A guide to our new Mexican border rules

Here is today’s NY Times explanation of the new rules on access to the U.S, in particulay asylum, effective today May 11 2023. “Here’s what the process of getting across the border will look like under the new rules, as best as we could determine with the help of Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the policy director at the American Immigration Council, and one of the top experts in the country on this issue.”

Death of Title 42; continuation by other means

Title 42, which has been used to turn back over two million migrants at the Mexican border, is being terminated today, May 11, 2023. New measures by the administration severely cut back the effective access to asylum applications for migrants.

The new measures were laid out in a regulation issued on May 10.  In with words of Dan Gordon of the National Immigration Forum, “The rule will reportedly disqualify most all asylum seekers who fail to pursue refuge in a third country on the way to the U.S. or otherwise follow a limited number of lawful immigration pathways to get here.”

In the words of the Wall Street Journal’s Michelle Hackman, “I think the administration’s theory [in its new post Title 42 rules] is that if they’re able to deport enough people quickly enough, using these new tools that they have, then that will really quickly send a message that it is not worth it to even try.”

About 80% of asylum applications are denied in formal hearings and by courts. But applying formally for asylum can enable a person to live in the U.S. for years. This has led to immense backlogs of open asylum cases. The core idea of the Biden strategy is to cut off this opportunity.

The formal citation for Title 42 is “Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 265: Suspension of Entries and Importations of Persons from Designated Foreign Countries.” Here is a timeline for the introduction and use of Title 42 in 2020 and 2021.  Here is a posting on the November 2022 court decision that ruled Title 42 a violation of federal regulatory law.

Title 42 has already been largely replaced by the use of Title 8, which provides broad powers for migrant control. This article summarizes the effect of this phase out, when linked to other Biden administration orders that effectively bar migrants who come to the border between official entry points and those who do not apply for asylum in countries they pass through. These new rules are covered by Title 8 of the immigration statutes (8 U.S.C. §§ 1101-1504, covering many topics including deportation and removal procedures, and more).

Title 42 has mostly affected Mexican and Northern Triangle citizens. Recently it is rarely used for other migrants.





Expedited removal

There are basically two ways to reduce the number of asylum applicants in the U.S: speed up official decision making, and reduce the number of persons who can stay around and apply for asylum. One measure for the second option is expedited removal. Trump greatly expanded use of this provision, and Biden did further, in part by adding power to personnel at the border that further cut off access to the courts.

The expedited removal of persons just entering the U.S. and within 100 miles of the border authority, created in 1996, was expanded in application by Trump in 2019 and by Biden several times. It is at the core of efforts to cut off the flow of asylum cases going to immigration courts. Go here for an description of the provision, which in its original language was quite expansive but relatively underused until Trump.

In 2017, one quarter of persons apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol, or about 100,000 were returned (basically to Mexico) by expedited removal.  Given there were about 1.5 apprehensions in FY 2022 (unduplicated count), hundreds of thousands might have been ejected that way.

In July, 2021, the Biden administration sought to expand “expedited removal” processing at the Mexican border. This rule was implemented in May, 2022

In March 2022, the administration proposed a rule (which was stalled due to legal challenges) to assign asylum cases directly to asylum officers, employed by USCIS within the State Department,  to make full decisions on applicants, and to make other removal decisions previously assigned only to immigration courts, within Homeland Security.


What if the 2013 immigration reform bill had passed

What shape would our economy be in had S.774 been enacted in 2013? It was passed by the Senate but killed by then House Speaker John Boehner to prevent it being brought to the floor and thereby fracture the Republican delegation. This was the most recent fully developed immigration reform package and the last one passed by at least one legislative chamber.

If the bill had passed, we would have a population of 345 million vs actual of 335 million. Our Gross Domestic Product would be $23.5T vs. actual of $22.7T.  Our workforce would be at least 5 million persons larger.

Congressional Budget Office forecast in 2013:

Real GDP would be greater by 3.3% in 2023 and by 5.4% in 2033 if the bill was enacted, according to CBO central estimates of the overall economic impact. Under the full range [of alternative provisions in the bill] the bill could boost GDP buy between 5.1% and 5.7% in 2033. Because the population would expand by 3% due to the bill, GNP per capita would rise by much less than the total GNP. According to our estimates, the bill would reduce per capita GNP by 0.7% in 2023 and increase by 0.2% in 2033. [Under the full range of estimates] the bill would lower per capita GNP in 2033 by as much is 0.2% or raise it by as much is .6%.

American Action Forum, March 2023:

Among the projected impacts of S. 744 were more rapid economic growth, increased employment, and reduced federal deficits; if S. 744 were to be enacted as law in 2023, over the next 10 years [2023 – 2033] gross domestic product would be cumulatively $2.9 trillion higher, employment would be 26 million greater, and budget deficits would be reduced by nearly $300 billion. If S. 744 were enacted along with pro-investment incentives, real wages would rise for all workers, in contrast to the mixed impacts projected for S. 744 alone.


Who are the workers without a high school degree?

The percentage of adults in the U.S. without a high school degree has declined by about 67% since 2020 — from 1990 to 2019 an absolute decline in persons 25 years or older by 18 million persons even while the total 25 year of older population grew by 67 million (147 to 209).

The majority of persons working in the U.S. today without a high school degree are foreign born, even though the foreign born make up only 14% of the total population. This dramatically shows how this cohort of workers is concentrated among immigrants.

In 2020, the labor force participation rate of foreign born vs U.S. born of persons 25 or older is higher  among foreign born for all levels of formal education, and sharply so for those without a high school degree and with a high school degree. (Go here.)

Without a high school degree, the participation rate for foreign born is 56% (5 million persons working ) vs 35% for U.S. born (4 million persons working).

In 1990, there were 42 million persons 25 years-plus who did not have a high school degree in the U.S., or 30% of the total population 25 years-plus. By 2000, this number had dropped to 31 million, and by 2010, it had declined further to 24 million. The most recent data available from NCES is from 2019, which shows that there were 20 million persons 25 years-plus who did not have a high school degree in the U.S, or 10%.

These foreign-born workers without a high school degree are concentrated in construction such as painters, drywall installers, and construction laborers; food service and hospitality; agriculture, including picking crops and performing other farm labor; cleaning and maintenance such as janitors, house cleaners, and building cleaners; an labor-intensive manufacturing industries such as textiles, furniture, and plastics. I think that the majority of these workers are unauthorized, and many with limited English proficiency, both of which keep them out of many jobs.

How much would higher recent immigrant alleviate the labor shortage today

About 80% of recent immigrants, possibly higher, are in the typical ages of the workforce (16 to 65).  This is higher than the population as a whole, about 70%. There has been a shortfall of about two million new immigrants 2019 – 2022. This suggests a shortfall of about 1.6 million working age persons. Let’s assume that 80% of these would be in employed, or about 1.3 million (the others in school, at home or otherwise not employed).

As if February 2023, there were 10 million job openings, and five million persons unemployed in the workforce – a ratio of 2, compared with a more normal ratio of 1 or lower. Had these 1.3 million recent immigrants been employed, the job openings would have been about nine million and the ratio between openings and unemployment would be about 1.75.


This, of course, assumes that the influx of working immigrants would reasonably match job openings in the short run.

Latinos a “demographic lifeline to rural America”

The Hispanic population increased from 1.6 million in 1992 to 4.1 million in 2019, an increase of 160%, in nonmetro America. The rapid growth of the nonmetro Latino population was 56% in the 1990s, 40% in the 2000, and 19% in the 2010s. The total non-metropolitan population   growth was far less:  5.4%, 5.5%, and 0.7% respectively. Between 1990 and 2019, 58% of net non-metropolitan area population growth was Hispanic; 3% Black; 7% white; and 32% non-Hispanic other (Asians, Native, multi-racial).

New, i.e. non-traditional, destinations of Hispanics include northeast Texas, the Carolinas, southeastern Pennsylvania, the Las Vegas area, and northwest Georgia.  When you look at these “new destinations,” the increases much more.  For new destinations, Hispanics were 3% of the population in 1990 and 16% in 2019. (In established destinations, such as southern and western Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, the share of total population increased relatively modestly from 32% to 44%.

Within 200 non-metro counties, the total population would have declined except for Hispanic in-migration.

This population shift has led to some non-historical Hispanic states, such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nevada, gaining a significant share of eligible voters being Hispanic. (go here,)

From here.


“boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades”

I have posted on proposals by Republican governors for states to assume some of the role of managing immigration. I have posted on a Biden initiative use private sponsorships to fast track a special kind of temporary visa, humanitarian parole. Now I post on a significant innovation of private partnership in the entire refugee resettlement process.

The Center for Immigration Studies published an analysis of the administration’a initiative in private sponsorship of refugees.

On January 19, 2023 the Biden Administration announced the creation of the Welcome Corps, “boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades.” The administration said the program is in part built upon the experience in resettling Afghan, Ukrainian, Venezuelan and other refugees since the start of the Biden administration.

A key party in the Welcome Corps is the Community Sponsorship Hub, a non-profit created in 2016 by foundation grants and the work of several organizations, including the International Rescue Committee, the Refugee Council USA, and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

The Hub introduces itself as follows: “The Welcome Corps is a program launched by the U.S. Department of State, administered by a consortium led by the Community Sponsorship Hub with funding provided by the U.S. government. Through the Welcome Corps, everyday Americans come together to privately sponsor refugees, building on our country’s long tradition of providing refuge.”

The American Community Sponsorship Hub was modeled after earlier founded Hubs in other English speaking countries.

In Canada, the Community Sponsorship Hub model was first established in 1978 with the creation of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.  In Australia, the Community Sponsorship Hub model was first established in 2013 by the Settlement Services International (SSI) organization. The program is now known as the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative. In the UK, the Community Sponsorship Hub was established in 2016.

The CIS says:

Under this new program, refugees will be selected for resettlement into the United States and then assisted during their first few months here by private individuals. These prerogatives were, until now, those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and nine religious or community-based organizations called “resettlement agencies”. UNHCR was entrusted with the selection and referral of refugees for resettlement into the United States, while resettlement agencies were funded by the Department of State to assist refugees upon arrival.

This will no longer exclusively be the case with the launching of the Welcome Corps. This doesn’t mean that refugees will stop being selected for resettlement by UNHCR and assisted upon arrival by resettlement agencies. The U.S. resettlement program is just expanding by allowing private individuals (backed by various humanitarian organizations) to take on the primary responsibility of selecting, welcoming, and providing initial support to refugees. It will not replace, but is complementary to, the traditional resettlement process led by UNHCR and resettlement agencies.

Half of “missing” immigrants are college educated

A study published in early 2022 on the shortfall of immigrants due to Trump policiies and the pandemic (i.e. 2019, 2020 and 2021) concludes that the shortfall was about two million persons and that almost 50% of those who would have migrated would likely to have been college educated. The researchers thus are saying that with normal levels of immigration, about half are college educated.  This is comparable to total Americans today who are 24 – 29 years old, 42% of whom have a college degree.

There are roughly 17 million persons in the workforce 40 or younger who are college educated. The missing one million new immigrants, the great majority of whom would be 40 or younger, are equivalent to about 5% of this youngish college educated workforce.  This is the result of immigration distruption for 3 years.

“This decline in immigrant and nonimmigrant visa arrivals resulted in zero growth in working-age foreign-born people in the United States. Prior to 2019, the foreign born population of working age (18 to 65) grew by about 660,000 people per year, as reported in data from the monthly Current Population Survey. This trend came to a stop already in 2019 before the pandemic, due to a combination of stricter immigration enforcement and a drop in the inflow of Mexican immigrants. The halt to international travel in 2020 added a significant drop in the working-age immigrant population.

“As of the end of 2021, the number of working-age foreign-born people in the United States is still somewhat smaller than it was in early 2019. and, relative to the level it would have achieved if the 2010-2019 trend had continued, there is a shortfall of about 2 million people. A similar calculation done using monthly data on foreign-born individuals with a college degree indicates that of the missing two million foreign workers, about 950,000 would have been college educated, had the pre-2020 trend continued. This is a very substantial loss of skilled workers, equal to 1.8 percent of all college-educated individuals working in the US in 2019.”


High growth in lowest wage categories and immigrant economics

Immigrants with low wages may have on balance benefited from the pandemic through workforce market disruption and consequent competitive bidding for workers. Here is the evidence, interesting tied to labor market disruption.  One needs to consider how this phenomenon may have encouraged more persons with low formal education to enter the U.S.

First, According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, 19.1 percent of foreign-born labor force age 25 and over that had not completed high school. This is much higher than the figure for native-born labor force which is 3.5 percent. I think these workers dominate with lowest 10% of workers in wage, or simply stated “low wage” workers. The jobs filled by low wage immigrant workers will tend to be those for which English proficiency and tacit knowledge of American consumer culture are not needed.  Unauthorized workers are further restricted by verification policies practiced seriously by many public and some private employers.

The effect on the COVID pandemic on these low wage workers were two fold. First, there were massive layoffs in key industries where they work: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10 percent of workers by wage work: food preparation and serving related, personal care and service, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance. (Farm employment did not appear to be adversely affected.)

Second, the workers when they went back to work had higher wage gains than workers at higher income categories.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Between 2019 and 2022, The lowest 10th-percentile real hourly wage grew 9.0% over the three-year period, compared to 2.4% among middle-wage workers and 4.9% among (top) 90% percentile workers.

Why did this happen – both the high wage growth AND the relatively high growth?

Why did this happen? According to the EPI, “The sudden loss of millions of low-wage jobs at the start of the pandemic significantly reduced the frictions that tie workers to particular jobs—that is, the barriers that in normal times keep workers from searching for better employment opportunities. These barriers include, for example, the lack of time or other resources to engage in a job search or a lack of awareness of better opportunities. In the pandemic recovery, this phenomenon opened up opportunities and led to increases in hires and quits (“churn”) in the low-wage labor market. This increased churn—on top of a tightening labor market and the need to incentivize workers to take “front-line” jobs with pandemic exposure—increased low-wage workers’ leverage, which led to faster wage growth.”

According to David Autor and colleagues, “Labor market tightness, following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unexpected compression in the US wage distribution that reflects, in part, an increase in labor market competition. Rapid relative wage growth at the bottom of the distribution reduced to college wage premium. Wedge compression was accompanied by rapid nominal wage growth and rising job to job separations, especially among young non-college-age high school, or less workers.”