May 21, 2013
Chancellor Linda Katehi: Immigration: A wider better welcome mat
As an immigrant and an engineer, I know the magnetic pull that the United States exerts on anyone who dreams of a career in science. From the time I watched NASA technicians on television during the first lunar landing in 1969, I resolved to get the best scientific education that my talents and circumstances would allow.
That quest initially took me to National Technical University in Athens, where I became the first person in my family — and the first woman from Salamis, the Greek island where I grew up — to earn a college degree. My next step was UCLA.
Like so many others, I was drawn to the United States by its great research universities, its rich support of science — and its open doors.
But where once the United States was the brightest beacon for students like me, today Britain, Australia and other nations offer increasingly attractive alternatives. And they can seem more welcoming.
When my husband and I decided to come here to study in 1979, we easily received visas and green cards, and in 1994 we became citizens. Today's international scholars face a more arduous and uncertain path to permanent residency for themselves and their families. Application costs, for example, have risen dramatically in recent years and are prohibitively expensive for many new PhDs. It doesn't help that fees must be paid in cash. In addition, security and technology export checks, while important, are more unpredictable and onerous than they need to be.
Now that Congress is undertaking the first major overhaul of U.S. immigration law since 1986, we have an opportunity to reexamine policies that may be harming our competitiveness when it comes to foreign students and scholars, especially in science, technology, engineering and math — the so-called STEM fields.
Unless we offer international students the opportunity to pursue their careers, pay off their student loans and, if they wish, put down roots here after they graduate, it will be hard to attract the best and the brightest.
Eight leading higher education organizations, including the Assn. of American Universities and the Assn. of Public and Land-grant Universities, have developed guiding principles that should be included in comprehensive immigration reform.
These include offering more green cards for graduates in fields that will enhance U.S. innovation and competitiveness, and eliminating the requirement that international students seeking to enroll in a U.S. university prove they will return home after completing their studies.
We also must provide an expedited path to citizenship for the approximately 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school in the U.S. each year, many of whom have little or no memory of the countries from which they came. In 2011, California passed the Dream Act, which offers undocumented students access to state-funded financial aid for college, but these students are still unable to legally work once they graduate. How much more talent are we willing to waste at a time when talent is so needed?
Reform should include as well a provision allowing H-1B visa recipients to revalidate their temporary visas in the U.S. rather than having to return to their home country to do so — an expensive and disruptive requirement, especially for people who are just starting their careers.
Recent history tells us that all Americans will benefit from such reforms. In California, during the decade from 1995 to 2005, immigrants founded 2 of every 5 engineering and technology startups. In Silicon Valley, they founded more than half. In 2005, immigrant-founded companies produced $52 billion in sales nationally and employed 450,000 workers. In 2006, foreign-born residents submitted more than 25% of all U.S. patent applications.
In my role as chancellor of UC Davis, I see such contributions every day. I think of Carlito Lebrilla, who came from the Philippines to study chemistry at UC Irvine and UC Berkeley, and Kit Lam, an immigrant from Hong Kong who received his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas, his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin and his medical degree at Stanford. Now members of the UC Davis faculty, these brilliant men have developed and are bringing to market technology that may give us a way to diagnose cancer earlier and less invasively.
I also think of Ming Kuang. Ford Motor Co. owes much of its hybrid vehicle program to Kuang, an immigrant from China whose name is on 40 of the company's 461 patents for hybrid technology. Kuang earned his master's in mechanical engineering at UC Davis in 1991.
These and many others before and after them came to UC Davis to study, teach and do research, and stayed to create the technologies and startups that will keep this state and nation competitive: Ralph Algazi from France, Anh-Vu Pham from Vietnam and Jan Hopmans from the Netherlands, to name a few more.
But would they have come under today's more stringent rules, at a time when other countries are rolling out the welcome mat?
Wise immigration reform will ensure that we not only continue to open our doors to the world's best talent and future leaders but also invite them to stay and give back.
Linda P.B. Katehi is chancellor of UC Davis. She holds 19 patents in electric circuit design.
May 20, 2013
The Religious Affiliation of U.S. Immigrants: Majority Christian, Rising Share of Other Faiths
Over the past 20 years, the United States has granted permanent residency status to an average of about 1 million immigrants each year. These new “green card” recipients qualify for residency in a wide variety of ways – as family members of current U.S. residents, recipients of employment visas, refugees and asylum seekers, or winners of a visa lottery – and they include people from nearly every country in the world. But their geographic origins gradually have been shifting. U.S. government statistics show that a smaller percentage come from Europe and the Americas than did so 20 years ago, and a growing share now come from Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa region.
With this geographic shift, it is likely that the religious makeup of legal immigrants also has been changing. The U.S. government, however, does not keep track of the religion of new permanent residents. As a result, the figures on religious affiliation in this report are estimates produced by combining government statistics on the birthplaces of new green card recipients over the period between 1992 and 2012 with the best available U.S. survey data on the religious self-identification of new immigrants from each major country of origin. While Christians continue to make up a majority of legal immigrants to the U.S., the estimated share of new legal permanent residents who are Christian declined from 68% in 1992 to 61% in 2012. Over the same period, the estimated share of green card recipients who belong to religious minorities rose from approximately one-in-five (19%) to one-in-four (25%). This includes growing shares of Muslims (5% in 1992, 10% in 2012) and Hindus (3% in 1992, 7% in 2012). The share of Buddhists, however, is slightly smaller (7% in 1992, 6% in 2012), while the portion of legal immigrants who are religiously unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular) has remained relatively stable, at about 14% per year.
Unauthorized immigrants, by contrast, come primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the overwhelming majority of them – an estimated 83% – are Christian. That share is slightly higher than the percentage of Christians in the U.S. population as a whole (estimated at just under 80% of U.S. residents of all ages, as of 2010).
These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life examining recent trends in the geographic origins and religious affiliation of immigrants to the United States. For more details on this report, click here.
Crossing Borders: Immigration and Gender in the Americas
Each year, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University hosts a conference that explores the role of gender in a significant aspect of the human experience. This year’s conference was titled “Crossing Borders: Immigration and Gender in the Americas.” Academics, practitioners, and artists from across all fields will investigate changing immigration trends and examine how gender, race, and social class shape the experience of immigrants and their children in the Americas. It is available at the link above.
May 19, 2013
District Court Finds Arizona Denial of Driver's Licenses to DACA Recipients "Likely" Irrational, Refuses to Grant Preliminary Injunction
The Nation reports on Arizona's continuing efforts to deny driver's licenses to immigrants who have been provided relief under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Arisona Governor Jan Brewer has been adamant in refusing to allow Arizona to allow recipients of DACA relief -- who are authorized to work and remain in the United States -- to obtain driver's licenses. Other states, such as North Carolina, Oregon, and California, are permitting DACA recipients to obtain licenses.
Last week, a U.S. district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction even though it found that the plaintiffs would likely prevail on a claim that the Arizona policy was not rational and thus could not withstand constitutional scrutinty.
The issue of driver's license eligibility for undocumented immigrants has long been an issue of concern, especially because traffic stops by local police have increasingly been used as a tool in immigration enforcement.
Congressional Budget Office: A Description of the Immigrant Population—2013 Update
The Congressional Budget Office has released A Description of the Immigrant Population—2013 Update, which includes much statistical information about the immigrant population in the United States. The CBO updated the information in its June 2011 report A Description of the Immigrant Population: An Update. Here are some interesting pieces of information:
FOREIGN-BORN POPULATION: From 1860 to 1910, between 13 percent and 15 percent of people in the United States were born in another country. After 1910, the share of the population composed of the foreign born began a steady decline, falling to less than 5 percent by 1970. But that share has increased rapidly since 1970, reaching about 13 percent in the past few years. About 40 million foreign-born people now live in the United States. Of that group, not quite half have fulfilled the requirements of U.S. citizenship. Of the remaining people, about half are authorized to live and work in the United States, and about half are not authorized to live or work in the country.
DISTRIBUTION OF IMMIGRANTS AMONG THE STATES: In 2012, three states that account for more than one-fifth of the nation’s population—California, New York, and New Jersey—had a foreign-born population that, for each state, exceeded 20 percent of its total population. In another 17 states, accounting for more than a third of the U.S. population, foreign-born people made up between 9 percent and 20 percent of the state’s total. In the remaining 31 states, accounting for roughly two-fifths of the population—generally, states that are away from the East and West Coasts—the foreign born constituted less than 9 percent.
EDUCATION LEVELS: The foreign-born population tends to be less educated than the native-born population: In 2012, 27 percent of the foreign-born population between the ages of 25 and 64 had not completed high school, compared with 7 percent of the native-born population. That difference was even larger among foreign-born people from certain regions of the world: A majority of people from Mexico and Central America, for example, had less than a high school diploma. However, foreign-born people from Asia, Canada and Europe, and Africa and Oceania are more likely than their native-born counterparts to have a bachelor’s degree or more.
UNAUTHORIZED IMMIGRANTS: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has estimated that, in 2011, about 11.5 million U.S. residents were in the country without legal authorization—about 3 million more than in 2000. Most of that increase was due to an increase in the unauthorized population from Mexico. According to DHS, in 2011 about 6.8 million unauthorized residents in the United States came from Mexico, an increase of more than 2 million since 2000.
UNEMPLOYMENT: Since 1994, the unemployment rate for foreign-born workers has generally increased when the unemployment rate for native-born workers has increased and decreased when the rate for native-born workers has decreased. However, the unemployment rate for foreign-born workers has fluctuated more widely than the rate for native-born workers, and workers born in Mexico or Central America have faced higher unemployment rates than have their counterparts born in the United States or Asia. On average between 1994 and 2012, the unemployment rate among people born in Mexico or Central America was 7.0 percent, whereas the rate for native-born workers was 4.6 percent and for workers born in Asia, 4.5 percent.
Revolutionary Coming-of-Age in Wisconsin: ‘Pinkolandia,’ Tale of Chilean Exiles
The INTAR THEATRE in NYC is currently presenting PINKOLANDIA. Here is a synopsis: Exiled from Chile to the strange land of Reagan-era Wisconsin, two young sisters must create imaginary worlds to uncover the story of their family’s past. Traveling through fantasies of glaciers, talking bears and Nazi-fighting revolutionaries, Pinkolandia is a play about growing up – because sometimes, when you lose your country, you have to invent your own.
Here is the New York Times review.
May 17, 2013
Alvaro Huerta, “Just Say No to Gang of Eight Immigration Bill”
Given the national debate over the so-called Senate “Gang of Eight’ immigration reform bill, I have one recommendation: go back to the drawing board. Introduced on April 17, 2013 by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as S. 77 or the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” this 844-page document represents a complex, costly, enforcement-centered and morally bankrupt bill.
For the sake of brevity, let’s take the case of the “path to citizenship” component. It makes no sense why undocumented immigrants should pay exorbitant costs, such as financial penalties, back taxes and application fees? Haven’t these immigrants suffered enough financial hardships with the epidemic wage-theft cases against America’s most vulnerable workforce? What about the case that immigrant workers too often work below the minimum wage, receiving no over-time, adequate lunch breaks and other basic work-place rights that most citizens enjoy?
Additionally, don’t employers and consumers benefit from these mostly low-wage workers when purchasing basic goods and services on a daily basis? What about all the taxes that immigrants already pay, both directly and indirectly, without benefiting from federal programs, such as government assistance, Social Security and Medicare?
Moreover, the border-enforcement first pre-requisite before anyone qualifies for citizenship illustrates the absurd aspect of this bill. Why do undocumented immigrants have to pay for something, such as border control, that’s out of their control? How will immigration officials accurately know that the established 90% apprehension success goal will ever be met? As a social scientist, for example, I can’t know 90% of anything unless I know the universe of the population that I’m studying.
This pre-requisite is designed for failure because there’s no guarantee that immigration officials or the proposed bi-partisan task force will ever agree that the border is 90% secure due to economic and/or political reasons. It’s also immoral because it only creates the illusion and false hope for millions of honest, hard-working immigrants—who contribute more than their fair share to this country—of one day becoming American citizens.
The proposed 13-year wait period for undocumented immigrants to be eligible for citizenship, for instance, only occurs (if at all) after a five-year period, when immigration officials will determine if the U.S.-Mexico border is found to be 90% secure. If not, the proposed bi-partisan task force will take control, study the issue and make recommendations. This bureaucratic process only creates unpredictable outcomes for the aspiring U.S. citizens.
In short, to borrow from former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s catchy phrase of the war on drugs policy during the 1980s, President Obama, Congress and the public should “Just Say No” to the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill. In lieu of this flawed bill, we need a new immigration bill guided by humanistic principles with one central component: amnesty.
Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D., a UCLA visiting scholar at the Chicano Studies Research Center, is the author of the forthcoming book, “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” by San Diego State University Press.
Immigration Article of the Day: Convenient Facts: Nken v. Holder, The Solicitor General, and the Presentation of Internal Government Facts by Nancy Morawetz
Convenient Facts: Nken v. Holder, The Solicitor General, and the Presentation of Internal Government Facts by Nancy Morawetz (NYU School of Law), 2013 New York University Law Review, Vol. 88, Forthcoming
Abstract: In April 2012, facing a court order to disclose internal Justice Department e-mails, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) wrote to the United States Supreme Court in Nken v. Holder to admit that it had made a factual statement to the Court three years earlier about agency policy and practice that was not accurate. The statement had been based on e-mail communications between Justice Department and agency lawyers. In fact, the statement neither reflected the content of the e-mails nor the actual policy and practice of the relevant government agencies. The letter promised remedial measures and concluded by assuring the Court that the OSG took its responsibility of candor seriously. The underlying factual representation by the OSG in Nken case was unusual because it attracted attention and lengthy FOIA litigation that led to the disclosure of the communications that served as the basis of the statement. But it is not at all unusual as an example of unsupported factual statements by government lawyers that are used to support legal arguments. Indeed, unsupported statements appear in OSG briefs on a wide range of issues. These statements benefit from the unusual position of the government: it has access to information not available to other litigants, and it benefits from a presumption of candor that endows its statements with a claim of self-evident authority that no private litigant could match. The Nken case provides a unique opportunity to explore the consequences of judicial acceptance of fact statements provided by the OSG. Because of Freedom of Information Act litigation, we have an opportunity to examine how the OSG gathered information as well as the role played by government counsel at the Justice Department and the interested agencies. This examination shows multiple dangers with unsupported statements about internal government facts. It also demonstrates the difficulty of relying on lawyers representing the government to seek out and offer information that will undermine the government’s litigation position. Prevention of misleading statements could be pursued through greater self-regulation, prohibition of extra-record factual statements or through a model of disclosure and rebuttal. This Article argues that the experience in Nken reflects the grave danger in presuming that self-regulation is an adequate safeguard against erroneous statements. It further argues that despite the appeal of a rigid rule that prohibits such statements, such an approach ignores the Court’s thirst for information about real world facts that are relevant to its decisions. The Article concludes by arguing that the best approach is to adopt a formal system of advance notice combined with access to the basis of government representations of fact.
The Call for Suspending Deportations
Leslie Berestain Rojas of Southern California Public Radio looks critically at the recent call to suspend some deportations while Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform. Immigrant advocates have been asking the Obama administration to suspend some deportations while the Senate debates immigration reform. This week, a coalition that included the AFL-CIO labor federation, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the youth activist group United We Dream and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, held a conference call to state their case to media.
May 16, 2013
Southwest Border Courts Continue to Lead in Immigration Cases
The U.S. Courts report that defendants charged with immigration offenses constitute 27 percent of all federal criminal defendant filings nationwide, a total of 25,328 filings in fiscal year 2012. Just five southwestern border district courts—the District of Arizona, the Southern and Western Districts of Texas, the Southern District of California, and District of New Mexico—account for 74 percent of all immigration defendant filings.
New Report: Credential Recognition in the United States for Foreign Professionals
A new Migration Policy Institute report, Credential Recognition in the United States for Foreign Professionals, examines the U.S. credential recognition process, particularly with regards to recertification in the medical and engineering sectors, and offers some recommendations for improvements. The report is the first published as part of a European Union-funded research project investigating how governments can improve the recognition of foreign qualifications through domestic public policies and international cooperation. Additional reports in the series will focus on international labor mobility and qualifications recognition within the engineering profession and on new trends in government and private-sector responses to credential-recognition problems.
Economic Benefits of Immigration on Housing Markets
The American Action Forum (AAF) recently released a study that finds that immigration reform would lead to 2.1 million additional homeowners by 2020. Increased home ownership ultimately encourages greater residential construction and results in virtuous economic effects that are associated with household purchases.
Review of "Governing Immigration Through Crime"
Here is my review of GOVERNING IMMIGRATION THROUGH CRIME: A READER by Julie A. Dowling and Jonathan Xavier Inda (eds). Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013. It is a fine reader on the criminalization of U.S. immigration law.
May 15, 2013
From the Bookshelves: Amor and Exile: True Stories of Love Across America's Borders by Nathaniel Hoffman and Nicole Salgado
Across the United States, American citizens are forced underground, exiled abroad and separated from their spouses for a surprising reason. Amor and Exile is the story of American citizens—including Veronica, Ben, J.W., and Nicole—who fall in love with undocumented immigrants only to find themselves trapped in a legal labyrinth, stymied by their country’s de facto exclusion of their partners. Journalist Nathaniel Hoffman visited both sides of the border to document the lives of these couples caught in the crossfire of America’s high stakes political fight over immigration. In his disarming and precise style, Hoffman also traces the historical relationship between immigration, love and marriage. Lending an authentic voice to Amor and Exile, coauthor Nicole Salgado delivers a searing first-person account of life in the U.S. with her husband while he was undocumented, her tortured decision to leave the country with him, and their seven years of exile and starting over together in Mexico.
Amor and Exile tells of love that transcends borders—a story shared by hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens—cutting through the immigration debate rhetoric and providing a courageous perspective for one of the most vexing policy problems of our time.
International Migration is Projected to Become Primary Driver of U.S. Population Growth for First Time in Nearly Two Centuries
International migration is projected to surpass natural increase (births minus deaths) as the principal driver of U.S. population growth by the middle of this century, according to three new series of population projections released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This scenario would mark the first time that natural increase was not the leading cause of population increase since at least 1850, when the census began collecting information about residents’ country of birth. The shift in what drives U.S. population growth is projected to occur between 2027 and 2038, depending on the future level of international migration.
Muslims to Tea Party: Welcome to our world By Sahar Aziz
"Reports that the Internal revenue Service has been targeting Tea Party-affiliated nonprofit organizations has grabbed headlines, but should come as no surprise. In part because of ten years of expanding government powers, much of it under the guise of national security, selective enforcement of the law has increasingly become a norm rather than an aberration. But some in the Muslim community might have a question – why are conservatives so surprised (and outraged) by this news when Muslim nonprofits and their leaders have been under intense scrutiny for over a decade? And when so many Muslim groups and individuals have faced scrutiny simply for the religion they follow?"
House conservatives bash immigration reform
A group of House Republicans, led by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) are bashing the comprehensive immigration reform proposal and claim that the Republicans who support it -- including Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), I presume -- are not "true" Republicans. Remember the line "Quien es mas macho." Watch for upcoming fireworks.
South American Immigrants in the United States
Immigrants from South America made up 2.7 million (about 7 percent) of the United States' foreign-born population of 40.4 million in 2011. While the share may seem small, this population has grown 30 times its size since 1960, when about 90,000 South American immigrants resided in the country. This article examines the latest data on South American immigrants in the United States, including population size, geographic distribution, admission categories, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
Integrating Europe's Muslim Minorities: Public Anxieties, Policy Responses
Muslim integration is one of the most contentious issues in the immigration debate in Europe, and one that gets to the heart of public anxieties about immigration. This Migration Information Source article explores public perception toward Muslims in Western Europe and the array of integration policies that countries in the region have adopted during the past several years.
Democratizing the Jury Room
For arguments in support of a bill passed by the California Assembly last month that would allow lawful permanent residents to serve on juries, see this op/ed penned by UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and me.
Possible measures that are designed to improve the representativeness of Latinos on juries are discussed more generally in this article.