gad, Indivisibol, Wit liberti an yostis, For oll”

The immigration rallies of recent weeks have drawn an astounding number of people around the country: Monday’s “national day of action” was attended by an estimated 180,000 in Washington, 100,000 each in Phoenix and New York City, 50,000 each in Atlanta and Houston, and tens of thousands more in other cities.

Adding in the immense marches last month in Los Angeles and Chicago, the immigrants and their allies have carried off an amazing achievement in mass political action, even though many of them are here illegally and have no right to vote.

The marchers in white T-shirts poured out of the subway doors and merged into a stream, flowing like blood cells through the tubular innards of the Washington Metro, past turnstiles and up escalators and out into the delicate brilliance of a fine spring day. On the street, they met up with the others — young parents, old people, toddlers in strollers, teenagers in jeans and jewelry — and headed to the Mall, where they and their American flags dissolved into a shimmering sea of white, red and blue.

The AP reported the following:

“This is bigger than the civil rights movement in the sixties. This is huge,” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday on CBS’ “The Early Show.” “What this is building is enormous pressure on the Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration bill _ tighten border security, more border patrol agents, secure the border from drugs and illegal traffic, but also a sensible legalization plan that brings the 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows,” he said.

Out of Many, One: The Far-Reaching Touch of the Crowd” was the title of an analysis in the Washington Post on 4/11 by a reporter clearly impressed by the orderliness of the demonstration. “The crowd as historical actor is acting again.”

A few handy figures about immigration to work in the U.S.

There is no easy way to estimate the net change from year to year in foreign workers coming to the U.S. and the number of foreign workers in the U.S. at any time. The following figures can help. One can infer from these figures that upwards of half of the net increase in foreign workers has been illegal workers. The entire set is divided among official permanent admissions, official temporary admissions, and illegal entrants.
Number of foreign-born persons in the U.S. today: 35 million
Subset of 35M who have become American citizens: 12 million
Subset of 35M who are eligible for citizenship but have elected to become citizens as yet: 8 million
Simple math suggests that about 15 million foreign born people in the U.S. are neither citizens nor on a citizen track. The estimated 12 million illegal immigrants make up the large majority of these persons.
OFFICIAL PERMANENT ADMISSIONS
Number of persons (adults, children, retirees) formally admitted into the U.S. each year for permanent residence (which can lead to citizenship): roughly about 1 million
(This and other official figures below are rough due to volatility from year to year, driven in part by paperwork backlogs)
Subset of these 1M persons who are working age adults: 400,000?
Subset of these 400,000 +/- working age adults who were admitted on the basis of employment criteria (“employment based preferences”) as opposed to family ties, other: about 150,000
OFFICIAL TEMPORARY WORK ADMISSIONS
Number of new H-1B temporary professional workers formally admitted each year (i.e. Bill Gate’s programmers): 95,000
Number of new H-2A temporary agricultural workers (special agricultural workers) admitted each year: 200,000? less those returning
Number of other temporary workers admitted for miscellaneous programs: to be found but probably well under 50,000 (types: H-2B, H-1C, E, L, O, P, R, for nurses, ministers, ahtletes, etc, etc.)
ILLEGAL ENTRANTS
Number of new illegal workers each year: roughly 350,000