2 of 5 recent green card awardees might be rejected today

March 13th, 2020

About two or every five recent green card holders may not have been given a green card were they subjected to new review guidelines. And that could easily understate the impact.

Revisions to the “public charge” rule went into effect this month. An August, 2019 study puts the then-proposed changes into the context of profiles of recent green card recipients.

It says, “Using Census data to review the characteristics of recent green-card holders, the Migration Policy Institute found 43% were not employed or enrolled in school; 39% did not speak English well or at all; 33% had incomes below 125% of the poverty line; 25% lacked a high school diploma; and 12% had incomes below 125% of poverty and were either under 18 or over 61.” These are among the criteria that would expose an applicant to denial.

Among recent green-card holders, 69% had at least one of these negative factors; 43% had at least two; and 17% had at least three. Most applicants would fall into a gray area with some positive and some negative factors, underscoring how discretionary the process may be.

Why do refugees take such a long time to gain employment?

March 11th, 2020

The U.S. and Canada are successes compared with failure in Europe.

Refugees have—with the United States being an exception—substantially lower employment rates than other immigrants for at least the first decade after arrival. Those refugees who do find work also experience much lower wages than other immigrants. This cannot be explained by demographic and educational differences between refugees and other immigrants. It may be explained in part by language deficiencies or physical and mental health problems due to experiences in regions of origin or during migrations.

Dispersal of refugees in the country, to even out the burden, may be harmful. That deprives refugees of access to networks of individuals of similar origin, which are often critical to job finding and social learning.

Why do Canada and the U.S. have better outcomes? For the U.S. possibly because refugees must find work within a few months of arrival. “Keeping the asylum process short, providing early support to address health issues, and facilitating refugees to join the labor market
at the earliest possible stage are of key importance. Such policies reduce skill loss, help to reduce uncertainty about future residence, and improve the effectiveness of human capital investment, thus enhancing incentives to invest.”

Found here.


Germany’s persistent dependence on foreign workers

March 8th, 2020

“Among the [German] companies we consulted, 60% currently view the shortage of skilled works as a danger to the development of their businesses. In 2010, only 16% said so,” says a 2019 report on the shortage of workers in Germany.

As the graph shows, the country has been very dependent on foreign workers for the growth in the workforce for some 50 years.

In recent years, about 250,000 workers from other EU countries have been arriving each year. (Not included are workers from outside the EU.) With total employment at 42 million, that is equivalent to the U.S. receiving over 800,000 new workers a year. New workers from immigration in the U.S. today probably are about 600,000 or less. And Germany needs more than a quarter million from outside each year.

The German parliament passed the law on the immigration of skilled workers on 7 June 2019. It enters into force on March 1st 2020 that will bring in only 25,000 skilled workers each year.

From here.

Coronavirus and non-citizen immigrants

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

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

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

Anti-immigration in early 20th C mainly cultural in nature

February 26th, 2020

Marco Tabellini of Harvard Business School has studied European immigration to U.S. cities between 1910 and 1930 “I find that immigration triggered hostile political reactions, such as the election of more conservative legislators, higher support for anti-immigration legislation, and lower redistribution. Exploring the causes of natives’ backlash, I [find] that immigration increased natives’ employment, spurred industrial production, and did not generate losses even among natives working in highly exposed sectors. These findings suggest that opposition to immigration was unlikely to have economic roots. Instead, I provide evidence that natives’ political discontent was increasing in the cultural differences between immigrants and natives.

When cultural differences between immigrants and natives are large, opposition to immigration can arise even if immigrants are economically beneficial and do not create economic losers among natives. Hence, promoting the cultural assimilation of immigrants and reducing the (actual or perceived) distance between immigrants and natives may be at least as important as addressing the potential economic effects of immigration.”

Drawn from ‘Gifts of the Immigrants, Woes of the Natives: Lessons from the Age of Mass Migration’ by Marco Tabellini, published in the Review of Economic Studies in January 2020.

Sanders’ success with Latino voters in Nevada

February 23rd, 2020

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was trouncing other candidates with Latino and Hispanic caucus-goers in Nevada, according to NBC News entrance polling results that showed him with 53% of the vote with that demographic in the seven-person race. (From USA Today)

Latinos are the fastest growing group of eligible voters in the country, increasing at about 3% a year. 63% of 2020 Latino caucus-goers said in entrance polls they were attending their first caucuses.

The entrance polls showed former Vice President Joe Biden at 16% of the Latino and Hispanic vote, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9%, billionaire activist Tom Steyer with 8% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 7%.

Overall, Sanders leads among nonwhite voters as well. Nevada, the third state to vote, is the first with a significant minority population. About three in 10 Nevadans are Latinos, 10% of the population is black, and 10% is Asian American and Pacific Islander.

Vox said that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez calls him “Tio Bernie.” His Latino support is grounded in policies that appeal to Latino voters: immigration, health care, and the economy. His immigration plan, which he has framed in the context of his signature issue of worker solidarity, is arguably the most progressive of the Democratic fiel

His immigration plan is certainly the longest.


Mulvaney confirms labor shortages

February 23rd, 2020

When acting White House chief of staff Mike Mulvaney said in London on February 19th that America was running out of workers and needed more immigrant workers, he was confirming both the existence of current labor shortages (also found in European countries) and our long term dependence on immigrants to supply a large share of workforce growth.

Long term trends

Male immigrants made up nearly 80 percent of the increase in the nation’s male civilian labor force between 1990 and 2001 while female immigrants contributed 30 percent of the growth in the female labor force over the same time period.

The growth of the workforce continues to depend heavily on Hispanic and Asian workers. The size of the white non-Hispanic labor force will absolutely decline from 2004 to 2024 by 4%.

After 2015 and through 2035, the native-born working age population will decline by 8.1 million, the first generation immigrant workforce will increase by 4.7 million, and the second generation immigrant workforce will increase by 13.6 million.

the state of the current labor shortages

One way to look at the issue is to compare unemployment numbers to job opening numbers. In January 2000. In January 2001 there were 1.1 unemployed persons for every job opening. During the Great Recession that rose to as high as 6.4 in July 2009. Since March 2019 it has been under 1 – fewer unemployed than job openings (in December 2019, 0.9).

Another way to look at this is the labor force participation rate. This rate has over decades been declining for various reasons. But for the 25 to 54 year old set, it has remained fairly stable for 20 years – at 84 in 2000, 81 in 2015 and back up to 83 in January 2000. Most of the gain in the workforce in the past 20 years has been for persons over 55 and that rise leveled off in about 2010.

Further on the mystery of Nigeria’s visa ban

February 21st, 2020

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Nigeria (and five other countries) failed to meet U.S. security and information-sharing standards. That was the reason for Nigeria to be put on the no-entry list. (See workingimmigrants here.)

Yet a Congress Research Service report dated January 23, 2020, seven days before the ban was announced (January 31), shows that Nigeria was not on the list of countries in trouble with visa issuance.

The report says that “Countries that systematically refuse or delay the repatriation of their citizens….are considered by DHS to be “recalcitrant,” also called “uncooperative.” Countries that demonstrate some but not full cooperation are considered “at risk of non-compliance” (ARON). ICE currently classifies 10 countries as recalcitrant/uncooperative and 23 as ARON.

See this map with these countries marked here.

The report details the historical use of sanctions, including a checklist of steps the U.S. takes prior to imposing sanctions.