One of the explicit goals of the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act’’ (S.744) is to curtail future flows of unauthorized immigration by correcting some of the flaws of the current legal immigration system. To that end, it establishes an updated system of legal immigration that, in principle, seeks to match the country’s economic and labor needs while respecting principles of family unification.
The regulation of future flows is key to the success of immigration reform because the economy is one of the primary drivers of illegal immigration. Critics of reform, including those challenging S.744, argue that immigration reform which legalizes the current undocumented population or that does not mandate a biometric entry/exit system for new workers will fail because it will lead to increased flows of illegal immigration in the future. The argument usually used is that this happened after the Immigration Control and Reform Act (IRCA) was implemented in 1986, and that this would happen again were a new reform that includes a comprehensive legalization package to be passed.
These arguments, however, are flawed. In fact, they fail to address IRCA’s shortcomings by proposing a limited interpretation that points to the presumed association between legalization and the increase of future illegal entry of migrants. But the problem with IRCA, as shown by several studies, did not reside in its legalization component. The issue, on the contrary, was largely based on IRCA’s failure to realistically regulate future immigrant flows based on an accurate and pragmatic assessment of the country’s needs.Read more...
Under S. 744, “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” a merit-based point system is proposed as a tool to allocate a portion of new immigrant visas each year. After this new system becomes effective, a minimum of 120,000 foreign-born people would be able to obtain immigrant visas each year by accumulating points mainly based on their skills, employment history, and education credentials. At the same time, visa slots currently allocated to siblings and adult married children of U.S. citizens, as well as the diversity visa program, would be absorbed into this new system.
An evaluation of the point system requires an understanding of several different assumptions made by the drafters. First, in reallocating visas, does the new point system provide access to individuals currently eligible to enter the U.S. under the eliminated sibling and visa diversity lottery categories? If not, what does that say about the assumptions behind the proposal? Second, within the allocation of points awarded to individual applicants, what characteristics are favored and how does that affect the likelihood that different groups will be able to make use of the point system to enter the United States? At its core, the allocation of points is not a neutral act, but instead reflects a political view regarding the “desired immigrant.” While the bill overall continues to privilege family and employment-based immigration, the effort to create a “merit” system may actually be at odds with core values that the United States has traditionally embraced (in particular, the defense of equality of opportunity, the fight against discrimination of all sorts, the protection of minorities and traditionally disadvantaged groups, and the preservation of families).Read more...
Innovation, Skilled Immigration, and H-1B Visas in U.S. Metropolitan Areas
Although immigration policy is debated at the national level, its impact is most often felt in local and regional communities. This is certainly true for the H-1B program, which is routinely studied at the national level, but cannot be fully understood without driving down to examine the role of H-1B workers at the metropolitan and local levels. New research at this more specific level of analysis suggests that current H-1B policies must be made both flexible and nuanced. There is no “one size fits all” approach to the recruitment, hiring, and retention of high-skilled foreign workers. As lawmakers consider changes to the H-1B program, including the creation of a High Skilled Jobs Demand Index, it is essential to remember that demand for H-1B workers in many metropolitan areas is high, varies by industry, and has ripple effects throughout a regional economy. Thus, predicting and calculating the need for H-1B workers requires an understanding of the dynamics at the metropolitan level.
Metropolitan Area Demand for High-Skilled Workers is High, Especially in Innovation Industries
Innovation-intensive metropolitan areas tend to have higher rates of patenting, lower unemployment rates, and higher demand for high-skilled workers since patenting growth is correlated with job growth, population growth, and increases in educational attainment.Read more...
How High-Skilled Immigrants Create Jobs and Help Build the U.S. Economy
With the U.S. economy still recovering, it may seem counterintuitive to believe that any industry would benefit from having more workers. But that is precisely the case when it comes to those industries which depend upon highly skilled workers. The United States has long faced a dilemma in this respect: the U.S. economy is, in general, absorbing more high-skilled professionals than the U.S. educational system produces or that are available in our workforce. That is one reason so many highly skilled workers in the United States are immigrants. For instance, in “STEM” occupations (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the foreign-born account for 26.1 percent of workers with PhDs and 17.7 percent of those with master’s degrees. However, arbitrary limits imposed by the U.S. immigration system, particularly the inadequate supply of green cards and H-1B visas, have restricted the ability of the U.S. to compete in the global battle for talent and ideas. Given that highly skilled professionals tend to create jobs through their innovative work, such limits are economically self-defeating.
by Raul Hinojosa Ojeda, Ph.D. and Sherman Robinson, Ph.D.
With immigration reform legislation now making its way through Congress, it is imperative that we estimate as accurately as possible the full range of potential economic costs and benefits associated with any particular bill. It is especially important to establish the proper criteria for a complete, robust, and accurate fiscal scoring of any bill by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). To that end, we should consider the growing consensus of the economic literature on the strongly positive benefits of immigration in general and of the various aspects of immigration reform in particular, as calculated using a variety of different methodologies. The CBO would be well-advised to keep this consensus literature in mind as it establishes the criteria it will use for scoring immigration reform legislation.
More and more research demonstrates the economic benefits of immigration reform.
The last few years have witnessed a burst in economic research showing the strongly positive net impacts of immigration in general and comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) in particular. Broad agreement has emerged as to not only the net economic and fiscal benefits of immigration and CIR, but the acceleration of those benefits over time. Moreover, these conclusions have been arrived at in studies utilizing a variety of different methodological approaches. It is important to point out that each of these different approaches is limited by a focus on separate aspects of immigration reform (Table 1). A complete methodological framework accounting for all of the components of CIR produces the largest-scale benefits.Read more...
It Is Time For Congress To Take Action And Reform Our Nation’s Immigration Laws: A Plea From America’s Scholars
May 1, 2013
The history of America is a history of immigration. Starting with our country’s founding by idealistic newcomers, the waves of immigrants who settled in the United States have continuously added to our culture and national identity. However, America’s immigration system has become out of step with the social and economic needs of our nation and, therefore, we believe policies must change. As university professors from across the United States, we believe that reforming our immigration laws is both the right thing to do and is in our nation’s best interests. As the community responsible for educating the next generation of Americans, we see the harm that a broken immigration system has had on our students and their families.
For immigrant students who have studied and grown up in the U.S., we need to ensure that they have the opportunities to continue their education and settle into their careers in the U.S. Similarly, immigrants with credentials and skills already living in the U.S. should have the opportunity to practice their professions here.
The positive effects that immigrant students have on our education system are manifold. Immigrant students contribute to the diversity of our classrooms, which in turn has a positive impact on all students. Diversity has been shown to be positively associated with students’ cognitive development, satisfaction with their educational experience, and leadership skills.Read more...
Today in the United States, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Americans who fall in love with and marry foreign nationals are being asked to choose between country and spouse, country and career, and country and family. I know this because I have spent the last several years in a battle with my own government to recognize my wife for immigration purposes. Trying to keep my marriage to a British national together has cost me my career and a full pension, time away from my American family and friends, as well as a great deal of stress over finances and my future.
Gay Americans who are legally married in the U.S. have a marriage that is not recognized by the federal government. Therefore, the 28,500 same-sex binational couples in America, in which one spouse is an American citizen, are in a situation where they cannot sponsor their husbands and wives for immigration purposes. This also means they do not receive the 1,138 federal rights, benefits, protections, and obligations that automatically come with marriage and serve to protect and support families.Read more...
Since the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, legal immigration to the United States has been based primarily on the family ties or the work skills of prospective immigrants. Under the provisions of current immigration law, the family-based immigration category allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or “green card” holders, to bring certain family members to the United States. There are 480,000 family-based visas available every year. Family-based immigrants are admitted to the U.S. either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system.
The contributions of family-based immigrants to the U.S. economy, local communities, and the national fabric are manifold. They account for a significant portion of domestic economic growth, contribute to the well-being of the current and future labor force, play a key role in business development and community improvement, and are among the most upwardly mobile segments of the labor force. This fact sheet provides an overview of the economic and social advantages associated with family-based immigration. In particular, it highlights the direct benefits resulting from the participation of family-based immigrants in the labor force, their contributions to the community, and the key—yet often underestimated—value of the unpaid care work provided by immigrant women.
1. Families are crucial to the social and economic incorporation of newcomers.Read more...
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and provide testimony on behalf of the American Immigration Council. The American Immigration Council is a non-profit educational foundation which for 25 years has been dedicated to increasing public understanding of immigration law and policy and the role of immigration in American society.
Today’s hearing on “Enhancing American Competitiveness through Skilled Immigration” provides an opportunity to engage in a thoughtful conversation about the role that immigration can and should play in building a 21st century America that prospers and grows. Prosperity is a shared goal that unites us all, and offers an important lens through which to evaluate the vital role immigration plays in our economy today, as well as the necessity of retooling our outdated and hopelessly broken immigration system. As we do so, however, it is critical for us to recognize that skilled immigration encompasses a wide range of individuals with very different educational and occupational backgrounds. Moreover, the talent we seek very often comes to these shores not only through employment-based channels of immigration, but through family reunification, the admission of refugees and asylees, and can even be found within the current population of unauthorized workers.Read more...
The data analyzed in IPC's latest Special Report, Economic Progress via Legalization, indicates that unauthorized immigrants who gained legal status in the 1980s through the legalization provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) experienced clear improvement in their socioeconomic situation. Between 1990 and 2006, the educational attainment of IRCA immigrants increased substantially, their poverty rates fell dramatically, and their home ownership rates improved tremendously. Moreover, their real wages rose, many of them moved into managerial positions, and the vast majority did not depend upon public assistance. The findings presented in this report support the notion that legalization of unauthorized immigrants can play a role in promoting economic growth and lessening socioeconomic disparities. Reforming our immigration system is not an obstacle to getting our economy back on track—it is part of the solution.