Posts Tagged ‘featured’

It’s Not up for Debate: Immigrants Invigorate the Economy

Lunes, abril 3rd, 2017
It’s Not up for Debate: Immigrants Invigorate the Economy

Written by Walter Ewing MARCH 30, 2017 in Immigration

As any reputable economist will tell you, immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy in many ways. Yet the often subtle complexities of immigration economics are largely absent from a March 24 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal authored by Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies.

To begin with, immigrants are responsible for most labor force growth in this country now that the Baby Boom generation is aging into retirement. And immigrants add value to the economy through the goods and services which they produce through their labor. Immigrants (and their families) also spend money in U.S. businesses, which creates jobs for the people who work in those businesses. In addition, they also pay taxes to federal, state, and local governments, funding essential services and sustaining the salaries of government employees. Moreover, the businesses that immigrants so often create sustain the jobs of even more workers.

However, Krikorian negates the economic contributions of less-skilled, lower-paid immigrant workers. Specifically, he states that the notion of immigrants “doing jobs Americans won’t do” is false because, even in less-skilled occupations, at least half of all workers are native-born.

He fails to address the economic value of immigrant workers in those occupations. It would be more accurate to say that immigrants do jobs for which too few native-born workers are available. In other words, immigrant workers supplement the native-born workforce, expanding the labor force in certain occupations to a level it would otherwise be unable to attain.

Consider healthcare. Demand for workers is strong at both the high-skilled and less-skilled ends of the occupational spectrum. Immigrants comprise 25 percent of all medical doctors and 20 percent of home health aides in the United States. These shares are even higher in some rural parts of the country where native-born healthcare workers are particularly scarce. And demand is set to grow even higher as the native-born population ages and needs more and more medical care. Immigrants will inevitably play even more important roles in all sorts of healthcare occupations in the coming years.

More than just supplementing the native-born workforce, immigrants also “complement” native-born workers. For one thing, they bring their own special skill sets derived from work they did in their home countries—skill sets which don’t simply duplicate the skills of natives, but add something new. In addition, new immigrants are likely to fill different kinds of jobs than natives because they are not yet proficient in English. This, in turn, leaves natives to fill those jobs that do require mastery of English. The point is, immigrants and natives don’t simply substitute for one another. But you wouldn’t know this from reading Krikorian’s analysis, since he often conflates the two.

Krikorian also mischaracterizes the forces that drive migration. His analysis suggests that half the world is poised to migrate to the United States and would do so if U.S. immigration limits were lifted, flooding the country with mostly less-skilled immigrants who would steal American jobs, drive down wages, and bankrupt the welfare state. What this demographic doomsday scenario overlooks is the crucial role played by labor demand in drawing immigrants to the United States. When the economy is booming, more immigrants come. When the economy slips into recession, fewer come. People tend not to migrate solely because they are dissatisfied with their home countries, but because the economic prospects of another are reasonably good.

Perhaps Krikorian’s selective economics is a product of the ideological lens through which he views immigrants. Krikorian ultimately veers into xenophobic terrain when he states that we need more stringent limits on immigration to slow the growth of groups that do not sufficiently “assimilate” into American society —like those immigrants and children of immigrants who identify with “pan-racial” terms such as “Hispanic” or “Asian.” But who gets to define what it means to be “American”? Krikorian does not address that thorny issue.

At the end of his piece, Krikorian reveals what is perhaps his biggest fear when it comes to immigration: a fear of “ethnic diversity” that might “overload” U.S. society. However, the United States has survived for centuries with very high levels of diversity. It has also survived periodic revivals of nativism in which some native-born Americans reject anyone who looks or sounds different than they do.

Última Actualización: April 03 2017

The Sad State of Atlanta’s Immigration Court

Lunes, marzo 13th, 2017
The Sad State of Atlanta’s Immigration Court

Written by Hilda Bonilla MARCH 10, 2017 in Immigration Courts

The Atlanta immigration court is known as one of the worst places to be in deportation proceedings. For years, the judges have been accused of abusive and unprofessional practices and the denial rate of asylum applications alone is 98 percent.

The latest effort to document this phenomenon comes from Emory Law School and the Southern Poverty Law Center who sent a letter to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) this month regarding troubling practices in the Atlanta immigration courts. The letter was based on court observations by Emory Law students, who attended 31 proceedings between August 31 and October 14, 2016.

Observers found that the immigration judges made prejudicial statements, demonstrated a lack of courtesy and professionalism and expressed significant disinterest toward respondents. In one hearing, an attorney argued that his client should be released from detention because he was neither a threat to society nor a flight risk. In rejecting the client’s bond request, the immigration judge reportedly compared an immigrant to a “person coming to your home in a Halloween mask, waving a knife dripping with blood” and asked the attorney if he would let him in.

When the attorney disagreed with this comparison, the immigration judge responded that the “individuals before [him] were economic migrants and that they do not pay taxes.” Another immigration judge reportedly “leaned back in his chair, placed his head in his hands, and closed his eyes” for 23 minutes while the respondent described the murder of her parents and siblings during an asylum hearing.

Other critical problems include disregard for legal arguments, frequent cancellation of hearings at the last minute, lack of individualized consideration of bond requests, and inadequate interpretation services for respondents who do not speak English. The observers also reported that immigration judges often refer to detention centers as “jails” and detainees as “prisoners,” undermining their dignity and humanity and suggesting that the IJs perceive detained immigrants as criminals. Compounding this problem, detained immigrants who appear in immigration court in Atlanta are required to wear jumpsuits and shackles.

Many of these practices stand in stark contrast with the Executive Office of Immigration Reviews’ Ethics and Professionalism Guide for Immigration Judges, which state, among other things, that “an immigration judge… should not, in the performance of official duties, by word or conduct, manifest improper bias or prejudice” and that immigration judge should be “patient, dignified, and courteous, and should act in a professional manner towards all litigants, witnesses, lawyers, and other with whom the immigration judge deals in his or her capacity.”

EOIR has been previously criticized for its lack of transparency on providing the public with information about the complaints brought up against immigration Judges, raising questions about the department’s willingness to hold its judges accountable. For these reasons, the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted a Freedom of Information Act request on December 2016 requesting records on all complaints filed against immigration judges and how the complaints were resolved. The released records showed that many immigration judges have been accused of abusive behavior towards immigrants.

The letter concludes with recommendations that, if implemented, have the potential to significantly improve the fairness of immigration court proceedings in one of the most hostile jurisdictions in the country. These recommendations include: investigating and monitoring immigration judges at the Atlanta immigration court, requiring immigration judges to record all courtroom proceedings to ensure transparency and accountability for prejudicial statements, investigating the frequent cancellation of hearings, and ensuring high-quality interpretation and availability of sample translations of forms. It is time for EOIR to take these recommendations seriously.

Photo by Tim Evanson.

Última Actualización: March 13 de 2017

Robots, Not Immigrants, Are Replacing U.S. Manufacturing Workers

Jueves, diciembre 22nd, 2016
Robots, Not Immigrants, Are Replacing U.S. Manufacturing Workers

Written by Michele Waslin

There is significant evidence that immigrants boost the economy, create jobs, and bolster innovation. However, President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly stated he wants to “put American workers first” by restricting immigration.

Some Americans who are justifiably concerned about the economy, unemployment, and offshoring mistakenly believe that immigrants are responsible for the country’s economic woes. But the manufacturing industry shows that the story is much more complicated. In fact, a recent article in Fusion makes the case “that machines–not Mexicans –are perhaps the main culprit for U.S. job-loss in the manufacturing sector.”

The manufacturing industry–which includes companies that make non-durable (quickly consumed) and durable goods (those that last a long time)–in the U.S. has been particularly hard hit in recent years. Manufacturing used to be the nation’s biggest employer, but today it is the fourth largest industry by employment. Ten percent of all workers in the U.S. work in the manufacturing industry.

According to a 2016 Georgetown University study, manufacturing was the hardest-hit industry in the Great Recession. 2.7 million jobs were lost between December 2007 and January 2010 and workers with a high school diploma or less suffered the most, accounting for 1.6 million lost jobs. Manufacturing has since recovered and added 1.7 million new jobs, still falling one million jobs short of pre-recession levels.

Scholars have found that more than 80 percent of the job losses in manufacturing between 2000 and 2010 can be attributed to increased per-worker production. Because of automation and technological change, workers in the manufacturing sector are much more productive than they were a decade ago.

The industry can produce more with fewer workers. According to a 2015 study by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, if 2000 levels of productivity were applied to 2010 levels of production, 20.9 million manufacturing workers would have been required. However, only 12.1 million were employed.

In other words, the manufacturing industry has continued to grow and remains very important to the U.S. economy. However, employment in manufacturing has not increased, primarily due to growth in productivity. As technology continues to advance, other sectors may also see job losses. According to Wilson Center scholar Chris Wilson, “We can make more stuff with fewer people. The real enemy is robots…”

The bottom line is manufacturing jobs are not disappearing because of immigration. In fact, immigrants are key to the expansion and growth of the American economy.

Photo by Engineering at Cambridge

Última Actualización: Diciembre 22 de 2016

Colleges Rally to the Defense of Undocumented Students

Miércoles, diciembre 14th, 2016
Colleges Rally to the Defense of Undocumented Students

Written by Maurice Belanger

Among the many things President-elect Donald Trump has promised is undo President Obama’s executive action protecting young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, also known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

What happens next is complicated. It’s easy to talk about deporting these young people in the abstract. As Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland, California, recently told the New York Times:

“We do have many undocumented immigrants, but often these are residents who came to our city as toddlers. They have grown up here and gone to our public schools,” Ms. Schaaf said. “These are not illegal aliens, they are friends’ children, people sitting next to us in our church pews and on the bus. Here it feels much more personal.”

It is not surprising that the public, institutions, and even cities and towns are rallying to defend their undocumented neighbors, students, and residents. Among the institutions mobilizing to defend undocumented students are the nation’s colleges and universities.

As of November 30, about 400 colleges and universities have signed on to a “Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students. ” The statement, addressed to “our country’s leaders,” reads in part:

“…DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. … This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent — and these students … are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.
The effort to have education leaders sign-on to this statement is organized by Pomona College in California which includes all of the country’s Ivy League Universities and the largest four-year public university system, the California State Universities.

Former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, now president of the University of California, alongside Timothy White, Chancellor of the California State University system and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Chancellor-Designate of California Community Colleges, sent a letter to President-elect Trump, urging him to continue the DACA program.

The letter states that thousands of DACA students studying in the colleges and universities in the three systems “should be able to pursue their dream of higher education without fear of being arrested, deported, or rounded up for just trying to learn.”

This extraordinary show of support for DACA comes after students across the country have been organizing to pressure their schools to protect undocumented students. United We Dream, the nation’s largest immigrant youth-led organization, and Voto Latino announced a partnership to organize young people to create “sanctuary college campuses and … a welcoming climate of tolerance.”
In the aftermath of the election one thing is clear: President-elect Trump knows how to use the media to send a populist message. But what message would he be sending by throwing roadblocks in front of ambitious, young students who are pursuing their education and using their work authorization to contribute to our economy?

The public does not support punishing these young people nor is it sound economic or immigration policy, President-elect Trump should recognize that.

Photo Courtesy of The LEAF Project.

Publication Date: December 14 2016

History Shows That Border Walls Don’t Work

Martes, noviembre 1st, 2016
History Shows That Border Walls Don’t Work

Written by Walter Ewing in Border Enforcement

A border wall is a powerful symbol of exclusion: “We” are going to keep “them” out. And, by doing so, “we” are going to protect our people, our way of life, our society and economy from the threat that “they” represent. It’s a concept that is elegant in its simplicity. It’s the concept that launched the presidential campaign of Donald Trump when he gave a speech lauding the “beautiful southern border wall” he was going to build once in office—thereby stopping drugs, terrorists, and undocumented immigrants from entering the country from Mexico. But this is a fantasy.

In the real world, walls don’t actually guarantee “security” in any sense of the word. It is telling that an October 14 New York Times story on the prospect of a U.S.-Mexico border wall found that “the closer you get to the border, the fewer people think that it might work—even among Trump supporters and law enforcement officials.”

The United States is not the only country to embrace the notion of “the wall.” According to a report released on October 5 by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), border walls have become all the rage. There weren’t even five on the planet at the end of World War II; a figure which had risen only to 15 when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 before jumping to nearly 70 today.

However, these walls do not live up to the hype. Even the storied Great Wall of China was not actually a single wall built at a single point in time, nor did it “work” in terms of keeping out the Mongols. Today, border walls are being built to stop people in poor countries from migrating without permission to wealthier countries. They are built to prevent refugees from Syria and Iraq from reaching Europe. And they are built to keep out ISIS terrorists.

Border walls are not particularly effective in doing any of this. In fact, if the U.S. experiment with a Mexican border wall is any indication, the Hungarians and the British may be disappointed. The New York Times story notes that in Nogales—where fencing was built at a cost of $4 million per mile and supplemented with cameras, vibration sensors, drones, and Blackhawk helicopters—drug traffickers and undocumented immigrants still make it through.

MPI points to three main reasons for the relative ineffectiveness of border walls.

1. Undocumented immigrants and smugglers simply go around the most heavily guarded sections of border wall to those that are not well guarded. The obvious solution would seem to be heavily guarding a wall that covers the full length of the border, but this is easier said than done. Building and guarding a wall along all 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border—which includes deserts, mountains, and canyons—would be a monumental undertaking.

2. As smugglers have demonstrated repeatedly, contraband goods or undocumented immigrants can be smuggled through ports of entry (hidden in vehicles) or under parts of the wall (through tunnels).

3. Walls have no bearing on the sizable share of immigrants who come to the United States on valid visas and then over-stay when those visas expire.

Walls may be symbolically imposing, but they don’t get to the root of the problem. A wall doesn’t put a stop to the gang warfare and extrajudicial killings that drive Central American refugees to the United States. Nor does a wall correct for the global inequalities and differences in opportunity which motivate a migrant from Mexico to search for available jobs in the United States that cannot be reached under exiting legal limits on immigration. Walls make a political statement, but they don’t actually solve anything.

Far more effective than walls are targeted enforcement efforts and rational immigration policies. If smugglers are evading border controls, then focus on disrupting the smuggling organizations rather than detaining the undocumented immigrants they exploit. If labor demand in some sector of the economy exceeds the limits on visas for that sort of labor, then raise the limits. The demand for unauthorized labor would largely evaporate. Measures such as these yield tangible results and get to the heart of the matter in ways than walls cannot.

Photo by Wonderlane.

Publication Date: November 01 2016

Undocumented Immigrants Pay Billions in State and Local Taxes

Lunes, febrero 29th, 2016

Travelers: Be Aware of the Zika Virus

Undocumented immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy in many ways. They fill essential jobs, they sustain U.S. businesses through their purchase of goods and services, and—contrary to popular misconceptions—they pay taxes to federal, state, and local governments. Their contributions would be even greater if they had a chance to earn legal status and didn’t have the danger of deportation constantly hanging over their heads. With legal status, they’d be able to change jobs more easily and—as they found better jobs and their wages increased—their economic clout as consumers and taxpayers would rise as well. This is a winning scenario for both the immigrants themselves and the native-born population.

In a recent report titled Undocumented Immigrants’ State & Local Tax Contributions, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) explores in depth not only the present tax contributions of undocumented immigrants, but how much those contributions would increase under two different scenarios. One is the temporary reprieve from deportation and the renewable three-year work authorization that the Obama administration would grant to some undocumented immigrants via executive action. The other is the granting of legal permanent resident (LPR) status to all undocumented immigrants—in other words, legalization. Not surprisingly, immigrants with legal status pay more in taxes than those who are undocumented.

Undocumented immigrants, like everyone else in the United States, pay sales taxes. And they also pay property taxes—even if they rent. Plus, as ITEP points out, “the best evidence suggests that at least 50 percent of undocumented immigrant households currently file income tax returns using Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs), and many who do not file income tax returns still have taxes deducted from their paychecks.” In sum, according to ITEP, “undocumented immigrants living in the United States pay billions of dollars each year in state and local taxes. Further, these tax contributions would increase significantly if all undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States were granted a pathway to citizenship as part of a comprehensive immigration reform.”

ITEP estimates the current and possible future tax contributions of undocumented immigrants at the state and local level:

  • Current contributions: Undocumented immigrants paid $11.6 billion in state and local taxes 2013. This ranged from roughly $2.2 million in Montana (home to only 4,000 undocumented immigrants) to $3.1 billion in California (with an undocumented population numbering more than 3 million). The average effective state and local tax rate of undocumented immigrants in 2013 was 8 percent (compared to 5.4 percent for the top 1 percent of all taxpayers).
  • Executive Action: The Obama administration’s executive actions would grant a reprieve to more than 5 million undocumented immigrants. The state and local tax contributions of this group of immigrants would increase by $805 million per year once the actions were fully in place. This would raise the effective state and local tax rate of this group from 8.1 percent to 8.6 percent.
  • Legalization: Granting LPR status to all undocumented immigrants would increase their state and local tax contributions by $2.1 billion per year. Their average effective state and local tax rate would rise to 8.6 percent.

These estimates should be kept in mind as political commentators and presidential candidates debate how best to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who now live in the United States. In spite of their undocumented status, these immigrants—and their family members—are adding value to the U.S. economy; not only as taxpayers, but as workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs as well. If they had legal status, they would contribute even more. On the other hand, the only alternative— mass deportation—would be very costly and needlessly destructive. Common sense should dictate which route to take.


Publication Date: February 29 de 2016