Category: Immigration Policy Center


The Benefits of Obama’s Executive Action

December 5th, 2014 — 5:43pm

What’s the Plan?

On November 20th, 2014, President Obama finally announced his plans for executive action on immigration reform. While it’s only a temporary solution to a long-term problem, it will help almost half of all undocumented immigrants gain official status — nearly five million people.

President Obama’s plan extends the temporary relief from deportation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. In order to temporarily stay in the U.S. for 3 years, qualified individuals will have pass a background test and pay any back taxes. The plan also moves the window to include even more DREAMERs.

Who Benefits

The most obvious benefit will be improved quality of life for many undocumented immigrants. Moving from the shadows and into a fully recognized status can mean more opportunities, more work, and greater stability for their families. Also, many currently working in the gray economy will see an increase in wages.

That will also result in increased tax revenue for the U.S. Previously, only a third of undocumented workers and the people that employed them paid payroll taxes. Now, with official status, we can expect to see an increase in the gross domestic product up to .9% (nearly $210 billion over 10 years). The first year alone will net the federal government $3 billion.

But what about the “increased competition” for low-wage work? Many experts believe that the plan will lead to an increased average wage of about .3%. While not much, it’s certainly not the fall in wages that most opponents of immigration reform expect. And now that nearly one half of undocumented immigrants will compete on an even playing field with citizens, there won’t be such a large potential source of below-minimum-wage labor. Many companies have been asking for reform like this for quite a while.

Who Doesn’t Benefit

President Obama’s plan leaves some immigrants undocumented and negatively impacts at least one industry.

First, undocumented immigrants who arrived within the last five years don’t qualify. This means that over 10,000 Central Americans who have fled the violence in their countries since 2010 will remain undocumented for the time being.

Second, the private prison industry will lose out on the massive amounts of detainees awaiting deportation. While it’s unfortunate that an industry will take a hit as a result of the president’s actions, fewer detainees is generally a good thing.

Why It’s Good For Us

The President’s plan is certainly the temporary help that many both citizens and undocumented immigrants need — it’s just not the overarching reform that the U.S. desperately needs. While critics have found way to admonish the President, ImmigrationPolicy.org notes that every president since Eisenhower has executed similar executive actions for certain groups on immigrants. With nearly 39 examples, executive action for immigrants is essentially a Presidential precedent at this point.

Hopefully this plan will push Congress to finally bring meaningful reform when they see how much it helps immigrants, citizens and businesses all over the U.S.

 

Comment » | Immigration Policy Center, Immigration reform

Unaccompanied Minors from Central America: What is Happening on the Ground and Why This is Not a Border Security Crisis But a Crisis Demanding Humanitarian Relief

August 26th, 2014 — 2:39pm

For much of the summer, the immigration news has been dominated by the recent surge of some 60,000 unaccompanied minors and young children with their mothers fleeing the violence and lawlessness in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The Central American humanitarian crisis has resulted in a national debate about how to treat this vulnerable population: send them back to their home countries or grant them humanitarian relief in the United States.  Below is a very brief overview of what the federal government’s response has been thus far, a depiction of conditions on the ground, and a historical perspective on the numbers.

Shortly after the crisis emerged, the Obama Administration marshaled the resources of the numerous federal agencies involved in the apprehension, processing, housing, and repatriation of unaccompanied minor children, and sought emergency funding from Congress. Unfortunately, the Senate and the House of Representatives could not agree before their August 4 recess, and will have to resume negotiations and deliberations when Congress returns after Labor Day. In the meantime, the immigration courts have been instructed to expedite the hearings these immigrants are afforded to determine if their fears are credible, if they are eligible for asylum status, or if they should be deported.

While many of the children have been reunited with other family members who already live in the United States or have been released to sponsors, many others are being detained in detention centers awaiting hearings. One such center is the federal detention center at Artesia, a tiny town in Southeastern New Mexico. Artesia has been thrown into the national spotlight because the federal training center located there was turned into a make-shift detention center for women and children fleeing violence in Central America.

In the wake of the crisis, the immigration bar mounted a massive pro bono effort to ensure that detainees are afforded due process. Teams of experienced immigration lawyers, many of whom are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, are volunteering their time and experience to help these mothers and children. The following dispatches from lawyers who have spent a week at Artesia sheds some light on the conditions in these detention centers:

“I spent last week at the Artesia ‘family detention’ center, a 4-hour drive from both Albuquerque and El Paso. We had a group of roughly ten volunteers (attorneys, translators, and administrative staff) trying to stop the rapid deportations and see that the women and their children get some modicum of due process. This was the first week there has been a full time volunteer attorney presence on site during the month it has been open. 

“The first impression you get . . . is that all the children are sick, with coughs at minimum. They are dehydrated and listless. They are cold — there were two mornings where the temperature was around 60, and there were no jackets or blankets, so mothers and kids walked around with towels wrapped around their shoulders for warmth. Nearly all of them have valid claims for asylum — the majority based on domestic violence or gang issues. An unfortunate number were already deported without the opportunity to even consult with an attorney. Some mothers are giving up and asking to be deported because their kids are so sick.” [Editor’s Note:  Individuals are giving up even though the conditions in their home countries are dire.  For example, five recent Honduran deportees were murdered by gangs upon their arrival in Honduras. NPR, 8/21/2014.]

One pro bono lawyer from Oregon describes her experience in Artesia in this way:

“The lack of justice, due process, and the gross infringement on basic human rights at Artesia is truly staggering. . . . We need to send our members here to see and experience what is happening firsthand, so that they can shed light on this very dark place. . . . These are the most vulnerable people in the world, and our government is using them to send the message that America’s southern border is closed. As advocates, we can’t sit by and allow this voice of hate to be the loudest.”

A third volunteer lawyer reports:

“Women and children detained at length, being refused a chance for a fair hearing and access to counsel, and ultimately being sent back to the danger from which they fled. That’s what we’re seeing at Artesia . . . .

It shouldn’t be like this. But this is what we’ve come to. We need to help these families, to offer them due process and humane conditions, and ultimately address the root cause of this crisis: the conditions in Central America and the smugglers and traffickers who are making money off the misery of others.”

 

The New York Times highlighted a recent lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Council and other groups challenging the governments policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.

The August 26, 2014 editorial stated:

“But the treatment of hundreds of these migrants in a makeshift detention center in Artesia, N.M., is appalling evidence that this promise was empty, according a lawsuit filed Friday in Federal District Court by a coalition of civil-rights organizations.

The immigrant detention center was supposed to be a safe haven for mothers and young children as their cases go through court. Though the detainees, as unauthorized immigrants, have no legal right to lawyers, advocates and immigration lawyers have made strenuous efforts to provide representation. The migrants have fled countries racked by gang and drug violence, and many have credible claims to asylum.”

 

 

Comment » | Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Policy Center, Immigration reform

Immigrants bring innovation and revenue, too

August 16th, 2014 — 6:26pm

America, the land of opportunity. Immigrants come because they see a chance to succeed. But, more often than not, US policy restricts their ability to excel.

In the 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) sought to rectify that by granting many undocumented immigrants legal status. Years later, we can see how much that helped. In 1990, soon after IRCA became a law, only 30% of 16-24 year old IRCA immigrants had high school diplomas. By 2006, that number increased to 58%. Giving legal status nearly doubled the number of educated immigrants, and, in turn, helped them live a better life.

But today, the focus is on money and innovation – especially within H-1B visa program. Each year, 65,000 well-educated foreign professionals are granted H-1B visas so that they can work, innovate and work together with Americans. Many of these professionals go on to contribute to patents, new inventions and much more.

In three states where immigration is a major issue, Arizona, California and Illinois, the average yearly wage of H-1B visa holders is well over $10,000 more than the median household income. But since we cap H-1B visas at 65,000, we’re limiting the success of the program drastically. Every year, the cap is reached within a matter of days, because the program is seen as a path to success in the US. In 2012, it took 71 days to reach the cap. In 2013, it only took 4 days to fill every spot. Well-educated people are very interested in coming to work in the United States, but arbitrary quotas are holding them back.

The lesson here might not be that obvious, but it doesn’t take much to see where American immigration laws need reform.  IRCA allowed more immigrants legal status and over the course of 26 years, similar groups of legal immigrants saw great success and prosperity as a result. And the very successful H-1B visa program has only brought more money, innovation and jobs to the US.

A quick look at the numbers shows how important immigrants are to economic development. In Arizona and Illinois, 1 in 5 business owners are foreign born. And in California, 1 in 3 businesses are owned by immigrants. In each of these states, immigrant-owned businesses account for well over 15% of the state’s net income.

So does limiting innovation and job creators make much sense? Even simple legal status makes the lives of immigrants better – and the lives of US citizens better, as well.

 

Comment » | Immigration Policy Center

Immigrants: An Asset to Our Country

July 12th, 2013 — 3:31pm

While there is much debate about how to best deal with America’s immigration issue, a few of the financial questions surrounding the topic have seemingly been answered. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the current Senate immigration bill would reduce the federal budget deficits by $175 billion over the next 10 years and by $700 billion over the following decade.

This news effectively voids the idea that the government will pay too much to provide services for immigrants. The bill, which would increase federal spending by about $262 billion between 2014 and 2023, would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, ease the path for more guest workers and ramp up immigration law enforcement. But the government’s increase in spending would be offset by a sharp increase in revenue. The bill would raise $459 billion in new revenue over a decade as the labor force expands, and the government collects more in income and payroll taxes, the CBO projected.

Despite the hyperbole of some, projections like these from the CBO reinforce the idea that a diverse America is a strong America. In order for the nation to fully return from the brink and continue to recover, we must embrace this new wave of immigrants. As they help to lead in innovation, research and development in a number of critical industries, immigrants will, inevitably, help restore our country.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

 

Comment » | Immigration Policy Center

Immigrant Entrepreneurship Stalled for First Time in Decades

October 19th, 2012 — 5:41pm

For almost two decades, immigrant-founded start-up companies — especially high-tech firms in Silicon Valley — have represented slightly more than a quarter of all such entrepreneurships in the United States and have been an important source of economic growth in our country.  However,  a new study from the Kauffman Foundation reports that immigrant-founded companies nationwide have slipped for the first time in decades, and its authors believe that the United States’ unwelcoming immigration system has created a “reverse brain drain.”

The report, The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent, evaluated the rate of immigrant entrepreneurship from 2006 to 2012 and updated findings from the period between 1995 and 2005. Immigrant founders, who are most likely to start companies in the innovation/manufacturing-related services (45 percent) and software (22 percent) industries, employed about 560,000 workers and generated an estimated $63 billion in sales from 2006 to 2012, underscoring the continuing importance of high-skilled immigrants to U.S. The report provides detailed statistical data on immigrant start-ups by region, nationality, and sector.

While the downward trend is still slight nationwide, the report confirms that the U.S. must embrace immigrant entrepreneurs to maintain a dynamic economy:

“The U.S. risks losing a key growth engine just when the economy needs job creators more than ever.” Yet, “[t]he U.S. can reverse these trends with changes in policies and opportunities, if it acts swiftly. It is imperative that we create a startup visa for these entrepreneurs and expand the number of green cards for skilled foreigners to work in these startups. Many immigrants would gladly remain in the United States to start and grow companies that will lead to jobs.”

We couldn’t agree more.

 

Comment » | Immigration Policy Center, Immigration reform

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