Archives: 12/2018

Trump Administration Continues to Expand Interior Immigration Enforcement

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report detailing deportations (henceforth “removals”) conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during fiscal year 2018.  This post present data on removals in historical context – combined with information from Pew and the Center for Migration Studies on the number of illegal immigrants present in the United States.

ICE deported 95,360 illegal immigrants from the interior of the United States in 2018, up from 81,603 in 2017.  Removals from the interior peaked during the Obama administration in 2011 at 237,941 (Figure 1).  The Trump administration would have to increase the pace of interior removals dramatically to reach Obama’s previous peak.  Unless something dramatic changes, that won’t happen as local law enforcement agencies are much less likely to cooperate with President Trump’s ICE than they were with President Obama’s ICE.   ICE also removes large numbers of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border.  Since 2012, border removals have outnumbered those from the interior of the United States.

 

Figure 1

Interior and Border Removals by ICE, 2008-2018

Source: Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 

The Obama administration removed 1,242,486 from the interior of the United States during its full eight years, averaging 155,311 removals per year.  Data from the earlier Bush administration are more speculative, but they show an increase in deportations during the last half of Bush’s administration that continued during Obama’s first term before flattening and, finally, dropping rapidly in his second term.    

The percentage of all illegal immigrants removed from the United States is a better measure of the intensity of interior enforcement than the total numbers removed.  Based on estimates of the total size of the illegal immigrant population from Pew, ICE removed about 0.89 percent of the illegal immigrant resident population from the interior of the United States in 2018, up from 0.76 percent in 2017.  Interior removals as a percent of the illegal immigrant population peaked at 2.11 percent in 2009. 

 

Figure 2 

Removals as a Percent of the Illegal Immigrant Population

 

Sources: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Pew, and Author’s Estimates.

 

ICE under President Obama’s administration removed an average of 1.38 percent of the interior illegal immigrant population per year of his presidency.  The Obama administration’s interior removal statistics show a downward trend beginning in 2011 and continued until the end of his administration.  So far, ICE under President Trump has only managed to deport an average of 0.83 percent of the illegal immigrant population each year.   

The Obama administration also focused immigration enforcement on criminal offenders (not all illegal immigrants are criminals).  During the Obama administration, 52.6 percent of all illegal immigrants removed were convicted criminals, including those convicted of immigration crimes.  About 57 percent of those deported during the Trump were convicted criminals. 

 

Figure 3

Criminal Removals as a Percent of All Removals

 

Source: Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 

The Trump administration is continuing to ramp up interior immigration enforcement.  The 2018 figures show a reversal of the declining interior immigration enforcement efforts under the Obama administration, but they have not reached Obama’s previous deportation records.  Trump is unlikely to come close, but he will continue to try.

 

Trump Administration Increases Immigration Enforcement at Businesses

President Trump’s administration has increased immigration enforcement at worksites, just as he promised.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 2,304 people at worksites in the fiscal year 2018, a more than 7-fold increase from the previous fiscal year and about 6.7-fold more than the last full year of the Obama administration. 

ICE’s worksite arrests fall into two categories: criminal or administrative.  Any citizen or noncitizen whom ICE suspects of having committed a criminal violation, such as identity fraud, can be arrested.  Administrative arrests are for civil violators of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which means that only non-citizens can be arrested for such violations.  An administrative arrest is usually the first step toward deportation for an immigrant.  ICE doesn’t make most of its initial administrative arrests as it relies on other law enforcement agencies to arrest illegal immigrants, but it does directly arrest those at worksites in these cases.

Figure 1 shows the rapid and recent increase in all ICE criminal and administrative arrests.  The number of arrests peaked in 2008 at 6,287 after several steady years of increases, but then declined during Obama’s presidency with a single blip in 2011.

Figure 1

All ICE Arrests at Worksites

Sources: Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Congressional Research Service.

President Trump’s ICE is making more administrative arrests and a greater percentage of those come from worksite enforcement (Figure 2).  In 2016, only 0.35 percent of all of ICE’s administrative arrests (those that ICE makes itself) were at worksites.  In 2018, 3.7 percent of all of ICE’s non-custodial arrests were at worksites.  Since 2017, administrative arrests are up 8.9-fold compared to a 5.6-fold increase in criminal arrests over the same time.  As a share of all ICE administrative arrests, those conducted at worksites are up about 10.7-fold over 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, and 8.8-fold since 2017.      

Figure 2

Worksite Administrative Arrests as a Percent of All ICE Administrative Arrests

Source: Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Congressional Research Service.

The I-9 worksite audit was a major innovation in immigration enforcement unrolled during Obama’s administration, which Trump’s administration is using with alacrity (Figure 3).  Although the number of worksite audits increased about 4.4-fold from 2017 to 2018, from 1,360 to 5,981, only a small fraction of all establishments were actually audited.  The Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS) at the U.S. Census reports that there were more than 6.8 million business establishments in 2016, the last year for which data is available.  Not all of those 6.8 million establishments have employees besides the founder and, since he doesn’t have to fill out an I-9 form, not all of them would be subject to audits.  With the aid of a back of the envelope estimate, I assume that about 3.9 million of those establishments had more than one employee in 2016.  Thus, it’s unlikely that the 5,981 ICE I-9 audits in FY2018 covered more than 0.15 percent of all business worksites. 

Figure 3

I-9 Audits

Sources: Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Congressional Research Service.

ICE clustered its I-9 audits by time in 2018.  It sent out 5,278 (88 percent) of the 5,981 notices of inspection for the audits during the two periods of January 29 through March 30 and July 16 through July 20.  Those big operations were meant to frighten illegal immigrants and their employers.  Since ICE only audited about 0.15 percent of establishments, it has to rely on fear to increase compliance with immigration laws at worksites.

The Trump administration was supposed to reduce expensive economic regulation.  In many other sectors of the economy, Trump has followed through on this promise.  Immigration is the exception. 

 

78% of Americans Support Parental Leave Savings Accounts

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans (78%) support creating family and medical leave savings accounts. The national Cato 2018 Paid Leave Survey of 1,700 adults finds the public favors allowing workers to set aside money in tax-advantaged savings accounts that could be used if they need to take family or medical leave. A fifth (20%) would oppose the creation of family and medical leave accounts.

Read about the full survey results and methodology here.

Establishing family leave savings accounts enjoys rare bipartisan support: 82% of Democrats, 80% of Republicans and 69% of independents support offering tax-advantages to people who set aside money for parental, family, or medical leave. 

Women (80%) and men (76%) also overwhelmingly agree about establishing these types of accounts. These numbers include 85% of Democratic women, 82% of Republican women, and 78% of Democratic and Republican men. 

Support for parental and family leave savings accounts aren’t reserved for the wealthy. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of those earning less than $25,000 a year also support such savings accounts. Support heads upwards from there with 86% in favor among those earning $80,000 a year or more.

Finding an image of a piggy bank or savings jar with “family leave” or “parental leave” written on the side to compliment this post was difficult. Instead, one can easily find images of piggy banks and savings jars with labels to save for retirement, to buy a house, for college as well as future travel and stocks. For these needs and wants, we’ve cultivated a culture of saving.

Over time our society has fostered a set of social norms that we instill in our young people starting at an early age. We were reminded when we were young, just as we remind the next generation, to start saving early for an education, a house, big purchases, emergencies, investments in the future, etc. We were reminded to delay consumption today so we have more for later. Doing so can provide peace and security to feel like we’ve done our part to prepare for the future. People usually don’t enter the world with a set of expectations about the value of saving and what they should save for. Thus it’s useful to establish social norms that encourage saving early on.

However, a gap exists in our present cultural norms when it comes to saving for parental and family leave. The fact that I could not easily find an image of a piggy bank or savings jar with “parental leave” or “family leave” as a savings goal is indicative of our culture not yet establishing a norm for these savings goals. While family leave savings accounts need not crowd out other innovations to help support working people who take time to care for new children, family members, or themselves, it can be part of the discussion. These poll results suggest society may be ripe for establishing new social norms of saving for parental and family leave.

 

 

CBO Findings on Farm Subsidies

As the $867 billion farm bill goes to the president for his signature, the Congressional Budget Office reminds us why farm subsidies don’t make much sense.

CBO just released a new “options” report that includes more than 300 pages of ideas for reducing budget deficits. The report suggests ways that Congress could cut farm subsidies, and it describes how the world has changed since these programs were put in place in the 1930s:

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the 25 percent of the population that lived on farms had less than half the average household income of urban households; federal commodity programs came about to alleviate that income disparity.

One argument for eliminating Title I commodity support programs is that the structure of U.S. farms has changed dramatically since then: The significant income disparity between farm and urban populations no longer exists. In 2014, about 97 percent of all farm households (which now constitute about 2 percent of the U.S. population) were wealthier than the median U.S. household. Farm income, excluding federal program payments, was 52 percent higher than median U.S. household income.

Moreover, payments made through programs that support commodity prices and incomes are concentrated among a relatively small portion of farms. Three-quarters of all farms received no farm-related government payments in 2014; most program payments, in total, went to mid- to large-scale farms (those with annual sales above $350,000).

Title 1 refers to ARC, PLC, and other programs that shovel billions of taxpayer dollars to the growers of corn, soybeans, wheat, and other crops.

Let me reiterate:

  • About 97 percent of all farm households are wealthier than the median U.S. household.
  • Farm income was 52 percent higher than median U.S. household income.
  • Subsidies are slanted toward the largest farms.

Further arguments against farm subsidies are here, here, and here.

DEFENSE DOWNLOAD: Week of 12/13

Welcome to the Defense Download! This new round-up is intended to highlight what we at the Cato Institute are keeping tabs on in the world of defense politics every week. The three-to-five trending stories will vary depending on the news cycle, what policymakers are talking about, and will pull from all sides of the political spectrum. If you would like to recieve more frequent updates on what I’m reading, writing, and listening to—you can follow me on Twitter via @CDDorminey.  

  1. The Senate just passed (and I mean, just passed, that’s why the Defense Download is going out a bit late today) SJ Res 54: Ordering the withdrawal of U.S. military support for the war in Yemen as a function of the War Powers Resolution. Expect to see a lot of media coverage over the next few days on what this could mean moving forward. If you want to catch up on how we got here, take some time to view the event we held here at Cato last week. 
  2. Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2019-2028,” Congressional Budget Office. All the budget wonks like me are rejoicing over a new edition of this report. The 2017 version was significantly outdated because many of the long-term plans have changed substantially in two years. 
  3. U.S. Budget Deficit Hits Wildest on Record for Month of November,” Sarah McGregor. If there was any doubt that the CBO report was badly needed and that the federal budget is hurdling in an unsustainable direction, read this piece. 
  4. New defense topline could break budget cap by $100B; analysts question strategy,” Tony Bertuca. You’ve probably heard a lot of defense topline numbers from the Trump administration over the past two weeks: originally it was $744B request for 2019, then the President wanted to cut that number to $700B, and has now reversed course and might actually seek a $750B request for next year. Click through to see what experts from across the political spectrum have to say about these prospective changes. 

Jones Act Reform Gaining Momentum

Last week was a busy one for advocates of reforming the Jones Act. On Thursday the Cato Institute held a well-attended conference on the subject that featured a veritable Who’s Who of Jones Act experts and reform advocates. Video of the conference has now been posted, and those who were unable to participate or watch live should make sure to check out the many outstanding presentations that were made.

But ours was not the only gathering where the law was placed under scrutiny. Last week also saw a panel discussion held on the Jones Act as part of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators’ (NHCSL) annual summit in San Diego. Unfortunately, the panel consisted only of myself and a moderator as invitations to groups supportive of the 1920 law apparently went unanswered. Nevertheless, the discussion was lively and opposition to the law in abundance.

Just how abundant became clear the next day, when the NHCSL voted on a resolution calling for the law’s repeal. Co-sponsored by New Jersey State Senator Nellie Pou and Pennsylvania State Representative Ángel Cruz, it passed by an overwhelming 56-10 margin.

The resolution, whose provisions include a call for NHCSL members to put forward similar measures in their respective legislatures calling for the Jones Act’s repeal, already appears to be bearing fruit. Puerto Rico Rep. José Aponte has announced his intention to introduce such a resolution. Others are sure to follow.

These are only the latest signs of support, particularly at the grassroots level, for reform of this failed law. Earlier this year, for example, the New York City Bar Association endorsed a permanent Jones Act exemption for Puerto Rico.

Unfortunately, too many in Washington still don’t grasp the necessity of revisiting the Jones Act. But even here in D.C. there is good news to be found, with reform advocates set to be bolstered by the arrival of newly elected Rep. Ed Case of Hawaii. A longtime opponent of the law, Case was victorious in his race against another Jones Act critic, Cam Cavasso. Congressional races where the nominees from both major political parties compete to burnish their anti-Jones Act credentials is certainly a refreshing change and would seem to speak to mounting opposition to the law.

The Jones Act has existed for over 98 years, and the edifice’s immediate collapse is unlikely. But cracks in the foundation are beginning to appear. 

Topics:

Why Is the U.S. Economy Successful?

In a recent talk, my Harvard colleague Martin Feldstein posits ten answers:

An entrepreneurial culture. Individuals in the U.S. demonstrate a desire to start businesses and to grow them. There is little opprobrium in the U.S. for failing and starting again.

A financial system that supports entrepreneurship. The United States has a more developed system of equity finance than the countries of Europe, including angel investors who are willing to finance startups and a very active venture capital market that helps finance those firms as they grow. The U.S. also has a large decentralized banking system with more than 7,000 small banks that provide loans to entrepreneurs.

World-­‐class research universities. Universities provide much of the basic research that drives high-­‐tech entrepreneurship. Faculty members and doctoral students often spend time with nearby startups, and the culture of the universities and the businesses encourages this activity. Top research universities attract the best students from around the world, many of whom end up staying in the United States.

Efficient labor markets. U.S. labor markets link workers and jobs, unimpeded by labor unions, state owned industries and excessively restrictive labor regulations. Less than 7 percent of the private sector U.S. labor force is unionized, and there are virtually no state owned enterprises. While the U.S. does regulate working conditions and hiring, the rules are much less onerous than in Europe. As a result, workers have a better chance of finding the right job, firms find it easier to innovate, and new firms find it easier to get started and grow.

A population that is growing, including from immigration, and geographically mobile within the United States. America’s growing population means a younger and therefore more trainable and flexible workforce. Although there are restrictions on immigration to the United States, there are also special rules to provide access to the U.S. economy and a path to citizenship based on individual talent and industrial sponsorship. A separate “green card lottery” system provides a way for eager people to come to the United States. The country’s ability to attract qualified immigrants has been an important reason for its prosperity.

A culture and a tax system that encourage hard work and long hours. The average employee works 1,800 hours per year, substantially more than the 1,500 hours worked in France and the 1,400 hours worked in Germany (although not as much as the 2,200 hours in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.) In general, working longer hours means producing more and therefore means higher real incomes.

A supply of energy that makes North America energy independent. Natural gas fracking in particular has provided U.S. businesses with plentiful and relatively inexpensive energy.

A favorable regulatory environment. Although U.S. regulations are far from perfect, they are less burdensome on businesses than the regulations imposed by European countries and the European Union.

A smaller government than in other industrial countries. According to the OECD, outlays of the US governments at the federal, state and local levels totaled 38% of GDP while the corresponding figure was 44% in Germany, 51% in Italy and 57% in France. The higher level of government spending in in other countries implies not only a higher share of income taken in taxes but also higher transfer payments that reduce incentives to work.

A decentralized political system in which states and local governments compete.Competition among states and communities encourages entrepreneurship and work. States also compete for businesses and for individual residents with their legal rules and tax regimes. Some states have no income taxes and have labor laws that limit unionization. The United States is perhaps unique among major high-­‐ income nations in its degree of political decentralization.

Note that most of these credit small government, directly or indirectly, for U.S. economic success. Government is bigger in the United States than libertarians would like; but overall, still better (i.e., smaller) than in most countries.

Pages