Deepti Hajela, Associated Press reportson the current situation in the U.S. that some researchers call “brain waste” — a term applied to immigrants who were skilled professionals in their home countries, yet are stymied in their efforts to find work in the U.S. that makes full use of their education or training.
Most of these immigrants wind up underemployed because of barriers like language, lack of access to job networks, or credentialing requirements that are different from those in other countries. Some are held back even further because they’re also in the U.S. illegally.
An analysis by researchers at the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration think tank, estimated that 1.2 million college-educated immigrants in the United States were underemployed, out of a population of 6.7 million. About another 350,000 were unemployed. The analysis, based on data from the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey, did not differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants.
Brain waste has consequences for immigrants as well as American employers and the larger economy, said Jeanne Batalova, policy analyst at the institute and co-author of a study on the issue.
For immigrants, it means bringing home less money than they have the potential to earn. For employers, it means fewer skilled applicants in their hiring pools. For the country overall, it means a missed opportunity to leverage already trained professionals in areas where there may be a desperate need for them.
The Phoenix New Times reports that Shawna Forde’s co-defendant, Jason Eugene Bush, was found guilty late last week in a Pima County Superior Court for the murders of Raul “Junior” Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, at their home in Arivaca, Arizona.
Last month, Forde, a founder of the Minutemen American Defense, was sentenced to death for her role in the murders. Following the murders, Forde told authorities she planned to take the group to “the next level” by leading a raid on the Flores home looking for drugs and money to fund the group.
Bush, like Forde, will be eligible for the death penalty if the jury finds that aggravators are proven.
JURIST Guest Columnist Victor Romero of Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law says the current U.S. immigration system is broken. Many states have created their own immigration laws, purportedly in accordance with federal policy, but these state laws cannot possibly capture the nuances of the federal system. If states create their own regimes, we may end up with a more complicated system than we have currently.
According to his article on JURIST, states and localities have increasingly sought to address immigrant issues to both fill the gap and prompt federal action. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that the number of state laws and resolutions increased almost nine-fold from 39 in 2005 to 346 in 2010.
Given the high profile enjoyed by Arizona’s controversial criminal trespass law [pdf], many in the public assume that state and local government laws are uniformly anti-immigrant. While it is true that many of these initiatives are aimed at curbing irregular migration by limiting access to employment, driver’s licenses, and public benefits, many resolutions celebrate America’s ethnic diversity, supporting efforts to integrate new immigrants and refugees.
About Victor C. Romero: A native of the Philippines, Professor Romero teaches and writes in the area of immigrant and minority rights. Professor Romero joined the faculty in 1995 after working in private practice and as a law clerk to a federal judge in California. An elected member of the American Law Institute (ALI), Professor Romero is co-editor of the anthology, Immigration and the Constitution, and author of Alienated: Immigrant Rights, the Constitution, and Equality in America. In addition to his course in Immigration Law, Professor Romero teaches Constitutional Law I and II. Professor Romero has served as president of both the South Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the ACLU and the NAACP of the Greater Carlisle Area. He was also a visiting professor of law at Howard and at Rutgers-Camden. Most recently, Professor Romero served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in University Park during academic years 2006-07 and 2007-08.
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Books and Book Chapters “Loving Across the Miles: Binational Same-Sex Marriages and the Supreme Court,” in Loving in a ‘Post-Racial’ World: Rethinking Race, Sex and Marriage (K. Maillard & R. Villazor eds., forthcoming 2010).
Danbury, CT: A group of day laborers who were arrested in a sting operation in Danbury, Connecticut, in 2006, have sued both the local and federal authorities for racial profiling and violation of their civil rights. In two separate settlements, eight laborers will receive a total of $650,000. Previously Danbury city officials and the group of day laborers called the Danbury 11, agreed on a $400,000 settlement. In addition the day laborers will receive $250,000 from the federal government. In the sting operation that happened more than four years ago, the workers were picked up by a van driven by a Danbury city police officer who posed as a contractor. The police officer then delivered the workers to the U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The workers who were arrested in the sting operation claim that they were victims of racial profiling. The Yale Law School student who represented the Danbury 11, Katie Chamblee, says the settlement is the “largest monetary settlement ever paid out to day laborers by any municipality in the country.” According Danbury mayor Mark Boughton, the settlement shows that the city did nothing wrong, because no one who’s civil rights were violated would be satisfied with a money settlement, but would demand a change in policy. A representative for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network says settlements with immigrant workers usually involve policy change by the local governments.
Washington, D.C.: Chartered flights to and from Cuba can now take off and land at eight new airports in the United States. This makes it more convenient for those who are allowed to travel to Cuba, among them immigrants who wish to visit family in Cuba. Federal authorities have cleared Baltimore-Washington, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, O’Hare in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburg, Tampa and San Juan airports for handling Cuba flights. Previously, flights to and from Cuba have only been able to take off and land at three airports in the United States; in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Several airlines, including American Airlines, operate flights for charter companies. However, there are still no commercial flights to Cuba. The main reason is that the United States still restricts travel to Cuba. Only people who have religious, academic, journalistic or cultural reasons for traveling to Cuba are allowed to go. Spokespeople for Baltimore-Washington International say they already have charter companies who want to fly from BWI, but they will probably have to wait until the end of 2011 or the begining of 2012 before the first chartered flight can leave the tarmac. According to Jonathan Dean the charter companies have to work with the U.S. and the Cuban governments in order to get the necessary authorizations in place first. Cuban authorities do issue visas to travelers as they arrive on the island. However, all travelers to Cuba should obtain the appropriate visa prior to departure, along with any authorizations that might be required by Cuban authorities. Although U.S. citizens are welcomed in Cuba, they are generally not allowed by U.S. authorities to visit Cuba, even if they travel from a third country. U.S. citizens who travel to Cuba unauthorized risk criminal prosecution as they return to the United States.
Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced last month that certain immigrants in the United States who are applying for permanent residency (green card) or change of status now can be issued work permit and travel authorization on one single card. Individuals who have applied for permanent residency or adjustment of status and whose cases are still pending, risk having their application denied in the case that they leave the United States without first obtaining special permission, called Advance Parole. Currently, applicants who are granted Advance Parole are issued Form I-512 paper documents. The new card will look like an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). However, additional text on the new dual-purpose card will read, “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole.” Green Card applicants may get the new card if they apply for work authorization (Form I-765) and a travel permit (Form I-131) at the same time or after they apply for permanent residency or adjustment of status. Applicants will still be able to obtain Advance Parole documents and EAD cards separately, but the new dual-purpose card will be both more secure and more durable than the old Form I-512 paper document. The new card is accepted as a list-A document by employers who are completing Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification for new employees. Individuals carrying Form I-512, Advance Parole, are not guaranteed admission into the United States. The Card is used to request parole at the port-of-entry as the applicant returns to the United States from abroad.
The CNN Wire Staffreports that a group of Guatemalans who were infected with syphilis during U.S. human experiments and their heirs have filed a lawsuit against U.S. health officials.
The class action lawsuit, filed this week, alleges that the U.S. government violated a number of national and international laws when it carried out the experiments in Guatemala between 1946 and 1948.
Law firms representing the victims said the United States intentionally infected the Guatemalans in an effort to study the effects of the disease. One lawyer for the Guatemalans, Piper Hendricks, had said last week that she hoped an agreement would be reached that would avoid litigation and a trial.
The United States has apologized for the experiments, but did not reach a settlement with the plaintiffs.
Read Ruben Navarette Jr.’s entertaining commentary on a proposal in the Texas legislature that would bar the employment of undocumented immigrants with an exemption for domestic service workers in single family homes.
Editor’s note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist and an NPR commentator.
San Diego (CNN) — A lot of Americans don’t like illegal immigration. But what they like even less is the idea of having to live without the labor provided by illegal immigrants.
There you have the great contradiction that lies at the heart of the U.S. immigration debate — one that must be confronted and reconciled if it is ever going to be resolved.
Speaking of solutions, I heard a whopper a while back. I had just given a speech to a group of retirees in a well-to-do town near San Diego. After complaining that Mexican immigrants were hurting the quality of life and changing the culture, a woman suggested a high-speed rail that could, every morning, carry men and women from Tijuana, Mexico, 20 miles into San Diego County, where they would work as nannies, housekeepers and gardeners in wealthy neighborhoods before boarding the train at dusk to head back into Mexico.
It was a goofy and obscene idea. But I was glad to hear it because it illustrates clearly how some Americans see Mexico as a giant temp agency that exists to make their lives easier.
Now, a Texas state representative offers more clarity. Republican Debbie Riddle has proposed a bill that creates harsh punishments for those who hire illegal immigrants. House Bill 1202 calls for up to two years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
So far, so good. We’ll never stop illegal immigration until we start tackling it at the root by going after U.S. employers.
But wait. There’s a loophole in Riddle’s bill: The person doing the hiring has to be acting “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly.” That’s too many adverbs for me. You’ll note that hiring an illegal immigrant is already a federal offense under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, but one of the reasons that the law’s employer sanctions are rarely enforced is because — under the statute — an employer has to act “knowingly,” and that’s hard for a prosecutor to prove.
So, for 25 years, employers caught red-handed hiring illegal immigrants have claimed not to know what they were doing.
And, in the provision of Riddle’s proposal that is causing the most outrage, there is also an odd exemption: The person hiring an illegal immigrant is in the clear if he or she is doing so “for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence.”
Come again? So people who own businesses — restaurants, homeowners, hotels, farms, construction firms, etc — can’t hire illegal immigrants, but homeowners, housewives or soccer dads can hire as many as they like.
Why the exemption? Riddle has said it’s only fair since — unlike businesses — homeowners don’t have access to E-Verify, the controversial U.S. government-run database that supposedly helps employers determine whether prospective employees are legally eligible to work in the United States.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert apparently will make Utah the first to give undocumented immigrants living in it the right to work. Sitting on his desk is a bill passed by the Utah legislature that would allow people who were in the United States illegally before this May to obtain a permit to live and work in Utah. Their immediate relatives also would be able to live lawfully in Utah.
Elizabeth Llorente of Fox News Latino, writes that Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is poised to make the Beehive State the first to give undocumented immigrants living in it the right to work. Sitting on his desk is a bill passed by the Utah legislature that would allow people who were in the United States illegally before this May to obtain a permit to live and work in Utah. Their immediate relatives also would be able to live lawfully in Utah.
The bill, being watched closely nationwide, is the only one of its kind in the United States. The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Bill Wright, a self-described conservative Republican, says that quite frankly, the measure addresses the fact that in certain jobs, immigrants who lack documents are better workers than Americans.
“It’s become a labor issue,” Wright said about the immigration debate. The need in Utah and elsewhere for their labor, he said, “is the reason they’re here.”
“In certain fields, we’re not as productive, that’s why it’s difficult for us to compete with them,” Wright said. “We’re spoiled rotten.”
Another bill passed by state legislators gives police officers the option of checking the immigration status of people they stop for a felony or serious misdemeanor.
Utah’s comprehensive approach to the undocumented underscores the competing solutions — tough enforcement vs. integration — that people on both sides of the immigration debate have pushed forth as a way to address illegal immigration. And the tensions in the legislature over the bills – particularly the one giving a break to undocumented immigrants — is illustrative of a broader fissure within the GOP about how to deal with illegal immigration.
The most ardent and vocal critic of Wright’s bill, for instance, is a fellow conservative Republican, Rep. Chris Herrod. He sees the bill as a reward to lawbreakers. “It’s a slap in the face, an atrocious kick in the face, to anyone who has tried, or is trying, to come into this country legally, or is trying to bring family into this country legally, ” Herrod said. “Any behavior you reward you’re going to get more of,” he said. “I’ve been outside U.S. embassies [in other countries], I’ve seen parents in tears when they get denied visas.”
Wright’s depiction of U.S. workers’ productivity and work ethic, Herrod said, “is absolutely offensive to the average American worker.” Herrod said that he sees numerous examples on a regular basis of people who are working in jobs for which they are overqualified. Like many proponents of tough immigration enforcement, Herrod says that undocumented immigrants must not be given a break, particularly at a time when many Americans are out of work.
“In Utah, we have 160,000 illegal aliens in the state, and we have roughly that amount of unemployment,” Herrod said.
The governor, a Republican, is expected to either sign or veto the bills, perhaps as early as this month.
International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is celebrated on March 8. For news from around the world on International Women’s Day 2011, click here. Events are scheduled to take place in more than 100 countries around the world to commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.