Donald Trump dropped his long-awaited immigration position paper this week. To no one’s surprise, it is a long list of restrictionist clichés about immigrants taking jobs, abusing welfare, and lowering wages for Americans.
Here are the five biggest inaccuracies:
Inaccuracy #1: America is experiencing “record immigration levels.”
This claim is not remotely true. As I showed in a recent Niskanen report, today’s immigration rate — new permanent residents as a percentage of the U.S. population — is half the historical average and a quarter of its record highs in the early 20th century. While the immigrant population already here is growing as a share of the population, this is not due to unprecedented immigration, but to Americans’ unprecedented low birthrates.
Inaccuracy #2: “The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries.”
Trump’s claim here is that increasing the supply of workers increases competition for jobs, which results in lower wages. Trump wants to focus on new foreign workers, but to evaluate whether there is more or less competition for jobs today, we need to look at all new workers, immigrant and native.
As I show in a recent Niskanen report, incomes rose at a much higher rate when the rate of new workers entering the labor force each year was much higher. The 33 years since 1981 saw much lower levels of labor-force growth and much lower levels of income growth than the 33 before it, due to the baby boom and the dramatic increase in female labor force participation. It just isn’t true that when the labor force grows wages fall.
This month, college students around the country will return to their campuses and begin classes. While the pressures of college — the deep debt burden, the fear of finding a job post-graduation — linger for all students, foreign students face a scarier challenge: Their visas will soon expire.
Student visas expire just 60 days after graduation, which leaves students little time to apply for jobs and get new visas. And one of the best options these students have — a rule allowing graduates in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) to work as long as 29 months on a student visa — is at risk, thanks to a recent ruling by a district judge.
It’s economically destructive to identify the world’s best and brightest students, equip them with valuable skills at American
The majority of Central American immigrants who have obtained lawful permanent residence in the United States did so through family reunification channels. (Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock)
Large-scale Central American migration to the United States, an overwhelmingly post-1980s phenomenon, has been driven mainly by economic hardship and political instability in the region. In 2013, approximately 3.2 million Central American immigrants resided in the United States—the majority from the so-called Northern Triangle formed by El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—representing 7 percent of the country’s 41.3 million immigrants.
The Central American population in the United States was very small in the 1950s and 1960s, consisting of a mix of privileged individuals and low-skilled workers. Of the total 48,900 Central American immigrants in 1960, Panama was the largest origin country, followed by Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. The Central American immigrant population began its rapid increase in the late 1970s when a series of civil wars broke out in the region. Thousands of Salvadorans and Guatemalans, many from rural areas with little formal education, fled north in response to the repression and violence of war. In contrast, those who left Nicaragua were mostly well-educated elites. The Reagan administration, as part of its regional foreign policy, actively discouraged Salvadorans and Guatemalans from applying for political asylum: their approval rates were less than 3 percent in 1984, compared to 12 percent for Nicaraguans, and far below the rates for Poles (32 percent) and Iranians (60 percent). However, many whose applications were declined remained in the United States without authorization under the protection of local religious congregations in the sanctuary movement.
Although migration rates from Central America declined with the end of the conflicts in the early 1990s, the Central American immigrant population has continued to grow. Migrant social networks previously developed to assist those seeking political refuge now facilitate economic migration, with many individuals entering the United States illegally. In the late 1990s, unauthorized Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans became eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)—provisional protection against deportation with work authorization—due to a series of natural disasters in those countries. TPS has been renewed for Honduras and Nicaragua until July 2016, and El Salvador until September 2016. In addition, many unauthorized Central Americans have legalized their status through a set of discretionary measures and legislation passed by the U.S. government, including the 1997 Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA). However, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Central America has continued to rise.
Since 2011, a growing number of unaccompanied children, largely from the Northern Triangle, have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. From the start of fiscal year (FY) 2014 through July 31, 2015, 72,968, or 74 percent, of the unaccompanied minors apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the U.S.-Mexico border were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
From 1980 to 2013, the size of the Central American immigrant population grew nine-fold from 354,000 to 3.2 million (see Figure 1). The population more than tripled in the 1980s, almost doubled in the 1990s, and continued to grow more than 56 percent between 2000 and 2013.
Figure 1. Central American Immigrant Population in the United States, 1980-2013
Sources: Data from U.S. Census Bureau 2006, 2010, and 2013 American Community Surveys (ACS), and Campbell J. Gibson and Kay Jung, "Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-born Population of the United States: 1850-2000" (Working Paper no. 81, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, February 2006), available online.
Immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and more recently, Honduras accounted for 90 percent of the total growth between 1980 and 2013, while other Central American groups showed moderate increases. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of Costa Rican and Nicaraguan immigrants actually decreased.
Click here for an interactive chart showing changes in the number of immigrants from Central America in the United States over time. Select individual Central American countries from the dropdown menu.
In 2013, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were the top three countries of origin for Central American immigrants (see Table 1). Together, they accounted for 85 percent of immigrants from Central America, followed by Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize.
Table 1. Distribution of Central American Immigrants by Country of Origin, 2013
Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) tabulation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 ACS.
The majority of Central American immigrants who have obtained lawful permanent residence in the United States (also known as receiving a “green card”) did so through family reunification channels. Compared to the overall foreign- and native-born populations, Central American immigrants on average were significantly less educated, but more likely to be employed. Although Central American countries share similar religious and linguistic backgrounds, there are great variations in socioeconomic characteristics among the different origin countries. Due to the high share of individuals from the Northern Triangle, the indicators for all Central American immigrants are biased towards immigrants from those three countries.
Of the total 4.2 million Central American immigrants worldwide, the vast majority (80 percent) resided in the United States, with the rest scattered in Central America and Europe, according to mid-2013 estimates by the United Nations Population Division. However, the international settlement pattern of each country’s immigrants is very different. For instance, between 80 percent and 90 percent of immigrants from Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras settled in the United States, compared to only 42 percent of Nicaraguan immigrants (46 percent reside in Costa Rica). Click here to view an interactive map showing where migrants from Central American countries among others have settled worldwide.
Central America includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
The U.S. Census Bureau defines the foreign born as individuals who had no U.S. citizenship at birth. The foreign-born population includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, legal nonimmigrants (including those on student, work, or other temporary visas), and persons residing in the country without authorization.
The terms foreign born and immigrant are used interchangeably and refer to those who were born in another country and later emigrated to the United States. Data collection constraints do not permit inclusion of those who gained citizenship in a Central American country via naturalization and later moved to the United States.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau (the most recent 2013 American Community Survey [ACS] and pooled 2009-13 ACS data), the Department of Homeland Security’s Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, and the World Bank's annual remittance data, this Spotlight provides information on the Central American immigrant population in the United States, focusing on its size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics.
Click on the bullet points below for more information:
I disagree that, the res jolie provision of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, birthright citizenship, is “a cornerstone of our freedom”. I oppose birthright citizenship and the abuses it brings to America’s immigration system.
The 14th Amendment, which provided for a res jolie system of citizenship, was spawned as a response to the abhorrent 1857 decision of the 1857 US Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, which held that US born children of African slaves were not US citizens, even though born on US soil. That issue need to be defined by a Constitutional Amendment and the only way to do it was to create a res jolie, rather than a res sangre citizenship law by amending the Constitution. Congress immediately acted by ratifying the 14th Amendment in 1858, which at Section 1 states:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Note that in addition to defining who is a US citizen, Section 1 of the 14th amendment’s main thrust is actually equal protection, the kind the Supreme Court denied in the Dred Scott case. Section 1 goes on to say:,
“. . . No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Of course, that language grants those rights to all who are present in America, and rightfully so. That’s what “equal protection” is all about, even though until very recently the US government has denied rights to certain classifications of individual, i.e. blacks, browns, yellows, greens, homosexuals, etc. It is
The killing of a young woman in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant has sparked a debate over the role of "sanctuary" cities. (Photo: Michelle Prevost)
The recent fatal shooting of a woman in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant dramatically revived the dormant debate on so-called sanctuary cities. The death of Kathryn Steinle sparked members of Congress, lately quiet on the immigration front, to spring into action and introduce multiple bills to sanction cities that decline to cooperate fully with federal immigration enforcement authorities. Separately, the controversy over San Francisco’s release of the unauthorized immigrant charged in the killing after he had been on track for deportation gave a rocky start to the Obama administration’s rollout of the successor to the controversial Secure Communities program, until recently the primary vehicle for federal-local relations on immigration enforcement.
The aftermath of the shooting, which propelled illegal immigration to the forefront of the 2016 presidential campaign, has also served as a reminder of the fragility of the politics of immigration—that one single event can galvanize a national public response and shift the direction and momentum of the immigration debate. In many ways, the Steinle tragedy is similar to last summer’s short-term surge of Central American unaccompanied children and families arriving at the border, which triggered a renewed debate over border security and hardened public opinion on immigration.
On July 1, 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was killed as she walked on a San Francisco pier by alleged gunman Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an unauthorized immigrant from Mexico. Lopez-Sanchez had previously been deported five times, served more than 15 years in federal prison on unlawful re-entry charges, and been convicted of four drug-related charges.
Congress wasted no time in responding to the killing. Republican lawmakers quickly introduced a flurry of bills targeting “sanctuary cities”—at least five in the Senate and eight in the House—and Ms. Steinle’s father testified before House and Senate committees. On July 23, the House passed the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act, which would prevent cities that limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from receiving certain federal law enforcement grants. In the Senate, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced Kate’s Law, a bill that would fence off additional federal grants from cities that resist cooperation with ICE and establish a mandatory minimum sentence for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported. Other GOP measures in play range from making sanctuary policies illegal, to granting state and local police more authority to enforce immigration law. California’s senators, Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, have also announced their intention to craft legislation requiring local law enforcement officials to notify ICE when an unauthorized immigrant with a felony conviction is released, if ICE requests such notification. With Congress on summer recess, these measures could become fodder for fall appropriations fights and pave the way for an immigration standoff if lawmakers attempt to link them to must-pass spending bills. The White House has already indicated it would veto such measures.
In addition to drawing strong congressional reaction, the Steinle killing has complicated the implementation of a new Obama administration initiative, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). Coincidentally also launched on July 1, PEP represents an approach to federal-local cooperation on immigration enforcement more tailored to the demands of individual jurisdictions. PEP aims to limit ICE requests for local law enforcement collaboration on high-interest immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes or are seen as a national-security
Gallup released today the latest iteration of the longest running survey of the public’s views on immigration in the United States. The poll provides a strong rebuke to voices on and off Capitol Hill agitating for lowering legal immigration on the grounds that Americans are fed up with the current system.
Since 1965, Gallup has asked Americans whether immigration should be kept at its present level, increased, or decreased. In the 1990s, support for further restriction peaked at 65 percent before falling dramatically (for the full historical trends, see here).
This year, it reached the lowest level, 34 percent, of any point since 1965.
Meanwhile, opposition to cuts — support for increasing the level or keeping it the same — hit 65 percent this year, the highest amount of support for at least the current level of immigration since the poll was taken.
Earlier this week, FINRA Rule 2040 (the “Rule”) went into effect. The Rule requires all FINRA members to disclose to investors all fees and commissions paid to foreign agents and to receive written acknowledgement by investors that they are aware of these fees. This will have an impact on EB-5 projects. As a result
Regional Center Reauthorization Extension It is highly likely Congress will pass an extension shortly before or after the regional center program expires on September 30, 2015.
How long will the extension be for? The program will most likely be extended for 3 years; however, as the deadline approaches, the possibility of an extension for only 12 months or even 6 months increases.
Which Bill S1501, HR 3370 or HR 616 will move? S1501, HR 3370,HR 616 1) Grassley-Leahy Senate Bill S1501, 2) Lofgren-Gutierrez Bill H.R.3370, and 3) Polis-Amodei Bill HR 616. The bill most likely to move will be a new one to be introduced by Rep. Daryl Issa with Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s support.
Sign comprehensive immigration reform into law to bring over 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows. We cannot continue to run an economy where millions are made so vulnerable because of their undocumented status.
Oppose tying immigration reform to the building of a border fence. Undocumented workers come to the United States to escape economic hardship and political persecution. Tying reform to unrealistic and unwise border patrol proposals renders the promise illusory for millions seeking legal status.
Sign the DREAM Act into law to offer the opportunity of permanent residency and eventual citizenship to young people who were brought to the United States as children. We must recognize the young men and women who comprise the DREAMers for who they are – American kids who deserve the right to legally be in the country they know as home.