Bloomberg Businessweek on Immigrants in the New Economy

ICYMI:  Bloomberg Businessweek devoted its November 4, 2019 issue to the “New Economy”, and examined how countries like Canada and Japan have adjusted their immigration systems to make up for their shrinking labor forces by admitting more immigrants. The article also looks at Colombia, as an example of a country dealing with refugees.

In Japan’s case, the focus is on guest workers, but with some having a path to stay permanently.   In Canada’s case, the government is streamlining skills-based immigration.  Though not mentioned in the article, Canada is also admitting more refugees, and continues to admit family-based immigrants.

Similar to Japan and Canada, the U.S. has a similar aging workforce and low fertility rates, but seems incapable of grappling with immigration reform in Congress.   The U.S. will be playing catch-up globally in the competition for talent if the inaction continues.

You can find the Bloomberg Businessweek article here.


Immigrants Gaining Ground in Public Office in Maine

November 5, 2019 may have been an off-year election with no national races on the ballot, but it nonetheless was a momentous day in Maine.  Across the state, first and second generation immigrants won seats on their local city councils and school boards.

  • In Bangor, Angela Okafor, an immigrant from Nigeria, won a seat on the City Council, and Marwa Hassanien, whose parents immigrated from Egypt, won her race for School Committee.
  • In Brewer, Soubanh Phanthey, originally from Thailand, gained a seat on the City Council.
  • Hamden voted Tania Jean-Jacques, whose family immigrated from Haiti via Canada, onto the  RSU 22 School Board.
  • In Lewiston, Safiya Khalid became the first Somali immigrant since Somalis started settling in Lewiston in 2001 to win a seat on the Lewiston City Council, with over 69% of the vote.
  • In Portland, Pious Ali, an immigrant from Ghana, won an uncontested race for reelection to his at-large seat on the City Council, and Tae Chong, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea, won a 5 way race for the City Council’s District 3 seat.
  • In Westbrook, Claude Rwanganje, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who came to the U.S. and gained asylum, will now represent his district on the City Council.

These individuals have varying political affiliations and views, but they have one thing in common, a history of serving their communities in their work and as volunteers.

At MeBIC, we constantly sound the refrain that immigrants and their children not only help stem Maine’s depopulation and keep our economy robust, but that they also keep our communities vibrant.

These leaders who are stepping up to the call of public service in their local governments and school districts, make that message come alive.   MeBIC congratulates them for their hard work during their campaigns, and thanks them for their willingness to serve .


Recent Report Affirms Recent Immigrants’ Upward Mobility

An October 2019 working paper finds that children of immigrants experience more upward economic mobility than children of U.S. citizens.   The findings hold true even for children of low income immigrants.

(W)e find that immigrants at the bottom of the income distribution from nearly every sending country, including those with a sizable negative earnings gap in the first generation, have higher rates of upward mobility than the children of the US-born. This finding stands in contrast to the view that immigrants of certain countries of origin are not be able to integrate into the US economy.

The report, by economists from Princeton, Stanford, and U.C.-Davis,  also finds that even though the countries from which immigrants arrive today differ from those of a century ago, the upward mobility of immigrant children remains consistent.

We find that, both historically and today, children of immigrants at the bottom of the income distribution have higher rates of upward mobility than children of the US-born and to a strikingly similar degree in each time period.

You can read the working paper here.

TPS Extended for Six Countries through January 4, 2021

On November 4, 2019,  the administration announced it will automatically extend TPS for all the nationalities who have had TPS and have sued the government challenging the legality of  its decisions to terminate their TPS.

Congress created TPS to allow foreign-born individuals already in the U.S. when natural disasters strike or civil conflicts erupt or escalate in their home countries to apply to stay and work legally in the U.S., until our government determines they can return.   Over 300,000 individuals nationwide from the affected countries  have TPS, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years.  Maine has several hundred TPS holders who are contributing members of our communities and workforce.

The following TPS recipients’ status is automatically extended through January 4, 2021, as long as they filed to re-register for TPS in the most recent two re-registration periods for their respective countries:
        • El Salvador
        • Haiti
        • Honduras
        • Nepal
        • Nicaragua
        • Sudan

Those TPS holders who qualify for the automatic extension do not need to file any applications with USCIS to benefit from the extension.  For work authorization purposes, they only need to show employers this Federal Register notice together with their work permits – that appear on their face to be expired – if those work permits include the classification and dates specified in the Federal Register notice.

The administration is providing the automatic extension to comply with federal court orders preventing it from terminating TPS for these individuals.  The government is appealing the court orders, but must comply with the court orders while the appeals are pending.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, The American Dream and Promise Act over the summer with a bipartisan majority to provide a path to permanent residency for these TPS holders.  It’s time for the Senate to do the same, to end the uncertainty facing TPS holders and the communities and employers that have embraced them.

New Presidential Proclamation Would Dramatically Cut Legal Immigration

Nov. 3, 2019 UPDATE:

On November 2, 2019, the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon issued a Temporary Restraining Order blocking the Presidential Proclamation described further, below, from taking effect on November 3, 2019.

The TRO will be in place for 28 days, to allow time for a full hearing on whether the court should issue a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the Presidential Proclamation while litigation challenging its legality is underway.

Oct. 31, 2019 UPDATE:

On October 30, 2019, the Department of State published a notice in the Federal Register, giving the public only one day to submit comments regarding their implementation of the Presidential Proclamation described below.

Also on October 30, 2019, a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the Presidential Proclamation was filed, requesting an immediate injunction of the new policy.  The lead plaintiff is a U.S. citizen whose wife is scheduled for an immigrant visa interview on November 6, 2019, three days after the Presidential Proclamation is due to take effect.

On October 4, 2019, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation requiring intending immigrants from abroad to prove that they either have the resources to pay for their own medical care, or that they will have unsubsidized health insurance within 30 days of entry into the U.S.    If they can prove neither, they will be unable to immigrate.  The new policy is supposed to take effect on November 3, 2019.

This Proclamation could result in a 65% drop in the issuance of immigrant visas, resulting in 375,000 fewer legal immigrants arriving in the U.S. annually.   Even though permanent residents are eligible to purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act, including with subsidies if earning less than 400% of the annual poverty guidelines (an income of up to $103,000 for a family of four), access to subsidized insurance would not meet the health insurance requirement under the Proclamation.

While this policy in theory applies to all immigrants applying for immigrant visas while abroad, the impact will fall primarily on immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and on Diversity Lottery immigrants.  The vast majority of employment-based immigrants are already in the U.S. when they apply for permanent residency, and additionally, are typically in professional positions that include health insurance as a benefit.  As a result, the new policy is unlikely to affect them.

Perversely, the Proclamation would exclude children under 18, unless they are immigrating together with their parent.  So, for example, the child of a permanent resident could immigrate, but that child’s parent, the spouse of the permanent resident, would be barred from immigrating if their petitioning spouse  works in a job that does not provide health insurance, and cannot afford to purchase health insurance for the immigrating spouse except through the ACA subsidized insurance through the ACA.

This new policy will result in separated families, along with the related emotional and economic costs that prolonged separations entail.  The new policy will also result in dramatically fewer working age immigrants joining the U.S. workforce and economy, at a time of record low unemployment  nationwide and in Maine, and  when our labor supply is shrinking as our population ages.

The administration repeatedly states that it supports “legal immigration”, yet its actions indicate otherwise.   In the span of a week, the administration’s announcement of drastic cuts in refugee admissions together with this new Proclamation will result in at least a third fewer new immigrants coming to the U.S. in FY 2020, compared to typical annual numbers over the past two decades.   This flies in the face of centuries of immigration tradition, and ignores the economy’s need for new workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs.

It’s likely that this Proclamation will be the subject of federal lawsuits challenging its legality.