How Immigrants Helped Boost American Jobs in the Midwest

Tory Johnson  recently reported on Immigration Impact that in the Rust Belt region of the United States, for example, owe much of their economic and population growth in recent years to immigrants, according to a recent report by the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition and New American Economy (NAE), a non-partisan coalition of mayors and business leaders from across the United States. Research has repeatedly found that population decline, due to aging and native residents moving away, hurts local economies by shrinking the tax base and hampering business and job creation.

Many cities in the Great Lakes region—comprising Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York (excluding New York City metro area)—have experienced this economic and population decline. Whereas the U.S. population grew 14.2 percent between 2000 and 2015, the overall population of the Great Lakes region only increased by 4.3 percent during that time. And yet much of this growth was driven by immigrants.

For more on this story, click here.

Government Threatens Families, Communities with Looming Temporary Protected Status Decisions

Tory Johnson of Immigration Impact reports that the US is home to an estimated 325,000 individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a temporary immigration status granted to nationals of specifically designated countries that are facing an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. Combined, more than 90 percent of these beneficiaries, or TPS holders, are from El Salvador (approximately 195,000), Honduras (approximately 57,000), and Haiti (approximately 50,000).

As the deadlines approach for the government to decide whether to extend or terminate several countries’ TPS designations, critical information about this sizable population has come to the forefront. This includes research on TPS holders’ social and financial contributions to American life, as well as the fiscal and social risks countries would face should the Trump administration choose to end El Salvador, Honduras, or Haiti’s designations for TPS.

Many TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti have lived in the United States for decades. During this time, they have been regularly vetted by the government, submitting themselves to background checks every time their TPS has been renewed. Hondurans, for example, have passed these security checks 13 times.

In passing initial and continuous security checks, TPS holders receive temporary protection from deportation and access to a work permit. Though these benefits present barriers by being temporary in nature, TPS beneficiaries become active and contributing members of their communities and the nation.

The majority of both Salvadoran and Honduran TPS holders have lived in the United States for at least 20 years (51 and 63 percent, respectively), and 16 percent of Haitian TPS holders have resided in the country for at least two decades. In that time, many TPS holders settled and established families. For example, TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti have an estimated 273,000 native-born U.S.-citizen children, and about 30 percent of TPS beneficiaries’ households have mortgages.

As a result of their work authorization, TPS beneficiaries also participate in the U.S. workforce at high rates. More than 80 percent of all TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti are active members of the U.S. labor force. These TPS holders support a range of industries, with the greatest shares in the construction, restaurant and food services, landscaping, childcare, hospitality, and grocery industries.

Through income and property taxes, Social Security and Medicare contributions, job creation, and spending TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti have added value to the U.S. economy. Their contributions to the country’s GDP over the next decade total an estimated $164 billion. In the six states in which TPS holders from these countries are concentrated (California, Florida, Texas, New York, Virginia, and Maryland), they add between $1.2 and $2.7 billion dollars annually to each state’s GDP. Nationally and locally, most of these billions would be lost if TPS designations for their countries are terminated.

For more details on this story, please click here.

Refugees are vital to the workforce in California’s Poultry Plants

Al Souki leaves home for his shift at a Foster Farms chicken processing plant. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Cindy Carcamo for the Los Angeles Times reports that, in California, most of the meatpacking industry is located in the Central Valley. It has become one of the biggest employers for refugee resettlement agencies and other nonprofits aiding the population in those areas.  Middle Eastern refugees are now an important part of the meatpacking industry’s workforce. The article focuses on several poultry workers including Al Souki who fled war-torn Syria and worked backbreaking 12-hour shifts in his home country and Jordan before making his way to the United States.

Refugees have increasingly become vital workers in an industry with high turnover. And the growing unrest and bloodshed in the Middle East and elsewhere have readily supplied them in places like the Central Valley.

The refugee and immigrant populations ”certainly have been a significant part, an integral part of our workforce for decades,” said Tom Super, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council.

It’s difficult to know exactly how many refugees work in this occupation but roughly one-third of workers in the industry in 2010 were foreign-born, according to a peer-reviewed article in Choices, a publication of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Assn., a nonprofit that serves those who work in agricultural and broadly related fields of applied economics.

Most of the meatpacking industry is located in the California’s Central Valley. It’s become one of the biggest employers for refugee resettlement agencies and other nonprofits aiding the population in those areas. Immigrants have long been integral to the meatpacking industry, but refugees surfaced as a key labor force starting in 2006, according to experts who study the phenomenon. For more on this story, click here.

Undocumented Immigrants Pay $11.6 Billion in State and Local Taxes; Contributions Would Substantially Increase Under Reform

Undocumented immigrants contribute more than $11.6 billion to state and local coffers each year and pay an average 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes according to a newly updated 50-state study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). ITEP’s analysis also finds that the combined state and local tax contributions of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants’ would increase by more than $800 million under full implementation of the administration’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions and by more than $2.1 billion under comprehensive immigration reform.

The report, Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions, provides state-by-state and national estimates on undocumented immigrants,’ current state and local tax contributions, including a breakdown of sales and excise, personal income, and property taxes. The report further provides estimates for each state showing how much larger these tax contributions would be if all undocumented immigrants were granted legal status under a comprehensive immigration reform and if President Obama’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions were upheld. The report’s key findings:

• Undocumented immigrants contribute significantly to state and local governments, collectively paying an estimated $11.6 billion in state and local taxes.

• Undocumented immigrants’ nationwide average effective state and local tax rate (the share of income they pay in state and local taxes) is an estimated 8 percent. (The top 1 percent of taxpayers nationwide pay an average effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent.)

• Granting legal status to all 11 million undocumented immigrants as part of a comprehensive immigration reform and allowing them to work in the United States legally would increase their state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2.1 billion a year. Their effective tax rate would increase from 8 to 8.6 percent.

• The state and local tax contributions of the 5 million undocumented immigrants who could be directly impacted by President Obama’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions would increase by an estimated $805 million if the actions are upheld. State and local revenue gains from the executive actions are smaller than gains from granting legal status to all undocumented immigrants because the actions (if upheld) would only affect about 46 percent of the undocumented population and the actions do not grant a full pathway to lawful permanent residence.

To view the full report or to find state-specific data, go here.

CAP’s Top 10 Ways the Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill Will Fix Our Broken System

www.motherjones.com

Washington, DC–For the past several months, four Senate Democrats—Chuck Schumer (NY), Dick Durbin (IL), Bob Menendez (NJ), and Michael Bennet (CO)—have worked with four Senate Republicans—John McCain (AZ), Lindsay Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (FL), and Jeff Flake (AZ)—to develop a proposal to repair our nation’s failing immigration system. The product of the bipartisan “Gang of 8” negotiations is a bill titled “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,” filed in the Senate early Wednesday morning.

While it is far from perfect, this historic bipartisan compromise will go far in establishing an immigration policy worthy of our heritage and fit for the 21st century. Washington-based think-tank, Center for American Progress, has compiled the top 10 ways that the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill fixes our nation’s badly broken immigration system.

1. It restores core American values. The bill would create an immigration system that honors our history as a nation of immigrants and that renews the promise that immigrants who work hard and play by the rules can achieve their dreams in America. It would halt the more than 400,000 annual deportations that tear apart families and devastate communities. It also protects undocumented immigrants from deportation if they arrived in the United States before December 31, 2011, have been continuously present since then, and have not committed any serious crimes, and it puts them on the path to achieving full citizenship.

2. It raises the wage floor for all workers. The bill allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before December 31, 2011, to apply for status as a registered provisional immigrant, or RPI. This allows undocumented new Americans to work lawfully in the United States while they wait to be able to apply for lawful permanent residence and eventually U.S. citizenship, and it prevents unscrupulous employers from underpaying them, which drives down the wages and working conditions of all workers. The bill also contains important wage and employee protections for future immigrant workers, keeping them safe from exploitation.

3. It preserves family unity. The bill removes the limitations on the number of visas that legal permanent residents can request for their spouses and minor children, ensuring that families are not separated for years while awaiting legal status. It creates a process to aggressively clear the estimated 4.4 million-person backlogs in the family- and employment-based visa systems within the next 10 years. And it creates a new nonimmigrant visa that allows individuals to enter and work in the United States while waiting for a family visa to become available. The bill recognizes that united families have a better shot at achieving the American Dream and works to ensure families can set down roots together.

4. It promotes full American incorporation. The bill allows individuals who have been in the United States with legal status and work authorization for more than 10 years, including legalized immigrants with RPI status, to apply for a green card. This provision includes immigrants who have held temporary protected status or deferred enforcement departure—two designations for immigrants who were already living in the United States when extraordinary conditions in their country of origin prohibited them from returning home—for 10 years or longer, allowing them for the first time to achieve permanent residence and to become full and equal members of society. Further, the bill allows these long-term residents to apply for citizenship three years after securing their green cards.

5. It protects DREAMers and farmworkers. The senators’ proposal acknowledges the unique circumstances confronting individuals who were brought to the United States as children and provides them with an accelerated five-year path to earn permanent residence and citizenship, unlike the 10-year path for most unauthorized immigrants. Likewise, it recognizes the high percentage of farmworkers who are undocumented and their importance to the industry. To stabilize the agricultural industry, the bill authorizes farmworkers who continue working in agriculture to apply for permanent residence five years after the bill’s enactment.

6. It levels the playing field for all employers. The Senate’s immigration proposal mandates the use of E-Verify, the government’s electronic employment-verification system, for all employers to ensure that the workers they hire are authorized to work in the United States. This mandatory program will protect the integrity of the employment system by ensuring that employers and workers are held accountable and, paired with the legalization provisions, will make sure that no undue burdens are placed on those currently without legal status. The mandate includes a five-year phase-in period to allow small businesses more time to comply with the requirements.

7. It boosts economic growth. The bipartisan legislation enables eligible undocumented immigrants to realize their full earnings potential by providing them with a pathway to legal status and the ability to work legally, including the ability to pursue higher-paying legal jobs that match their skills. Legal status also provides an incentive for workers to further their education and training. On average, undocumented immigrants will increase their earnings by 15 percent over five years under this bill, leading to a cumulative $832 billion in economic growth and $109 billion in increased tax revenues over the next 10 years. It will also create an estimated 121,000 jobs each year, benefits that accrue to all Americans.

8. It modernizes our immigration system. The Senate’s immigration bill creates a new category of merit-based green cards for individuals who meet certain criteria—for example, education level, language skills, employment, and family connections—that are determined to be in the national interest. It expands the number of green cards for highly skilled, advanced-degree professionals, creates a new lesser-skilled visa category, and establishes a bureau tasked with analyzing economic, labor, and demographic data to help set annual limits on each type of visa.

9. It enhances national security. Differentiating between who is in our country to do us harm and who is here simply to make a better life for themselves and their families makes our nation more secure in the long run. The bill requires undocumented immigrants who arrived before December 31, 2011, to register with the Department of Homeland Security and undergo criminal and national security background checks. Individuals who have been convicted of a felony or of three or more separate misdemeanors would be ineligible to remain in the United States. Likewise, individuals who are inadmissible because of other criminal, national security, public health, or morality grounds would have to leave the country.

10. It strengthens border security. The bill sets a goal of apprehending or deterring 90 percent of attempted unlawful entries in each of the “high risk” southwestern border sectors; where more than 30,000 people were apprehended in the past fiscal year. If this effectiveness goal is not met within five years, additional funding will be authorized and a commission will be formed to issue recommendations on additional targeted measures. This smart investment in border security will go a long way in ensuring that the constantly evolving border is protected.

Notably, the bill leaves out certain groups such as LGBT partners of immigrants and eliminates programs such as the diversity visa lottery, which granted 50,000 visas per year, drawn randomly from applicants from countries with historically low numbers of immigrants. Even so, the Senate immigration bill is a thoughtful and pragmatic solution that will give approximately11.1 million people a chance to become full and equal members of society, will boost our economy, and will create a 21st century legal-immigration system that reflects our values and our economic needs. Congress should continue the Gang of 8’s bipartisan spirit and pass this bill as quickly as possible.

Source: Top 10 Ways the Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill Will Fix Our Broken System, Center for American Progress, by Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress; Ann Garcia, Policy Analyst at the Center; and Philip E. Wolgin, Senior Policy Analyst for the Immigration Policy Team at the Center.

–Kristine Tungol Cabagnot welcomes your questions and comments at kristine@tungollaw.com.

Congress to Pass DREAM Act Before Nov. Elections?

As November elections neared in 2010, the Democratic supporters of the immigration reform bill known as the Dream Act kicked into high gear, pushing it toward an eventual vote in the House and Senate that December. The bill proposed conditional legal status for qualifying young people who arrived in the U.S. under age 16, provided they go to college or join the military.

DREAM Act didn’t go anywhere in 2010, but as November nears and both major parties fight for Latino votes, expect the Democratic-backed bill to figure prominently again, along with a few stripped-down mutations as Republican lawmakers formulate alternative proposals.

Read Leslie Berestein Rojas’ analysis of the tantalizing possibilities. Is there a chance (finally) for the DREAMERs? It has been a long trek.

 

Credit: Video Production by Kristian Tungol at Tungol Designs.

McCain: GOP Should Address Immigration Humanely

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said his home state and others could be “up for grabs” in the 2012 presidential election, due in large part to the growing numbers of Hispanic voters and warned GOP candidates to watch their rhetoric on immigration issues.

“The demographics are clear that the Hispanic vote will play a major role in national elections,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

However, higher numbers of Hispanic voters does not guarantee Obama an edge according to McCain, who said the president’s failure to fullfill some campaign promises on immigration makes that voting bloc competitive.

McCain said Republican candidates will need to strike a “careful balance” on immigration when trying to court those voters.

“The Republican Party has to discuss this in as humane a way as possible,” he said.

“We have to have empathy, we have to have concern and we have to have a plan,” McCain added. “But at the same time, to say that we are going to have insecure borders … that’s not the message we want to send.”

The most recent GOP candidate predicted that New Mexico, Colorado, and even Texas could become competitive battlegrounds in presidential elections.

Read more…

Internships and Leadership Development for DREAMers

(New York, NY) This week, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and the Fund for Public Advocacy released the DREAM Fellowship Program application, as part of a new initiative that will provide 10 exceptional undocumented students with CUNY scholarships of $2000 each and the opportunity to participate in an internship and leadership development program.  Internships will be with organizations that educate and empower immigrant families across New York City.

As advocates continue to push for passage of the federal DREAM Act, programs such as the DREAM Fellowship Program will, in the meantime, provide a group of exceptional DREAMers the chance to pursue a college education, gain valuable leadership-building experience, and participate in efforts to improve the quality of life for New York’s immigrant communities.

Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the NYIC said, “We are proud to be moving forward with the DREAM Fellowship Program, and are grateful to the Fund for Public Advocacy for raising the scholarship dollars. We look forward to working with the DREAM fellows, and taking this important step to expand educational opportunities for all our young people, regardless of status. The fight for the federal DREAM Act continues, but in the meantime, the DREAM Fellowship program can help young people fulfill their potential.”

Reshma Saujani, executive director of the Fund for Public Advocacy, said, “The Dream Fellowship is one of the cornerstone projects of the Fund for Public Advocacy this year. I cannot say how proud we are to be able to help ten students who are exemplars of self-determination. Although they face extreme adversity in their mission to attain a higher education, they study hard and work harder to ensure that their dreams become realities. This fellowship program extends ten exceptional students the opportunity to learn about community organizing, as well as a one semester scholarship. We are honored to help them on their journey.”

For more information click here 

SCHOLARSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all. The NYIC promotes immigrants’ full civic participation, fosters their leadership, and provides a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

The NYIC in partnership with the Fund for Public Advocacy is launching its first ever “Dream Fellowship”—a semester long internship and scholarship program that will place DREAM Act-eligible students with community organizations that work to improve the lives of immigrant youth and their families. Students will also have the opportunity to attend a supplemental training program that will provide them with invaluable skills and knowledge to advocate on behalf of immigrant communities. Selected students will demonstrate excellence beyond academic achievement; they will be students who have a proven track record of leadership and community service who want to deepen their skills while continuing their education.

The NYIC will award ten exceptional City University of New York students a $2000 scholarship based on acceptance to the fellowship.

In order to qualify, students must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be full time or part time CUNY students at the time of application with at least one semester of undergraduate studies remaining during the 2012 Spring semester;
  • Have a proven interest in building community organizing skills and be able to commit 7 hours per week during the 2012 academic Spring semester;
  • Have a proven track record of leadership and service in either academic and community settings;
  • Be eligible under current version of the federal DREAM act.
  • Demonstrated financial need

All interested, qualified students are encouraged to apply for the scholarship. A completed application, two current letters of recommendation, and a current unofficial transcript must be submitted by December 15, 2011 to ‘DREAM Fellowship’ at the The New York Immigration Coalition, 137-139 West 25th St, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10001. Students may also submit their applications to DreamFellowship@thenyic.org

To apply for the scholarship, please see attached application or click HERE

DEADLINE for accepting applications: Friday, December 16th, 2011

Incomplete or late application packets will not be considered. No phone calls please.


Buy a House, Get a Green Card

Washington, D.C.: In the future, it could be possible to obtain Permanent Resident status in the United States by buying a house. Two U.S. Senators, one Democrat and one Republican, have worked together on a bill that would make a green card available to a foreigner who invests $500,000 in real estate in the United States. One of the two senators, Charles Schumer, Democrat from New York, says that offering green cards for real-estate investments is a way to boost demand in the market with no cost to the government. The market for U.S. property is already growing abroad, while the demand among local buyers remains low. A weak U.S. dollar combined with low prices on American real estate has contributed to a 24 percent rise in properties bought by foreigners last year, compared to the year before. The National Association of Realtors says foreigners bought $82 billion-worth of homes in the U.S. last year. At the same time, potential house buyers in the U.S. hesitate to buy because they worry about the job market, or because they have less money than before. Americans who already own a home would have to sell at considerable loss if they were to buy a new house. This has led house prices to drop 32 percent since 2006. The National Association of Realtors also says that U.S. house sales to foreigners are divided between people who just recently relocated to the United States, and those who live abroad, and they suggest that many who buy American property do it with the intent to immigrate. The possibility of obtaining a resident visa along with property could work as an extra incentive for those who are already interested in moving to the U.S.

Asian American Population Growth

From the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice:

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to announce the release today of a ground-breaking new demographic report, A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States, 2011, co-authored by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Asian American Justice Center, members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. This is the first in a series of demographic reports to be released on the state of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders over the next few years.

With the 2012 elections upon us, Community of Contrasts comes at a most opportune time.  The Asian American community has grown faster than any other racial group over the past decade: More than 46 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the report’s analysis of Census data.  That means more Asian Americans then ever before are poised to influence next year’s presidential election, and we are ready to speak up and voice the issues that matter most to us.  At the same time, our community needs citizenship assistance, voter registration and Get Out the Vote programs to ensure we reach our full potential.

Our population is also dispersing throughout the U.S.  Texas now has more Asian Americans than Hawaii and a third of the states now have Asian populations greater than 225,000.

The report also found significant social and economic diversity among Asian American ethnic groups, with some enjoying prosperity and others experiencing hardship. For example, while Asian Americans have made considerable contributions to the U.S. economy over the past decade (e.g., Asian American businesses issued more than $80 billion in payroll), other data shows that certain ethnic groups like Hmong, Bangladeshi and Cambodian Americans are among the country’s poorest (e.g., nearly one in four Hmong Americans live below the poverty line).  Limited fluency in English remains a significant barrier for many.

Copies of the report are available online at www.advancingjustice.org.

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