Can immigration reform transform the housing market?

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

As Congress restarts conversations about the federal budget and deficit reduction, the immigration reform debate is still front and center for many. As that debate unfolds, it is important to put some hard facts on the table.  What are the costs and benefits of reform?  What impact will reform have on economic growth and wages?  How will immigration reform affect the federal budget?

A new study by the Bipartisan Policy Center Immigration Task Force found the evidence suggests that immigration reform can produce significant economic dividends for our country.

 

Unlike other efforts, this study was not a political exercise seeking to justify a pre-determined outcome.  Instead, it was a serious, scholarly attempt to understand the true economic implications of immigration reform.

The first step in any modeling exercise is to develop a “reference case” against which alternative scenarios, or “sensitivity analyses,” can be compared. This assessment chose to utilize the Senate-passed immigration bill as the “reference case,” not because we endorse it, but because it is the most recent reform package to have moved through either chamber of Congress, not because the study or its authors support the Senate bill.

Under the reference case, the study concludes that, over the next 20 years, immigration reform would cause the U.S. economy to grow an additional 4.8 percent, expand the labor force by 8.3 million people, contribute to higher average overall wages, and reduce the federal budget deficit by nearly $1.2 trillion.

Notably, the study shows that immigration reform would jump-start the housing market by increasing spending on residential construction by an average of $68 billion annually over the 20-year period. To put this $68 billion figure in perspective, as of August 2013, the annual rate of spending on residential construction was $340 billion.  So immigration reform would provide a substantial and immediate boost to investment in new single-family and multifamily homes..

During the past four decades, the contribution of housing to national GDP through both residential fixed investment and consumption of housing-related services has averaged between 17 and 19 percent.  Today, housing’s contribution stands at just 15.6 percent, largely because of a significant decline in home construction and remodeling.  This decline is a major reason why the recession and its damaging effects have lingered for so long.  Immigration reform can play a significant role in helping to restore the housing sector to its traditional position as an engine of economic growth.

A major finding of the study is that immigration reform would inject vitality into the nation’s workforce.  While enactment of reform would add an estimated 13.7 million people to the U.S. population over the next twenty years, only six percent of these individuals would be aged 65 or older.  Most would be very young compared to the rest of the U.S. population.

The addition of millions of new, younger workers would increase the ratio of workers to retirees and help our country respond to the fiscal challenges associated with an aging population.  It would also spur demand for new housing as these workers form their own households and start families.

To verify these positive results, the study also examines five alternative reform scenarios.  The first four scenarios change key assumptions in the reference case – for example, by making adjustments in the expected level of future unauthorized immigration and the utilization of family-based and employment-based green cards once immigration reform was enacted.  The fifth scenario takes the most restrictive approach by assuming that all current unauthorized immigrants would be deported and there would be no future unauthorized immigration into the United States in a post-reform setting.

Under the first four scenarios, immigration reform has a positive impact on the overall economy, including the housing market.  The fifth scenario, reflecting the most restrictive approach, would have devastating effects by, among other things, significantly reducing GDP growth and dramatically reducing residential construction spending.

The bottom line is that immigration reform can be a powerful instrument of economic revitalization.  It can inject new, much-needed demand into a housing market that has been slow to recover.  To get our economy back on track, it’s time for Congress to make passing immigration reform an immediate priority.

Brady is the president of Brady Homes and a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force and Housing Commission.  Cisneros was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. Martinez served in the Senate from 2005 to 2009, and was HUD secretary under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. Cisneros and Martinez co-chair BPC’s Immigration Task Force and Housing Commission.


Boehner hire signals new hope for migrant reform

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

House Speaker John Boehner’s hiring of a former top aide to Sen. John McCain to advise him on immigration issues has renewed hopes that House Republican leaders are planning to move forward on reform legislation next year.

Boehner’s hiring of Rebecca Tallent as assistant to the speaker for policy handling immigration issues comes amid intensifying pro-reform activism on Capitol Hill as time runs out on the 2013 legislative calendar.

STORY: New activists continue fast for immigration reform

STORY: Advocates redouble efforts on immigration reform

Tallent, most recently director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., worked for McCain, R-Ariz., for years, including a stint as his chief of staff. Before that, she was an aide to then-Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., who, like McCain, was a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform.

“I’ll be focusing on trying to get this sticky immigration situation worked out,” Tallent wrote in an e-mail announcing her final day at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Reform supporters and opponents alike say the move by Boehner, R-Ohio, is the clearest signal yet House GOP leaders are sincere when they say they want to act on a series of immigration-reform bills.

“This is a sign that Speaker Boehner is very serious about doing something on immigration,” said John J. “Jack” Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California and an expert on how Congress works. “The big question is: What does that something consist of?”

McCain was a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that wrote the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate in June. In her role at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Tallent voiced support for McCain’s approach to reform, but also reflected a sophisticated understanding of the internal House GOP dynamics at play.

Boehner has said the House won’t take up the Senate’s sweeping package, which balanced a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11million undocumented immigrants who have settled in the country with a massive investment in border security and new visa programs for future foreign workers.

Boehner and other top House Republicans have expressed a preference to break up the immigration issue and address the various aspects, such as potential legalization for the young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers,” one at a time rather than in one far-reaching piece of legislation.

The speaker has said individual bills must win support of a majority of House Republicans. That poses a challenge because a faction of House Republicans view attempts to legalize the status of undocumented immigrants as “amnesty” for lawbreakers.

Keeping conversation alive

Activists attempting to build support for immigration reform with their “Fast for Families” continued to pick up steam Tuesday.

Eight new fasters, including Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, relieved the group of four activists who for 22 days had been fasting on the National Mall to call attention to the moral implications of inaction on immigration reform. The original group, which included Cristian Avila of Arizona, previously attracted visits from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

“This fast has literally kept the conversation about immigration reform alive,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and one of the new fasters. “Across the street is one kind of power (in the U.S. Capitol). In this tent is another.”

Another group of 40 activists from Arizona also was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, praying outside Boehner’s home, holding a vigil outside his office and singing Christmas carols.

“The speaker remains hopeful that we can enact step-by-step, common-sense immigration reforms — the kind of reforms the American people understand and support,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Tuesday in a statement e-mailed toThe Arizona Republic. “Becky Tallent, a well-known expert in this field of public policy, is a great addition to our team and that effort.”

‘A slap in the face’

Boehner’s hiring of Tallent, an Arizona native, drew praise from reform supporters but also put “amnesty” opponents on alert because of her long association with McCain and her record of supporting immigration reform. Many reform foes had been quietly confident that House action on immigration was unlikely in 2014, a year expected to be dominated by congressional midterm-election politics.

As a former McCain and Kolbe staff member, Tallent brings “strong Republican credentials” but also can work with all sides on the complex immigration issue, said Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist who served as national Hispanic co-chair for McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and who knows Tallent well.

“Becky has an exemplary reputation: She is smart, she is hardworking, she is effective, and she is a serious person who seeks pragmatic solutions,” Navarro said. “It tells me that Boehner genuinely wants to get something done. … It’s a very smart move by Boehner.”

One reform critic called the Tallent hire “a slap in the face” to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and an indication that Boehner is planning “an end run around the Judiciary Committee,” which has oversight over immigration issues.

“It confirms what we always knew: that the Republican leadership in the House is pro-amnesty, but they just don’t know how to get it past their members,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the anti-reform Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C. “I assume the point is for her to try to cook up a way to get a majority of the Republican caucus to vote for something.”

But Pitney said that it is common for a House speaker to devote a staff member to a big policy topic, and Steel confirmed that Tallent is filling an existing position.

“On the vast majority of issues, speakers defer to the committee system, but they do take certain issues to heart and put a leadership stamp on some positions,” Pitney said.

If Tallent’s role is to help the House GOP find consensus on immigration issues, it is appropriate that she work out of the speaker’s office, he added.

“If you are concerned about building a majority within the entire conference, you don’t do that simply within a committee,” Pitney said. “That’s really the role of leadership. This is a sign that Boehner is hoping he can get something to the floor.”

A window for action

Other observers called Boehner’s decision to add Tallent to his staff, even at this late date, a positive sign for immigration reform’s prospects. Some believe there remains a window for action in early to mid-2014, before Capitol Hill is paralyzed by election-year partisanship.

“It’s a signal that despite the fact that Speaker Boehner really hasn’t been able to move his caucus forward all year, that he’s not giving up,” said Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science and Latino/Chicano studies at the University of California-Irvine.

Pro-reform activists are not giving up, either, at trying to persuade Boehner and other House Republicans to act.

Maria Castro, a 20-year-old Phoenix resident whose mother is in the United States without authorization, was part of a group of five Arizonans who recited the rosary on the sidewalk outside Boehner’s home on Tuesday morning. She said Boehner came out and waved. Later, the activists caught up to Boehner but were unable to engage him in a serious conversation, she said.

“We told him, ‘We’ve been praying for you,'” Castro said. “And he said, ‘Oh, I know.’ That was the only response we got out of him.”

Contributing: Gannett Washington Bureau reporter Erin Kelly


Immigration reform Fasters begin “National Days to Act, Fast and Pray”

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

By: Maria Camila Bernal

After more than three weeks of fasting, immigration activists in Washington D.C. will be joined by many around the nation as they begin the “National Days to Act, Fast and Pray,” three days of no food in hopes that Congress brings an immigration reform bill to a vote.

Three people, Eliseo Medina of Service Employees International Union; Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota and Dae Joong Yoon of National Korean American & Education Association, have been fasting near the U.S. Capitol and vowed to fast until they can no longer sustain.

A fourth faster, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, committed to a 40-day fast.

But beginning Sunday, activists hope the fasting goes beyond Washington D.C. in order to “create a moral force that will convince Congress that the time to act is now,” Medina, a veteran of the farmworker rights protests of the 1960s, said.

The group’s goal is to get the attention of House Speaker John Boehner and urge him to call a vote on immigration reform by year’s end.

Ben Monterroso, Mi Familia Vota’s Executive Director, said his organization will have various solidarity events and actions throughout the country on Dec. 1-3. Events have been organized in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Texas.

“We will not stop our efforts until this moral crisis that breaks apart families finally ends and our country has an immigration system that works for citizens, aspiring Americans and their families,” Monterroso said.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited the group fasting in Washington D.C. Friday, reiterating that there is still time this year for the House to pass legislation, The Associated Press reported.

Previous visitors have included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and feminist Gloria Steinem.

Sunday marks the 20th day of fasting for the group in the National Mall.

“Understanding the struggle that my family and other families in my community face, I have the moral responsibility to do everything in my hands to make a change. If that means my body, my body it is. Anything less would mean I have failed my community, and that is a luxury I don’t have,” said Avila, Mi Familia Vota’s Arizona Coordinator.


Judges Must Warn About Deportation, New York Appeals Court Rules

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New York judges must warn immigrant defendants that they face deportation if they plead guilty to a felony, the state’s highest court ruled on Tuesday.

In a 5-to-2 decision, the Court of Appeals overturned its 1995 ruling that deportation is a “collateral consequence” of a guilty plea, and so judges need not warn foreign defendants it might happen.

Writing for the majority, Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam said that times had changed since the mid-1990s, when about 37,000 noncitizens were deported after criminal convictions.

That number stood at 188,000 in 2011, Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote, and, with stricter enforcement of immigration laws, deportation has become “an automatic consequence of a guilty plea for most noncitizen defendants.” She said defendants who took plea bargains often found themselves stripped of their jobs, cut off from their family in the United States and returned to a country they hardly remembered.

The majority concluded “that deportation constitutes such a substantial and unique consequence of a plea that it must be mentioned by the trial court to defendant as a matter of fundamental fairness,” Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote.

More than 20 states already require judges to issue such warnings, and in the 1990s the New York State Legislature put a similar requirement in the criminal procedure law. But failing to give the warning carried no consequence, and judges sometimes skip it, defense lawyers said.

“Courts should be doing this already but in practice they are not,” said Rosemary Herbert, a lawyer for Richard Diaz, one of the three defendants in the case. “This decision is putting some teeth in that requirement.”

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Judges Victoria Graffeo, Susan P. Read and Jenny Rivera joined Judge Abdus-Salaam in the majority. Judges Robert S. Smith and Eugene F. Pigott Jr. dissented.

In 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Padilla v. Kentucky that defense lawyers have a duty to tell clients they face deportation before they offer a guilty plea.

The Court of Appeals decision this week came in response to three criminal cases in which judges failed to tell defendants about their likely deportation.

Mr. Diaz, a legal United States resident from the Dominican Republic, was arrested in October 2006 with another man in the back of a taxicab in Upper Manhattan after the police found a two-pound brick of cocaine on the car’s floor during a traffic stop.

He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in return for a two-and-a-half-year sentence, but as soon as he was released, Immigration and Customs Enforcement moved to deport him.

Because a trial judge in Manhattan never warned Mr. Diaz of the deportation, the Court of Appeals ruled that he had a right to move to withdraw his guilty plea. The majority said the motion would not be granted automatically, though, as is done with other violations of due process. Instead Mr. Diaz, and other defendants like him, must show that if he had been warned, he would have insisted on going to trial.

On this point, Judges Lippman and Rivera dissented, arguing that similar pleas in the absence of a warning should be reversed automatically.

Lawyers for the three defendants in the case — Mr. Diaz, Juan Jose Peque and Michael Thomas — said the decision was a sea change. “The decision certainly makes clear that judges from now going forward must warn, and it opens up an avenue for defendants who are already convicted and haven’t been warned to appeal,” said Lynn W. L. Fahey, who represented Mr. Thomas


New push for immigration reform will target 9 House Republicans

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With a year to go until the midterm elections, immigration reform advocates hoping to jump-start debate on Capitol Hill are planning to target a handful of Republican lawmakers most likely to suffer political consequences next year if Congress fails to act on immigration reform.

Rep. Joe Heck ( R-Nev.), left, speaks with a constituent during a town hall meeting on immigration reform at Windmill Library in Las Vegas in July. Heck is one of nine House Republicans being targeted by a new campaign by immigration reform advocates. (LEILA NAVIDI/LAS VEGAS SUN)Rep. Joe Heck ( R-Nev.), left, speaks with a constituent during a town hall meeting on immigration reform at Windmill Library in Las Vegas in July. Heck is one of nine House Republicans being targeted by a new campaign by immigration reform advocates. (Leila Navidi/LAS VEGAS SUN)

A campaign set to be announced Thursday will marry the financial and political power of the AFL-CIO and SEIU labor unions with smaller grass-roots immigrant advocacy groups, including America’s Voice, PICO National Network, Mi Familia Vota and CASA in Action, to target nine House GOP lawmakers who support establishing a way for eligible immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The campaign will target Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), Gary Miller (R-Calif.), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) and Joe Heck (R-Nev.). They represent districts with sizable Latino voting populations where President Obama won or performed well last year. They also have publicly voiced support for revamping the nation’s immigration laws.

Organizers said the goal of the campaign is to pressure the lawmakers to match their public statements by lobbying colleagues and House Republican leaders to permit votes on a series of immigration bills introduced in recent months. If the nine lawmakers fail to convince their colleagues by the end of the year, the groups plan to devote more resources to defeating them in next year’s elections and to expand their campaign.

“This is designed to tell Republicans that if you don’t take action on reform, there will be people who will take action in districts where Republicans are vulnerable to mobilize Latino and immigrant voters to reward or punish a member of Congress,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a leading national immigration advocacy group.

“A Republican majority in the House depends on people in vulnerable districts winning,” Sharry noted. “It just seems [House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)] and company are more worried about members being primaried by tea party challengers than their members in districts with growing Latino populations. This is designed to tell them, ‘Guess what — you’d better worry.’ “

The House is unlikely to consider any immigration legislation before Congress passes another short-term spending plan in mid-January, according to top Republican aides. Even if debate ever begins, Boehner and his lieutenants have said they will not support a comprehensive Senate plan that would allow illegal immigrants to pursue citizenship over a 13-year period, saying they will consider a series of smaller-scale bills.

House lawmakers are on recess this week, but a visit to Capitol Hill last week by hundreds of conservative business and religious leaders helped persuade some GOP lawmakers to take another look at the issue, said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who cosponsored the Senate plan passed this summer.

“There seems to be new life in the House on this,” he said Wednesday.

Flake served for 10 years in the House before ascending to the Senate in January and remains in close contact with House Republicans. He said there is growing interest in establishing ways for the children of undocumented immigrants and certain farm workers to more quickly gain U.S. citizenship, while establishing ways for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants to seek a permanent legal status.

“There’d be no special path created, but they would not be precluded from taking one of the paths that already exists,” Flake said.

Flake said there’s likely to be bipartisan support for the proposal, “because that’s the only way a deal can be had. I think there’s a good-faith effort underway on both sides of the aisle.”

Congressional Democrats also remain hopeful that House Republicans will quickly take up the issue, possibly in December before another round of negotiations over a short-term spending bill in January.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who worked with Flake on the Senate deal, has held several telephone conversations on the subject with senior GOP lawmakers, according to aides.

“Certainly politically it would benefit us if [House Republicans] don’t pass any bill, and they can’t pass any bill without some Democratic votes. But the overwhelming view of Democrats is that we’d sacrifice that political advantage to get a bill that moves America’s immigration policy forward,” Schumer said Wednesday.

The campaign launching Thursday will include outreach to nearly 90,000 voters in the nine districts through door-to-door outreach and phone calls. Additionally, the AFL-CIO announced plans Tuesday to spend more than $1 million on a bilingual television ad campaign in Bakersfield, Calif., Denver, Atlanta and Orlando and in the Washington, D.C. market. The SEIU plans to announce a similar ad campaign Thursday, according to people familiar with the plans.

Of the lawmakers targeted, Denham and Valadao have endorsed a comprehensive immigration bill authored by House Democrats that merges elements of the bipartisan Senate immigration plan passed over the summer with a bipartisan border security plan passed unanimously by a House committee in MayDenham said last week that he met with a good reception when he discussed the bill with colleagues during their weekly caucus-wide meeting.

Several of the other targeted Republicans reiterated their support for immigration reform this week but said they’re still reviewing the various proposals.

Aides to Heck said the congressman believes the House should act “in a timely manner.” Miller said in a statement that he plans to “closely examine the merits and consequences of any proposal.” Coffman said he is eager to work on the issue, “but that is appearing less likely given the limited time that is left on the calendar.”

Jackie Kucinich and David Nakamura contributed to this report.


Obama: ‘This is the moment’ to get immigration reform done

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Obama: ‘This is the moment’ to get immigration reform done

By Carrie Dann, NBC News

President Barack Obama tried to refocus attention on the incomplete comprehensive immigration reform push Thursday, saying that “this is the moment we should be able to finally get the job done.”

“Let’s not wait,” Obama said during a statement at the White House. “It doesn’t get easier to just put it off. Let’s do it now. Let’s not delay. Let’s get this done and let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.”

Charles Dharapak / AP

Vice President Joe Biden applauds as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

The president’s remarks come as the rocky rollout of Obamacare’s online health insurance exchanges continues to dominate headlines. Earlier this month, major immigration protests were largely drowned out by the government shutdown and the ongoing fiscal crisis.

Thanking pro-reform activists who have maintained pressure on Congress despite waning chances for action this year, Obama dipped into campaign-like rhetoric to urge another salvo.

“You don’t look like folks who are going to give up,” he said. “You look fired up to make the next push.”

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner reiterated after the speech that the House GOP will not pursue one sweeping comprehensive immigration reform bill but will concentrate instead on the House’s “step by step” legislation. That’s an approach most Democrats reject.

“The Speaker agrees that America has a broken immigration system and we need reform that would boost our economy,” said spokesman Brendan Buck. “He’s also been clear that the House will not consider any massive, Obamacare-style legislation that no one understands. Instead, the House is committed to a common sense, step-by-step approach that gives Americans confidence that reform is done the right way.”

Acknowledging “disagreements” between the parties on major fiscal issues, Obama said he’s not giving up on the bill he has called the top domestic priority of his second term, even as the number of legislative days left in the year dwindles.

Immigration advocates are hoping that House Republican leaders, alarmed at falling approval ratings and fearful of diminishing appeal to Hispanic voters, will take up legislation that would offer a path to citizenship – or at least legal status – for the nation’s undocumented immigrants.

Movement on the reform push has stalled since the House declined to take up a Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill earlier this summer. Now, several House Republicans have proposed separate legislation that would address the undocumented population, but it’s unclear if Democrats in the House will back legislation that stops well short of the Senate bill’s promise of the possibility for citizenship for most immigrants in the country illegally.

Obama did not specifically mention those separate Republican proposals, instead touting the Senate-passed legislation and a measure introduced by House Democrats that closely mirrors the upper chamber’s bill.

Proponents were optimistic Wednesday, when Boehner indicated that he is “hopeful” that the immigration issue will be taken up.

“I still think that immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed and I am hopeful,” he told reporters when asked if he will bring reform legislation up before the end of the year.

But Democrats are wary of GOP piecemeal efforts, which would stop short of the Senate bill’s promise of the possibility for citizenship for most undocumented immigrants at the end of a long probationary period.

And conservative Republicans in the House warn that if any legislation passes the House, it could be melded with the Senate bill and injected with more Democratic priorities.

This story was originally published on Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:55 AM EDT


Labor Day Celebrations Should Also Pay Tribute to Immigrant Workers

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Trends Leave a comment

Originally Published: Immigration Impact, August 30, 2013

Americans are observing Labor Day, which pays tribute to the many contributions and achievements of American workers. As celebrations are underway, the holiday offers an opportune moment to reflect on the very concept of American workers. In other words, who is an American worker? Where do immigrants—who contribute their talents and labor to the production of goods and services in the United States—fit into the picture?

Numerous studies have shown that the effect of immigration on native-born American wages is positive when taking the long view.

Since the formation of the United States, immigration has helped fill labor supply needs to enable the country to emerge as—and remain—the world’s economic superpower. In fact, the United States’ most prosperous periods coincide with waves of immigration, and to this day, immigrant workers continue to be a key component of the U.S. economy.

Currently, foreign-born workers comprise 16 percent of the country’s workforce, and their contributions to the U.S. economy and society take many shapes. The U.S. economy benefits from the valuable skills and talents provided by foreign-born high-skilled scientists and engineers and medical doctors, but it also relies on the work of immigrants of differing skill levels in a variety of industries, many of which experience labor shortages. In some key industries, such as agriculture, food processingconstruction, or eldercare, the role of immigrants is vital. Because less skilled immigrant workers are frequently paid lower wages than their American counterparts, translating into lower prices for goods and services, moreover, American’s living standards are also greatly enhanced by immigration.

In spite of their many contributions, however, immigrant workers are continually portrayed by anti-immigrant voices as a threat to American workers. These fears are often overstated and fueled by prejudice rather than hard evidence. Research has repeatedly shown that, as a whole, foreign-born workers do not affect U.S. employment. Furthermore, both immigrants with advanced degrees and temporary workers boost the employment of native born Americans. To a large extent, this is due to the fact that immigrants possess complementary skills to the existing native-born workforce. Various studies have shown that foreign-born and native-born workers tend to have differentiated sets of skills and new immigrant labor creates new opportunities for the native-born labor force to specialize. In other words, the inflow of immigrant workers encourages native-born workers to pursue more complex occupations, thereby also enhancing wage outcomes.

At the same time, numerous studies have shown that the effect of immigration on native-born American wages is indeed positive when taking the long view. As economist Giovanni Peri states, “in the long run, immigrants do not reduce native employment rates, but they do increase productivity and average income.”

In spite of their many contributions, however, a considerable segment of immigrant workers does not enjoy the benefits that are attached to being contributing members of the country they call home. Because of their undocumented status, many immigrant workers have no option other than to work in the underground economy and be frequently subjected to multiple forms of exploitation. This situation is not only detrimental for immigrant workers’ themselves, but also for the country’s economy.

In an historic vote on June 27, the U.S. Senate passed an unprecedented bill to overhaul the immigration system. This bill includes a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, and if it became law it would improve the lives of millions of immigrant workers who are already living in the country, contributing to the economy and raising families. It would also lead to undeniable economic and fiscal gains.  As the House of Representatives weighs its decision on the undocumented population, House members must recognize the value of immigrant workers and the urgent need to bring them out of the shadows. As numerous researchers have indicated, a solution that falls short of offering a path to citizenship for the undocumented would be not only harmful for many immigrant workers, it would also be damaging for the U.S. economy and, therefore, for the American people.

 

 


Can Christian Egyptians get Asylum from Egypt?

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The 2011 revolution in Egypt that ousted Mubarak and acted as the kickoff for the Arab Spring, the string of revolutions and uprisings in neighboring Arab countries that followed, has resulted in a great deal of strife, the recent toppling of the successive Egyptian presidency of Morsi, a divide amongst pro- and anti- Morsi supporters, military crackdown on public media and the deaths of thousands more of civilians and protestors.

The question now is whether or not the United States will offer greater asylum for Egyptian civilians, particularly the Christians. The current revolution related death toll in Egypt via recent protests is now near 700. Thousands of civilians though have died though, since the initial 2011 revolution during which individuals have been killed via ammunition in the from the military, local brawls between divided supporters in the streets and allegations of torture and executions carried out by Muslim Brotherhood supporters against anti-Morsi and particularly a minority of Cotptic Christians who the brotherhood supporters perceive as opposing them.

Many share the opinion that the United States and other Western countries should open their doors to the small but historically targeted Egyptian Christians as anger and violence against them is renewed and rises.  Several Christian churches have been burnt to the ground since the year began and hundreds of sites have been attacked. And although no emergency asylum status has been issued, according to a Bloomberg article, the United States granted asylum to over 2,000 of these individuals in 2012. Since 2011 they’ve been fleeing to both the United States and Europe. Australian humanitarian groups and immigrations supporter are also speaking out on the need and desire to protect these the Coptic Christians looking to flee the violence in Egypt.

In order to apply and qualify for asylee status in the United States the individual must be able to prove three major requirements:

1)   the individual must demonstrate that s/he fears persecution

2)   the individual must prove that the government is either responsible for or unable to control the individuals and persecution aimed towards them

3)   the persecution must be based on one of several protected grounds, which in this particular case would be religion.

The process of obtaining affirmative asylum generally consists of a putting together and submitting an application that demonstrates the above, which is then reviewed by an adjudicator. The applicant is then required to appear for an interview with the adjudicator. If not granted asylum via the interview the applicant does have a second chance to appear before an immigration judge and make the request for their asylum defensively.

With the renewed and heated climate in Egypt, now is a strong time for Egyptians seeking refuge in the United States to apply. If you are looking to obtain status and refuge in the United States underneath these conditions contact the Law Office or Ruby L. Powers in order to obtain a consultation and further advice on whether or not you qualify.


Obama concedes Congress won’t meet August deadline on immigration overhaul

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Obama concedes Congress won’t meet August deadline on immigration overhaul

By Associated Press, Published: July 15 | Updated: Tuesday, July 16, 8:23 PM

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday conceded that an immigration overhaul cannot be achieved by his August deadline. With House Republicans searching for a way forward on the issue, the president said he was hopeful a bill could be finalized this fall — though even that goal may be overly optimistic.

The president, in a series of interviews with Spanish language television stations, also reiterated his insistence that any legislation include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. Many House GOP lawmakers oppose the citizenship proposal, hardening the differences between the parties on the president’s top second-term legislative priority.

“It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix this system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” he said during an interview with Telemundo’s Denver affiliate.

The White House sees the president’s outreach to Hispanics as a way to keep up enthusiasm for the overhaul among core supporters even as the legislative prospects in Washington grow increasingly uncertain.

Some Republicans view support for immigration reform as central to the party’s national viability given the growing political power of Hispanics. But many House GOP lawmakers representing conservative — and largely white — districts see little incentive to back legislation.

The president said the lack of consensus among House Republicans will stretch the immigration debate past August, his original deadline for a long-elusive overhaul of the nation’s fractured laws.

“That was originally my hope and my goal,” Obama said. “But the House Republicans I think still have to process this issue and discuss it further, and hopefully, I think, still hear from constituents, from businesses to labor, to evangelical Christians who all are supporting immigration reform.”

Supporters are working on strategy to get the House to sign off on an overhaul. On Tuesday, most members of the so-called Gang of Eight — the bipartisan group of senators that authored the Senate immigration bill — met in the Capitol with a large group of advocates from business, religious, agriculture and other organizations to urge everyone to work together to move the issue through the House.

The senators distributed a list of 121 House Republicans seen as persuadable in favor of the bill and discussed honing a message for Congress’ monthlong August recess, when House members will meet with constituents and potentially encounter opposition to immigration legislation.

“When we go into the August break we want to be sure everybody’s working hard and trying to make our case,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after the meeting.

The landmark bill passed by the Senate last month would tighten border security, expand the highly skilled worker program and set up new guest worker arrangements for lower-skilled workers and farm laborers. It would also provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million immigrations illegally in the U.S., one that includes paying fines, learning English and taking other steps.

During his interview with Univision’s New York affiliate, Obama said the citizenship pathway “needs to be part of the bill.”

House Republicans have balked at the Senate proposal, with GOP leaders saying they prefer instead to tackle the issue in smaller increments. Many GOP representatives also oppose the prospect of allowing people who came to the U.S. illegally to become citizens.

House Republicans are considering other options, including proposals to give priority for legalization to the so-called Dreamers — those who were brought the U.S. illegally as children. Allowing only those individuals to obtain citizenship could shield Republicans from attacks by conservatives that they’re giving a free pass to those who voluntarily broke the law.

“I think that group of people — some call Dreamers — is a group that deserves perhaps the highest priority attention,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said at an immigration-related conference in California Monday. “They know no other country.”

Goodlatte and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, both Virginia Republicans, are working on a bill to address the status of those immigrants, although the timing is uncertain. And Goodlatte cautioned that any such measure should hinge on completion of enforcement measures to prevent parents from smuggling their children into the U.S. in the future.

The House is not expected to act on any legislation before the August recess, though the House Judiciary Committee could hold a hearing on the bill dealing with people brought to the U.S. when they were young.

Obama also spoke with the Telemundo station in Dallas and the Univision station in Los Angeles.

_

Associated Press writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.


Fixing America’s broken immigration system would be good for the country–and for the Republican Party

Posted on by Ruby Powers in immigration bill, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

The Economist

Immigration

Of fences and good sense

Fixing America’s broken immigration system would be good for the country—and for the Republican Party

SOME of the first English words that Mario Rubio learned were “I am looking for work.” A penniless Cuban immigrant, he asked a friend to write them out phonetically on a piece of paper so he could memorise them. He worked hard and eventually became an American citizen. Perhaps his greatest reward was that his children had a better start in life. His son Marco is now a Republican senator.

His family’s story helps illustrate why the immigration reform Senator Rubio backs would increase the sum of human happiness, by freeing more people to pursue it. But like the sea between Cuba and Miami, the route to reform is rough.

On June 27th, by a convincing 68 votes to 32, the Senate passed an immigration bill co-sponsored by Mr Rubio. Now the action moves to the House of Representatives, where its passage is far from certain (see article). The Senate bill passed with support from both parties: all the Democrats voted for it, as did nearly a third of Republicans. House members would probably pass something similar, if allowed. But John Boehner, the Speaker, says he will not allow a vote on any bill unless a “majority of the majority” (ie, a majority of House Republicans) approve of it. That is a steep hurdle.

The Senate bill, were it to become law, would go a long way towards fixing America’s broken immigration system. It would increase the number of visas for skilled workers, grant visas for entrepreneurs and establish a guest-worker programme for manual labourers. It would give the estimated 11m illegal immigrants in America a chance to come in from the shadows: after paying a fine and back taxes, working hard and staying out of trouble, they would eventually be eligible to apply for citizenship. And in a last-minute deal the bill added another $46 billion (up from $8 billion in the original version) to fortify the Mexican border, which is already bristling with fences, armed guards and drones, and to beef up systems for checking that firms do not hire illegal workers. This “border surge” managed to lure in wavering Republican senators. But it is not enough for House Republicans.

Many of them insist on a bill that “secures the border first”. That is, they do not want any of the illegal immigrants now in America to be granted legal status until the border is so militarised that the flow of new ones slows almost to nothing. This would cost a fortune—America already spends more on border security than on all the main federal criminal law-enforcement agencies combined. And it would make only a marginal difference. So long as the supply of legal foreign workers falls far short of demand for their services, people will find a way in. It would be far better, for the immigrants themselves and for America, if they were allowed in legally.

More highly skilled immigrants would make America more innovative. More foreign entrepreneurs would create jobs for the native-born. More young, energetic newcomers would slow the rate at which America is ageing. More immigrants would mean more connections with fast-growing places such as China and India—connections that would accelerate trade and the exchange of ideas. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate bill would raise GDP, reduce the budget deficit and slightly increase the wages of the native-born. Countries built on immigration tend to be rich and dynamic: think of Australia, Canada and Singapore.

From “Tear down this wall” to “Build a fence”

Passing immigration reform would also be good for the Republican Party. Granted, to many in the House, it does not seem that way. Many represent districts gerrymandered to be whiter than a starlet’s teeth. For such congressmen, the biggest worry is a primary challenge from a more conservative fellow Republican. Many will doubtless hear, at barbecues over the July 4th weekend, that voters want landmines in the Yuma desert and crocodiles in the Rio Grande. Pandering to such demands will help some Republicans hang on to their seats in 2014.

But if the Grand Old Party wants to retake the Senate or the White House, it cannot afford to alienate ethnic minorities. They will reject a party that rejects them, and they will one day be a majority. Half of the babies born in America today are non-white. By 2060 non-Hispanic whites will be only 43% of the population, predicts the Census Bureau. Long before then, a party that attracts barely a quarter of the Hispanic and Asian vote, as Mitt Romney did, will be incapable of winning national elections. Mr Rubio, who would like to be president one day, understands this. If his party does not, it will be swept aside not by Democrats, but by demography.


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