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Just the Facts

Immigration Fact Checks provide up-to-date information on the most current issues involving immigration today.

Why Don’t They Just Get In Line?

The Real Story of Getting a “Green Card” and Coming to the United States Legally

Many Americans wonder why all immigrants do not just come to the United States legally or simply “get in line” to gain residence (a “green card”) if they are undocumented. Yet few people understand how grossly out-of-date the U.S. immigration system is and how unable it is to keep up with the demands of a growing and changing U.S. economy and to reflect the needs and values of our diverse nation. Lawmakers have failed for nearly 20 years to update our immigration laws or address the limited opportunities for securing legal immigration status. Today’s overly restrictive legal limits on green cards mean that virtually all undocumented immigrants have no avenues for legal entry to the United States

No “line” available for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants

Suggestions that immigrants who are in the United States illegally—numbering an estimated 11 million—should simply get in line miss the point: There is no line available for them and the “regular channels” do not include them. If given a choice, opinion surveys of undocumented immigrants indicate that 98 percent would prefer to live and work legally in the United States and would do so if they could. Furthermore, a recent survey of Latino immigrants found that more than nine in 10 who have not naturalized said they would if they had the possibility.Read more...

Published On: Thu, Mar 14, 2013 | Download File

The Advantages of Family-Based Immigration

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...

Published On: Thu, Mar 14, 2013 | Download File

Always in Demand: The Economic Contributions of Immigrant Scientists and Engineers

With the U.S. economy in the midst of a prolonged slump, it’s hard to believe that any industry would actually benefit from having more workers. But that is precisely the case when it comes to those industries which depend upon highly skilled scientists and engineers. The United States has long faced a dilemma in this respect: the U.S. economy is capable of absorbing more high-tech professionals than the U.S. educational system produces. That is one reason so many U.S. scientists and engineers are immigrants. 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. Even more U.S. scientists and engineers would be immigrants if not for the arbitrary limits imposed by the U.S. immigration system, particularly the inadequate supply of green cards and H-1B visas. Given that STEM professionals tend to create jobs through their innovative work, such limits are economically self-defeating.

Immigrant scientists and engineers create new jobs.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Mar 04, 2013 | Download File

A Bipartisan Bridge to Prosperity: High-Skilled Immigration Legislation in the 113th Congress

In the spirit of bipartisan immigration reform, a geographically diverse contingent from both chambers of Congress have introduced legislation to strengthen high-skilled immigration and spur economic growth by recruiting and retaining entrepreneurial talent. Research is clear that high-skilled immigrants and immigrant entrepreneurs are a source of strength for America’s economy and innovative competitiveness. Currently, the most common routes for high-skilled immigrants and immigrant entrepreneurs to come to the U.S. include: H-1B visas for “specialty occupations” (which most commonly refers to occupations requiring “the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree”), L-1 visas for “intracompany transferees,” O-1A visas for individuals with “sustained national or international acclaim” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, and E-2 visas for treaty investors, which are available to citizens of countries with treaties of commerce and navigation with the U.S. The three new pieces of legislation include the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, the StartUp Visa Act of 2013, and the Startup Act 3.0.

Immigration Innovation Act of 2013Read more...

Published On: Mon, Mar 04, 2013 | Download File

The Dividends of Citizenship: Why Legalization Must Lead to Citizenship

The most concrete proposals for immigration reform thus far in 2013 include earned legalization with a path to U.S. citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already living in the United States. This is a process that essentially permits unauthorized immigrants to come forward and receive a provisional legal status that—after paying taxes, proving they understand English and civics, passing all criminal and other background checks, and showing they are committed to the United States—allows them to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs). From there, like other LPRs before them, they will have to decide whether or not to make the final commitment to their adopted country by becoming American citizens. Some critics of the new proposals argue that citizenship is too good for unauthorized immigrants, or that legal status is really all they need to thrive in this country. But that kind of short-sighted thinking ignores some very important facts: more than half a century ago the U.S. finally abandoned the idea that there should be a second-class status for any group by denying them citizenship and, in fact, today the vast majority of Americans support a path to citizenship.

The integration of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants now living in the United States into full citizenship is not only good for those individuals, but the country as a whole. Citizenship, and the quest for citizenship, facilitates integration in myriad ways that legal status alone does not. From the learning of English and U.S. civics to the earning of higher incomes, serving jury duty, and voting in elections, citizens and would-be citizens benefit from a deeper form of incorporation into U.S. society than do legal immigrants who have no hope of ever applying for naturalization.Read more...

Published On: Thu, Feb 07, 2013 | Download File

The U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (1990-1997): “Jordan Commission”

As the Congress begins a serious discussion on immigration reform, it would be a mistake to ignore the lessons of the past.  In that vein, many members of Congress are invoking the The U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, informally known as the Jordan Commission, for its chair, Barbara Jordan, a former Democratic Congresswoman from Texas.  Issued in 1990’s, the Commission’s recommendations reflect the thinking of the time, but do not necessarily provide guidance for resolving today’s immigration crisis.  This fact sheet provides a brief overview on the Commission and the necessity of tempering its recommendations with the knowledge we have gained in the past quarter of a century since its recommendations were released.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Feb 05, 2013 | Download File

Legalize Who?: A Portrait of the 11 Million Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States

As the immigration debate heats up in Congress, the central question will be what to do about the 11 million unauthorized immigrants now living and working in the United States. The media often portrays this population as barely literate young men who pour over the southern border and live solitary lives, rather than providing a nuanced understanding of who the 11 million really are: adults and children, mothers and fathers, homeowners and churchgoers who are invested in their communities. This fact sheet attempts to provide a basic understanding of who the unauthorized are as people: where they live, where they’re from, how long they have been here, and what family and community ties to the United States they have.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources provide this very necessary social context to the immigration debate. And what the data reveal are that most of the unauthorized have been here for over a decade. While they are concentrated in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, there are sizeable unauthorized populations in other states across the country. Three-fifths of unauthorized immigrants come from Mexico, but significant numbers also come from Central America and the Philippines. Nearly half of all adult unauthorized immigrants have children under the age of 18, and roughly 4.5 million native-born U.S.-citizen children have at least one unauthorized immigrant parent. More than half of unauthorized immigrant adults have a high-school diploma or more education. Nearly half of longtime unauthorized households are homeowners. And approximately two-fifths of unauthorized immigrant adults attend religious services every week. In other words, most unauthorized immigrants are already integrating into U.S. society not only through their jobs, but through their families and communities as well.Read more...

Published On: Thu, Jan 31, 2013 | Download File

Strength in Diversity: The Economic and Political Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians

US ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the United States (Updated May 2014)

Download the 2013 Infographic (2010 Version)

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Published On: Sat, Jan 19, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Keystone State (Updated Updated May 2014)

Download the 2013 Infographic (2010 Version)

Download the Fact Sheet (Updated 2014)

Download the Previous Fact Sheet (From 2010)

View the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fact Sheet for Pennsylvania

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in Indiana

Indiana ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Hoosier State (Updated May 2014)

Download the 2013 Infographic (2010 Version)

Download the Fact Sheet (Updated 2014)

Download the Previous Fact Sheet (From 2010)

View the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fact Sheet for Indiana

Read more...

Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File