Recently in Immigration Policy and Issues Category

To read about what transpired between White House officials and interest group representatives at a recent meeting on the topic of comprehensive immigration reform, please visit www.portnerandshure.com.

A new report has found that providing undocumented aliens with a path to legal status is far more beneficial to the economy than a policy focused on heightened enforcement alone.  The findings of the report, set forth by the Cato Institute, are even more noteworthy when considering that the Institute has a well-known ideological lean to the right. 

The prevailing misconception set forth publicly by many talking heads is that providing undocumented aliens with a path to legal status would threaten the jobs of many low-skilled American laborers.  This study debunks that theory, instead asserting that the legalization of the undocumented currently in the U.S. would actually benefit the low-skilled American workforce.  "With increases in low-skilled immigration, the U.S. economy would expand, creating more jobs in higher-skilled areas.  Over time, some U.S. workers now in low-paying jobs would move up the occupational ladder." 

An added benefit of legalization would be an increase in the welfare of the American household.  The Cato Institute report concludes that "allowing low-skilled workers to enter the country legally would boost the welfare of U.S. households by 0.57 percent of the GNP."

Conversely, an increase in border enforcement would not have the presumed effect of creating more low-wage job opportunities for Americans.  Instead, the effect of heightened enforcement would result in making the undocumented aliens remaining in the U.S. a more valuable commodity.  "A principal effect is that it [enforcement] raises the wages of the illegal immigrants who remain in the United States, in effect transferring income from legal residents of the United States to illegal immigrants."

Similarly, the effect of increased enforcement on the American household would be a negative one.  "A policy that reduces the number of low-skilled immigrant workers by 28.6 percent compared to projected levels would reduce U.S. household welfare by 0.5 percent, or $80 billion."

What I find interesting about the Cato Institute's report is that it's release coincides with the Obama administration's recent shift toward increased enforcement over reform.  It seems that an immigration reform program that could substantially increase tax revenue by allowing the estimated 8.3 million undocumented workers a path to legal status would be attractive to the current administration.  Unfortunately, the policy decisions made by the administration thus far have done nothing but continue to enforce the broken immigration laws that have created this issue in the first place.  Hopefully, reports like the one released by the Cato Institute will continue to dispel the notions that immigration reform will harm the economy, and pave the way to reform of the immigration system. 

For answers to your immigration questions, please visit our website at www.portnerandshure.com.  

For information on recent changes in immigration policy by the Obama administration, please visit our website at www.portnerandshure.com.

For information on the new rule implemented by the Department of Homeland Security providing interim relief for widows of U.S. citizens married for less than two (2) years, please visit our website at www.portnerandshure.com

Immigration and Unemployment Rates continued

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Apparently, I wasn't the only one who took note of the recent study conducted by the Immigration Policy Center on the effect of immigration on unemployment rates.  I came across an article today in the Des Moines Register that had a similar take on the study as I did a few days earlier. 

The Des Moines Register's review of the IPC study makes one key point that is worthy of discussion.  When discussing the impact of this study on potential immigration reform, the article stated that any discussion on reform should be based on facts and not fears.  It seems to me that many who are focal on the political front regarding immigration reform are inclined to purvey a theme of fear of the unknown.  The simple, black and white view of immigration reform that is commonly disbursed is that foreigners come to the U.S. and take jobs and money out of the pockets of American citizens.  Reality, however, indicates that the answers on domestic unemployment and on the impact of immigration on the U.S. are much more complex in nature.  More than anything else, it is my hope that any action taken to reform the immigration system be based on fact and reality rather than by blanket assumptions that are widely unsubstantiated. 

For information on specific immigration law issues and on how to obtain immigration benefits, please consult our website.

Immigration and Unemployment Rates

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There is a common misconception in American society today that immigrants are stealing jobs from U.S. born workers.  These negative sentiments toward immigrants have only been heightened recently as the country has experienced an economic downturn and the steady rise of unemployment rates.  However, a new study has been published that examines the relationship between unemployment rates and immigration, and concludes that the two are virtually unrelated. 

The study examines several factors before making its findings.  The primary method used by the study is determining what the immigration levels are in areas of high unemployment, and what the unemployment rates are in areas with high levels of immigration.  Many would suspect that areas with high unemployment rates would be flooded with immigrants.  However, the study revealed that unemployment rates were virtually the same when comparing areas with high amounts of immigration to areas with low amounts of immigration.  Similarly, the study showed that areas that were experiencing high unemployment rates, namely rural and industrial urban communities, had low levels of immigrants within their population. 

I believe that a study like the one described above is very important.  Vocal opponents of immigration reform often cite a general fear that immigrants will come to the U.S. and steal jobs from American citizens.  However, the individuals making this argument often have little in the way of evidence to support claims that immigrants are putting American citizens out of work.  I am not surprised that when a study was actually conducted, the results revealed little to no connection between immigration and unemployment. 

For more information, I recommend reading the study that I provided a link to above.  For general immigration information, please visit our website

T. Don Hutto: A Detention Center for Families

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I recently watched a fascinating documentary on the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center, titled "The Least of These."  For those that are unfamiliar with Hutto, Hutto was a detention center that housed undocumented families, including children.  Obviously, what was so unusual about Hutto and what drew public attention was the fact that children were essentially being treated as prisoners by our government.  The reason given by the Department of Homeland Security for the creation of Hutto was that (a) security issues had made it necessary to monitor illegal entrants to ensure that they appeared for immigration proceedings, and that (b) a family detention center could accomplish this goal and keep families together simultaneously.  I found the line of reasoning by DHS suspect because their rallying cry of "keeping families together" largely ignored the bigger human rights issue, which was the imprisonment of children in the first place.

I had two major issues with the Hutto facility depicted in this documentary.  First, while I agree that the monitoring of undocumented individuals awaiting proceedings is a legitimate concern, a detention facility for families was a monumental overreaction to this problem.  For years, there have been communities ran by non-profit organizations that housed the undocumented while they awaited proceedings, and allowed the government to monitor their whereabouts.  Devices similar to house arrest ankle bracelets had also been utilized to monitor illegal entrants, and were much more humane and cost-efficient than a family detention center. 

The second major issue I had with the Hutto facility was that asylum seekers were also being detained.  Though asylum seekers are undocumented, they are still people with a viable claim to legal status in the U.S.  To be imprisoned while awaiting a hearing essentially purveys the attitude that people seeking asylum are guilty until proven innocent.  What is more troublesome is the fact that, in theory, people seeking asylum are fleeing to the U.S. to escape abuse and torture in their home countries.  In the case of the families that were held in the Hutto facility, our country's response to their issues was to imprison them and their children.

I believe that this documentary provides insight into how illogical and unreasonable the policies of the U.S. toward immigrants have been, and further highlights the need for reform of our immigration laws. 

 

New Japanese Immigration Policy

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Very interesting article in the New York Times the other day about a new Japanese immigration program.  In response to growing unemployment rates and a shortage of unskilled labor positions, the Japanese government is attempting to encourage guest workers to leave their country in exchange for a lump sum of money.  The program specifically targets Latin Americans of Japanese descent, who since 1990 have been permitted to obtain a special work visa allowing them to work blue-collar jobs in Japan.  Now, the Japanese government is offering these individuals a few thousand dollars in exchange for a promise that they won't return to Japan. 

My reaction to a program like this is that the ultimate result of this policy will be to isolate Japanese culture and society from the rest of the world.  Japan is already widely known for unusually strict immigration laws, and a policy like this one will only enhance that reputation.  I personally believe that a major strength of American society as a whole is that it embraces multiculturalism.  The Japanese government, apparently, feels that multiculturalism is something that should be avoided at all costs.  That point is made clear by the comments of a senior Japanese legislator, who stated "I do not think that Japan should ever become a multiethnic society."  While the U.S. immigration system is certainly filled with many flawed policies, it is still at least a system that has allowed people of all ethnicities to seek opportunities within our borders. 

New legislation was passed in Maryland this Monday regarding the issuance of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.  Starting on June 1, 2009, all applicants for new driver's licenses in the state of Maryland will be required to present proof of legal status in the U.S.  Illegal immigrants who already possess Maryland driver's licenses will be permitted to renew their licenses until July 1, 2015.  The licenses that this group of illegal immigrants will receive will permit driving privileges in the state of Maryland, but will not be allowed to be used as identification when boarding an airplane. 

I think that the actions of the legislature regarding illegal immigrants and driver's licenses are regrettable.  It is a plain and obvious fact that preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses will in no way deter illegals from operating automobiles.  Illegall immigrants, just like all Americans, require the use of automobiles to commute to their jobs, buy food and supplies for their families, and undertake other necessary activities.  Ultimately, the effect of this legislation will result in hundreds of thousands of unlicensed drivers flooding our roadways.  The presence of unlicensed drivers on the roads poses a serious safety risk, as these individuals will not have passed the written and road tests that are required to obtain a Maryland driver's license.  It is statistically documented that unlicensed drivers cause accidents and injuries at a higher rate than those who are licensed.

To be fair, the legislature was essentially forced to restrict the driving privileges of illegal immigrants by the federal government.  Had no action been taken regarding this issue, there was a significant possibility that Maryland licenses would have been rejected at airports across the country. 

For information on general immigration issues and topics, including green cards and naturalization, visit www.portnerandshure.com.

Illegal Immigrants with U.S. Citizen Children

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I came across an interesting report a few days ago in USA Today.  The report stated that nearly 75% of children who were born to illegal immigrants were born in the U.S., making those children U.S. citizens.   

I believe a study like this one highlights one of the major reasons that immigration reform is so badly needed in the U.S.  As the law stands right now, parents who have entered the country illegally, even where their children are U.S. citizens, have no path to gaining legal status.  The result of enforcement of current immigration laws is to separate U.S. citizen children from their birth parents, often at very young ages.  I believe that a system that mandates breaking apart a family unit as frequently as our system currently does is a system that requires fixing. 

While I believe that measures must be taken that will allow illegal immigrants to legally keep their families intact, I disagree with granting illegals full amnesty.  Instead, I think the best plan that I have heard would provide illegal immigrants a path toward gaining legal status in the U.S. through payment of fines, a lengthy application process and a requirement that the illegal immigrants learn English.  This plan would give illegals the opportunity to right their wrongs without flatly absolving them of punishment for entering the country illegally in the first place.  Most importantly, this change would end the current government practice of separating the family unit.  I believe that any reform plans for the current immigration system must make maintenance of the family unit a top priority.   

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Immigration Policy and Issues category.

Immigration News is the previous category.

Permanent Residence/Green Cards is the next category.

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