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.

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H1B Fireworks at GOP Debates

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At the Republican debate last week, both Rubio and Trump weighed in on the Disney H1B issue. IDisney let go tech of some workers, replaced the unit with an outsourcing company, and that company brought in H1B workers who the original (USC) workers were asked to train.

Marco Rubio called it illegal.

“If there’s an American working at Disney, and they bring in someone with an H-1B visa to replace their direct job, that is a violation of the law”, Rubio said.

Donald Trump said that he shouldn’t have been allowed to use the H-1B program the way he has.

“I’m a businessman and I have to do what I have to do, but it’s sitting there for you to use”, said Trump. “But it’s very bad”

Republicans and Democrats in Florida will have a chance to vote for their preferred presidential candidate on Tuesday.

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.

House Voted to Eliminate Per-Country Caps on Employment Visas

Washington, DC–The House voted last week to end per-country caps on worker-based immigration visas, a move that should benefit skilled Indian and Chinese residents seeking to stay in the United States and the high-tech companies who hire them.

The legislation, which passed 389-15, was a rare example of bipartisan accord on immigration, an issue that largely has been avoided during the current session of Congress because of the political sensitivities involved.
The measure would eliminate the current law that says employment-based visas to any one country can’t exceed 7 percent of the total number of such visas given out. Instead, permanent residence visas or green cards would be handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

The bill, said its sponsor, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, “does encourage high-skilled immigrants who were educated in the U.S. to stay and help build our economy rather than using the skills they learned here to aid our competitor nations.”
Currently, the State Department issues about 140,000 such green cards a year to foreign nationals working in the United States, often after getting degrees from U.S. universities.

The bill also changes family-based visa limits from 7 percent per country to 15 percent per country, an adjustment that could slightly ease the backlog for naturalized citizens, particularly from Mexico and the Philippines, trying to bring relatives into the country.

NY Senator Charles Schumer, who heads the Senate Judiciary panel on immigration, said he planned to move the bill as quickly as possible in the Senate, “where we expect it to find overwhelming support.” He said the legislation would “remove outdated constraints that prevent us from attracting the kind of innovators who can create job growth in America.”

The Obama administration in its first two years failed in several major efforts to change immigration law, and this year the issue has largely been off the table, with Republicans making clear that anything suggesting amnesty for those in the country illegally would be rejected.

The Chaffetz bill does not change the number of visas being issued, and groups representing immigrants said the bill would do little to resolve pressing immigration issues. However, they applauded Congress for showing it can act.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said that although the bill won’t bring significant changes, “we think this is a positive step forward.” He said it was a good sign that “Republicans and Democrats are actually working on solutions.”

Still, because there will be no increase in visas issued, there will be losers. Hosin “David” Lee, president of the Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association, said the bill would force engineers from South Korea to wait an additional two years in their immigration process to get green cards.

But Compete America, a group representing high-tech companies such as Google and Microsoft and research institutes, said the bill would correct a problem in which very small countries are subject to the same 7 percent cap as large countries such as India and China, which account for more than 40 percent of the world’s population.

Alabama Loses Workers as Immigration Law Takes Effect

Phillip Rawls of the Associated Press writes:

Alabama’s strict new immigration law may be backfiring. Intended to force illegal workers out of jobs, it is also driving away many construction workers, roofers and field hands in the country legally who do backbreaking jobs that Americans generally won’t.

The vacancies have created a void that will surely deal a blow to the state’s economy and could slow the rebuilding of Tuscaloosa and other tornado-damaged cities.

Employers believe they can carry on because of the dismal economy, but when things do turn around, they worry there won’t be anyone around to hire. Many legal Hispanic workers are fleeing the state because their family and friends don’t have the proper papers and they fear they will be jailed.

Rick Pate, the owner of a commercial landscaping company in Montgomery, lost two of his most experienced workers, who were in the country legally. He spent thousands of dollars training them to install irrigation systems at places like the Hyundai plant.

“They just feel like there is a negative atmosphere for them here. They don’t feel welcome. I don’t begrudge them. I’d feel nervous, too,” Pate said.

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Taco Truck Regulation Redux – My Streets! My Eats!

Taco truck regulation has increased coincidentally with the national concern with immigration from Mexico, a land filled with some true fans of the taco.  Rumor even has it that the capital of the state of California, Sacramento is considering a change to its food truck ordinance to deal with the taco truck “problem.”

A clinic of the University of Chicago Law School, well-known for its law-and-economics approach to law, has started a campaign to defend street vendors in Chicago.   Should the city of Chicago be allowed to turn business districts into No-Vending Zones to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants from competition? That is the question that surrounds a grassroots campaign being launched earlier this week — My Streets! My Eats!  by the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship. The Clinic, which brings together law students to assist low-income entrepreneurs, will advocate for freedom for “mobile chefs” to prepare food on-the-go and serve their customers wherever they can do so safely.

Employers Beware: An ICE Storm of Immigration Audits is Coming

Corporate Counsel reports that, for the second time this year, auditors at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are cracking down on employers to ensure compliance with workplace eligibility laws. The government announced last week its intention to audit the hiring records of 1,000 employers of all sizes across the country. In February, the agency made a similar announcement and investigated 1,000 employers. The latest action brings the number of I-9 audits for fiscal year 2011 up to 2,300. ICE has been looking specifically at companies that traditionally hire a large volume of undocumented workers, such as the agricultural industry, the construction industry, and the hospitality industry. Other employers likely to be audited are those whose employees are privy to sensitive government information.

Committee Approves Bill to Reauthorize Temporary Nurse Visa Program

United States House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary

Committee Approves Bill to Reauthorize Temporary Nurse Visa Program

Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill (H.R. 1933) on June 23, 2011 to help hospitals in inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas that have difficulty in attracting nurses.  Specifically, it reauthorizes the H-1C temporary visa program that allows foreign nurses to come to the U.S. to work in health professional shortage areas for an additional three years.

The bill was reported favorably to the House floor by voice vote.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the bill’s sponsor, today praised the Committee vote.

Chairman Smith: “A number of American hospitals have great difficulty attracting nurses.  These include hospitals that serve mostly poor patients in inner-city neighborhoods and some hospitals in rural areas.

“For example, St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago is the only remaining hospital in an area of over 100,000 people and almost all of its patients live in poverty.  St. Bernard almost closed its doors in 1992, primarily because of its inability to attract registered nurses.

“I introduced H.R. 1933 to help St. Bernard and other similar hospitals.  The bill reauthorizes the H-1C program for an additional three years.  Just as nurses ensure care for the sick, the H-1C program ensures continued care for patients in inner-city and rural communities.”

About the H-1C Temporary Visa Program:
In 1999, Congress passed the “Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act” to help hospitals that serve mostly poor patients in inner-city neighborhoods and some hospitals in rural areas.  It created a new “H-1C” temporary registered nurse visa program with 500 visas available each year that allow nurses to stay for three years.  The visa program expired in December 2009.

To be able to petition for a foreign nurse, an employer has to meet four conditions.  First, the employer has to be located in a health professional shortage area.  Second, the employer has to have at least 190 acute care beds.  Third, a certain percentage of the employer’s patients have to be Medicare patients.  And fourth, a certain percentage of patients have to be Medicaid patients.

The H-1C program also contains protections for American nurses.  For instance, a hospital has to agree to take timely and significant steps to recruit American nurses.   Also, hospitals have to pay the prevailing wage.  It also requires that foreign nurses cannot comprise more than one-third of a hospital’s registered nurses.

 

Restrictionist Group Blames the Children of Immigrants for America’s Budget Woes

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) recently released another report attempting to blame our economic woes and budget shortfalls on immigrants—this time using the children of immigrants, most of whom are U.S. citizens, as scapegoats for benefits usage (here Medicaid, food assistance, cash assistance, and housing programs). As are most restrictionists’ attempts to blame immigrants for all of America’s problems, the report is rife with methodological problems. Despite the headline that 57 percent of households headed by an immigrant with children used at least one benefits program, compared to 39 percent for native households, the results actually show that when controlled for income, immigrant households use benefits at the same rate as native born households.

According to American Immigration Council, CIS’s report finds that immigrants come to the U.S. to work—a fact that challenges the idea that they come here solely to receive benefits. In fact, immigrant households are more likely to have a worker than native-born homes.

But that’s just one of CIS’s many contradictions. CIS enjoys pointing out the cost of undocumented immigrants to the U.S., yet has no problem supporting more and more costly enforcement programs, both on the border and on the interior. The President’s 2012 budget asks for $2 billion for detention beds, $527.6 million for border fencing, infrastructure, and technology, and $184 million for Secure Communities. Overall, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) budget would sit at $11.8 billion and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Budget at $5.8 billion.

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