Need workers? Tips to avoid losing out on talented immigrant employees when recruiting

Many employers, often businesses too small to have dedicated human resources staff, unwittingly make errors that cause them to rule out and not hire, or to lose, talented immigrant staff.   Sometimes those errors even amount to illegal document or national origin discrimination.

This MeBIC guide offers simple guidance to avoid common errors in the job posting, interview, job offer, and form I-9 employment verification stages of the employment recruitment and hiring process.

Immigration and Entrepreneurship in the U.S.

A recent economic report, Immigration and Entrepreneurship in the United States,  finds that overall,

immigrants appear to “create jobs” (expand labor demand) more than they “take jobs” (expand labor supply) in the U.S. economy.

The report found that regardless of size of companies,

at each firm size, the frequency of immigrant-founded firms per immigrant in the population tends to be larger than the frequency of native-founded firms per native-born person in the population.

The report notes that immigrants are “disproportionately likely to hold STEM degrees” and that

firms with an immigrant founder are 35% more likely to have a patent than firms with no immigrant founders.

You can read the full report here.


Poll of Battleground States Finds Support for Immigration

A new poll of over 7000 registered voters in seven battleground states conducted October 8-13, 2020 shows strong support for immigrants and immigration, although with partisan divides.

Echoing findings from Gallup this past summer, solid majorities of those polled in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin believed that the U.S. should maintain or increase its current levels of immigration, with higher percentages favoring increased, rather than decreased  levels of immigration.  Majorities in all states believed that immigrants come to the U.S. to work and fill jobs Americans don’t want, rather than to take public benefits or jobs away from Americans.

Solid majorities also agreed that the U.S. should make legal immigration easier, and that those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, and undocumented individuals who have lived in the U.S. long term, should have a path to legal status.  Those polled also supported providing a path to permanent status for undocumented immigrants who have served as essential workers during the pandemic.

While politicians assume that immigration is a divisive issue they shouldn’t touch, repeated polls in 2020 appear to show that the public is increasingly supportive of immigration, despite partisan differences.

You can read the full poll results here.

Study Tallies Huge Economic Cost of Excluding Undocumented Taxpayers from CARES Act Relief

A recent report out of UCLA looks at the economic contributions of undocumented workers, and at the economic cost to the nation of Congress’s failure to include undocumented workers who pay taxes with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) from the economic relief provisions of the CARES Act.   This CARES Act omission resulted in an estimated 15.4 million individuals being denied economic relief, including 9.9 million undocumented immigrants and 5.5 million of their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouses and children.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • Undocumented workers contribute  $1 trillion annually to the nation’s GDP.
  • They contribute $190 billion annually in tax revenue .
  • They generate economic activity supporting 20 million jobs nationally.
  • Had CARES Act economic relief provisions gone to undocumented taxpayers and their U.S. citizen spouses and children (who were disqualified from economic stimulus payments if their spouse or parent were undocumented), $10 billion would have been added to the economy, supporting 82,000 jobs nationally.
  • The HEROES Act (passed by the House of Representatives in May, 2020) would include taxpaying undocumented immigrants in its pandemic economic relief provisions.   This would cost $9.5 billion, but would be more than made up for by generating  $14 billion in economic output, supporting over 112,000 jobs.
  • Over 78% of undocumented workers are employed in jobs deemed “essential” by the Department of Homeland Security during the COVID-19 crisis, including in health care and the food supply chain.
  • Undocumented workers have been the worst hit of all demographic groups by COVID-19’s effects, with their wages falling by 25% and their unemployment rate rising to 29% due to the collapse of other sectors where they are highly concentrated, such as hospitality.  By June 2020 both of those rates had improved somewhat but were still trailed other demographic groups.

The reports recommends that future federal COVID-19 relief legislation should:

  • Include undocumented workers and their U.S. citizen children and spouses in all federal, state, and local economic relief and stimulus programs.
  • Pass the provisions of the HEROES Act in the Senate that include taxpaying undocumented workers in COVID-19 relief and would include rebates for the economic stimulus payments,they should have received under the CARES Act.
  • Include all undocumented workers in tax rebates, cash transfers, business development loans, rent allowances and other emergency measures passed to overcome the effects of COVID-19.

The report notes that should Congress fail to include these workers in future pandemic relief, states should do so.   The economic benefit to states of extending state funded economic impact payments and unemployment benefits to undocumented immigrants substantially compensates for the costs of those benefits as the funds are plowed back into their local economies, generating jobs and tax revenues.

As the report concludes,

excluding undocumented workers from relief programs is bad for the workers, bad for economic recovery, and bad for government budgets. Including undocumented workers in government relief measures would support economic recovery, generate much-needed jobs, and increase government revenue.

You can find the report here.

Data Shows U.S. Losing Talent to Canada

A July 2020 Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) data analysis reveals that from 2017 through 2019, the number of highly skilled, professional level noncitizens living in the U.S.  who emigrated from the U.S. to Canada through its skills-based Express Entry system increased by 128%.  That represents a loss to the U.S. of over 20,000 talented noncitizens who opted to leave this country to take up permanent residency in Canada in the past three years.  (This does not include the more than 50,000 asylum seekers who have given up trying to get asylum in the U.S. and have crossed into Canada to request protection there during the same time period).

Here is an excerpt from the report (footnotes omitted):

Governments around the world are competing to attract talent from abroad, and many have set their sights on the United States –in part because they think U.S. immigration policy is driving skilled foreign-born workers away.  Canada arguably leads this competition. In recent years, the Canadian government developed a simpler and more generous immigration system for skilled workers, nurtured cutting-edge tech companies capable of drawing talent from around the world, and even set up billboards in Silicon Valley encouraging immigrant tech workers to relocate north.

Given these efforts and close geographic and cultural ties, Canada is uniquely well positioned to attract talent away from the United States. But so far, the evidence that skilled workers are now avoiding or leaving the country in large numbers has mostly been anecdotal. At least before the COVID-19 pandemic, key U.S. immigration pathways such as the H-1B visa and employment-based green cards remained oversubscribed, and large majorities of foreign-born STEM PhD students at American universities hoped to stay in the United States after graduating.

At the same time, scattered but worrying signs have indicated that the situation may be changing. For example, the number of foreign STEM students studying in the United States has fallen, and growth in the STEM Optional Practical Training work program for international students has slowed considerably. Now, new data from Canada’s flagship skilled immigration program provide further evidence that America’s foreign-born talent base may be eroding.

While the authors of the data analysis note that the reasons behind this shift aren’t conclusive,

the fact that U.S. noncitizens are driving the trends explored in this paper strongly suggests the combination of Canadian recruitment and increasingly restrictive American immigration policy is playing a role in pushing talent north.

This administration has taken repeated actions to limit legal immigration.   The migration of talent north to Canada may be a bellwether of the benefits other countries will reap at our nation’s global competitiveness expense, if the U.S. continues down the road of adopting increasingly restrictive immigration policies.

You can find CSET’s paper here.

Policy Brief on Economic Harm of Administration’s Suspension of H-1B Visa Holders’ Entry

A July 2020 policy brief from the UC Davis Global Migration Center finds that the recent Presidential Proclamation suspending entry of H-1B visa holders through December 31, 2020 will damage the economy.

Couched as a move to prevent job competition between international H-1B professional level, specialized knowledge workers (who often have completed their undergraduate or graduate studies here) and U.S. workers, the brief’s economist authors conclude that the Presidential Proclamation’s

view is myopic and inconsistent with what we know from economic research. Moreover, it represents just the latest of several recent decisions from the current administration designed to discourage many forms of legal entry for skilled foreign workers. In fact, economic evidence suggests that such restrictions will reduce long-term economic growth while also failing to increase the employment of Americans. In short, the suspension of H-1B visas will ultimately have a negative impact on the American economy.

You can read the reasoning behind the policy brief’s conclusions here.

A lawsuit challenging an April 2020 Presidential Proclamation banning entry of most immigrants was amended on July 17, 2020 to include and seek an injunction blocking the June 22, 2020 proclamation banning entry of H-1B, L-1, H-2B and J-1 nonimmigrant workers.  The lawsuit states

There is no evidence showing that immigrants and foreign-born workers “displace” U.S. workers, while there is overwhelming evidence that immigrants and foreign-born workers create additional jobs in the United States by consuming goods and services, innovating, and contributing to human and physical capital formation, all of which are essential to long-term and sustained economic growth.

At least one other lawsuit has been filed seeking to block application of the Presidential Proclamation as it applies to H-1B visa holders and their spouses and children.

New Report Shows Importance Of International Students to U.S.

MeBIC partner New American Economy has released a new report showing the importance of international students to the U.S. both economically and culturally.

International students not only provide crucial tuition payments to U.S. higher education institutions, and economic contributions to the towns and cities where they live while studying, but they are critical to the pipeline of new U.S. workers and entrepreneurs, particularly in STEM fields as the graphic below from the report shows clearly.

As the U.S. takes steps that will effectively drive many international students out of the country, other countries are actively courting international students.   As the report notes,

America’s competitor nations have already set ambitious targets to widen their share of the international education pie. Canada set a target to have 450,000 international students by 2022, up from just 136,000 in 2001. Meanwhile Japan, long a country ambivalent to foreign nationals, set a target of 300,000; Germany, of 350,000; and China, of 500,000, all by 2020. Each represents at least a twofold increase—notably, a tenfold increase for Germany—over their 2010 numbers.

China, Canada, and Germany all met their targets early, and Japan was only 1,020 students shy of its goal by 2018. China is building out its university system, and reaching quality in some scientific fields at its top universities that is comparable with the average U.S. university, says Choudaha. China today is luring greater numbers of students from Africa and Asia, many of whom may not have been able to afford to study in the United States.

For decades, international students have helped the U.S. be an innovation leader and economic powerhouse, bringing new ideas and energy to our nation, while at the same time, serving as ambassadors of the U.S. with their home countries.

The NAE report shows data compelling the conclusion that restricting international students to the U.S. is against our economic, social and political interests.   You can read the report here.

Report on Black Immigrants in Healthcare and Essential Services

MeBIC partner New American Economy  released data  on july 2, 2020 showing the impact of Black immigrants in the healthcare sector and in other essential services.

The data reveals that Black immigrants play an important role in the U.S. healthcare delivery system, including being overrepresented, in comparison to their percentage of the national population, as nurses and as health aides. They also have strong representation in the biomedical, education, and food supply chain sectors.

This report follows earlier analyses by NAE revealing the critical role of Hispanic Americans and Asian American Pacific Islanders, including immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens alike, in the delivery of healthcare and other services that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed as absolutely essential to the nation.  Immigrants without permanent status, including those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, and undocumented immigrants, also play a critical role in the essential services that the nation relies on.

While the disparate impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minorities, including immigrants of color, becomes increasingly clear, so too does their role in essential services that they continue to perform even when it puts their health at risk.

Poll Shows Positive Shift in Attitudes towards Immigration

A recent Gallup poll found that for the first time in 55 years, more respondents favored increasing the level of immigration to the U.S. than favored decreased immigration.  Thirty-four percent of those polled favored increased immigration, compared to 27% a year ago.    Thirty-six percent would maintain the present level of immigration (the poll was taken before the most recent Presidential Proclamation halting entry of many nonimmigrant workers), and 28% favored decreased immigration.

The issue remains partisan, with Democrats’ and Independents’ support for increased immigration growing notably over the past year, while Republicans’ 13% support for increased immigration is slightly lower than a year ago, and virtually the same as it was in 2010.

When asked if immigration is good for the U.S.,  77% felt that it is, with only 19% responding to the contrary.   According to Gallup, the partisan divide shrinks when it comes to the benefits of immigration.

The poll reveals a sharp divide between public attitudes on immigration, and the administration’s hostility to this topic.   The administration continues to curtail legal immigration, slashing refugee resettlement, suspending the entry of immigrants, including immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, as well as entry of nonimmigrant workers through the remainder of 2020, and vowing to rescind DACA again after the Supreme Court in June overturned the administration’s 2017 rescission of the program.

Some commentators point to the possibility that it may ironically be the administration’s anti-immigrant animus that is driving increased support for immigration now.



Stronger Protections for Immigrants in U.S. Benefit U.S. Natives

An article in a recent edition of the UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs finds that providing more rights to immigrants, including increased access to permanent legal status for immigrants who are undocumented or who have temporary working status, whether at the highly skilled  or the manual labor ends of the workforce, benefits native born U.S. workers.

You can find the article here.

Updated Resource for Immigration Information and Data

The Migration Policy Institute has published a central resource for a broad array of immigration information and data, on topics including:

Children of Immigrants Have Positive Achievement Impact on K-12 Schools

An analysis from Brookings looks at resources consumed and outcomes in K-12 schools with Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, including first generation immigrant children and second generation U.S. citizen children of immigrant parents.

The report finds that the share of students with immigrant backgrounds in K-12 schools increased nationwide from 18% in 2000 to 32% in 2015.  And while teaching LEP students may demand more resources, the benefits of providing those resources not only helps LEP students to achieve, but also their non-LEP peers.

A comparison of K-12 schools with children attending who were exclusively three generations or more removed from their immigrant forebears (“isolated” schools), and schools with first and second generation children attending with third-plus generation students found that even after controlling for student backgrounds and school characteristics,

on average, third-plus generation students in isolated schools had lower test scores than their third-generation peers in schools that served immigrant students, despite isolated schools having more teaching resources and lower levels of poverty.

The analysis concludes that:

there is no direct evidence that the increased share of immigrant students in the U.S. has negatively affected the educational outcomes of third-plus generation students, either through peer effects or resource channels.

You can read the Brookings analysis here.

Immigrants use Public Benefits at Lower Rates than Native-Born Citizens

A recently released report from the Cato Institute confirms what earlier research has found  – that immigrants use public benefits at lower rates, and have a lower per capita benefits cost, than native-born U.S. citizens.

Other studies, some of which are synthesized in this Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Working Paper,  have shown that on balance, immigrants contribute more in taxes than they use in benefits.   Cato‘s recent report is particularly relevant at this moment -when the administration has created a new regulation to drastically reduce legal immigration to the U.S. through the application of new criteria by which intending immigrants will be judged to be likely to become “public charges” and denied residency accordingly.

That new rule is being legally challenged in multiple lawsuits across the country, although the Supreme Court lifted a nationwide injunction blocking its application while the challenges proceed, as explained here.

Recently, more than 100 businesses, including HP,  Levi Strauss, and Microsoft filed an amicus brief in one of the pending legal challenges to the new public charge rule.  They state:

Amici file this brief to explain why the final Public Charge Rule ….creates substantial, unprecedented, and unnecessary obstacles for individuals seeking to come to the United States or, once here, to adjust their immigration status (to permanent residency). By hindering immigration—including the movement of highly-skilled immigrants—the Rule will slow economic growth, prevent businesses from expanding, and break faith with core American values. This is bad policy for American businesses and American taxpayers, and amici have a vital interest in ensuring that the Rule is properly held unlawful.

Immigrants, regardless of their economic, educational, and linguistic backgrounds have contributed to the U.S. economically, culturally and politically for centuries.  The Cato Institute‘s recent analysis reminds us that the data underscores what our history already illustrates – immigrants are here to get to work, not to depend on public benefits.


Myth vs. Fact: Immigrants and Crime

A common refrain from those wanting to restricting immigration is to equate immigrants with crime.

While there is no question that since immigrants are humans, some immigrants commit crimes, we should no more conclude from that that immigrants have a propensity for criminality any more than we conclude that all white males are inclined to criminality because some white males are criminals.

Instead, we should look to data.  What does the data say?   Repeated studies have found that both undocumented and legal immigrants tend to commit crimes at lower rates than native-born U.S. citizens, and that areas that have experienced increases in their immigrant populations have seen corresponding decreases in overall crime rates.

Here is a survey of some of the studies that debunk the myths linking immigrants and crimes.


  • The Marshall Project examined in a May 2019 report whether there is a link between undocumented immigration and an increase in crime, and found that “growth in illegal immigration does not lead to higher local crime rates.”


  • Most states don’t record the immigration status of those convicted of crimes, but Texas does.   For that reason, the Cato Institute looked at Texas data when assessing whether there is a correlation between undocumented immigrants and crime.   Texas was also a prime study subject since it has one of the highest proportions of immigrants of any state in the U.S., at 17% of the state’s population.    The Cato institute reported that both legal and undocumented immigrants commit crimes, including violent crimes, at rates lower than native-born Texas residents.   As Cato’s commentary on its research notes;

Even in a Republican-governed border state like Texas with law enforcement officials very concerned about illegal immigration — and with a reputation for enforcing criminal laws to the hilt — illegal immigrants appear less crime-prone than natives.


  • A paper published in the May 2017 edition of Criminology found that increases in the size of the undocumented population do not increase violence and instead tend to correspond to decreased violent crime rates in communities.


  • A 2017 study looking at data from 1990-2014 in the American Journal of Public Health found that “Increased undocumented immigration was significantly associated with reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests, net of other factors. There was no significant relationship between increased undocumented immigration and DUI deaths.”


  •  A 2014 study in the Journal of Law and Economics, concludes that in communities where law enforcement officials notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about all persons arrested, there is no meaningful reduction in overall or violent crime rates in those communities.  This finding correlates to overall data finding that native born citizens are responsible for most crimes committed.


Cato: Restricting Access to Asylum and More Walls Likely to Lead to Increased Border Deaths

The Cato Institute has issued a new analysis of government data indicating that as more miles of wall were constructed along the U.S.-Mexico, there was an increase in deaths of those trying to seek safety or opportunity in the U.S.

The report notes that in recent years, deaths have declined as the population trying to enter the U.S. has increasingly been individuals fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  They have tended to seek out, rather than evade, Border Patrol officials to ask for asylum.

(T)he evidence indicates that border fences have made the journey far more dangerous—even deadly—and that asylum made the border safer.

In fact, asylum and other humanitarian relief programs appear to have already saved about 1,300 lives along the border since 2013. By contrast, increased enforcement—including the fence—appears to have resulted in about 4,600 more deaths from 1999 to 2019.

Given that the number of southern border apprehensions in recent years are far lower than they were for decades, and that the majority of the undocumented in the U.S. today entered the U.S. legally through airports and other ports of entry with temporary visas but failed to leave, the case for the border wall is thin.

Crafting meaningful immigration reforms that respect of our country’s tradition and legal obligation to offer protection to those seeking safety,  that meet the needs of employers and families, and that reduce processing backlogs which can stretch for years, would be far more effective than continued fighting over the wall.