45111 (Author at Cato Institute) https://www.cato.org/ en Immigrants Are About 1/3 of California’s “Essential Workers” https://www.cato.org/blog/immigrants-are-about-1/3-californias-essential-workers David J. Bier <p>California Governor Gavin Newsom <a href="https://www.ktvu.com/news/the-complete-list-of-californias-essential-workers">ordered</a> all “nonessential businesses” in the state to close in response to COVID-19. The order closes all businesses except for those deemed to be part of America’s critical infrastructure. While it’s not possible to determine exactly which businesses will have to close—the order’s implementation is still being worked out—it is clear that immigrants are disproportionately likely to still be on the job this week, putting their health at risk to keep the state afloat.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ktvu.com/news/the-complete-list-of-californias-essential-workers">order’s language</a> lacks the specificity to identify each particular case, but this post reviews data from the Census Bureau’s <a href="https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/search?ds=ACSPUMS1Y2018&amp;cv=NAICSP&amp;rv=ucgid,SOCP&amp;nv=CIT&amp;wt=PWGTP&amp;g=0400000US06">American Community Survey</a> from 2018 (the most recent year available) to identify likely essential industries that will remain open. Overall, about 4.6 million immigrants will likely be deemed essential in California—33 percent of all the state’s essential workers. They are producing food and equipment, maintaining operations at hospitals and research facilities, and distributing supplies across the state.</p> <p>Figure 1 shows the percentage of foreign‐​born workers in each major industry classification, including only those subindustries deemed or likely to be deemed essential. It is important to note that immigrants may play a variety of specific job duties within these industries. The share of foreign physicians in the medical industry, for example, is much higher than the share of foreign workers overall.</p> <p>In 2018, California’s immigrants <a href="https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/search?ds=ACSPUMS1Y2018&amp;cv=NAICSP&amp;rv=ucgid,SOCP&amp;nv=CIT&amp;wt=PWGTP&amp;g=0400000US06">constituted</a> 63 percent of the workers in essential agricultural industries, 45 percent of essential manufacturing, 40 percent of essential service sector workers, 39 percent of essential wholesale workers, 38 percent of construction, 36 percent of transportation, 33 percent of social and child agencies, 32 percent of medical facility staff, 30 percent of essential professional services, 28 percent of essential retail, and 26 percent of essential finance. Only the extraction industry and the three governmental industries—utilities, public administration, and the military—had immigrant shares below 20 percent. Overall, <a href="https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/search?ds=ACSPUMS1Y2018&amp;cv=CIT&amp;rv=ucgid&amp;wt=PWGTP&amp;g=0400000US06">27 percent</a> of Californians were immigrants in 2018. Nationally, the share is less than 14 percent.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="d20584e9-267c-4626-b0c9-81709a771052" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="0c20f43f-8633-4224-9546-dd9eb281405e" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: Foreign-born share of California&amp;#39;s essential workers by major industry grouping"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>Table 1 provides the full list of industries that I estimated are or are likely to be deemed essential based on the governor’s order. One noteworthy essential subindustry is manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and medicines where 42 percent of its labor force in California were immigrants. Immigrants were the same share of the workforce for manufacturers of medical supplies. Another noteworthy example is grocery wholesalers—nearly half (48 percent) of its workers are immigrants in California. Similarly, 46 percent of the workers at California’s nursing care facilities—which are on the frontlines of protecting the elderly from COVID-19—are immigrants.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="1977b0f9-f990-4846-9a05-07fd453e1a50" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="763be956-add7-40fc-91bc-506164a855d1" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table 1: California&amp;#39;s foreign-born and U.S.-born essential workers by detailed essential industry"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>Immigrants are helping California survive this unprecedented challenge. They are making and distributing food, producing pharmaceuticals, and caring for the sick.</p> Mon, 30 Mar 2020 09:01:09 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/immigrants-are-about-1/3-californias-essential-workers Backlog for Skilled Immigrants Tops 1 Million: Over 200,000 Indians Could Die of Old Age While Awaiting Green Cards https://www.cato.org/publications/immigration-research-policy-brief/backlog-skilled-immigrants-tops-1-million-over David J. Bier <div class="lead text-default"> <p>To receive lawful permanent residence in the United States, an employment‐​based immigrant must first become the beneficiary of a&nbsp;petition usually submitted by an employer that requests that the government allow the immigrant to apply for a&nbsp;green card. Even with an approved petition, an immigrant cannot apply for a&nbsp;green card unless the green card cap is unfilled. Because demand has increased since Congress last updated the cap 30&nbsp;years ago, the number of approved immigrants whom the cap is preventing from applying for green cards is skyrocketing.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>As a&nbsp;result of the outdated green card limits, these immigrants are waiting in a&nbsp;backlog that has reached an unprecedented length. New data on beneficiaries of approved employment‐​based petitions for green cards from a&nbsp;Cato&nbsp;Institute&nbsp;Freedom of Information Act request show how much the system needs reform:</p> <ul> <li>For the first time, the U.S. government has approved more than 1&nbsp;million petitions for workers, investors, and their families who cannot receive legal permanent residence solely as a&nbsp;result of the low green card caps.</li> <li>The government is approving nearly two petitions for employment‐​based immigrants for every green card it is issuing to them. At the current rate of increase, the backlog will exceed 2.4 million by 2030.</li> <li>Skilled Indian workers make up 75 percent of the employment‐​based backlog, and recently backlogged&nbsp;Indian&nbsp;workers face an impossible wait of nine decades if they all could remain in the line.</li> <li>More than 200,000 petitions filed for Indians could expire as a&nbsp;result of the workers dying of old age before they receive green cards.</li> <li>Indian and Chinese immigrants had average wage offers two and a&nbsp;half times U.S. median wages—$30,000 higher than the average offer for other immigrants—yet they face waits that are decades longer.</li> </ul> <p>Indians endure much longer waits because the law imposes limits on the number of green cards for immigrants from any single birthplace and because U.S. employers file far more petitions for Indians than the limits allow. With recent skilled Indian workers facing a&nbsp;de facto ban on legal permanent residence based solely on their place of birth, Congress should prioritize the removal of these limits. However, this reform alone would still leave unsustainable waits of more than a&nbsp;decade for every employer‐​sponsored immigrant and allow the backlog to escalate past&nbsp;2.4 million&nbsp;by 2030.&nbsp;To avoid driving billions of dollars in investment and hundreds of thousands of skilled workers abroad,&nbsp;Congress&nbsp;must quickly increase the number of employment‐​based green cards before this problem worsens.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> The Employment‐​Based Green Card Backlog </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>There are at least two steps that all immigrants must follow to receive an employment‐​based green card—which denotes lawful permanent residence. First, an immigrant must become the beneficiary of a&nbsp;petition, usually submitted by an employer, requesting that the immigrant receive permission to apply for a&nbsp;green card. Second, if the petition is approved, the immigrant must apply for a&nbsp;green card. However, a&nbsp;beneficiary of an approved green card petition may only proceed to the second step and submit a&nbsp;green card application if the green card cap—the limit on legal immigration set by&nbsp;Congress—has not been reached.</p> <p>Immigrant beneficiaries of approved petitions enter the green card backlog—the wait list for immigrants—if they cannot apply for green cards due to insufficient cap space. Immigrants in the backlog are not waiting for their petitions or applications to be administratively processed. Their petitions have already been approved, but they cannot yet apply for green cards. They are only waiting for cap numbers to become available. Table 1&nbsp;provides definitions of the main immigration terms in this brief.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="1470e6f5-d086-41e7-a0eb-5016f3e15e3a" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog Table 1"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>This brief details the employment‐​based backlog for those immigrants delayed solely by the caps on legal immigration, not by inefficient bureaucracy. The Cato&nbsp;Institute&nbsp;obtained the data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through a&nbsp;Freedom of&nbsp;Information&nbsp;Act request.<sup><a href="#_ednref1" id="_edn1">1</a></sup></p> <p>Figure 1&nbsp;compares the total employment‐​based backlog on April 20, 2018, to the total employment‐​based backlog on&nbsp;November&nbsp;12, 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref2" id="_edn2">2</a></sup>&nbsp;In little more than a&nbsp;year and a&nbsp;half, 215,395 approved petitions entered the employment‐​based backlog, growing the total waiting list from 831,826 to 1,047,221—an average of 137,852 per year. Since the employment‐​based system has a&nbsp;cap of 140,000 green cards per year, this means that every year there are about twice as many petitions being filed for green cards for immigrants as there are green cards being issued to them.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="dd5dca7b-4125-434d-ad42-d674d0061195" data-type="interactive" data-title="WEB 20200311_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog Figure 1"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The employment‐​based green card limits are preventing America’s highest‐​skilled immigrants from receiving legal permanent residence. The U.S. employment‐​based immigration system is divided into five “preference” categories (and one subcategory) based on the priority that they receive for green cards. Each category has a&nbsp;separate annual cap. The categories are</p> <ul> <li>EB‑1, employment‐​based first preference, priority workers: 40,040 annual cap for multinational executives and internationally acclaimed professors, scientists, artists, athletes, or businessmen, plus unused EB‑4 and EB‑5 green cards;<sup><a href="#_ednref3" id="_edn3">3</a></sup></li> <li>EB‑2, employment‐​based second preference, professionals: 40,040 workers with offers of employment in jobs requiring an advanced degree or higher and workers with expertise significantly above what is ordinary in their field, plus unused EB‑1 green cards;<sup><a href="#_ednref4" id="_edn4">4</a></sup></li> <li>EB‑3, employment‐​based third preference, skilled workers: 35,040 workers with offers of employment in jobs requiring a&nbsp;bachelor’s degree and skilled workers with at least two years of experience, plus unused EB‑2 green cards;<sup><a href="#_ednref5" id="_edn5">5</a></sup></li> <ul><li>EB-3O, employment‐​based third preference, other workers: 5,000 workers with offers of employment in jobs not requiring a&nbsp;bachelor’s degree;<sup><a href="#_ednref6" id="_edn6">6</a></sup></li></ul> <li>EB‑4, employment‐​based fourth preference, special immigrants: 9,940 religious workers, broadcasters, U.S. government and military employees, and abandoned juveniles;<sup><a href="#_ednref7" id="_edn7">7</a></sup>&nbsp;and</li> <li>EB‑5, employment‐​based fifth preference, investors: 9,940 foreign investors who made investments of $500,000 to $1.8 million in a&nbsp;new commercial enterprise in the United States that will create 10 permanent full‐​time jobs for U.S. workers.<sup><a href="#_ednref8" id="_edn8">8</a></sup></li> </ul> <p>Figure 2&nbsp;breaks down the backlog in Figure 1&nbsp;into each category. The largest growth in the backlog occurred in the EB‑2 category. This is the primary green card for America’s foreign doctors and other highly skilled professionals. With 628,592 petitions, EB‑2 now makes up 60 percent of the backlog. The oldest petitions were filed in the EB‑2 and EB‑3 categories in 2009, meaning many immigrants in the backlog have already waited more than a&nbsp;decade for their green cards.<sup><a href="#_ednref9" id="_edn9">9</a></sup>&nbsp;From April 2018 to November 2019, every category’s backlog increased except for EB‑1.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="d61af976-fd97-4289-a5f4-45c41a69effc" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_Figure 2"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Besides principal immigrants—workers or investors who are beneficiaries of petition—their spouses and minor children (age 20 or younger) are also eligible for green cards and wait in the backlog alongside the principal applicants. Because they are subject to the same caps, family members take away green card cap space from principal immigrants, which increases the backlog and wait times for everyone.<sup><a href="#_ednref10" id="_edn10">10</a></sup></p> <p>Figure 3&nbsp;breaks down the backlog in Figure 1&nbsp;into three types of petition beneficiaries: principal applicants, dependent children, and dependent spouses. It shows that family members of workers and investors now make up the majority (over 51 percent) of the employment‐​based backlog. Principal petition beneficiaries are almost 49 percent, spouses are about 30 percent, and children are over 21 percent. The number of new principal petition beneficiaries entering the backlog in 2019 roughly equaled the number of green cards available in 2019, but because families took half the green card cap, the backlog continued to grow. If dependents were exempt from the cap, the backlog would stop growing.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="c27cfed7-5ff4-4dee-850a-2ffbd598326c" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_Figure 3"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Employment‐​based green cards are also limited by birthplace (per‐​country caps). With an exception only to avoid wasting green cards, the law prevents immigrants of any single birthplace from receiving more than 7&nbsp;percent of green cards issued in a&nbsp;single year. As a&nbsp;result, the backlog grows almost exclusively for immigrants from countries with the largest number of petition beneficiaries: India and China.&nbsp;Indians&nbsp;have the largest backlog with 780,579 petitions, making up 75 percent of the total. As Figure 4&nbsp;shows, the Indian backlog increased by almost 150,000 from April 2018 to November 2019. The backlogs for China and the rest of the world have also increased, though not as dramatically.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="42632b70-7c43-43c8-a390-4bf2a7cfe4ef" data-type="interactive" data-title="WEB: 20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_figure 4"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>From April 2018 to November 2019, the overall employment‐​based green card backlog increased at an annualized rate of 137,852. At that rate of increase, by the start of 2030, the green card backlog will exceed 2.4 million petitions—nearly all for immigrants from India or China. The result would be a&nbsp;de facto end to legal permanent immigration for new Indian skilled workers and Chinese investors.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Projection of Future Wait Times </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Table 2&nbsp;provides three estimates of how long it could take to process all petitions in the queue if there is no reform.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="2a028c6a-cac0-4993-ab52-d0fe882d3ca9" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_table 2"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The first column of Table 2&nbsp;shows how long all petitions would take to process if every petition beneficiary remains in line forever at the current rate of green card issuances. Essentially, this is the theoretical maximum wait time that all new beneficiaries face. Eight groups face waits of more than a&nbsp;decade—if everyone remains in line—and the longest projected wait would be for new EB‑2 and EB‑3 Indian employees of U.S. businesses who face a&nbsp;lifetime wait of 89&nbsp;years (see endnote for why these categories are combined).<sup><a href="#_ednref11" id="_edn11">11</a></sup></p> <p>The second column of Table 2&nbsp;shows how many petitions could expire due to deaths of beneficiaries (see the&nbsp;appendix&nbsp;for detailed methodology). Based on Social&nbsp;Security&nbsp;Administration&nbsp;estimates of the average rate of death by age for individuals, 209,116 petitions could expire as a&nbsp;result of workers dying before they receive their green cards, even if they managed to remain eligible in line forever. Nearly all the deaths—98 percent—would come from Indians in the EB‑2 and EB‑3 lines. Still, it would take 63&nbsp;years to process the survivors.</p> <p>The third column of Table 2&nbsp;considers deaths and the likely number of abandoned petitions to show how many petitions will ultimately result in green cards through the employment‐​based system (see the appendix for detailed methodology). Abandonment includes “aging out,” when a&nbsp;child of a&nbsp;petition beneficiary loses eligibility as a&nbsp;result of turning 21. The rate of abandonment for principal beneficiaries comes from the number of approved petitions in past years, which show how large the backlog would be had no petitions been abandoned.<sup><a href="#_ednref12" id="_edn12">12</a></sup>&nbsp;Only about 56 percent of those currently waiting for green cards could receive one through the employment‐​based process. As a&nbsp;result of their exceptionally long waits, only 44 percent of Indian beneficiaries of EB‑2 and EB‑3 petitions could receive green cards.</p> <p>Petitioners may abandon their petitions for several reasons: another employer could refile on the worker’s behalf, making the initial petition redundant; the immigrant could obtain a&nbsp;green card another way—such as by marrying a&nbsp;U.S. citizen—or could give up entirely, perhaps by leaving the country. From 2016 to 2019, for example, the number of Indians applying for permanent residence in Canada doubled.<sup><a href="#_ednref13" id="_edn13">13</a></sup>&nbsp;Some Indians are also already dying in line.<sup><a href="#_ednref14" id="_edn14">14</a></sup></p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> The Indian Skilled Worker Backlog </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The Indian EB‑2 and EB‑3 backlog is by far the longest, affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of skilled employees of U.S. businesses with advanced (EB‑2) or bachelor’s (EB‑3) degrees. Everyone in the current EB‑2/EB‑3 backlog originally applied during or after fiscal year 2009.<sup><a href="#_ednref15" id="_edn15">15</a></sup>&nbsp;Table 3&nbsp;estimates the backlog based on the years when petitions were filed and estimates the dates when immigrants could receive green cards if they don’t die or leave the line (see the appendix&nbsp;for detailed methodology). The share of Indian petition beneficiaries likely to receive employment‐​based green cards declines dramatically from 91 percent of those who applied during fiscal years 2009 and 2010 to 24 percent of those who applied from fiscal year 2019 to early 2020. In other words, three‐​quarters of recent Indian petition beneficiaries may not receive green cards.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="e051cc2c-49d2-4c85-9322-c103a4d4954d" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_table 3"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Under the country cap system, the law guarantees&nbsp;Indians&nbsp;only 7&nbsp;percent of total available green cards, but they can exceed this number if not all the green cards are used. Unfor­tunately for them, demand from the rest of the world is increasing. From 2018 to 2019, the share of green cards awarded to Indians fell from 13 percent to 10 percent, even as their share of petitions increased from 50 percent to 53 percent. This inequity between the share of petition beneficiaries and the share of approvals explains why Indians filled 89 percent of the employment‐​based backlog in 2020 (see Figure 5).<sup><a href="#_ednref16" id="_edn16">16</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="7cd2ac8f-d4bd-4fe3-9dfd-6901e6bcea4f" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_figure 5"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>This unintentional discrimination against Indian workers has distinct harms beyond the long waits. More than&nbsp;92 percent&nbsp;of EB‑2 and EB‑3 Indians who receive green cards are already in the United States working in temporary status—mainly the H‑1B work visa that workers can renew indefinitely so long as they are in the green card queue.<sup><a href="#_ednref17" id="_edn17">17</a></sup>&nbsp;H‑1B workers must maintain a&nbsp;job with only certain approved H‑1B employers. They cannot be unemployed at any time or start their own businesses. If H‑1B employers close or downsize—an obvious possibility over decades—visa holders lose their status and places in the green card queue.</p> <p>Minor children of H‑1B workers are also eligible for status under employed parents’ applications, but they lose their status and their places in the green card backlog when they turn 21. This means the longer the wait, the more India‐​born children will lose both their status and eligibility for&nbsp;employment‐​based green cards. More than two‐​thirds of minor children of Indian EB‑2 and EB‑3 green card petition beneficiaries (almost 90,000) could age out and lose eligibility for green cards. These children would have to self‐​deport or find new temporary or permanent visas. Meanwhile, workers from other countries and their families will pass the Indians in line and continue to receive green cards.</p> <p>The per‐​country limits’ de facto anti‐​Indian policy discriminates against higher‐​skilled immigrants. In 2019, EB‑2 and EB‑3 Indians and Chinese had significantly higher wage offers than immigrants from other countries. In effect, the policy ushers lower‐​paid immigrants from other countries ahead of Indians.</p> <p>Figure 6&nbsp;shows the average wage offer for beneficiaries of EB‑2 and EB‑3 petitions in 2019. Indians and Chinese had average wage offers of about $120,000—two and a&nbsp;half times the earnings of the median wage or salary worker in the United States and a&nbsp;third above the average offer of about $90,000 for other EB‑2 and EB‑3 petition beneficiaries.<sup><a href="#_ednref18" id="_edn18">18</a></sup>&nbsp;Despite the higher wage offers to Indians and&nbsp;Chinese, they are forced to wait much longer. The differences in wage offers are not simply an accident of where&nbsp;Indians&nbsp;and&nbsp;Chinese&nbsp;choose to live: the average wage offers for Indians and Chinese were higher than other nationalities in every state except three.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="f7ac331d-2f86-482b-98a6-16a6357d0e3a" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_figure 6"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>U.S. employers clearly demand workers across the skills spectrum, but there is no economic reason to adopt policies that intentionally make higher‐​paid immigrants wait longer—or forever—for green cards based on their birthplaces.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Options for Reform </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The per‐​country limits cause the most significant waits in the employment‐​based system. The Fairness for High‐​Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 (H.R. 1044), which the House of&nbsp;Representatives&nbsp;passed on a&nbsp;vote of 365 to 65&nbsp;in July 2019, would phase out country caps over a&nbsp;four‐​year period.<sup><a href="#_ednref19" id="_edn19">19</a></sup>&nbsp;Because Indians and Chinese dominate the backlog, the act guarantees other nationalities at least 15 percent of the green cards in the first year and 10 percent in the two succeeding years. It also contains a&nbsp;provision assuring that immigrants from all other countries who apply before enactment will not lose their advantageous positions.</p> <p>Table 4&nbsp;shows how the Fairness for High‐​Skilled&nbsp;Immigrants&nbsp;Act would affect the number of EB‑2 and EB‑3 green cards received by immigrant birthplace as well as the size of the EB‑2/EB‑3 backlog by birthplace, again factoring in deaths and abandoned petitions (see the appendix for detailed methodology). Table 4&nbsp;also projects the backlog increase moving forward based on the share of petitions by birthplace in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref20" id="_edn20">20</a></sup>&nbsp;Under the bill, all new petitions starting in 2022 would immediately enter the backlog regardless of birthplace.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="224f75a8-52bf-41d8-9acc-a6f8e1a9b884" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_table 4"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Table 4&nbsp;reveals that it would take less than a&nbsp;decade for the existing backlog to be processed without the per‐​country limits compared to several decades with them (see&nbsp;Table 2). Furthermore, the Fairness for High‐​Skilled&nbsp;Immigrants&nbsp;Act would move policy toward its stated purpose of fairness or equity between nationalities. The share of green cards issued would more closely resemble the share of the green card backlog in 2030 (highlighted in Table 4). Inequity would still exist in 2030, however, because the advantages of other nationalities would partially continue during the first three years. While not shown in Table 4, the share of Indian petitions in the 2020 backlog eventually receiving employment‐​based green cards would increase under the Fairness for High‐​Skilled&nbsp;Immigrants&nbsp;Act from&nbsp;44 percent&nbsp;(as seen in Table 2) to 81 percent, as a&nbsp;result of fewer deaths and abandoned petitions.</p> <p>Table 4&nbsp;also shows that if the current rate of increase in the backlog continues, the legislation would still permit a&nbsp;massive increase in the EB‑2/EB‑3 backlog by 2030—skyrocketing past 2&nbsp;million. Indians would improve their position relative to the status quo but would still have more than 1.2 million petitions pending, which would take decades to process.</p> <p>Senators have proposed additional reforms to address this problem. Senators Richard Durbin (D‑IL) and Rand Paul (R‑KY) want to phase out the per‐​country limits&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;increase the availability of green cards, making the system more equitable and more efficient. Durbin’s Resolving Extended&nbsp;Limbo&nbsp;for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act (S. 2603) exempts spouses and minor children from the cap, effectively doubling the number of green cards, and it creates a&nbsp;new temporary pool of green cards equal to the current number of backlogged petitions as of 2020 to be dispensed over five years. Paul’s Backlog&nbsp;Elimination, Legal&nbsp;Immigration, and Employment Visa Enhancement (BELIEVE) Act (S. 2091) eliminates the per‐​country limits, increases the overall limit on employment‐​based green cards from 140,000 to 270,000, exempts spouses and minor children of workers and investors from the cap, and creates a&nbsp;new uncapped category for shortage occupations, currently nurses and physical therapists. These reforms would effectively quadruple the available green cards in the EB‑2/EB‑3 categories.</p> <p>Figure 7&nbsp;compares the potential effects of the&nbsp;Fairness&nbsp;for High‐​Skilled Immigrants Act and current law and the&nbsp;RELIEF&nbsp;and BELIEVE Acts on the total EB‑2/EB‑3 green card backlog, including existing petitions and future petitions (projected based on total increase). The Fairness for High‐​Skilled Immigrants Act would only redistribute the backlog more fairly between nationalities—it would not reduce it. Under the Fairness for High‐​Skilled Immigrants Act as well as current law, the backlog would increase&nbsp;160 percent&nbsp;by 2030, while the backlog would decline by&nbsp;74 percent&nbsp;under the&nbsp;RELIEF&nbsp;Act. Only Paul’s BELIEVE Act would eliminate the backlog completely in 2026.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="67e7b4df-d04f-466f-94cd-4b574dcd1514" data-type="interactive" data-title="20200310_NOWRASTEH_Bier_Backlog_figure 7"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <h2 class="heading"> Conclusion </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>America’s employment‐​based immigration system is broken. More than 1&nbsp;million immigrants are waiting for lawful permanent residence solely from outdated caps, and the current rate of increase in the backlog predicts that it will total more than 2.4 million by 2030. Per‐​country limits force Indians to bear nearly the entire burden of a&nbsp;broken system with more recent immigrants facing lifetime waits for green cards. About 205,000 could die in line even if they stay in line as long as possible.</p> <p>Congress needs to address this emergency before the country loses out on hundreds of thousands of skilled workers who could contribute to America’s economy. Abandoning per‐​country limits would be a&nbsp;good first step, but it would be insufficient to prevent unsustainable waits for all immigrants. Congress also needs to increase the number of green cards dramatically to resolve this crisis.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Appendix </h2> , <h3 class="heading"> Methodology for Figures 1–4 </h3> , <div class="text-default"> <p>U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported the number of principal petition beneficiaries (i.e., workers or investors) by category and birthplace. It provided a “multiplier” to estimate the number of derivative beneficiaries (i.e., spouses and minor children eligible for green cards by virtue of their relationships to the principal applicants). USCIS multiplies the multiplier by the number of principal beneficiaries to calculate the number of derivative beneficiaries.</p> <p>USCIS calculated the multiplier by taking the number of derivative beneficiaries who received green cards divided by the number of principal beneficiaries who received green cards, as recorded on Table 7&nbsp;of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) 2016&nbsp;<em>Yearbook of Immigration Statistics</em>. Figures 1–4 estimate these multipliers separately for spouses and children in the same manner as USCIS using DHS’s 2018&nbsp;<em>Yearbook of Immigration Statistics</em>. These multipliers were multiplied against the number of principal beneficiaries listed in USCIS’s disclosure.<sup><a href="#_ednref21" id="_edn21">21</a></sup></p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> Methodology for Table 2 </h3> , <div class="text-default"> <p><strong>No Changes Column</strong>.&nbsp;The backlog estimates in&nbsp;Table 2&nbsp;are estimated by multiplying the number of principal beneficiaries listed in USCIS’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosure by the derivative multiplier described in the methodology for Figures 1–4. The number of annual green cards issued by birthplace and category are estimated using the numbers from 2019. The number of years to process with no changes was calculated by dividing the backlog by the number of green cards issued in 2018. EB‑2 and EB‑3 were combined because every EB‑2 applicant can refile under EB‑3 (i.e., “port”) when those waits become shorter than EB‑2. EB‑2 requires an advanced degree; EB‑3 requires a&nbsp;bachelor’s degree. This explains why the current wait times for EB‑2 and EB‑3 are already so close. EB‑2 and EB‑3 beneficiaries both waited about 10&nbsp;years for the chance to apply for green cards in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref22" id="_edn22">22</a></sup></p> <p><strong>Deaths Column</strong>.&nbsp;The number of future deaths was calculated as follows:</p> <p>First, the ages of adult backlogged beneficiaries—principal beneficiaries and their spouses—were estimated for each category according to the age distribution of H‑1B visa holders extending their status in 2017. Most employment‐​based green card applicants start on H‑1Bs, and those applying for extensions are likely to have very similar age distribution as pending employment‐​based applicants. USCIS only reports the H‑1B age distribution in five‐​year increments, so the population at individual ages was estimated by dividing by five. For children, the age distribution originated from&nbsp;Table 8&nbsp;of DHS’s&nbsp;<em>Yearbook of Immigration Statistics</em>, showing the age distribution of new legal permanent residents.<sup><a href="#_ednref23" id="_edn23">23</a></sup></p> <p>Second, the probability of dying at each age was taken from the Social Security Administration’s life tables.</p> <p>Third, the probability of dying at each age was multiplied by the backlogged population at each age to produce the number of deaths in a&nbsp;year.</p> <p>Fourth, the backlogged population at each age was aged one year for each year into the projection.</p> <p>Fifth, the number of deaths in each age group in the prior year was subtracted from the prior year’s population.</p> <p>Sixth, the population of each individual age was reduced by the number of green cards issued in the prior year in proportion to that population’s share of the total population, based on the number of green cards issued in fiscal year (FY) 2019.</p> <p>This process was repeated for each year until the initial population was reduced to zero. Deaths for each year were summed to produce an estimated number of total deaths, assuming all beneficiaries remained in the backlog. The number of years to process is the number of years that it took to reduce the initial populations to zero.</p> <p><strong>Abandonment Column</strong>.&nbsp;The rate of abandonment was calculated based on the number of approved petitions for EB‑2 and EB‑3 Indian nationals from 2009 to 2019. FY 2009 was taken as the starting point because the Department of State (DOS) was currently processing petitions from 2009&nbsp;in November 2019, and Indian EB‑2 and EB‑3 petition beneficiaries had the longest time sample to review.<sup><a href="#_ednref24" id="_edn24">24</a></sup></p> <p>First, the number of approved I‑140 petitions for&nbsp;Indians&nbsp;filed in 2009 was reduced by the percentage of that year that had been allowed to apply for a&nbsp;green card/​immigrant visa as of&nbsp;November&nbsp;2019 based on DOS’s “Visa Bulletin for&nbsp;November 2019.”</p> <p>Second, the number of approvals for each year was reduced by an annual rate necessary to obtain the actual number of backlogged petitions in November 2019. This rate was determined to be 2.4975 percent. This rate was used for EB‑1 to EB‑4 categories. Steps 1&nbsp;and 2&nbsp;were similarly performed for EB‑5 petition approvals from 2013 to 2020 to produce an abandonment rate for EB‑5 petitions.</p> <p>Third, the rate of abandonment was then applied to the population of backlogged beneficiaries in 2020 by age (as calculated above). Each age group was aged forward one year, and the number of abandoned petitions in the prior year was then subtracted from the population for each age in the prior year in the same manner as deaths. Abandoned petitions as well as deaths and green cards as calculated above were subtracted from each age group until the initial population was zero.</p> <p>Fourth, beneficiaries turning age 21 were dropped from the backlog each year of the projection because the law only entitles children under age 21 to derivative eligibility for green cards. The number of green cards received in Table 2&nbsp;was calculated by summing the projected number of green cards issued under this calculation (i.e., minus deaths and abandoned petitions).</p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> Methodology for Table 3 </h3> , <div class="text-default"> <p>USCIS’s FOIA disclosure does not provide the date of the approved petitions, so Table 3&nbsp;estimates the distribution of backlogged beneficiaries based on the distribution of I‑140 approved petitions filed from FY 2009 to November 2019. FY 2009 is currently the oldest petition without a&nbsp;current priority date in the EB‑2/EB‑3 line, so all backlogged petitions entered after that date. The model that includes deaths and abandonments used in Table 2&nbsp;was then applied to each to estimate the dates they would be processed.<sup><a href="#_ednref25" id="_edn25">25</a></sup></p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> Methodology for Figure 6 </h3> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) publishes the individual wage offers for all EB‑2 and EB‑3 immigrants whose employers are required to receive approved labor certifications. Figure 6&nbsp;includes only the labor certifications that were certified. The wage offers can be annual, monthly, weekly, or hourly and can have a&nbsp;high or low range, so Figure 6’s projection comes from annualizing each wage range and then averaging the range for each individual. The countries reflect the birth country of the immigrant, not their citizenship. The data needed mild cleaning to correct for errors that listed yearly wages as paid on a&nbsp;more regular schedule.<sup><a href="#_ednref26" id="_edn26">26</a></sup></p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> Methodology for Table 4 </h3> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Table 4&nbsp;uses the same model as Table 2’s projection that includes deaths and abandonment. It assumes that in 2020, the status quo will prevail for green card issuances because the Fairness for High‐​Skilled Immigrants Act includes a&nbsp;provision that states that anyone who applied for the date of enactment will receive the same treatment as before, and at any one time, there is more than a&nbsp;year’s worth of new petition beneficiaries. For 2021 and 2020, non‐​Indian, non‐​Chinese nationalities are guaranteed 10 percent of the green cards, and for all years after that, the remaining 2020 Chinese backlog was equally distributed across the number of years it would take for the 2020 Indian backlog to be processed.</p> <p>The annual rate of increase in the total backlog was estimated for all beneficiaries by taking the monthly rate of increase in the backlog from April 2018 to November 2019 and multiplying by 12. Then, the gross increase—that is, the difference between the total backlog and the backlog in 2020—was distributed based on the percentage of petitions issued by birthplace in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref27" id="_edn27">27</a></sup></p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> Methodology for Figure 7 </h3> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The estimated increase in the total backlog under the Fairness for High‐​Skilled Immigrants Act comes from the last row of Table 4, estimated by the annual rate of increase in the backlog from April 2018 to November 2019. The increase in the number of green cards under the Resolving&nbsp;Extended&nbsp;Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families and Backlog Elimination, Legal Immigration, and Employment Visa&nbsp;Enhancement&nbsp;Acts was subtracted from the estimated backlog. Both cases assume that 50 percent of EB‑1 numbers go unused and spill over to EB‑2 and EB‑3 after 2022.</p> </div> Mon, 30 Mar 2020 03:00:00 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/publications/immigration-research-policy-brief/backlog-skilled-immigrants-tops-1-million-over David Bier’s paper, “H‑2A Visas for Agriculture: The Complex Process for Farmers to Hire Agricultural Guest Workers,” is cited on NBC WHO’s Channel 13 News at 10 https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/david-biers-paper-h-2a-visas-agriculture-complex-process-farmers Wed, 25 Mar 2020 11:44:01 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/david-biers-paper-h-2a-visas-agriculture-complex-process-farmers Immigrants Aid America During COVID-19 Crisis https://www.cato.org/blog/immigrants-aid-america-during-covid-19-crisis David J. Bier <p>As the COVID-19 spreads through the United States, the government <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/timeline-list-us-immigration-actions-covid-19">has</a> closed its borders to foreigners. Yet millions of immigrants already here are working every day to defeat the contagion or mitigate its economic effects. From cleaning away germs to developing cures for them to delivering needed supplies, immigrants are disproportionately engaged in the effort to defeat COVID-19. Indeed, immigrants are overrepresented in nearly every job that is critical during this pandemic.</p> <p><strong>Health Care and Diagnosis</strong></p> <p>On the front lines of this battle are the nearly <a href="https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/search?ds=ACSPUMS1Y2018&amp;cv=CIT&amp;rv=OCCP&amp;wt=PWGTP">1.7 million</a> foreign‐​born medical and health care workers who are caring for COVID-19 patients, according to the <a href="https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/search?ds=ACSPUMS1Y2018&amp;cv=CIT&amp;rv=OCCP&amp;wt=PWGTP">Census Bureau’s American Community Survey</a> (ACS). Figure 1 shows that while immigrants composed <a href="https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/search?ds=ACSPUMS1Y2018&amp;cv=CIT&amp;wt=PWGTP">only 13.7 percent</a> of the U.S. population in 2018, they <a href="https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/search?ds=ACSPUMS1Y2018&amp;cv=CIT&amp;rv=OCCP&amp;wt=PWGTP">were</a> 35.2 percent of the home health care aides in America (224,325), 28.5 percent of physicians (281,127), 20.9 percent of nursing assistants (365,466), 18.9 percent of health care diagnosing or treating practitioners (2,840), 18.5 percent of clinical lab technicians (73,314), 15.2 percent of medical assistants (98,383), 15 percent of registered nurses (569,534), and 14.9 percent of health technicians (24,530).</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="d8b1822f-1465-477f-86bf-3349fb85303e" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="8e234df9-2de1-4b89-aede-5dfb295c2b47" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: Foreign-born share of various health care occupations and foreign share of U.S. population"></div> </div> </div> </p> <p><strong>Researching Cures and Treatments</strong></p> <p>Researching cures and treatments for this virus will likely be the primary long‐​term solution to the crisis, and immigrants are heavily involved in the relevant fields. The United States had more than 155,000 foreign‐​born biomedical or chemical engineers, biological or chemical technicians, chemists, and medical or life scientists in 2018, according to <a href="https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/search?ds=ACSPUMS1Y2018&amp;cv=CIT&amp;rv=OCCP&amp;wt=PWGTP">the ACS</a>. Specifically, they were nearly 40 percent of medical and life scientists (67,646) and nearly 30 percent of chemists and material scientists (32,226).</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="528e7181-71ad-467f-b13d-bc2cd2ef2964" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="06f0d08a-84a7-4165-aabc-37ba277e291d" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 2: Foreign-born share of various scientific fields"></div> </div> </div> </p> <p>The U.S. Department of Labor <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/skilled-immigrants-searching-coronavirus-cures-us-companies">has approved</a> more than 11,000 hires of foreign workers specifically at the eight major U.S. companies researching coronavirus cures and treatments. Figure 3 below shows that—<a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/skilled-immigrants-searching-coronavirus-cures-us-companies">as I have detailed before</a>—over the last decade, those eight companies have received approvals for 3,310 biochemists, biophysicists, chemists, and other scientists under the H‑1B program. They have received approvals for 2,801 statisticians to analyze the data the scientists are producing as well as 2,133 computer, database, and software support staff.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="ec513898-6ee9-4b39-85d4-0a2402d5ae26" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="c39ef005-3ef4-4607-8af3-f626822d339a" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 3: Occupations of H-1Bs Requested By Companies Developing Coronavirus Vaccines or Treatments"></div> </div> </div> </p> <p><strong>Cleaning and Disinfecting </strong></p> <p>It has never been more important to have clean work places, homes, and public spaces. A National Institute of Health study has <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.09.20033217v1.full.pdf?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=56321610e5ddc0b92690501b19bf6bf05846d7e0-1584463019-0-AUzgl56KQBe9gZ6ZdGynGjlez5F8cl8b6uZhgq7MY238kZvBRwGRj-tNkM-gW3N01AzXG_dPcj7FMe6-JB0HziA6p0e-OdwP2mnNpAsyVlJyiQES6wqKWxZViw4YsOjY3CmD7CdDhDKHt71eOcnGiv58W6q2ZT8fJckYRK1EUv-q3Vyrpmqvzvy4cRRPLZgPknC67OSlSxo_Nz5jAbpSUc58po-O4zCTDhtdOPe_E7e7W-Ecpkw6vLPCfN2A83w1V-5M7mDMOXrzNBdMsd4go6q9CzgrLLG-M65MLEakh77b48kSFXoOasTrubPqfsQGnYHAxCSCY9_tzFO5BRSg0uo">found</a> that COVID-19 can live on surfaces for up to 3 days, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fcommunity%2Fhome%2Fcleaning-disinfection.html">recommends</a> cleaning and disinfecting as a “best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19.” As Figure 4 shows, immigrants specialize in cleaning occupations that prevent the spread of the disease. They are nearly half of America’s maids, a quarter of its janitors, and 22 percent of its vehicle cleaners and its supervisors of janitors.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="ff918ef4-4f71-494a-837a-fa5d1df3a28a" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="befc9814-9f7b-4152-9911-5cb7b0aaa8c6" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 4: Foreign-born share of cleaning occupations"></div> </div> </div> </p> <p><strong>Distribution and Delivery of Food and Supplies</strong></p> <p>The CDC recommends that Americans limit exposure to public spaces as much as possible, so households are stocking up on food and other supplies like never before to avoid trips out. The country is depending on supply chains to allow them to stay inside, and immigrants are disproportionately involved in those chains from start to finish.</p> <p>Nearly 1.5 million immigrants work in delivery, shipping, and trucking, bringing products to households who need them across America. As Figure 5 shows, immigrants were 18.4 percent of industrial truck and tractor operators (139,172), 17 percent of shipping and receiving clerks (126,406), 17 percent of truck and delivery drivers (760,462), 14 percent of freight and stock workers (450,719) in 2018.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="bd286608-7c3a-4afe-9269-7c01c729d4ba" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="ca94cd61-7d50-4136-98d6-413d8b75f7d8" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 5: Foreign-born share of various distribution jobs"></div> </div> </div> </p> <p><strong>Food Production </strong></p> <p>Americans still need food to wait out this crisis, and immigrants cultivate and process a significant portion of America’s food and meat production. Figure 6 shows the foreign‐​born share in various agricultural and related occupations. In 2018, there were more than 700,000 immigrants in the agricultural and food or meat processing jobs. This doesn’t include the more than <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/immigration-research-policy-brief/h-2a-visas-agriculture-complex-process-farmers-hire?au_hash=MWoN7TtlQWgw0m_Nnvec56g9tUGVz4RnyICRRTr7Ios#farmers-h-2afarmers-h-2a-p-program">200,000 foreign workers</a> admitted to farms as H‑2A guest workers.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="c316738a-184d-4a13-8970-f1a4638e218b" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="222544c0-10c2-49ca-8908-74c9b32f6c9b" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 6:Foreign-born share of food production and processing and foreign share of U.S. population"></div> </div> </div> </p> <p><strong>Other Production of Supplies</strong></p> <p>Beyond food, immigrants are also heavily involved in production of other supplies. More than 1 million immigrants worked in the production jobs listed in Figure 7. In particular, one in five paper goods machine operators were immigrants in 2018. These jobs include toilet paper, which has faced unprecedented demand in recent weeks.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="0854a00d-f1e4-432b-b876-4805c439f15b" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="a79288b0-f00c-470e-a74d-9e91f9bdec10" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 7: Foreign-born share of various production jobs and foreign share of U.S. population"></div> </div> </div> </p> <p>Obviously, native‐​born Americans are still the majority of most occupations in the United States, but immigrants play an important and disproportionate role in many of the occupations that the country is relying upon to get through this tough period. Given the important roles that immigrants are playing, the country should recognize the value of immigration more today than perhaps at any other time in its history.</p> Mon, 23 Mar 2020 13:07:15 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/immigrants-aid-america-during-covid-19-crisis Timeline and List of U.S. Immigration Actions on COVID-19 https://www.cato.org/blog/timeline-list-us-immigration-actions-covid-19 David J. Bier <p><span><em>Post last updated March 25, 2020</em></span></p> <p>The United States government has taken extreme actions to limit travel to the United States during the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, the government has suspended nearly all legal immigration and travel to the United States and paused most legal immigration applications from immigrants inside the United States as well. It has reduced interior immigration enforcement, deportation court cases, and stopped deportations to three countries.</p> <p>Below is a list of the dates of each action that it has taken, details of the action, and their effective dates. While the government is correct to reduce unnecessary travel at this time, it should not completely close off immigration because many immigrants <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/15/defeat-coronavirus-protect-legal-immigration-columnist/5034060002/">are serving important roles</a> in combating this epidemic. This post concludes with proposed actions that the government is considering.</p> <p><strong>COVID-19 Immigration Actions </strong></p> <ol> <li>1/31/20, <strong>China ban</strong>—<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-2019-novel-coronavirus/">Presidential proclamation</a> 9984</p> <ul> <li>Bans entry of all noncitizens who were in China in the last 14 days, except for LPRs, spouses of LPRs or U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21, siblings under 21 of U.S. citizens or LPRs under 21, child of U.S. citizens or LPRs, crewmembers, government officials, or those exempted by the Secretary of State or DHS.</li> <li>Requires quarantining of people who may have been exposed to the virus.</li> <li>Effective February 2, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>1/31/20, <strong>China U.S. citizen quarantine</strong>—<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/press-briefing-members-presidents-coronavirus-task-force/">DHS and HHS joint announcement</a> <ul> <li>Mandatory quarantine for any U.S. citizen who was in Hubei, China in the prior 14 days.</li> <li>Screening and self-quarantine for any U.S. citizen who was in China in the prior 14 days.</li> <li>Effective February 2, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>1/31/20, <strong>China flight rules</strong>—<a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-02318.pdf">federal register notice</a> <ul> <li>Requires flights carrying anyone who had been in China in the last 14 days to land at one of eight airports for screening.</li> <li>Effective February 2, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>2/1/20, <strong>China visa suspension</strong>—<a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20200306115515/https:/china.usembassy-china.org.cn/the-u-s-embassy-and-consulates-will-be-closed-february-3-7/">embassy notice</a> <ul> <li>State Department announces a total closure in China until February 7, 2020.</li> <li>Effective February 3, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>2/2/20, <strong>Updated China flight rules</strong>—<a href="https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/20_0202_dhs-arrival-restriction-frn-2.pdf">federal register notice</a> <ul> <li>Requires flights carrying anyone who had been in China in the last 14 days to land at one of 11 airports for screening.</li> <li>Effective February 2, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>2/10/20, <strong>China visa suspension 2.0</strong>—<a href="https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/mission-china-regular-visa-services-temporarily-suspended/">embassy notice</a> <ul> <li>State Department announces suspension of regular visa processing in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang.</li> <li>Effective February 10, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>2/29/20, <strong>Iran ban</strong>—<a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/04/2020-04595/suspension-of-entry-as-immigrants-and-nonimmigrants-of-certain-additional-persons-who-pose-a-risk-of">Presidential proclamation</a> 9992 <ul> <li>Bans entry of all noncitizens who were in Iran in the last 14 days, except for LPRs, spouses of LPRs or U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21, siblings under 21 of U.S. citizens or LPRs under 21, child of U.S. citizens or LPRs, crewmembers, government officials, or those exempted by the Secretary of State or DHS.</li> <li>Requires quarantining of people who may have been exposed to the virus.</li> <li>Effective March 2, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/3/20, <strong>Seattle court closure</strong>—<a href="https://www.seattleweekly.com/news/local-immigration-office-closed-due-to-covid-19/">EOIR announcement</a> <ul> <li>The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) closes Seattle immigration court after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.</li> <li>Effective March 2, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/4/20, <strong>Iran flight rules</strong>—<a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/04/2020-04542/notification-of-arrival-restrictions-applicable-to-flights-carrying-persons-who-have-recently">federal register notice</a> <ul> <li>Requires flights carrying anyone who had been in Iran in the last 14 days to land at one of 11 airports for screening.</li> <li>Effective: Retroactive <a>March 2, 2020.</a></li> </ul> </li> <li>3/9/20, <strong>Student visa flexible study</strong>—<a href="https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2003-01.pdf">ICE guidance</a> <ul> <li>ICE announces that it “intends to be flexible with temporary adaptations” to COVID-19 for students and OPT workers, including telework or remote classrooms.</li> <li>Effective March 9, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/10/20, <strong>UAC placement state restrictions</strong>—ORR <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/10/politics/unaccompanied-children-placement-coronavirus/index.html">internal decision</a> <ul> <li>The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) stops placing unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in homes or shelters in California or Washington.</li> <li>Effective March 10, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/11/20, <strong>Europe ban</strong>—<a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/16/2020-05578/suspension-of-entry-as-immigrants-and-nonimmigrants-of-certain-additional-persons-who-pose-a-risk-of">Presidential Proclamation</a> 9993 <ul> <li>Bans entry of all noncitizens who were in the European Schengen Area in the last 14 days, except for LPRs, spouses of LPRs or U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21, siblings under 21 of U.S. citizens or LPRs under 21, child of U.S. citizens or LPRs, crewmembers, government officials, or those exempted by State Department or DHS.</li> <li>Requires quarantining of people who may have been exposed to the virus.</li> <li>Effective March 13, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/12/20, <strong>Italy visa suspension</strong>—<a href="https://it.usembassy.gov/health-alert-u-s-embassy-rome-italy-march-12-2020-2/">embassy notice</a> <ul> <li>State Department suspends regular visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Rome and Consulates General Milan, Naples, and Florence.</li> <li>Effective March 12, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li><span>3/13/20,<strong> Public charge rule limited</strong>—<a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20200314205815/https:/www.uscis.gov/greencard/public-charge">USCIS notice</a></span> <ul> <li><span>USCIS announces it “will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination… even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits.”</span></li> </ul> </li> <li>3/14/20, <strong>Britain and Ireland ban</strong>—<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-certain-additional-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-coronavirus-2/">Presidential Proclamation</a> 9994 <ul> <li>Bans entry of all noncitizens who were in Britain or Ireland in the last 14 days, except for LPRs, spouses of LPRs or U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21, siblings under 21 of U.S. citizens or LPRs under 21, child of U.S. citizens or LPRs, crewmembers, government officials, or those exempted by State Department or DHS.</li> <li>Requires quarantining of people who may have been exposed to the virus.</li> <li>Effective March 16, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/15/20, <strong>Sick removals suspended—</strong><a href="https://www.ice.gov/covid19">ICE statement</a> <ul> <li>ICE states it would stop deportations of anyone with a 100.4-degree fever.</li> <li>Effective March 15, 2020 or earlier.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/16/20, <strong>Britain and Ireland flight rules</strong>—<a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-05783.pdf">federal register notice</a> <ul> <li>Requires flights carrying anyone who had been in Britain and Ireland<strong> </strong>in the last 14 days to land at one of 13 airports for screening.</li> <li>Effective March 16, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/17/20, <strong>ICE in-person check-ins cancelled</strong>—<a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/03/18/immigration-authorities-hit-pause-amid-coronavirus-concerns/">ICE letter to Congress</a> <ul> <li>ICE suspends in-person check-ins by immigrants considered a “low priority” for removal and ICE would give newly released immigrants at the border 60 days to check-in rather than 30.</li> <li>Effective March 17, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/17/2020, <strong>Guatemala suspends asylum deal</strong>—<a href="https://www.minex.gob.gt/noticias/Noticia.aspx?id=28628">Guatemala government notice</a> <ul> <li>Guatemala refuses to continue to accept asylum seekers from other countries.</li> <li>Effective March 17, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/17/20, <strong>Europe flight rules</strong>—<a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/17/2020-05606/notification-of-arrival-restrictions-applicable-to-flights-carrying-persons-who-have-recently">federal register notice</a> <ul> <li>Requires flights carrying anyone who had been in the European Schengen Area in the last 14 days to land at one of 13 airports for screening.</li> <li>Effective March 13, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/17/20, <strong>Immigration court closures</strong>—<a href="https://twitter.com/DOJ_EOIR/status/1240124718298038273">EOIR statement</a> <ul> <li>The Executive Office of Immigration Review postpones all hearings for non-detained immigrants and closed 10 additional courts.</li> <li>Effective March 18, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/17/20, <strong>USCIS in-person interviews suspended</strong>—<a href="https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-temporarily-closing-offices-public-march-18-april-1">USCIS statement</a> <ul> <li>U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suspends routine in-person services until at least April 1.</li> <li>Effective March 18, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/18/20, <strong>Worldwide visa suspension</strong>—<a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html">State Department notice</a> <ul> <li>State Department cancels routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments, effectively prohibiting new authorizations to travel to the United States. Only emergency appointments will be allowed.</li> <li>Effective March 18, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/18/20, <strong>ICE enforcement restrictions</strong>—<a href="https://www.ice.gov/covid19">ICE statement</a> <ul> <li>ICE suspends arrests of those who are not “public safety risks or individual subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.” Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli <a href="https://twitter.com/HomelandKen/status/1240644749176037377">has clarified</a> that some non-priority arrests will still occur.</li> <li>Effective March 18, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/18/20, <strong>ICE removals limited</strong>—<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/18/politics/immigration-changes-coronavirus/index.html">ICE statement</a> <ul> <li>ICE told CNN that it suspends removal flights to Italy, China, and South Korea indefinitely.</li> <li>Effective March 18, 2020 or earlier</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/18/20, <strong>CBP Trusted Traveler closures</strong>—<a href="https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-temporarily-closes-trusted-traveler-program-enrollment-centers">CBP statement</a> <ul> <li>CBP closes operations at Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers nationwide until at least May 1, 2020.</li> <li>Effective March 19, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/18/20, <strong>Refugee entry suspension</strong>—<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/18/politics/us-refugee-admissions-coronavirus/index.html">State Department announcement</a> <ul> <li>All refugee resettlement pauses until at least April 6, 2020.</li> <li>Effective March 19, 2020.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/19/20, <strong>H-2 visas processed</strong>—<a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-keeps-processing-seasonal-worker-visas-after-warning-from-farmers-11584652889">State Department Statements</a> <ul> <li>The State Department resumed processing H-2A and H-2B visas, despite its suspension of most visa processing. It could be limited to returning workers who can have a visa interview waived.</li> <li>Effective March 19, 2020 or earlier.</li> </ul> </li> <li>3/20/20, <strong>Voluntary returns of Mexicans</strong>—<a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/coronavirus-patrol-border-agents-quietly-begin-sending-mexicans-back-across-the-border">Statements</a> <ul> <li>Border Patrol stops expedited removals of Mexicans—which trigger a permanent bar on reentry—and allows them to take voluntary removal to avoid any time in detention.</li> <li>Effective March 20, 2020 or earlier.</li> </ul> </li> <li><span>3/20/20, <strong>Canada tourist ban</strong>—<a href="https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/20/joint-statement-us-canada-joint-initiative-temporary-restriction-travelers-crossing">DHS statement</a></span> <ul> <li><span><span>Bars all Canadian visa waiver program travelers for 30 days.</span></span></li> <li><span><span>Effective March 21, 2020</span></span></li> </ul> </li> <li><span>3/20/20, <strong>Mexico tourist ban</strong>—<a href="https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/20/joint-statement-us-mexico-joint-initiative-combat-covid-19-pandemic">DHS statement</a></span> <ul> <li><span>Bars all Mexican tourists bars travelers for 30 days</span></li> <li><span>Effective March 21, 2020</span></li> </ul> </li> <li>3/20/20, <strong>Asylum seeker ban</strong>—<a href="https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/23/fact-sheet-dhs-measures-border-limit-further-spread-coronavirus">DHS statement</a> <ul> <li><span><span>Removes without any process anyone without documents detained along the southwest border to Mexico or to their home country.</span></span></li> <li><span><span>Effective March 21, 2020.</span></span></li> </ul> </li> <li>3/20/20, <strong>I-9 In-Person Document Check Suspension</strong>—<a href="https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/dhs-announces-flexibility-requirements-related-form-i-9-compliance">ICE statement</a> <ul> <li><span>Waives the requirement to inspect employment ID documents in-person for 60 days but only for remote workers</span></li> <li><span>Effective March 20, 2020</span></li> </ul> </li> <li><span>3/23/20, <strong>Varick Immigration Court Temporarily Closed</strong>—<a href="https://www.facebook.com/doj.eoir/posts/2828063397420844?__xts__%5b0%5d=68.ARDJcYT2Adx-3Q7eTjoD8mLPy3nZD6cPTJTfq5bbR19xwVU57cJO5d-z08MjuyGHxqN1AZgi0fyS7_nex56W-Z04AOiqgqlnv1Ogc0WCDIN8eMALn1L0PorFS2obpcj_xEBsXhSU72O7fcGzMgQGFU7_71ODUuwPplhMW0NG1cvXzZh1V5RHRWrlyIdnRvAnKSQRJfDovOuLpi1tri_4SdxO4lESx_ynNm7NqsG6bO4E_RKv3j-NBCHJBmaow8WWqK0fLL8c33_Uiu_RUg2eeS2L4ed9uUjQEqrEF7QrLQV7A5WR1p4-WtzyxxxX_zna0gRHXXsGJcdkXCB5W3w4HI4G&amp;__tn__=-R">EOIR statement</a></span> <ul> <li><span>Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) closes the Varick Street New York City immigration court after a case of COVID-19.</span></li> <li><span>Effective March 24, 2020</span></li> </ul> </li> <li><span>3/23/20</span>, <strong>MPP Hearings Postponed</strong>—<a href="https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/23/joint-statement-mpp-rescheduling">EOIR/DHS Statement</a> <ul> <li><span>The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) postpones all hearings for immigrants returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP). </span></li> <li><span>Effective date March 23, 2020</span></li> </ul> </li> <li>3/24/20, <strong>Varick Immigration Court Reopened</strong>—<a href="https://twitter.com/Imm_Judges_NAIJ/status/1242637355967811584">Statement</a> <ul> <li><span>Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) reopens the Varick Street New York City immigration court after a case of COVID-19 on March 23.</span></li> <li><span>Effective March 25, 2020</span></li> </ul> </li> <li><span>3/24/20,<strong> Electronic Labor Certification Approvals</strong>—<a href="https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/">DOL Statement</a> </span> <ul> <li><span>The Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would issue PERM labor certification documents electronically through June 30.</span></li> <li><span>Effective March 25, 2020</span></li> </ul> </li> <li><span>3/25/20, <strong>Elizabeth Immigration Court Closed</strong>—<a href="https://www.facebook.com/doj.eoir/posts/2828695954024255?__xts__%5b0%5d=68.ARDUBQDGYm4Z03ZjNv8mhWiWmYuDzHcTOna0DWy1aFZcL6iXaOwokGb2bBUBJvp1wcw11oXZVHxYKWdf28kRe6HTnpdOr6gSRC2iqX2IEG4ByyMPABp6EqvomJu6M96lQs3RaIniKF1yb5IA8bowLUALl2-LYP7QvzO_EvdG7B5sL8LfxyDoAYwMoBE9MxQiHVTVHmnbBP5JbxrhlziceSZqoWctDUdeNEWNCmHQNePMOKWFHD__VbhoXT-dJ5TL1IivnHV8p1vDzn0lhVHZF3od10XipIeBsfQjQBV3q68uZ6wKlDXHOfZDvIYTA1-wAT9Y74CuqTTSYKZIto2GEUPf&amp;__tn__=-R">EOIR Statement</a></span> <ul> <li><span>Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) closes the Elizabeth New Jersey immigration court after a case of COVID-19.</span></li> <li><span>Effective March 26, 2020</span></li> </ul> </li> </ol> <p><span><strong>Proposed Immigration Actions</strong></span></p> <p><span>3/18/20, <strong>H-2B decrease</strong>—<a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/18/trump-considers-visas-foreign-investors-135985">Statements</a></span></p> <ul> <li><span><span>Would reverse the announced increase of 35,000 H-2B visas for seasonal nonagricultural jobs.</span></span></li> <li><span><span>Effective date uncertain.</span></span></li> </ul> <p><span>3/18/20, <strong>EB-5 increase</strong>—<a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/18/trump-considers-visas-foreign-investors-135985">Statements</a></span></p> <ul> <li><span><span>Would increase the number of immigrant investor green cards from 10,000 to 75,000 and decrease investment amounts to $450,000 and $900,000.</span></span></li> <li><span><span>Effective date: Not applicable as Congress must approve.</span></span></li> </ul> <p><span>3/23/20, <strong>Extensions of Work Authorizations</strong>—<a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6379">House Bill</a></span></p> <ul> <li><span>House Democrats’ bill (H.R.6379 - Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act) would automatically extend the status and work authorization of all nonimmigrants or DACA recipients for the same length as the original period</span></li> <li><span>Effective date of enactment of bill</span></li> </ul> <p><span>3/23/20, <strong>Waivers of All In-Person Requirements</strong>—<a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6379">House Bill</a></span></p> <ul> <li><span>House Democrats’ bill (H.R.6379 - Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act) would “temporarily suspend or modify any procedural requirement with which an applicant, petitioner, or other person or entity must otherwise comply” affected by the COVID-19 crisis </span></li> <li><span>Effective date of enactment of bill</span></li> </ul> <p></p> Thu, 19 Mar 2020 14:16:24 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/timeline-list-us-immigration-actions-covid-19 David Bier discusses his article, “Want to Defeat Coronavirus? Protect Legal Immigration,” on Freedom Works with Paul Malloy https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/david-bier-discusses-article-want-defeat-coronavirus-protect Tue, 17 Mar 2020 11:06:07 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/david-bier-discusses-article-want-defeat-coronavirus-protect Want to Defeat Coronavirus? Protect Legal Immigration https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/want-defeat-coronavirus-protect-legal-immigration David J. Bier <div class="lead text-default"> <p>President Trump initially kept&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/less-costly-ways-reduce-harm-covid-19-without-travel-immigration-bans" target="_blank">reasonable travel restrictions</a>&nbsp;to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but with the virus spreading inside the United States, he is already shifting from minimizing its threat — his first instinct — to use it to justify restrictive immigration policies that he wanted anyway. A&nbsp;broader move to general nativism at this time would be disastrous, as so many immigrants are leading the U.S. response to the virus.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>During a&nbsp;global pandemic, the world gets suspicious of outsiders. We must guard against falling into this trap.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>A&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/skilled-immigrants-searching-coronavirus-cures-us-companies" target="_blank">new analysis</a>&nbsp;of government data from the Cato Institute shows that eight of the major companies developing treatments and vaccines for the virus are heavily reliant on foreign workers. From 2010 to 2019, we found that the Department of Labor approved the companies developing treatments or vaccines for coronavirus to hire more than 11,000 immigrants and H‑1B high skilled foreign workers.</p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> Pharmaceutical companies rely on foreign workers </h3> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Among these hires were 3,310 foreign biochemists, biophysicists, chemists, and other scientists on H‑1B visas. They had brought in thousands of statisticians to analyze data and software, database, and computer engineers to support them. Without these workers, America’s hope of treating and saving thousands of lives at risk from the coronavirus would greatly diminish.</p> <p>Gilead Sciences, for example, has developed&nbsp;<a href="https://www.thestreet.com/investing/gilead-sciences-gains-cdc-confirms-us-coronavirus-drug-use" target="_blank">a&nbsp;leading candidate</a>&nbsp;to treat the disease, which is in ongoing clinical trials. It received approvals for more than 300 biochemists, biophysicists, and other biological scientists last year alone. Sanofi, which is working with the U.S. government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority on a&nbsp;vaccine, relies on dozens of H‑1B workers on its research team. Sanofi even hired its chief medical officer on an H‑1B visa in 2010.</p> <p>Moderna Therapeutics, which has the first vaccine to reach Phase 1&nbsp;trials in the United States, obtained H‑1B approvals for 18 biological technicians, biochemists, biophysicists or biomedical engineers in 2019 alone.</p> <p>This shouldn’t be a&nbsp;surprise. We’ve known for years that many of the top drug researchers in America are foreign‐​born. A&nbsp;<a href="http://research.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/patent-pending.pdf" target="_blank">2013 report</a>&nbsp;from the Partnership for a&nbsp;New American Economy found that at the top 10‐​patent producing U.S. universities, 79 percent of drug or drug compound patents had a&nbsp;foreign‐​born inventor. In molecular biology and microbiology the share was 75 percent.</p> <p>It’s not just the researchers America needs either. We also need doctors, nurses, and home health aides—all occupations where immigrants are disproportionately represented. In New York City where the coronavirus outbreak is&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/nyregion/school-closings-ny-nj.html" target="_blank">shutting down&nbsp;schools</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://nycfuture.org/data/immigrant-workers-data-brief" target="_blank">45 percent</a>&nbsp;of doctors and 58 percent of registered nurses were foreign‐​born in 2016. Among home health care aids who are particularly important for the elderly population most at risk from the virus, the share was 76%.</p> <p>These immigrants are the first responders to this crisis. America must treat them as heroes, not as threats.</p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> Not all “prevention techniques” are equally effective </h3> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The United States needs to be careful in its response to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control states that Americans, especially older Americans,&nbsp;<a href="https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/486645-cdc-americans-over-60-should-stock-up-on-supplies-avoid-crowds" target="_blank">shouldn’t&nbsp;unnecessarily travel</a>. The government has already adopted reasonable restrictions on foreign entries, but a&nbsp;broader assault on immigration that targets skilled immigrants would reduce America’s effective response to coronavirus.</p> <p>America’s skilled medical and research professionals are already hampered by this administration. Researchers of Chinese ethnicity in the United States&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-07-18/u-s-targeting-of-chinese-scientists-fuels-a-brain-drain" target="_blank">are being punished</a>&nbsp;for collaborations in China at a&nbsp;time when America needs more collaboration on important research targeting the coronavirus.</p> <p>Simultaneously, the U.S. government is dramatically escalating the number of denials for H‑1B visas for skilled workers—increasing from 6&nbsp;percent to 32 percent from 2015 to 2019, according to a&nbsp;<a href="https://nfap.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/H-1B-Denial-Rates-Past-and-Present.NFAP-Policy-Brief.April-2019.pdf" target="_blank">new report</a>&nbsp;by the National Foundation for American Policy.</p> <p>As Congress prepares a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/huddle/2020/03/11/congress-struggles-with-phase-two-of-coronavirus-response-488555" target="_blank">legislative response</a>&nbsp;to the crisis, it should consider completely exempting all pharmaceutical researchers and scientists as well as doctors and physicians from the H‑1B and green card limits and expediting their processing. It should specifically enact legislation to permit in more foreign doctors to underserved areas—particularly in rural areas.</p> <p>A medical crisis is not the time to talk about stopping all legal immigrants. It’s the time for more legal skilled immigrants to help fight this virus.</p> </div> Sun, 15 Mar 2020 07:56:29 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/want-defeat-coronavirus-protect-legal-immigration David Bier discusses the SCOTUS allowing the Migrant Protection Protocols policy on The Bloomberg Law podcast https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/david-bier-discusses-scotus-allowing-migrant-protection-protocols Fri, 13 Mar 2020 10:18:54 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/david-bier-discusses-scotus-allowing-migrant-protection-protocols Skilled Immigrants Searching for Coronavirus Cures at U.S. Companies https://www.cato.org/blog/skilled-immigrants-searching-coronavirus-cures-us-companies David J. Bier <p><span>The government has so far kept to minimal and rational restrictions on travel in response to the coronavirus. My colleague Alex Nowrasteh <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/less-costly-ways-reduce-harm-covid-19-without-travel-immigration-banshttps%3A/www.cato.org/blog/less-costly-ways-reduce-harm-covid-19-without-travel-immigration-bans">has written</a> about alternatives to outright immigration bans that could slow down the transmission of the deadly disease. But only scientific advancements will save thousands of lives, and it is here that many immigrants are working for treatments and vaccines that will stop the spread and treat the viral infection.</span></p> <p><span><a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/02/coronavirus-drugs-and-vaccines-in-development/">The major U.S. companies</a> seeking a coronavirus vaccine or treatment have together received approvals from the Department of Labor to hire foreign workers with either green cards or H‑1B work visas more than 11,000 times from 2010 to 2019.<a href="#_edn1" id="_ednref1" name="_ednref1"><span><span>[i]</span></span></a> The eight companies to have used the legal immigration system (at least directly) to request foreign workers include Gilead Sciences, Moderna Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline, Inovio, Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals, Regeneron, Vir Therapeutics, and Sanofi. Figure 1 shows the number of workers over the last decade.</span></p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="d6d3b47e-f40f-4e78-88a2-03b06bff6e14" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="eb641e38-2a6c-4232-8f9d-ea8cad458682" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: H-1Bs and Green Cards Requested By Companies Developing Coronavirus Cures"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>Figure 2 shows the number of H‑1B workers for whom the Department of Labor has permitted a hire by the occupation of the worker. Over the last decade, the eight companies have received approvals for 3,310 biochemists, biophysicists, chemists, and other scientists. They have received approvals for 2,801 statisticians to analyze the data the scientists are producing. There were also approvals for 2,133 computer, database, and software support staff through the H‑1B program since 2010.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="ff6efc26-293b-4cfc-9e8c-1c202e1b516e" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="17beaa9a-1035-4a06-a3b3-5fb0d1156b35" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 2: Occupations of H-1Bs Requested By Companies Developing Coronavirus Vaccines or Treatments"></div> </div> </div> </p><p><span><strong>Gilead</strong>: One of the leading candidates <a href="https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/03/09/will-gilead-sciences-make-a-fortune-off-its-corona.aspx">to treat</a> the disease comes from Gilead Sciences. In the last decade, Gilead has received approvals to sponsor green cards for 235 immigrants and H‑1B visas for 9,085 temporary workers from 2010 to 2019. Last year alone, it received Department of Labor H‑1B approvals for more than 300 biochemists, biophysicists, and other biological scientists and engineers. <a href="https://www.gilead.com/news-and-press/press-room/press-releases/2020/2/gilead-sciences-initiates-two-phase-3-studies-of-investigational-antiviral-remdesivir-for-the-treatment-of-covid-19">Gilead</a> states that it “will enroll approximately 1,000 patients at medical centers primarily across Asian countries, as well as other countries globally with high numbers of diagnosed cases” this month to “evaluate the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in adults diagnosed with COVID-19.”</span></p> <p><span><strong>Moderna Therapeutics</strong>: Among the contenders for developing a coronavirus vaccines is Moderna Therapeutics. On February 24, 2020, it <a href="https://www.cato.org/Vials%20of%20mRNA-1273%20have%20been%20shipped%20to%20the%20National%20Institute%20of%20Allergy%20and%20Infectious%20Diseases%20%28NIAID%29%2C%20a%20part%20of%20the%20National%20Institutes%20of%20Health%20%28NIH%29%20to%20be%20used%20in%20the%20planned%20Phase%201%20study%20in%20the%20U.S.">was reported</a> that Moderna shipped vials of mRNA‐​1273 “to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be used in the planned Phase 1 study in the U.S.” The company has sought green cards for 5 immigrants and received approvals for H‑1B visas on behalf of 76 skilled foreign workers from 2010 to 2019. In 2019, it received approvals for 18 H‑1Bs as biological technicians, biochemists, biophysicists or biomedical engineers.</span></p> <p><span><strong>GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals</strong>: GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/02/coronavirus-drugs-and-vaccines-in-development/">is partnering</a> with a Chinese biotech firm to work on a coronavirus vaccine. From 2010 to 2019, it requested green cards for 20 immigrants and H‑1B visas for 435 skilled workers. It requested a dozen H‑1B workers in 2019 to work as biomedical engineers, biophysicists, biochemists, or other biological scientists.</span></p> <p><span><strong>Johnson &amp; Johnson: </strong>Johnson &amp; Johnson <a href="https://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/j-j-allies-barda-to-accelerate-coronavirus-vaccine-program">is working</a> with U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority on a coronavirus vaccine. From 2010 to 2019, Johnson &amp; Johnson Pharmaceuticals has requested 55 skilled H‑1B workers, including 9 biochemists, chemists, and biological scientists.</span></p> <p><span><strong>Regeneron</strong>: <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/02/coronavirus-drugs-and-vaccines-in-development/">Regeneron Pharmaceuticals</a>—who came up with an effective antibody cocktail for Ebola in 2015—is working to replicate that positive outcome for the coronavirus. The company has received approvals from the Department of Labor for green cards for 77 researchers and visas for 576 H‑1B skilled workers from 2010 to 2019. In the last year alone, it sought 60 H‑1B workers biological technicians, biochemists, biophysicists, chemists, or other biological scientists.</span></p> <p><span><strong>Sanofi</strong>: The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/02/18/hhs-engages-sanofis-recombinant-technology-for-2019-novel-coronavirus-vaccine.html">is also engaging</a> with Sanofi to develop a coronavirus vaccine. From 2010 to 2019, Sanofi received approvals from the Department of Labor to hire 286 H‑1B workers and 21 immigrants through the green card process. Last year, it received several H‑1B approvals for biochemists, biophysicists, or other biological scientists. Sanofi is unique in that it brought on a chief executive as its chief medical officer through an H‑1B in 2010. Sanofi’s Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Ameet Nathwani <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSZ5rm74vR8">who</a> believes strongly in the value of diversity from around the world.</span></p> <p><span><strong>Vir Biotechnology</strong>: Vir Biotechnology <a href="https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/news/vir-biotechnology-wuxi-covid-19/">is also developing</a> a treatment for coronavirus by partnering with the Chinese firm WuXi Biologics. From 2010 to 2019, Vir Biotechnology has received approvals from the Department of Labor to hire 13 H‑1B skilled workers as well as 1 statistician as a green card holder. In 2019, it received H‑1B approvals for 5 biochemists, biophysicists, or microbiologists—three of which were senior research associates for virology (the study of viruses).</span></p> <p><span><strong>Inovio</strong>: Inovio Pharmaceuticals <a href="http://ir.inovio.com/news-and-media/news/press-release-details/2020/Inovio-Collaborating-With-Beijing-Advaccine-To-Advance-INO-4800-Vaccine-Against-New-Coronavirus-In-China/default.aspx">is collaborating</a> with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Co. to “advance the development in China of INO-4800, Inovio’s vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019‐​nCoV).” In the last decade, it has received approvals for three H‑1Bs.</span></p> <p><span>With the coronavirus spreading globally, President Trump has downplayed the risks to calm the falling markets. But rhetoric will not cure the virus—only scientific advancement will. The president should request Congress expedite the process for scientists and researchers seeking H‑1Bs or green cards—not just for the sake of the current crisis but for all future crises as well.</span></p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="7dc9940d-5544-4545-b6fd-4cf352c1f304" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="b6f947c2-7be0-4a33-a9b7-5b0f050dee10" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table A: Occupations of H-1Bs Requested By Companies Developing Coronavirus Vaccines or Treatments"></div> </div> </div> <br /></p><hr /><p><span><a href="#_ednref1" id="_edn1" name="_edn1"><span><span>[i]</span></span></a> The data for this post come from the Department of Labor, which <a href="https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/performancedata.cfm">discloses</a> the types of workers that it approves U.S. companies to hire as either permanent residents or H‑1B temporary workers. Unfortunately, the data do not indicate how long the worker was employed by the company who received the approval. </span></p> Thu, 12 Mar 2020 11:59:00 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/skilled-immigrants-searching-coronavirus-cures-us-companies One Image to Capture the Unending Complexity of the H‑2A Visa Program https://www.cato.org/blog/one-image-capture-unending-complexity-h-2a-visa-program David J. Bier <p>The Cato Institute published my latest <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/immigration-research-policy-brief/h-2a-visas-agriculture-complex-process-farmers-hire?au_hash=MWoN7TtlQWgw0m_Nnvec56g9tUGVz4RnyICRRTr7Ios#farmers-h-2afarmers-h-2a-p-program">Immigration Research and Policy Brief</a> today. It provides basic facts about the H‑2A visa program that farms use to hire guest workers. It contains a massive table of the 209 major H‑2A rules that farmers must follow, which stretches for 14 pages in the print version, but perhaps nothing captures H‑2A’s oppressive level of regulatory morass than Figure 4’s flow chart of the H‑2A process.</p> <p>The flow chart is a two‐​page maze of bureaucracy. It contains 69 action boxes. At every point there’s a possibility that an application or worker could be denied or delayed, upending the harvest for farmers. Its six sections represent the six government entities that conduct oversight over the H‑2A program and that have the power to bar employers from hiring workers. Embedded within each step are dozens of rules and requirements. Each box represents a cost to employers and workers preparing and justifying their need to hire or work in this country.</p> <p>Looking at this interminable regulatory labyrinth, is it any wonder that illegal immigration continues?</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="f438d5bc-6ba5-447f-b00a-6f54fdf75c87" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-03/h2a%20flow%20chart%20html%20full.png?itok=Zx7JcePV 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-03/h2a%20flow%20chart%20html%20full.png?itok=YF3gjRwB 1.5x" width="700" height="1811" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-03/h2a%20flow%20chart%20html%20full.png?itok=Zx7JcePV" alt="h2a flow chart full" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> Tue, 10 Mar 2020 10:30:14 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/one-image-capture-unending-complexity-h-2a-visa-program H‑2A Visas for Agriculture: The Complex Process for Farmers to Hire Agricultural Guest Workers https://www.cato.org/publications/immigration-research-policy-brief/h-2a-visas-agriculture-complex-process-farmers-hire David J. Bier <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Congress created the H‑2A program in 1986 to allow legal foreign workers to temporarily work for U.S. farmers who were unable to hire qualified Americans. However, illegal immigrant workers came to dominate the industry in the 1990s, and the H‑2A program was rarely used. While it still supplies only about 10 percent of farm labor, H‑2A employment has increased fivefold since 2005.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The H-2A program needs reforms, but productive reform is only possible if policymakers understand how the system currently operates. This brief explains how the H-2A visa program works. Its main findings include the following:</p> <ul> <li>The H-2A program has more than 200 rules and is bureaucratically</span> complex. </li> <li>H-2A minimum wages are higher than every state’s minimum wage by, on average, 57 percent.</li> <li>Americans accept only 1 in 20 H-2A job offers, and most later quit.</li> <li>H-2A expansion is likely responsible for much of the large decline in illegal immigration from Mexico.</li> <li>Violations of H-2A regulations are generally minor. An average of only 0.27 percent of farmers per year have been barred from the program because of serious H-2A violations.</li> </ul> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="233e1945-87c2-45ee-be44-a66df09f174b" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: Four Agencies Oversee the H2-A Process, 2018"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <h2 class="heading"> H‑2A Program Rules </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The H-2A program is an employer-sponsored temporary worker program, meaning that farmers initiate the process, not the workers. The H-2A visa program has no numerical cap but is restricted to temporary or seasonal jobs lasting less than a year.<sup><a href="#_ednref1" id="_edn1">1</a></sup> This requirement significantly limits participation and effectively bars dairies and most animal farms that demand labor year-round.<sup><a href="#_ednref2" id="_edn2">2</a></sup> H-2A’s most widely used predecessor—colloquially known as the Mexican Bracero</span> Program (canceled in 1964)—had no such limitation.<sup><a href="#_ednref3" id="_edn3">3</a></sup> The H-2A program also narrowly defines “agriculture,” excluding most meat packers and processors.<sup><a href="#_ednref4" id="_edn4">4</a></sup></p> <p>Figure 1 broadly outlines the H-2A process. The Government</span> Accountability Office has found that the “complexity of the H-2A program poses a challenge for some employers” because it “involves multiple agencies and numerous detailed program rules that sometimes conflict with other laws.”<sup><a href="#_ednref5" id="_edn5">5</a></sup> In 2014, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services</span> (USCIS) ombudsman characterized the H-2A program simply as “highly regulated.”<sup><a href="#_ednref6" id="_edn6">6</a></sup> Appendix Table C details a noncomprehensive list of 209 H-2A rules that apply to workers and farmers, and Text Box 1 is a short summary of those rules.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <img width="700" height="377" alt="IRBP Text Box 1" class="lozad component-image" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-02/irpb-17-1.png?itok=fCf_EHc9 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-02/irpb-17-1.png?itok=KPi8-1w1 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-02/irpb-17-1.png?itok=fCf_EHc9" typeof="Image" /> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>To start, when farmers have jobs that they want to fill with H‑2A workers, they must first receive a&nbsp;labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL).<sup><a href="#_ednref7" id="_edn7">7</a></sup> They must antic­ipate a&nbsp;worker shortfall and initiate the labor certification process 60&nbsp;days before the job’s start date by submitting job orders to State Workforce Agencies (SWAs), which are state‐​run entities that help unemployed U.S. workers.<sup><a href="#_ednref8" id="_edn8">8</a></sup> The SWAs guarantee that job offers comply with H‑2A regulations and inform unemployed Americans about the job opportunities.<sup><a href="#_ednref9" id="_edn9">9</a></sup> Farmers meanwhile must contact former U.S. employees and advertise the jobs.<sup><a href="#_ednref10" id="_edn10">10</a></sup></p> <p>If too few U.S. workers apply, DOL will again review the jobs and certify the farmer to hire foreign workers for the remaining positions. The law requires DOL to make certifications at least 30&nbsp;days before the job starts.<sup><a href="#_ednref11" id="_edn11">11</a></sup> Delays have cost farmers millions of dollars in lost crops.<sup><a href="#_ednref12" id="_edn12">12</a></sup> But the internet has improved DOL processing: it deployed online applications in 2012, and by 2019, about 94 percent of applicants used it.<sup><a href="#_ednref13" id="_edn13">13</a></sup> As a&nbsp;result, the department moved from completing just 63 percent of labor certifications within 30&nbsp;days in 2011 to completing 97 percent in 2015 (Figure 2).<sup><a href="#_ednref14" id="_edn14">14</a></sup> In 2019, however, delays reemerged as DOL had the lowest rate of timely approvals (86 percent) of any year since 2013.<sup><a href="#_ednref15" id="_edn15">15</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="96b7b026-e069-46d3-875a-dd8551e340d7" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 2: Share of H-2A Labor Certification Applications Processed Timely and H-2A visas issued, 2006-2019"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>If DOL grants the labor certification, the farmer pays fees of $100 plus $10 per worker, up to $1,000 total.<sup><a href="#_ednref16" id="_edn16">16</a></sup> Even after H-2A workers start, however, farms must continue to accept U.S. workers until half the job period has expired.<sup><a href="#_ednref17" id="_edn17">17</a></sup> While farmers continue recruiting U.S. workers, they petition USCIS to admit foreign workers and pay a $460 fee per petition.<sup><a href="#_ednref18" id="_edn18">18</a></sup> USCIS will conduct yet a third duplicative review (after the State Workforce Agencies and DOL) of the jobs.<sup><a href="#_ednref19" id="_edn19">19</a></sup> This can also delay workers’ arrivals, and while USCIS has a 15-day</span> deadline, it may surpass the deadline if it requests addi&#173;tional information from the farmer, which it did 11 percent</span> of the time in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref20" id="_edn20">20</a></sup> Farmers may generally request workers from only 84 eligible countries.<sup><a href="#_ednref21" id="_edn21">21</a></sup> Since 2015, USCIS has removed four countries from the eligibility list: Belize, Ethiopia</span>, Haiti, and the Philippines.<sup><a href="#_ednref22" id="_edn22">22</a></sup></p> <p>If USCIS approves a petition, workers may apply for visas. They pay a $190 visa fee, which employers later reimburse if the worker finishes at least half of the contract.<sup><a href="#_ednref23" id="_edn23">23</a></sup> The Mexican</span> Bracero Program streamlined entries by not requiring visas.<sup><a href="#_ednref24" id="_edn24">24</a></sup> Until 2016, USCIS also permitted visa-less H-2A entries from several Caribbean countries.<sup><a href="#_ednref25" id="_edn25">25</a></sup></p> <p>To receive visas, H-2A workers must demonstrate that they do not intend to live in the United States permanently, either illegally or legally.<sup><a href="#_ednref26" id="_edn26">26</a></sup> Based on the available evidence, less than 1 percent of the illegal immigrants who overstayed visas were H-2A workers, indicating that they value their legal status.<sup><a href="#_ednref27" id="_edn27">27</a></sup> Farmers petitioned for legal permanent residence on behalf of only 77 H-2A workers in 2018 because workers cannot receive H-2A status with a permanent residence petition pending; the process is too lengthy and expensive for farmers, and employers cannot request permanent residence for workers in temporary jobs.<sup><a href="#_ednref28" id="_edn28">28</a></sup> Visas authorize travel to the U.S. border, where Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screens workers, grants them admission, and authorizes their H-2A status for the job’s duration.<sup><a href="#_ednref29" id="_edn29">29</a></sup> CBP charges an entry fee of $6 per worker, and workers often wait in line several hours to enter the country.<sup><a href="#_ednref30" id="_edn30">30</a></sup></p> <p>When workers arrive, farmers must pay wages and benefits at rates set by DOL to both H-2A and U.S. workers in “corresponding employment.”<sup><a href="#_ednref31" id="_edn31">31</a></sup> This parity requirement—which the Bracero Program lacked—applies even if U.S. workers are the vast majority of employees, which discourages new farmers from joining.<sup><a href="#_ednref32" id="_edn32">32</a></sup> Farmers must usually pay a minimum wage called the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), which is the costliest and most contested rule.<sup><a href="#_ednref33" id="_edn33">33</a></sup></p> <p>The AEWR is a regional average wage based on annual government surveys.<sup><a href="#_ednref34" id="_edn34">34</a></sup> The AEWR ignores differences between local&#173;ities, detailed job types, skills, and experience. Both the H-2B nonagricultural and H-1B skilled worker programs determine wages for local areas for specific occupations and permit some private surveys.<sup><a href="#_ednref35" id="_edn35">35</a></sup> The H-1B program also provides four skill levels.<sup><a href="#_ednref36" id="_edn36">36</a></sup> The 2020 hourly AEWR (Figure 3</span>) was between $11.71 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina) and $15.83 (Oregon and Washington).<sup><a href="#_ednref37" id="_edn37">37</a></sup> The 2020 AEWR was higher than every state’s minimum wage<a id="_idTextAnchor000"></a> by an aver&#173;age of 57 percent.<sup><a href="#_ednref38" id="_edn38">38</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="84080ad0-cafe-4fa5-a54f-045ca49b85c8" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 3: Adverse Effect Wage Rates, 2019"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>DOL adjusts the AEWR annually based on a survey and uniquely classifies overtime, hazard pay, bonuses, performance incentives, and all other payments as wages.<sup><a href="#_ednref39" id="_edn39">39</a></sup> This inflates the base hourly rate before adding these types of extra compensation for the following year.<sup><a href="#_ednref40" id="_edn40">40</a></sup> This inflated average rate then applies to all workers, pricing out H-2A and U.S. workers who had below-average wages. When these workers drop out, the surveyed wage is artificially inflated even further. Many farmers feel these procedures put the AEWR on an upward escalator that becomes more disconnected from reality each year. The average AEWR has grown about twice the rate of inflation since 2001.<sup><a href="#_ednref41" id="_edn41">41</a></sup> In some states, the AEWR increased 23 percent in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref42" id="_edn42">42</a></sup></p> <p>Farmers must guarantee AEWR wages equal to at least 75 percent</span> of the projected job period even if it finishes early.<sup><a href="#_ednref43" id="_edn43">43</a></sup> H-2A farmers must also finance transit to and from jobsites and offer workers either kitchens or three daily meals.<sup><a href="#_ednref44" id="_edn44">44</a></sup> H-2A workers and out-of-the-area U.S. workers must receive housing at no cost. Excluding the AEWR, housing is the costliest rule for farmers: it accounts for nearly a quarter of H-2A requirements (see Appendix Table C</span>) and inflates total compensation far above the non–H-2A rate.<sup><a href="#_ednref45" id="_edn45">45</a></sup> In comparison, the H-2B program for nonagricultural jobs generally has no housing mandate.<sup><a href="#_ednref46" id="_edn46">46</a></sup></p> <p>When H-2A workers complete 50 percent of the job, farmers must reimburse their expenses for travel to the United States and, if workers complete the job, pay for the trip back to their home country, unless workers find other H-2A jobs.<sup><a href="#_ednref47" id="_edn47">47</a></sup> Regulations require H-2A workers to find another employer within 30 days and mandate absences of at least three continuous months every three years.<sup><a href="#_ednref48" id="_edn48">48</a></sup> DOL’s Wage and Hour Division conducts audits of H-2A farmers and fines those who fail to comply with regulations.<sup><a href="#_ednref49" id="_edn49">49</a></sup> Figure 4 illustrates a simplified version of H-2A filing procedures.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <a href="https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/images/pubs/irpb-17/irpb-17-flowchart-pdf-updated.pdf"><img width="700" height="1811" alt="IRPB 17 Flowchart" class="lozad component-image" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-03/irpb-17-figure-4-flowchart.png?itok=V52gCQiF 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-03/irpb-17-figure-4-flowchart.png?itok=R3-qY-wC 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-03/irpb-17-figure-4-flowchart.png?itok=V52gCQiF" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Given the high costs and regulatory complexities of the H-2A program, farmers use it as a last resort. For this reason, it served few farms until around 2005 but has grown rapidly since then (Figure 5). In 2019, DOL certified about five times as many jobs for H-2A employment as in 2005—an increase from 48,336 to 257,667.<sup><a href="#_ednref50" id="_edn50">50</a></sup> These certified jobs led to 204,366 visas for new foreign workers to travel from abroad, and H-2A workers were admitted to the United States about 397,000 times.<sup><a href="#_ednref51" id="_edn51">51</a></sup> Nonetheless, H-2A jobs were just 10 percent</span> of the roughly 1.4 million full-time equivalent agricultural jobs in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref52" id="_edn52">52</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="c9c261fa-69ce-4585-b584-b42e8d9acc9a" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 5: H-2A Positions Certified, H-2A Visas Issued, and H-2A Admissions"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <h2 class="heading"> U.S. Workers and the H‑2A Program </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The first sections of Figure 4 cover DOL’s labor certification.<sup><a href="#_ednref53" id="_edn53">53</a></sup> The Government Accountability Office has called this process a “time consuming, complex, and challenging” exercise that “imposes a burden on H-2A employers that is not borne by employers who break the law and hire undocumented workers.”<sup><a href="#_ednref54" id="_edn54">54</a></sup> The labor certification is intended to demonstrate that H-2A workers will not “adversely affect” U.S. workers.<sup><a href="#_ednref55" id="_edn55">55</a></sup> Numerous government and academic reports have found that this expensive effort is largely futile, producing few, if any, hires that would not otherwise occur.<sup><a href="#_ednref56" id="_edn56">56</a></sup></p> <p>DOL has continuously raised H-2A minimum wages to induce U.S. workers to apply, but Department of Agriculture</span> economists have concluded that “farm labor supply in the United States is not very responsive to wage changes.”<sup><a href="#_ednref57" id="_edn57">57</a></sup> When Congress canceled the Bracero Program—which had admitted at its peak nearly a half a million Mexican workers—farmers in areas that lost braceros hired no more U.S. workers nor did they raise wages compared to other farms.<sup><a href="#_ednref58" id="_edn58">58</a></sup> Instead, they mechanized, shifted to less labor-intensive crops, and downsized.</p> <p>With more hospitable and consistent jobs available elsewhere, U.S. workers pass on seasonal farm jobs. For example, the North Carolina Growers Association sought to fill 7,008 jobs through the H-2A program in 2012 and just 143 U.S. workers—2 percent of those demanded—applied for and showed up for the jobs, and only 10 completed the growing season. From 2007 to 2010, only about 50 out of the 290,000 net increase in unemployed North Carolinians chose agricultural jobs (Figure 6).<sup><a href="#_ednref59" id="_edn59">59</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="441942e0-1489-4eb0-9558-2fa655cde4e9" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 6: H-2A Workers &amp;amp; U.S. Workers Employed in North Carolina and Unemployed U.S. Workers in North Carolina"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>DOL found that from 2014 to 2016, 87 percent of H-2A employers requesting U.S. workers received none.<sup><a href="#_ednref60" id="_edn60">60</a></sup> Just 6 percent</span> of H-2A jobs ultimately went to U.S. workers, and a majority of those showed up <em>after</em> the harvest began and H-2A workers had started.<sup><a href="#_ednref61" id="_edn61">61</a></sup> This means that H-2A recruit&#173;ment—including higher wages and state and federal oversight—provided farmers with U.S. workers in time for harvests just 2.9 percent</span> of the time. Even then—as the North Carolina growers found—many U.S. workers “either did not report to work or voluntarily resigned.”<sup><a href="#_ednref62" id="_edn62">62</a></sup></p> <p>Of course, even the few U.S. workers in H-2A jobs would likely have found jobs without the extensive regulatory structure. The H-2A employment surge has even coincided with a dramatic drop in unemployment for domestic farmworkers (Figure 7).<sup><a href="#_ednref63" id="_edn63">63</a></sup> In other words, farms have hired domestic workers alongside H-2A workers.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="c4d855ae-de8f-44e1-a670-341cba4fcd8d" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 7: Domestic Agricultural Summer Unemployment Rate and H-2A Jobs"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <h2 class="heading"> Farmers and the H‑2A Program </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>American farms produced about $133 billion—a bit below 1 percent—of the U.S. gross domestic product in 2017. Related downstream industries that depend on U.S. agricultural production contributed more than $1 trillion to GDP.<sup><a href="#_ednref64" id="_edn64">64</a></sup> This important industry spends about $40 billion on hired help and depends on reliable sources of workers because harvests must occur during brief time windows.<sup><a href="#_ednref65" id="_edn65">65</a></sup></p> <p>Farmers hire foreign workers because very few U.S. workers want farm jobs despite rising wages. The illegal immigrant share of domestic farmworkers grew from 7 percent</span> to 56 percent</span> from 1989 to 2000, but dropped to 48 percent</span> by 2016 (Figure 8). Since 1989, the share of U.S.-born farmworkers fell from about 40 percent to roughly 25 percent</span> (Figure 8</span>).<sup><a href="#_ednref66" id="_edn66">66</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="4f1fcdee-754f-4faf-bdbe-5be7160053bc" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 8: U.S.-Born Workers as a Share of All Non-H-2A Farm Workers, 1989-2016"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>In addition to faster H‑2A processing times (Figure 2), farm labor markets have changed since the late 1990s to encourage hiring more H‑2A workers. Most important, the share of domestic farmworkers who are new (non–H‑2A) entrants to U.S. farm work began cratering, falling from 27 to 4&nbsp;percent from 1997 to 2016.<sup><a href="#_ednref67" id="_edn67">67</a></sup> With fewer workers coming down the road, more farmers sought new workers through the H‑2A program.</p> <p>Fewer new entrants partly explains why labor demand has outstripped the supply of H‑2A workers, causing farm wages to rise (Figure 9).<sup><a href="#_ednref68" id="_edn68">68</a></sup> Farm laborers in crop production—the primary H‑2A activity—saw especially outsized wage growth. In 2001, such laborers made 53 percent as much as all workers weekly, compared to 60 percent in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref69" id="_edn69">69</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="d940a6b2-343b-4bbd-b9ae-ff873785929e" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 9: H-2A Visas and Mean Real Wages for Agriculture and Crop Production, 2001-19"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Farms where labor expenses are the highest hire the most H‑2A workers. Fruits, vegetables, horticulture, and tobacco farming constituted nearly three‐​quarters of H‑2A jobs in 2018, and these industries spend double or triple the share on labor as other agricultural industries (Table 1).<sup><a href="#_ednref70" id="_edn70">70</a></sup> While dairies and other animal farms use the H‑2A program less, they also face a&nbsp;major legal obstacle to participating because most of their jobs are permanent rather than, as H‑2A law requires, temporary.<sup><a href="#_ednref71" id="_edn71">71</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="f776bcb8-3e37-4552-8378-54ed6ed27d62" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table 1: Agricultural Labor Expenses and H-2A Employment"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The H-2A increase has likely lowered illegal border crossings, reducing the supply of illegal farmworkers and prompting still more farmers to hire H-2A workers. From 2000 to 2018, a 1 percent increase in H-2 visas for Mexicans</span>—including some under the H-2B program for nonagricultural jobs—was associated with a 1 percent decline in the absolute number of Mexicans apprehended for crossing illegally.<sup><a href="#_ednref72" id="_edn72">72</a></sup> Figure 10</span> shows that when H-2A admissions are high, Border</span> Patrol apprehensions (per agent) have remained low.<sup><a href="#_ednref73" id="_edn73">73</a></sup> As one H-2A worker told the <em class="No-Break-italic">Washington Post</em> in April 2019</span>, “Most of my friends go with visas or they don’t go at all.”<sup><a href="#_ednref74" id="_edn74">74</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="c7f97259-026f-40a7-a467-4c190cb49ce0" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 10: H-2A Admissions and Border Patrol Apprehensions Per Agent, 1987-2019"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <h2 class="heading"> Foreign Workers and the H‑2A Program </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Almost all H‑2A workers are Mexicans. Figure 11 shows the number of H‑2A visas issued by nationality from 1997 to 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref75" id="_edn75">75</a></sup> Mexicans dominate the flow every year, and from 2005 to 2019, the Mexican share further increased from 82 to 91 percent. The next most common nationality is South African (2 percent), followed by Jamaican (2 percent), and Guatemalan (1 percent). All other nationalities amounted to just over 3&nbsp;percent.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="613a9ddf-c768-41bc-adcb-ae37db298360" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 11: H-2A Visas Issued By Nationality, 1997-2019"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Farmers must petition the government to request foreign workers before workers can receive visas, meaning that farmers control which countries the workers come from. As H‑2A employer requests grew, U.S. recruiters expanded their existing recruitment in Mexico.<sup><a href="#_ednref76" id="_edn76">76</a></sup> For this reason among others, it is unlikely that farmers will hire many non‐​Mexican workers in the foreseeable future.<sup><a href="#_ednref77" id="_edn77">77</a></sup> If Congress wants to encourage the hiring of other nationalities that are prone to making illegal border crossings, it needs to expand the program, such as allowing year‐​round industries to use H‑2A visas but only to hire from those specific countries—thus forcing employers to recruit there.<sup><a href="#_ednref78" id="_edn78">78</a></sup></p> <p>Higher U.S. wages motivate Mexicans to accept U.S. farm jobs (see Text box 2).<sup><a href="#_ednref79" id="_edn79">79</a></sup> The annualized wage for H‑2A workers was almost $25,000&nbsp;in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref80" id="_edn80">80</a></sup> Mexico’s minimum wage for farmworkers was just $4.64 per day, less than $1,200 per year.<sup><a href="#_ednref81" id="_edn81">81</a></sup> Even the highest paid agricultural workers in Mexico only earn $15 per day.<sup><a href="#_ednref82" id="_edn82">82</a></sup> Even if H‑2A minimum wages fell, Mexicans would still greatly benefit from H‑2A jobs.<sup><a href="#_ednref83" id="_edn83">83</a></sup> Indeed, a&nbsp;larger number would benefit because a&nbsp;lower wage would allow farmers to hire more workers.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <img width="700" height="963" alt="IRPB 17 Text Box 2" class="lozad component-image" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-02/irpb-17-2.png?itok=WpOewg-d 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-02/irpb-17-2.png?itok=S5xfeOTn 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-02/irpb-17-2.png?itok=WpOewg-d" typeof="Image" /> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Nearly all H-2A workers willingly attempt to return year after year. While the State Department fails to disclose the frequency at which H-2A workers return, one indication is that the similar H-2B program for nonagricultural workers—most of whom are also Mexicans—doubled in size when Congress</span> allowed H-2B returning workers to be exempt from the cap in 2007.<sup><a href="#_ednref84" id="_edn84">84</a></sup> The H-2A program is uncapped, so no similar experiment can occur, but H-2A workers also report repeat&#173;edly participating.<sup><a href="#_ednref85" id="_edn85">85</a></sup></p> <p>The frequency of returning workers indicates that whatever the downsides, foreign workers prefer H-2A jobs to jobs in their home countries or illegal status. Unfortunately, abuses can happen. Polaris, a group dedicated to combating human trafficking, received 327 complaints to its human trafficking hotline from H-2A visa holders from 2015 to 2017—about 0.08 percent of visas issued.<sup><a href="#_ednref86" id="_edn86">86</a></sup> These are tragic cases, but as David Medina of Polaris told the <em>Guardian</em>, most H-2A workers’ “biggest fear is to lose that visa.”<sup><a href="#_ednref87" id="_edn87">87</a></sup></p> <p>The Wage and Hour Division of DOL investigates abuses and enforces H-2A rules. Figure 12 compares the number of H-2A wage and hour violators fined by the division to the number of unique H-2A employers each year since 2008.<sup><a href="#_ednref88" id="_edn88">88</a></sup> Even with H-2A’s immense regulatory complexity, DOL fined just 2 percent of H-2A employers, on average, annually from 2008 to 2018. Most fines were for minor infractions, worth on average just $237.<sup><a href="#_ednref89" id="_edn89">89</a></sup> The maximum available fine per violation in 2019 was $115,624.<sup><a href="#_ednref90" id="_edn90">90</a></sup> Fewer than 20 employers from 2008 to 2018 had serious enough violations to have been suspended or debarred from the program—an annual rate of 0.27 percent</span> of the employers.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="600fc07a-6831-4640-8a9e-6f1309f5cdb9" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 12: H-2A Employers and H-2A Employer Violators and Debarments for Serious Violations"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>While farmers, unions, and migrant advocates disagree over the necessity of more intrusive auditing of all employers to deal with such limited abuses, they generally agree that H‑2A workers should be better able protect their own rights by leaving to find new jobs.<sup><a href="#_ednref91" id="_edn91">91</a></sup> This would require lengthening the period that workers have to find another job and allowing existing H‑2A workers to be recruited on the same terms as U.S. workers so that subsequent employers need not have already initiated the complex recruitment process before the worker applies. These changes would be a&nbsp;rare win‐​win reform for both farmers and foreign workers.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Conclusion </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The H‑2A program has more than 200 complex rules that reduce farmer participation. Farmworker wages have increased continuously since 2001, but H‑2A recruitment of American workers still attracts less than 3&nbsp;percent of the needed workers by the job’s start date. Higher wages, low unemployment rates, and fewer U.S. workers entering agriculture have encouraged more farmers to use the program, which has likely resulted in fewer illegal border crossings. H‑2A abuses of foreign workers are rare, and H‑2A workers choose to return year after year because program conditions improve their lives. Congress could expand on this successful program by making H‑2A visas available to year‐​round industries and streamlining its rules and regulations.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Appendix </h2> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="55c1d6a5-0fa0-4e47-b021-422cc83565e0" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure A: H-2A Labor Certification Jobs Approved by State, 2018"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="2756c207-42df-4fbb-acca-99f30d80ee02" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure B: H-2A Share of Farm Employment by State, 2018"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="e0af25c7-c83e-4a70-b3b0-15bab8ad603f" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table A: H-2A program participation statistics"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="f8866568-72c3-490c-b088-e9369c4a3cb7" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table B: H-2A Program Enforcement Statistics"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="fa43c22c-9a6a-4376-98d8-fb499622b5b0" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table C WEB: H-2A Program Requirements"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <hr /><div><a href="https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/images/pubs/irpb-17/irpb-17-flowchart-pdf-updated.pdf"><img border="0" data-src="https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/images/pubs/irpb-17/irpb-17-flowchart-fig-4-thumb.png" class=" lozad" /></a><h2 class="heading">Download the Flow Chart</h2><span class="file file--mime-application-pdf file--application-pdf"><a href="https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/images/pubs/irpb-17/irpb-17-flowchart-pdf-updated.pdf">irpb-17-flowchart-pdf-updated.pdf</a></span></div> </div> Tue, 10 Mar 2020 03:00:00 -0400 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/publications/immigration-research-policy-brief/h-2a-visas-agriculture-complex-process-farmers-hire Bernie’s $15 Minimum Wage Would Make America Less Hospitable for Immigrants https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/bernies-15-minimum-wage-would-make-america-less-hospitable-immigrants David J. Bier, Ryan Bourne <div class="lead text-default"> <p>The Trump administration implemented its “public charge” rule last week. The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/14/2019-17142/inadmissibility-on-public-charge-grounds" target="_blank">rule</a>&nbsp;will generally refuse legal status to unskilled immigrants whom the government predicts will make less than 250% of the poverty line:&nbsp;<a href="https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines" target="_blank">$31,900 annually</a>&nbsp;for an individual. Democrats decried this move as immoral, and it is indeed&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/public-charge-rule-bans-almost-entirely-self-sufficient-legal-immigrants">deeply flawed</a>, yet their party’s economic plans would create similar barriers to immigrants striving to realize the American dream.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is the leading example. The socialist senator <a href="https://berniesanders.com/issues/welcoming-and-safe-america-all/" target="_blank">promises</a> to rescind the public charge rule created by Trump. He <a href="https://berniesanders.com/issues/welcoming-and-safe-america-all/" target="_blank">says</a> it is appalling that our immigration system would &ldquo;discriminate on the basis of income.&rdquo; The land of the free, he quite rightly believes, should &ldquo;welcome all.&rdquo;</p> <p>Yet where Trump would stop many unskilled immigrants at the border, Sanders&rsquo;s policy platform would make it nigh impossible to hire them, essentially locking immigrants out of our economy. Sanders&rsquo;s federal minimum wage proposal would bar U.S. employers from hiring anyone, citizen or not, for less than $15 per hour, which is roughly $31,200 annually for a 40-hour-a-week worker. That&rsquo;s basically the same wage requirement as the public charge rule. Every other major Democratic presidential candidate <a href="https://www.politico.com/2020-election/candidates-views-on-the-issues/economy/minimum-wage/" target="_blank">supports</a> the same minimum wage requirement.</p> <p>Sanders&rsquo;s plan, just like Trump&rsquo;s public charge rule, tells immigrants that if employers aren&rsquo;t willing to pay them high wages, our country shouldn&rsquo;t welcome them. Sure, Sanders might argue he would approve a higher percentage of immigrant families seeking citizenship than Trump. But if employers can&rsquo;t hire them, far fewer will desire to immigrate anyway.</p> <p>The facts are clear: Low-skilled immigrants would be disproportionately affected by a major upward shift in the federal wage floor. The 4.1 million immigrants lacking a high school degree <a href="https://www.bls.gov/news.release/forbrn.nr0.htm/labor-force-characteristics-of-foreign-born-workers-summary" target="_blank">made up</a> 59% of that demographic in 2018, and their median annual wages were $27,820, well below the annual earnings of a $15-an-hour worker working 40 hours per week.</p> <p>Democrats believe, of course, that minimum wage laws raise pay without costing jobs. But such a high wage floor imposed across the whole country would have significant adverse effects on low-wage workers&rsquo; opportunities. That&rsquo;s why the Congressional Budget Office&rsquo;s median <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/publication/55410" target="_blank">estimate</a> was 1.3 million net lost jobs if a $15 minimum wage was implemented through 2025.</p> <p>Low-skilled immigrants are already <a href="https://cmsny.org/publications/warren-reverse-migration-022620/" target="_blank">abandoning states</a> such as California and New York in favor of states with lower minimum wages such as Texas and Virginia. This confirms research that low-skilled workers <a href="https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/702650?mobileUi=0&amp;" target="_blank">move</a> or <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0166046216301156" target="_blank">commute away</a> from states with higher wage floors and shows that minimum wages destroy jobs. Nationally, we would therefore expect far fewer low-skilled workers to move to the United States if Sanders&rsquo; wage plan became law.</p> <p>True, firms may adjust in the short-term by restricting other work-related benefits, cutting hours, or reorienting production, allowing them to maintain jobs. But future <a href="https://www.nber.org/papers/w19262" target="_blank">job growth</a> in these industries will be lower, particularly in industries with <a href="https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat45.xlsx" target="_blank">a high proportion of minimum wage workers</a>: food and drink establishments, accommodation, personal care, and private household work. Such sectors have historically been the first step on the jobs&rsquo; ladder for new, unskilled immigrants.</p> <p>Workers who lose their private sector jobs due to soaring minimum wages might find refuge in Sanders&rsquo;s proposed &ldquo;federal jobs guarantee,&rdquo; which would obligate the federal government to hire anyone at $15 per hour. But U.S. taxpayers will never support giving low-skilled immigrants public-funded jobs solely because they can&rsquo;t get a job anywhere else.</p> <p>Without jobs, immigrants will stay in their home countries, indirectly achieving the goal that Trump&rsquo;s public charge rule would achieve directly. We know this because when the economy stops creating jobs, as it did during the 2009 recession, <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/immigrant-share-didnt-rise-first-time-recession">more immigrants leave the U.S. than come</a>.</p> <p>Despite empty claims that he would &ldquo;welcome all,&rdquo; Sanders has a long history of talking about keeping out low-wage immigrants.</p> <p>In 2015, the senator dramatically <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/7/28/9014491/bernie-sanders-vox-conversation" target="_blank">denounced</a> &ldquo;an open-border policy [to] bring in all kinds of people [to] work at $2 or $3 an hour that would be great for them&rdquo; but &ldquo;would make everybody in America poorer.&rdquo; In 2019, he <a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/08/bernie-sanders-open-borders-1261392" target="_blank">was equally</a> blunt: "If you open the borders, my God, there's a lot of poverty in this world, and you're going to have people from all over the world. And I don't think that's something that we can do.&rdquo;</p> <p>But effectively closing legal employment to low-wage immigrants would hurt us all. The evidence <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/immigrants-dont-lower-blue-collar-american-wages">is clear</a> that low-skilled immigrants create better job opportunities for the vast majority of U.S. workers. That&rsquo;s because rather than displace U.S. workers, immigrants <a href="https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/app.1.3.135" target="_blank">actually complement them</a>. Workers with limited English ability work in the back of the restaurant, for example, while natives manage the front. This synergy makes the entire economy more productive.</p> <p>A genuine pro-immigrant agenda would look to create more such opportunities, not restrict them. Instead, while Trump wants to put up legal restraints against low-wage immigrants coming to the U.S., Sanders and other Democrats would put up wage controls to stop many from legally working. Their message is the same: If you are a poor foreigner, stay put.</p> </div> Mon, 09 Mar 2020 11:12:29 -0400 David J. Bier, Ryan Bourne https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/bernies-15-minimum-wage-would-make-america-less-hospitable-immigrants DHS Takes a Pinch of Advice From Cato Scholars on H‑2B Guest Worker Increase https://www.cato.org/blog/dhs-takes-pinch-advice-cato-scholars-h-2b-guest-worker-increase David J. Bier <p>The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) <a href="https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dhs-lifts-h-2b-seasonal-worker-visa">announced</a> Thursday that it would increase the number of H‑2B visas—for seasonal nonagricultural workers—by 35,000 for the rest of this year. Typically the program is capped at 66,000. In doing so, the department followed two pieces of guidance that my colleagues and I at Cato have urged: first, it increased the cap more than it did last year and second, it set aside some visas specifically for Central Americans to deter them from coming illegally.</p> <p>While certainly not sufficient, both measures are positive developments.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2b-guest-worker-wages-exceed-every-state-minimum-60-higher-average">a post</a> last month about how <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2b-guest-worker-wages-exceed-every-state-minimum-60-higher-average">H‑2B wages far exceed minimum wages</a> across every U.S. state, I called for the administration to exercise the authority that Congress gave it to increase the cap, and DHS responded this month with an increase of 35,000, which is a little more than half the cap increase that it could have allowed (64,000), but is nonetheless the most it has allowed in any year so far.</p> <p>DHS also stipulated that it will guarantee 10,000 visas to citizens of the three Northern Triangle countries of Central America—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. This is another bit of advice that my colleague Alex Nowrasteh and I have urged the government <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2-visas-reduced-mexican-illegal-immigration">to do</a> <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/legal-immigration-will-resolve-americas-real-border-problems">several</a> <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/trump-promising-visas-guatemalans-heres-how-he-can-deliver">times</a> <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/speeches/ted-talk-creating-order-border?au_hash=g5Buzxiv4MEu5GhtmJ7StLuReoovsAUAy73ashY3bUw#mexican-success">in recent years</a>: create specific set‐​asides for certain Central American countries to provide a legal avenue for them to come to the United States to work.</p> <p>While not nearly as many as they need, a 10,000 visa increase <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-statistics/nonimmigrant-visa-statistics/monthly-nonimmigrant-visa-issuances.html">would triple</a> the number of H‑2B visas that went to the Northern Triangle countries last year. As I explained in my <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/speeches/ted-talk-creating-order-border?au_hash=g5Buzxiv4MEu5GhtmJ7StLuReoovsAUAy73ashY3bUw#mexican-success">Ted Talk</a>, guest worker visas have dramatically reduced the amount of illegal immigration from Mexico. Figure 1 shows the number of seasonal guest workers admitted legally from Mexico and the number of Mexicans arrested crossing illegally over the last four decades. The expansion in H‑2B visas for seasonal nonagricultural jobs and H‑2A visas for seasonal farm jobs has greatly reduced the motivation to cross illegally.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="b2ede146-b0c2-4aa5-a703-bf4cfcbf28be" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="e0600210-0df5-43be-80cf-e3aa3dcbda12" data-type="interactive" data-title="Mexicans Arrested per Border Patrol Agent and Mexicans Guest Workers Admitted"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>The problem is that Central Americans have not benefited from the increase in seasonal guest workers. Figure 2 shows that the share of H‑2A and H‑2B visas issued to Central Americans from the Northern Triangle. The result is that the share of visas going to Central Americans has remained basically flat, even as their share of border apprehensions has exploded. </p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="37ba92a8-2cee-43dd-b3ba-5e6ec959a430" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="7e3aa59c-b374-4d23-b0fa-81f870b7a374" data-type="interactive" data-title="Central American Share of U.S. Border Arrests and Central American Share of Guest Workers"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>There are several important reasons why nearly all H‑2A visas for farmers and most H‑2B visas for seasonal agricultural employers (mainly landscapers) go to Mexicans rather than Central Americans. As I laid out in my <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/legal-immigration-will-resolve-americas-real-border-problems">Cato policy analysis</a> last year:</p> <blockquote><p>First, migrant workers cannot apply directly for H‑2 visas. U.S. employers must recruit the workers and petition for visas on their behalf, and employers have no incentive to recruit in the Northern Triangle. Second, with about 130 million people, Mexico has a much bigger labor market in which to recruit. By comparison, the three Northern Triangle countries have just 33 million combined, and the largest — Guatemala — has only 17 million. As long as U.S. wages remain much higher than Mexican wages, employers can always find enough willing workers in Mexico alone.</p> <p>Third, U.S. recruiters of foreign workers already operate in Mexico, so the marginal costs of recruiting additional workers there is approaching zero. And Central Americans cannot simply go to Mexico to meet with U.S. recruiters there because U.S. law requires each worker to prove “a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning.” A Central American who has already abandoned his country once would not meet this requirement.</p> </blockquote> <p>An added issue—that will certainly become relevant this year—is that the consular processing at embassies abroad for Central Americans is far more bureaucratic than for Mexicans. Mexican employers (or their hiring agents) can quickly schedule interview appointments in mass for all needed workers and otherwise manage the visa process through the Mexican consular affairs <a href="https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-mx/niv">Yatri filling system</a>. They can even schedule appointments even before the visa application is in, saving a lot of time for everyone. By contrast, the embassies in Central America all require individual accounts for every worker, which can be very burdensome to navigate on behalf of dozens or hundreds of workers. Workers who forget their passwords or email addresses that they used last year can be locked out this year, holding up the whole process.</p> <p>For these reasons, employers would rather continue to hire Mexicans as long as they can regardless of the border security implications. By creating a specific carve‐​out of visas, DHS has forced businesses to seek out and hire Central Americans, diverting them from the illegal trek north. Unfortunately, this move was done at the last possible minute with no warning to employers, which could prevent them from having time to go to Central America, get through the process, and get their workers. In the future, DHS should announce the set‐​aside as soon as it legally can to prevent this situation from recurring. The State Department should expand the Yatri processing system into Central America. </p> Fri, 06 Mar 2020 11:08:35 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/dhs-takes-pinch-advice-cato-scholars-h-2b-guest-worker-increase David Bier discusses the Ken Cuccinelli case and what it means for immigration on WWL’s First News with Tommy Tucker https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/david-bier-discusses-ken-cuccinelli-case-what-it-means Tue, 03 Mar 2020 11:37:03 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/david-bier-discusses-ken-cuccinelli-case-what-it-means Country Caps Cut the Average Wage Offer for New Employer‐​Sponsored Immigrants by $11,828 in 2019 https://www.cato.org/blog/country-caps-cut-average-wage-offer-new-employer-sponsored-immigrants-11828 David J. Bier <p>The House of Representatives passed <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/fairness-high-skilled-immigrants-act-wait-times-green-card-grants">the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act</a> last year. The legislation would phase out the country‐​specific caps on employment‐​based green cards (i.e. legal permanent residence). The per‐​country limits prevent immigrants of any single birthplace from receiving more than 7 percent of the green cards issued in a year (unless they would otherwise go unused), <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/green-cards-skilled-indian-workers-drop-2019-despite-more-petitions-employers-them">no matter what share of the applicants they are</a>. </p> <p>The per‐​country limits force Indians and Chinese—who make up a large majority of the immigrants employers sponsor for green cards—to wait for years, while nearly everyone else waits hardly at all. In 2019, the average green card recipient from India in the EB‑2 and EB‑3 green card categories—for employer‐​sponsored immigrants with either a bachelor’s or advanced degree—<a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2020/visa-bulletin-for-november-2019.html">waited</a> more than a decade. Chinese waited more than four years. Immigrants from every other country generally waited less than a year (on average) as a result of the caps. Going forward, these waits for Indians and Chinese will escalate to absurd lengths—<a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/immigration-wait-times-quotas-have-doubled-green-card-backlogs-are-long"><span>several </span>decades</a> for newly backlogged immigrants in 2019.</p> <p>This discrimination is wrong simply because it disadvantages one group based solely on their place of birth. But it is also economically senseless: Indian and Chinese immigrants tend to have much higher wage offers than immigrants from other countries in the EB‑2 and EB‑3 categories, so the government’s policy is targeting the most productive workers. In 2018, I <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/higher-paid-immigrants-forced-wait-longer-due-country-limits">demonstrated</a> that the per‐​country limits depressed the average wage for new employer‐​sponsored immigrants by $11,592 for immigrants that year. In 2019, this disparity has grown.</p> <p>Figure 1 relies on data on approved labor certifications submitted by employers in the EB2 and EB3 employer‐​sponsored immigrant classifications to the Department of Labor (DOL)<a href="///C:/Users/dbier/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/GV2PU74A/Higher%20Paid%20Immigrants%20Forced%20to%20Wait%20Longer%20Due%20to%20Per%20msb.docx#_edn1" id="_ednref1" name="_ednref1">[*]</a>. The Department of Labor validates the information provided on the labor certification in order to deal with concerns that immigrants are taking jobs from U.S. workers. It shows that the wage offers for EB‑2 and EB‑3 immigrants from India and China were more than $30,000 more than workers from the rest of the world, despite much longer waits for those countries.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="eed326c9-6dfb-45fe-937e-d86072d13e99" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="f97b3c9a-adc7-4ed7-a753-eb83489e39bd" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: Average wage offers for EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants by birthplace, 2019"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>Figure 2 shows how much the country caps reduce the average wage offer for green card recipients. The first column shows the average wage offer for all immigrants—essentially what the wage would be without the country caps because the share of applicants would equal the share of green card recipients. The second column shows the wage offer for immigrants weighted by the number of green cards <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-statistics/annual-reports/report-of-the-visa-office-2019.html">actually issued</a> to each nationality in 2019. The weighted average wage with the per‐​country limits was $97,472, while the wage without it would be $109,301. The per‐​country limits depress the average wage for new employer‐​sponsored immigrants by $11,828.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="1633bb80-2c4e-45e3-992c-d84e929ffb4e" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="3fd9a4ab-c2c2-418d-9595-58883112a80f" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 2: Average wage offers for EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants with or without country caps, 2019"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>Indians and Chinese have higher wage offers in virtually every state. Only in three states with very few wage offers are their (combined) average wage offer lower than the offers to other immigrants. This suggests that it is not the case the Indians and Chinese just choose higher‐​wage areas to reside. Table 1 lists the average wage offers by state for EB‑2 and EB‑3 Indians and Chinese and all other EB‑2 and EB‑3 immigrants.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="4d190169-e042-48fa-b324-7c6c81548a88" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="cb488057-28af-49f3-a21d-1ab113b66867" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table 1: EB-2, EB-3 Wage Offers by Birthplace"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>The per‐​country limits strongly discriminate against higher‐​paid immigrants. On average, immigrants who are offered higher wages actually wait longer under the U.S. legal system than other immigrants. This shouldn’t be surprising because the average Chinese and Indian immigrants is also more highly educated than other immigrants (on average). Figure 3 shows the educational distribution of EB‑2 and EB‑3 immigrants with wage offers from employers.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="7c01a48d-d9cb-4b49-9051-3087e18acb9d" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="d3198579-0604-4dae-bc79-e53c3c0314f9" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 3: Educational attainment of EB-2/EB-3 immigrants with job offers"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>U.S. employers need workers across the entire skill spectrum, and U.S. workers benefit from having low‐​skilled workers supporting their higher‐​paying activities. But a diversity of skill should emerge naturally from the operation of the free market, not because the government imposes rules that have the effect of discriminating against certain nationalities. Congress should repeal the country caps and allow workers to apply for jobs in the United States without regard to their birthplace. The market—not government bureaucrats—should determine who will benefit the United States the most economically.</p> <p><em>This post updates <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/higher-paid-immigrants-forced-wait-longer-due-country-limits">my post</a> on the same subject from 2018. </em></p> <p><strong>Notes</strong></p> <p><a href="///C:/Users/dbier/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/GV2PU74A/Higher%20Paid%20Immigrants%20Forced%20to%20Wait%20Longer%20Due%20to%20Per%20msb.docx#_ednref1" id="_edn1" name="_edn1">[*]</a> Notes on methodology: Approved labor certifications include expired ones because they may still have been used to obtain a green card. The data needed mild cleaning as a result of a few entries where annual wages were listed as being paid on a more regular basis. The offered wage of immigrants was annualized and, if necessary, was determined by taking the midpoint in any salary or wage range provided by the employer.</p> <p>EB2-EB3 employer‐​sponsored immigrants include all EB2-EB3 immigrants except for those who receive “<a href="https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-second-preference-eb-2">national interest waivers</a>,” but these immigrants do not need a sponsoring employer and so do not have any wage offer. No data exist on their wages after they receive green cards and find jobs in the United States, but NIWs are a much <a href="https://www.david-ware.com/Immigration-For-Individuals/Ways-To-Stay-In-The-United-States-Permanently/Labor-Certification-PERM.shtml">smaller population</a>. There are good reasons for believing, based on the educational attainment of Indians and Chinese, that Indians and Chinese are overrepresented in this highly skilled (albeit smaller) group that may have higher wages. For this reason, this post may understate the final wages of new Indian and Chinese immigrants. </p> Fri, 28 Feb 2020 11:03:12 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/country-caps-cut-average-wage-offer-new-employer-sponsored-immigrants-11828 Green Cards for Skilled Indian Workers Drop in 2019, Despite More Petitions by Employers for Them https://www.cato.org/blog/green-cards-skilled-indian-workers-drop-2019-despite-more-petitions-employers-them David J. Bier <p>Indian skilled workers received just 10 percent of the available green cards in 2019—down from 14 percent in 2018—even as the share of petitions filed for Indians by employers increased from 50 percent to 53 percent. Because this disparity has persisted for years, the result is that nearly all (<a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/fairness-high-skilled-immigrants-act-wait-times-green-card-grants">93 percent</a>) of the immigrants waiting for green cards solely because of the low immigration limits are from India.</p> <p>The reason for this disparity is that the law prevents green cards from being issued in proportion to the number of applicants from each country. Instead, <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/lets-stop-discriminating-against-immigrants-populous-nations">the per‐​country limits cap</a> the number of green cards that immigrants from any single country can receive. Since Indians are more than half of the workers employers want to hire, they are effectively the only immigrants who suffer due to this constraint (Chinese are also at the limit, but they wait about the same length as they would without the limits).</p> <p>All Indian green card applicants waiting in the backlog applied <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2020/visa-bulletin-for-february-2020.html">since 2009</a>. Figure 1 below shows the share of petitions by employers for Indian skilled workers compared to the share of green cards issued to Indians from 2009 to 2019. As it shows, this inequity is about an all‐​time high. In 2019 there was a 43 percentage point gap between the share of green cards for Indians and the share of petitions for them—up from 37 percent in 2018.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="7779e12d-d08f-4bba-a789-344620659ea1" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="9e19ae20-a067-4b7e-89e2-a27192b3e190" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: EB-2/EB-3 Petitions"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>The share of green cards for Indian workers could fall even further, despite the massive backlog and demand. The per‐​country limit provides that immigrants from any single birthplace cannot receive more than 7 percent of the green cards unless green cards would not otherwise be used. The only reason that Indians received 10 percent is because demand from the rest of the world was low enough to leave some unused. But demand from the rest of the world is increasing, shrinking the numbers for Indians.</p> <p>The shrinking numbers will have devastating consequences for recent Indian applicants, effectively guaranteeing that they will not receive green cards at all. Many Indians would die waiting for green cards if they could stick it out, so most will leave the line before then. The House <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/fairness-high-skilled-immigrants-act-wait-times-green-card-grants">voted</a> to repeal this exceptionally unjust system last year, but the Senate has yet to take up legislation to address it.</p> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 13:04:28 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/green-cards-skilled-indian-workers-drop-2019-despite-more-petitions-employers-them H‑1Bs and Underemployment Rates for College Graduates https://www.cato.org/blog/h-1bs-underemployment-rates-college-graduates David J. Bier <p>A persistent complaint about the H‑1B visa program for skilled foreign workers is that employers use it to replace U.S. workers, leading many to fail to find jobs. Of course, it is true that many U.S. college graduates fail to find jobs that use their education, but the fact is that the prevalence of this phenomenon has remained roughly constant for 30 years, even as the number of H‑1B visas issued has escalated.</p> <p>The data for this post comes from the <a href="https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/college-labor-market/college-labor-market_underemployment_rates.html">Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s analysis</a> of the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Department of Labor data.</p> <p>Figure 1 compares H‑1B visa issuances to underemployment among college graduates for each year from 1990 to 2019. There’s not a statistically significant correlation between H‑1B visas and underemployment among recent college graduates nor among all college graduates. The overall underemployment rate fluctuated within a range of just 2.9 percentage points over 30 years. The underemployment rate was 34 percent in 1990 when the H‑1B premiered and 34 percent in 2019 after three decades of use. The rate has varied more widely among recent college graduates, but there’s still no statistically significant correlation there (and the coefficient is negative anyway).</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="0b19f218-d2e2-4504-9d12-d3a8b37e4964" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="55f4fc2d-4d72-4b20-85b9-64b406928cac" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: Underemployment"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>These facts will not stop opponents of the H‑1B visa from claiming that H‑1B workers have some more subtle effects that this overall metric demonstrates. But the knowledge that the significant amount of underemployment among American college graduates entirely predates the H‑1B program should lead policymakers to realize that underemployment is a persistent problem, and not one that they can easily fix by nixing the H‑1B.</p> Tue, 18 Feb 2020 13:49:30 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/h-1bs-underemployment-rates-college-graduates Census Finds U.S. Population Will Decline Without Immigration https://www.cato.org/blog/census-finds-us-population-will-decline-without-immigration David J. Bier <p>The U.S. Census Bureau released <a href="https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2020/demo/p25-1146.html">a report</a> today that concludes that population of the United States will fall by 2060 if the government stops immigration. The report—which projects the future American population under different immigration scenarios—also finds that “higher international immigration over the next four decades would produce a faster growing, more diverse, and younger population for the United States.”</p> <p>Figure 1 graphs the numbers provided in the report using the labels that the Census uses for its four scenarios. The Census states that its “main” series—originally calculated in an earlier report—comes from recent immigration trends from 2011 to 2015. Its low‐​immigration scenario is half that rate, and its high immigration scenario is double that rate. Zero immigration is obviously no immigration at all.</p> <p>The Census baseline projection sees the United States reaching 404 million Americans by 2060—up from 328 million in 2019. Under the high immigration scenario, America could achieve a population of 446 million—just short of a half a billion. In the low immigration scenario, America will increase slightly to 376 million, and in the zero immigration scenario, the population will actually decline from 328 million to 320 million.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="11999758-9435-4604-ba43-ee5b2870c277" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="f33c7f5f-01d0-4969-9cb5-491f47328663" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: Population Projections"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>America’s current trajectory has already shifted down from Census’s baseline. Figure 2 shows that the Census’s assumption about the net increase in the foreign‐​born population for the couple of years available so far (2017–2018) has actually been more in line with the low immigration scenario than its main assumptions. In other words, the Trump administration is lowering immigration so significantly that it is changing the course of the U.S. population for the negative.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="861f9699-c8e2-45cf-86c2-47ddf0960682" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="5543ea56-e82d-4d4f-a6de-ae47da4f3793" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: net immigration"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>Raw population size is an incredibly important component of U.S. power internationally. With its population of 1.4 billion, China has repeatedly highlighted the importance of size in both markets and diplomacy in recent years. The National Basketball Association’s willingness to kowtow to the communist crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong shows that numbers alone matter, and a growing America would help maintain the most significant counterweight to the communist nation. A shrinking one would make companies and countries more willing to ignore the United States.</p> <p>The decrease in immigration will have other important consequences for the nation. According to the Census Bureau, the low and no immigration scenarios would result in an older, whiter population. Importantly, the share of the U.S. population that is foreign‐​born would plummet to a record low under the no immigration scenario (4.6 percent), while it would rise to a record high (22 percent) under the high immigration scenario.</p> <p>The Census projections regarding the age and ethnic composition of the country are based on the 2011 to 2015 trends, but higher immigration rates would cause the average age of immigrants to decline as long wait times and bureaucratic obstacles stop many young people from coming earlier. It would also likely result in more Asian immigration because Asians are most likely to come to the United States legally and so are most affected by policy changes. Policy would likely further prioritize younger immigrants by focusing on economic migrants who are more often young workers.</p> <p>Regardless, the Census Bureau report highlights the importance of immigration to the United States maintaining its position as the world’s most important market and its third largest population.</p> Fri, 14 Feb 2020 12:21:36 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/census-finds-us-population-will-decline-without-immigration H‑2B Guest Worker Wages Exceed Every State Minimum, 60% Higher On Average https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2b-guest-worker-wages-exceed-every-state-minimum-60-higher-average David J. Bier <p>Employers hire H‑2B guest workers to fill seasonal or temporary jobs in nonagricultural industries. Employers face an incredibly small cap imposed by Congress of 66,000 visas—a cap which has already disappeared for 2020. While Congress <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1865/text">has granted</a> the authority to the Department of Homeland Security to raise the cap, it has failed to announce any increase so far.</p> <p>This administration may be reluctant to raise the cap because H‑2B workers are seen as low‐​skilled. While they are certainly lower‐​skilled than physicians and computer programmers who enter under the H‑1B visa program, employers still pay wages—which the Department of Labor regulates and approves—to H‑2B workers that far exceed the low‐​end of the wage scale.</p> <p>Table 1 shows the average H‑2B wage in each state compared to the state minimum wage. In every single state in 2019, the average H‑2B workers in each state received wages that were significantly above their state’s minimum wage. Average H‑2B wages exceeded state minimum wages by 60 percent. Overall, H‑2B workers made $13.31 in 2019—84 percent above the federal minimum wage.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="85616371-1135-4c83-9bd0-310731f4964b" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="f0941b17-c92e-417e-b73d-5889786c76d9" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table 1: H-2B wages"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>Figure 1 maps the percentage differences between H‑2B wages and state minimum wages by state to highlight the areas with the largest differences. The H‑2B wage exceeded the state minimum wage in every state, ranging from a low of 6 percent above in Washington to a high of 140 percent above in North Dakota.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="49ce8503-63c2-4fb5-95f0-081651220485" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="cac1d378-fb47-4c47-8029-a41d36a9a45b" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1: Difference between H-2B Wage to State Minimum Wage by State"></div> </div> </div> </p><p>The H‑2B program provides critical labor for employers that the Department of Labor determines cannot find U.S. workers to fill the jobs. Despite offering wages far above the state minimum wages, businesses still cannot obtain enough qualified candidates to take these difficult jobs in industries like landscaping, forestry, and meat packing. The Department of Homeland Security should raise the cap as much as it legally can this year to help fill these jobs.</p> Wed, 12 Feb 2020 10:51:08 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2b-guest-worker-wages-exceed-every-state-minimum-60-higher-average The Laughable “Security” Justification for Cracking Down on Birth Tourism https://www.cato.org/blog/laughable-security-justification-cracking-down-birth-tourism David J. Bier <p>The U.S. Department of State announced <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-01218.pdf">a&nbsp;new rule</a> for tourist visa applicants today: prove you’re not going to give birth in America. The rule will not protect national security, will create more fraud and crime, and will cost America people who will contribute productively to this nation.</p> <p>The tourist visa statute allows noncitizens to visit the United States for “pleasure,” which State has always <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/22/41.31">interpreted</a> to mean “legitimate activities of a&nbsp;recreational character, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a&nbsp;fraternal, social, or service nature.”—in other words, most anything. But now, “The Department is revising the definition of ‘pleasure’” (p. 2) to exclude giving birth in the United States.</p> <p>The State Department asserts that the “rule addresses concerns about the attendant risks of this activity to national security.”</p> <blockquote><p>The previous regulation failed to address the national security vulnerability that could allow foreign governments or entities to recruit or groom U.S. citizens who were born as the result of birth tourism and raised overseas, without attachment to the United States, in manners that threaten the security of the United States.</p> </blockquote> <p>The State Department not only doesn’t present any evidence that this is occurring or has ever occurred, but it doesn’t even explain what the threatening “manners” might be that could somehow harm America. It can’t even imagine a&nbsp;hypothetical scenario to give flesh and bones to nightmare. The evidence that it does provide is that “Birth tourism <em>companies</em> advertise their <em>businesses</em> abroad by promoting the citizenship‐​related benefits of giving birth in the United States” (emphasis added). In other words, these are capitalist enterprises led by the market, not governmental efforts led by foreign security agencies.</p> <p>I <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/extreme-vetting-immigrants-estimating-terrorism-vetting-failures">have dug</a> through hundreds of national security and terrorism cases over a&nbsp;30‐​year period to identify the origins of the offenders, and not a&nbsp;single case that I&nbsp;have reviewed followed this fact pattern.</p> <p>The State Department lists the following reasons for people choosing to give birth in the United States:</p> <blockquote><p>obtaining a&nbsp;second citizenship for their child, the perceived low‐​cost medical services available to women in the United States, the lower cost of obtaining U.S. citizenship through birth tourism than through a&nbsp;U.S. investor visa, and the perceived guarantee of a&nbsp;better socioeconomic future for their child.</p> </blockquote> <p>Not included on this list: developing stealth agents to (somehow) undermine America.</p> <p>It’s also interesting&nbsp;that the State Department didn’t include the evasion of China’s 1‑child/​<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-child_policy">2‑child policy</a>. One woman named Liou <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/03/03/california-chinese-birth-tourism-raids/24338087/">said</a> in 2015 that she only came to the United States to “skirt China’s one‐​child policy” and will return to China after giving birth. The reason is that the child limit only applies to children born in mainland China. A&nbsp;Shanghai reporter <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2011-11-03/china-s-birth-tourism-isn-t-about-the-u-s-adam-minter">assessed the situation</a> this way in 2011:</p> <blockquote><p>American journalists continue to generate stories about birth tourists from China, most often explaining them as seekers of the American dream. They rarely touch on what the Chinese people, and their media, know is a&nbsp;leading cause of the phenomenon: an attempt to evade the Chinese government’s population controls.</p> </blockquote> <p>This explains why—as I&nbsp;<a href="https://www.niskanencenter.org/chinese-mothers-give-birth-in-the-u-s-to-thwart-chinas-one-child-policy/">described in 2015</a>—out‐​of‐​county births to mainland Chinese have spiked all around the world, not just in the United States. You would think that the State Department would want to treat people thwarting Chinese totalitarianism as potential allies, rather than threats. Obviously, these women choose to give birth in the United States rather than elsewhere because they believe their children could benefit from having the option to come and live here, but it takes a&nbsp;bizarre sort of nativist paranoia to see this aspiration for the American dream as a&nbsp;threat rather than an opportunity.</p> <p>The State Department cites a&nbsp;few instances of birth tourism companies defrauding immigrants, hospitals, and property owners, but those actions are already illegal and this rule does nothing to stop fraud. Indeed, by banning this activity, this rule will inevitably push the industry underground and lead to more fraud. Far from protecting women seeking to give birth here, it will place them in much more vulnerable situations.</p> <p>This rule has no justification other than a&nbsp;desire to keep out foreigners. Indeed, it repeatedly cites the fear that parents of the child could eventually receive green cards when their children reach adulthood. That’s not a&nbsp;fear any reasonable person would treat as a&nbsp;security threat. In fact, the State Department notes that the birth tourists are hoping their children will eventually return to contribute to America. How is this a&nbsp;problem?</p> <p>The State Department is denying the public the ability to comment on the rule before it becomes finalized—as all other rules must do—because it wants to avoid having to “respond publicly to pointed questions regarding foreign policy decisions.” It must be nice to have the power to harm the lives of tens of thousands of peaceful people, all without the fear of having to answer any questions about it.</p> Thu, 23 Jan 2020 14:00:22 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/laughable-security-justification-cracking-down-birth-tourism David Bier gives a lecture, “How Guest Worker Visas Could Transform The US Immigration System,” on TED Talk https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/david-bier-gives-lecture-how-guest-worker-visas-could-transform-us Tue, 14 Jan 2020 11:04:17 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/david-bier-gives-lecture-how-guest-worker-visas-could-transform-us The H‑2A Touchback Requirement Makes No Economic or Security Sense https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2a-touchback-requirement-makes-no-economic-or-security-sense David J. Bier <figure role="group" class="filter-caption"><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="5fca25d1-db4e-4229-89f6-6f500eba9702" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-01/California_Farm_Workers_%2828809780481%29.jpg?itok=2bTyTt4Y 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-01/California_Farm_Workers_%2828809780481%29.jpg?itok=NH6rDvII 1.5x" width="700" height="429" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-01/California_Farm_Workers_%2828809780481%29.jpg?itok=2bTyTt4Y" alt="By Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Nipomo Farm Workers, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61599196" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <br /><figcaption><div class="figure-caption text-sans-alternate">California Farm Workers By Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States — Nipomo Farm Workers </div> </figcaption></figure><p>The House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (<a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5038/text">H.R. 5038</a>) last month. The House bill made some improvements to the H‑2A program, which allows farmers to hire foreign guest workers, but it incorporated into the statute the current regulatory requirement in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(h)(5)(viii)(C)) that an H‑2A worker may not live in the United States continuously for more than 3 years. The Senate should not copy this mistake.</p> <p>This provision makes no sense from an economic or security perspective. It imposes costly, needless turnover on U.S. farmers, and by forcing out workers, it unnecessarily creates many more opportunities for visa violations. These arguments actually apply even more forcefully under the bill because it expands the H‑2A program to include year‐​round jobs, unlike the current seasonal jobs that by their nature have a defined end date.</p> <p><strong>H‑2A Touchbacks Waste Economic Resources</strong></p> <p>The economic argument against an arbitrary time requirement is simple: losing workers who are creating economic value imposes economic inefficiencies on employers. Turnover has costs associated with lost productivity when the position is unfilled, recruiting and hiring a replacement, training the new hire, and lost productivity from the employee learning the position.</p> <p>Table 1 reviews the cost of job turnover in a variety of occupations and industries. Unfortunately, I found no study estimating the cost specifically in agriculture, but the consensus across a broad range of industries is that businesses end up paying about a quarter of the person’s salary to replace them.</p> <p><strong>Table 1: Costs of Turnover in Various Occupations</strong></p> <table><tbody><tr><td></td> <td><span><span><span>Turnover Cost Studies</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Industries</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Percent of Annual Wages</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Average Costs</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Hourly Wage</span></span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>1</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="http://scholarworks.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&amp;context=ruralinst_health_wellness">Seninger, et al (2002)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Supported Living</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>24%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$3,631</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$7.56</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>2</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311536964_Direct_Support_Professional_Turnover_Costs_in_Small_Group_Homes_A_Case_Study">Larson, et al (2004)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Direct support professionals</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>17%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$4,333</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$12.45</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>3</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883888/">Patterson, et al. (2010)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Emergency medical</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>25%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$7,926</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$15.71</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>4</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="http://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1446&amp;context=articles">Hinkin &amp; Tracey (2000)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Hotels</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>29%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$13,104</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$15.95</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>5</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="http://www.ccrrc.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2014/02/New_Ideas_for_Retaining_Store-Level_Employees_2000.pdf">Frank (2000)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Grocery Stores</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>31%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$10,848</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$17.50</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>6</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="http://irle.berkeley.edu/files/2010/Employee-Replacement-Costs.pdf">Dube, et al (2010)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Various</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>12%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$4,563</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$18.55</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>7</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2271020">Jones (1990)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Nurses</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>37%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$19,402</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$25.94</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>8</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="https://nctaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/NCTAF-Cost-of-Teacher-Turnover-2007-full-report.pdf">Barnes, et al. (2007)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Teachers</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>36%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$13,446</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$30.23</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>9</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="http://www.mobilityagenda.org/achieve.pdf?attredirects=0">Appelbaum &amp; Milkman (2006)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Various</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>25%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$16,461</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$32.92</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>10</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2300222.">Wise (1990)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Nurses</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>31%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$22,557</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$36.89</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td><span><span><span>11</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><a href="http://www.crpe.org/sites/default/files/wp_sfrp13_milanowskiodden_aug08_0.pdf">Milanowski &amp; Odden (2007)</a></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>Teachers</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>17%</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span>$13,969</span></span></td> <td><span><span>$41.44</span></span></td> </tr><tr><td></td> <td><span><span><span>Median</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>All Above</span></span></span></td> <td><span><span><span>25%</span></span></span></td> <td><strong><span>$13,104</span></strong></td> <td><strong><span>$18.55</span></strong></td> </tr></tbody></table><p><em>Sources: See Table Text</em></p> <p>The average H‑2A worker’s annualized salary <a href="https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/performancedata.cfm">was about $25,000 in 2019</a>. One quarter of that would be $6,500. For seasonal farms that plan to hire new crews every year, this requirement may be less of a burden, particularly since the regulations allow the workers to reenter after a 60‐​day departure, so seasonal workers can return home and reenter. But for year‐​round employers, this mandate will be much more expensive. In 2019, the State Department <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-statistics/nonimmigrant-visa-statistics/monthly-nonimmigrant-visa-issuances.html">issued</a> 204,000 new H‑2A visas to seasonal workers. If as many nonseasonal workers enter—which is reasonable, should Congress amend the program—simple math would indicate that the three‐​year restriction would cost them more than $1.3 billion annually after the 3<sup>rd</sup> year.</p> <p>Of course, some might argue that this requirement forces H‑2A employers to retest again the labor market and so create jobs for U.S. workers. For seasonal employers, the employers have to test the job market every year because the jobs are inherently temporary, and the law requires the labor market test before rehiring. In any case, the Department of Labor <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/07/26/2019-15307/temporary-agricultural-employment-of-h-2a-nonimmigrants-in-the-united-states">reports</a> that the H‑2A labor certification rarely produces any U.S. hires, and it’s worse than a neutral move because the turnover costs get passed on to consumers, which harms U.S. job creation and wages in related industries where U.S. workers are more common.</p> <p><strong>H‑2A Touchbacks Harm Security</strong></p> <p>The H‑2A touchback has no benefit for U.S. security either. Every time the law requires a legal temporary worker to return home, it creates the risk (and incentive) for a visa violation. The more required departures, the more visa overstays, and the more immigrants living illegally in the country. The touchback requirement imposes additional overstay risk in two ways: first, it forces out an existing worker, and second, it triggers the entry of a new worker who may or may not be as law‐​abiding as the one who exits.</p> <p>The best evidence indicates that H‑2A overstays are a very small problem: less than 1 percent of the estimated overstay population had an expired H‑2A visa, according to an estimate by <a href="https://www.gao.gov/assets/660/656316.pdf">the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2012</a>. Nonetheless, forcing legal workers out will create more overstays, and there is no reason to force out a qualified, law‐​abiding worker: just the opposite, there’s every reason to let them continue to work.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-1987-06-01/pdf/FR-1987-06-01.pdf">original justification</a> for the three‐​year regulatory requirement limit in 1987 was that a worker cannot qualify as a “nonimmigrant” (i.e. non‐​permanent resident) if the law didn’t require the worker to leave periodically. But this notion is antiquated given the developments in immigration law since then. There are numerous nonimmigrant designations for which there is no time‐​limit. Most relevantly, H‑1B visas provide for indefinite renewals if an employer sponsors them for a green card. Moreover, the workers’ status as nonimmigrants is grounded in the fact that their residence is conditional—permitted only so long as they perform agricultural labor or services in this country.</p> <p>The economic, security, and legal arguments for the H‑2A touchback lack merit. The requirement actively undermines the economy and security of the country. It is not required by current law, and if Congress reforms the law, it should not require it, particularly for year‐​round employers. Indeed, it should remove the requirement entirely.</p> Fri, 10 Jan 2020 13:35:40 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2a-touchback-requirement-makes-no-economic-or-security-sense TED Talk: Creating Order at the Border https://www.cato.org/publications/speeches/ted-talk-creating-order-border David J. Bier <div class="text-default"> <p class="text-sans-alternate">Mr. Bier delivered this TED talk at the <a href="https://blog.ted.com/border-stories-talks-on-immigration-justice-and-freedom-from-the-ted-world-theater/" target="_blank">TEDSalon “Border Stories”</a> in New York City on September 10, 2019.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <div><div><div class="responsive-embed"></div></div></div> <br /> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CatoImmigration">twitter #CatoImmigration</a></p> </div> , <div class="lead text-default"> <p>By October 2018, Juan Carlos Rivera could no longer afford to live in his home in Copan, Honduras. As the<em> Dallas Morning News</em> reported, a&nbsp;gang was taking 10 percent of his earnings from his barber shop.<sup><a href="#_ednref1" id="_edn1">1</a></sup> His wife was assaulted going to her pre‑K teaching job, and they were concerned about the safety of their young daughter.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>What could they do? Run away? Seek asylum in another country? They didn’t want to do that. They just wanted to live in their country safely. But their options were limited. So that month, Juan Carlos moved his family to a&nbsp;safer location, while he joined a&nbsp;group of migrants on the long and perilous journey from Central America to a&nbsp;job a&nbsp;family member said was open for him in the United States.</p> <p>By now, we are all familiar with what awaited them at the U.S.-Mexico border: the harsher and harsher penalties doled out to those crossing there—the criminal prosecutions for crossing illegally, the inhumane detention, and most terribly, the separation of families.</p> <p>I’m here to tell you that not only is this treatment wrong—it’s unnecessary. This belief that the only way to maintain order is with inhumane means is inaccurate. In fact, the opposite is true. Only a&nbsp;humane system will create order at the border. When safe, orderly, legal travel to the United States is available, very few people choose travel that is unsafe, disorderly or illegal.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> The Mexican Success </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Now, I&nbsp;appreciate the idea that legal immigration could just resolve the border crisis might sound a&nbsp;bit fanciful. But here is the good news: we have done this before.</p> <p>I have worked on immigration for years at the Cato Institute and other think tanks in Washington D.C. and as the senior policy adviser for a&nbsp;Republican member of Congress, negotiating bipartisan immigration reform. I&nbsp;have seen firsthand how America has implemented a&nbsp;system of humane order at the border for Mexico. It’s called a&nbsp;guest worker program.</p> <p>Here’s the even better news: we can replicate this success for Central America. Of course, some people will still need to seek asylum at the border. But to understand how successful this could be for immigrants like Juan Carlos, understand that until recently, nearly every immigrant arrested by Border Patrol was Mexican.</p> <p>In 1986, each Border Patrol agent arrested 510 Mexicans—well over one per day.<sup><a href="#_ednref2" id="_edn2">2</a></sup> By 2019, this number was just eight. That’s one every 43&nbsp;days. It is a&nbsp;98 percent reduction. So where have all the Mexicans gone? The most significant change is that the United States began issuing hundreds of thousands of guest worker visas to Mexicans, so that they can come legally (Figure 1).</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="e0600210-0df5-43be-80cf-e3aa3dcbda12" data-type="interactive" data-title="Mexicans Arrested per Border Patrol Agent and Mexicans Guest Workers Admitted"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>José Vásquez Cabrera was among the first Mexican guest workers to take advantage of this visa expansion. He told the <em>New York Times </em>that before his visa he’d made terrifying illegal border crossings, braving near deadly heat and the treachery of the landscape.<sup><a href="#_ednref3" id="_edn3">3</a></sup> One time, a&nbsp;snake killed a&nbsp;member of his group.</p> <p>Thousands of other Mexicans also didn’t make it, dying of dehydration in the deserts or drowning in the Rio Grande.<sup><a href="#_ednref4" id="_edn4">4</a></sup> Millions more were chased down and arrested.<sup><a href="#_ednref5" id="_edn5">5</a></sup> Guest worker visas have nearly ended this inhumane chaos. As Vásquez Cabrera put it, “I no longer have to risk my life to support my family. And when I’m here, I&nbsp;don’t have to live in hiding.”<sup><a href="#_ednref6" id="_edn6">6</a></sup></p> <p>Guest worker visas actually reduced the number of illegal crossings more than the number of visas issued. Jose Bacilio, another Mexican guest worker, explained why to the <em>Washington Post</em> in April 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref7" id="_edn7">7</a></sup>He said, even though he hadn’t received a&nbsp;visa this year, he wouldn’t risk all of his future chances by crossing illegally. This likely helps explain why from 1996 to 2019 for every guest worker admitted legally from Mexico, there was a&nbsp;decline in two arrests of Mexicans crossing illegally.<sup><a href="#_ednref8" id="_edn8">8</a></sup></p> </div> , &lt; class="paragraph paragraph--type-container-width paragraph--view-mode-default ds-1col clearfix"&gt; <figure class="photo-mosaic figure overflow-hidden figure--container-width responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="photo-mosaic__grid"> <div class="photo-mosaic__box photo-mosaic__box-1"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero/public/2020-01/48723667087_1cc6000072_k.jpg?itok=UFPXI9DZ 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero_2x/public/2020-01/48723667087_1cc6000072_k.jpg?itok=Rgga_b5s 1.5x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero_2x/public/2020-01/48723667087_1cc6000072_k.jpg?itok=Rgga_b5s 2x" width="691" height="460" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero/public/2020-01/48723667087_1cc6000072_k.jpg?itok=UFPXI9DZ" alt="David Bier speaks at TEDSalon Event" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /> </div> <div class="photo-mosaic__box photo-mosaic__box-2"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero/public/2020-01/48723160158_a315acb75a_k.jpg?itok=JM8CcyrP 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero_2x/public/2020-01/48723160158_a315acb75a_k.jpg?itok=Pou6TghK 1.5x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero_2x/public/2020-01/48723160158_a315acb75a_k.jpg?itok=Pou6TghK 2x" width="691" height="460" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero/public/2020-01/48723160158_a315acb75a_k.jpg?itok=JM8CcyrP" alt="David Bier speaks on immigration at TED event" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /> </div> <div class="photo-mosaic__box photo-mosaic__box-3"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero/public/2020-01/48723160803_b30d7f6265_k.jpg?itok=S3UVweQd 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero_2x/public/2020-01/48723160803_b30d7f6265_k.jpg?itok=oRc4aZyL 1.5x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero_2x/public/2020-01/48723160803_b30d7f6265_k.jpg?itok=oRc4aZyL 2x" width="691" height="460" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero/public/2020-01/48723160803_b30d7f6265_k.jpg?itok=S3UVweQd" alt="David Bier discusses immigration and the border" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /> </div> <div class="photo-mosaic__box photo-mosaic__box-4"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero/public/2020-01/48723493881_6ab1c1f636_k.jpg?itok=_qcjQgv4 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero_2x/public/2020-01/48723493881_6ab1c1f636_k.jpg?itok=31lbxhaY 1.5x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero_2x/public/2020-01/48723493881_6ab1c1f636_k.jpg?itok=31lbxhaY 2x" width="691" height="460" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/hero/public/2020-01/48723493881_6ab1c1f636_k.jpg?itok=_qcjQgv4" alt="Crowd and auditorium for TedSalon" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="wrapper--long-form"> <figcaption class="figure__caption"> <div class="d-lg-none"> <div class="modifiers modifiers-id-paragraph-110222 modifiers-type-paragraph modifiers-bundle-caption modifiers-display-default figure-caption text-sans-alternate"> <p>Photo Credits:<em> </em>TED/​Ryan Lash</p> </div> </div> <div class="d-none d-lg-block"> <div class="modifiers modifiers-id-paragraph-110221 modifiers-type-paragraph modifiers-bundle-caption modifiers-display-default figure-caption text-sans-alternate"> <p>Photo Credits:<em> </em>TED/​Ryan Lash</p> </div> </div> </figcaption> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Now it’s true that Mexican guest workers do some really tough jobs: picking fruit, cleaning crabs, landscaping in a&nbsp;100‐​degree heat.<sup><a href="#_ednref9" id="_edn9">9</a></sup> Some critics maintain that guest worker visas are not actually humane and that the workers are just abused slaves. But Vásquez Cabrera thought a&nbsp;guest worker visa was liberating, not enslavement, and like nearly all other guest workers, he chose the legal path over the illegal one, repeatedly.<sup><a href="#_ednref10" id="_edn10">10</a></sup></p> <p>The expansion of guest worker visas to Mexicans has been among the most significant humane changes in U.S. immigration policy ever, and that humane change imposed order on chaos.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Central American Opportunity </h2> , <div class="text-default"> <p>So where does this leave Central Americans, like Juan Carlos? Well, Central Americans received just three percent of the guest worker visas issued in 2019, even as their share of border arrests has risen to 74 percent (Figure 2).<sup><a href="#_ednref11" id="_edn11">11</a></sup></p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="7e3aa59c-b374-4d23-b0fa-81f870b7a374" data-type="interactive" data-title="Central American Share of U.S. Border Arrests and Central American Share of Guest Workers"></div>!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&amp;&amp;window[t].initialized)window[t].process&amp;&amp;window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,o.id=n,o.src="https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async"); </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The United States issued just one guest worker visa to a&nbsp;Central American for every 78 who crossed the border illegally in 2019.<sup><a href="#_ednref12" id="_edn12">12</a></sup> So if they can’t get their papers at home, many take their chances, coming up through Mexico to claim asylum at the border or cross illegally, even if, like Juan Carlos, they prefer to come to work.</p> <p>The United States can do better. It needs to create new guest worker visas specifically for Central Americans. This would create an incentive for U.S. businesses to seek out and hire Central Americans, paying for their flights to the United States, and diverting them from the illegal, dangerous trek north. Central Americans could build flourishing lives at home, without the need to seek asylum at the border or cross illegally, freeing up an overwhelmed system.</p> <p>Some people might say that letting the workers go back and forth will never work in Central America where violence is so high.</p> <p>But again, it worked in Mexico, even as Mexico’s murder rate more than tripled over the last decade, to a&nbsp;level higher than much of Central America.<sup><a href="#_ednref13" id="_edn13">13</a></sup> And it would work for Juan Carlos who said, despite the threats, he only wants to live in the United States temporarily, to make enough money to sustain his family in their new home. He even suggested that a&nbsp;guest worker program would be one of the best things to help Hondurans like him.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="embed embed--twitter js-embed js-embed--twitter"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr" lang="en">"Only a humane system will create order at the border. When safe, orderly, legal travel to the United States is available, very few people choose travel that is unsafe, disorderly or illegal."<br /><br />WATCH: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CatoImmigration?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CatoImmigration</a>'s <a href="https://twitter.com/David_J_Bier?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@David_J_Bier</a> on immigration reform <a href="https://t.co/qGXL0ENX54">https://t.co/qGXL0ENX54</a> <a href="https://t.co/Yh4EOfNISh">pic.twitter.com/Yh4EOfNISh</a></p>— Cato Institute (@CatoInstitute) <a href="https://twitter.com/CatoInstitute/status/1217203695777124360?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 14, 2020</a></blockquote> </div> </div> </figure> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Cintia, a&nbsp;29‐​year‐​old single mother of three from Honduras, seems to agree. She told the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> that she came for a&nbsp;job to support her kids and her mom.<sup><a href="#_ednref14" id="_edn14">14</a></sup> Surveys of Central Americans traveling through Mexico, by the College of the Northern Border in Mexico, confirm that Juan and Cintia are the norm.<sup><a href="#_ednref15" id="_edn15">15</a></sup> Most—not all—but most do come for jobs, even if, like the Riveras, they may also face some real threats at home.</p> <p>How much would a&nbsp;low‐​wage job in the United States help a&nbsp;Honduran, like Juan or Cintia? Hondurans like them make as much in one month in the United States as they do in an entire year working in Honduras.<sup><a href="#_ednref16" id="_edn16">16</a></sup> A&nbsp;few years’ work in the United States can propel a&nbsp;Central American into its upper middle class where safety is easier to come by.</p> <p>What Central Americans lack is not the desire to work, not the desire to contribute to the U.S. economy, to contribute to the lives of Americans. What Central Americans lack is a&nbsp;legal alternative to asylum to be able to do so legally.</p> <p>Of course, a&nbsp;new guest worker program will not resolve 100 percent of this complex phenomenon. Many asylum seekers will still need to seek safety at the U.S. border. But with the flows reduced, we can more easily work out ways to deal with them humanely. Ultimately, no single policy has proven to do more to create an immigration system that is both humane and orderly than to let the workers come legally.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <div><h4>Recommended Reading</h4><hr> <p class="text-sans-alternate"><a href="https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa-879.pdf">David J. Bier, Legal Immigration Will Resolve America’s Real Border Problems, Policy Analysis No. 879, Cato Institute, Washington, DC, August 20, 2019.</a></p> <p class="text-sans-alternate"><a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/homicides-mexico-tripled-fewer-mexicans-came-illegally">David Bier, “Homicides in Mexico Tripled But Fewer Mexicans Came Illegally,” Cato at Liberty, August 23, 2019.</a></p> <p class="text-sans-alternate"><a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2-visas-reduced-mexican-illegal-immigration">Alex Nowrasteh and Andrew C. Forrester, “H‑2 Visas Reduced Mexican Illegal Immigration,” Cato at Liberty, July 11, 2019.</a></p> <p class="text-sans-alternate"><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/immigration-research-policy-brief/immigrant-native-consumption-means-tested-welfare">Tu Le and Alex Nowrasteh, “Immigrant and Native Consumption of Means‐​Tested Welfare and Entitlement Benefits in 2016: Evidence from the Survey of Income and Program Participation”, Immigration Research and Policy Brief No. 15, January 14, 2020. </a></p> <p class="text-sans-alternate"><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/trumps-latest-immigration-proposal-has-one-goal-keep-immigrants-out">David Bier, “Trump’s Latest Immigration Proposal Has One Goal: Keep Immigrants Out”, Washington Post, August 13, 2019.</a></p></div> </div> Thu, 09 Jan 2020 17:33:12 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/publications/speeches/ted-talk-creating-order-border No Unusual Migration Trend for Mexicans to Justify Deporting Them to Guatemala https://www.cato.org/blog/no-unusual-migration-trend-mexicans-justify-deporting-them-guatemala David J. Bier <p>The Trump administration <a href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hamedaleaziz/trump-immigration-deporting-refugees-mexico-guatemala-border">has announced</a> that it will begin deporting Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala, where they will face homelessness in a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world. Last year, Guatemala signed onto a deal with the United States to accept deportees from other countries, and the administration <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/06/us/politics/mexican-asylum-seekers-guatemala.html">had sold</a> it as a way to resettle refugees “closer to home.”</p> <p>But this announcement demonstrates that this justification was simply a farce, as most Mexicans crossing the border live closer to the United States than Guatemala.The administration is apparently justifying the move by citing a major increase in Mexican arrivals. The <em><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/06/us/politics/mexican-asylum-seekers-guatemala.html">New York Times</a></em> states:</p> <blockquote><p>about 17,000 Mexicans were caught crossing between ports of entry in October, a 34 percent increase since July , according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Homeland Security Department has been searching for ways to stem the uptick for the past month.</p> </blockquote> <p>But this excuse is also inaccurate. Border Patrol apprehensions of Mexicans crossing illegally have been roughly stable over the course of the year. They dipped down in July—as a result of the hotter weather—but in December, the most recent month available, Mexican numbers were lower than earlier in the year. Figure 1 shows the Mexican apprehensions by month since April 2019, when CBP started publishing monthly totals by country online.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="763a715f-edcb-4809-9ff3-ede4c1167c61" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="9843402c-2836-4cd9-8de6-51172ffaad16" data-type="interactive" data-title="Figure 1 Southwest Border Apprehensions of Mexicans by Month"></div> <div><a href="https://infogram.com/9843402c-2836-4cd9-8de6-51172ffaad16" target="_blank">Figure 1 Southwest Border Apprehensions of Mexicans by Month</a><br /><a href="https://infogram.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Infogram</a></div> </div> </div> </p><p>Nor are Mexican arrivals particularly unusual on an annual basis. Here is the last decade of Mexican apprehensions by year. As it shows, Mexican apprehensions <a href="https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2019-Mar/bp-total-apps-other-mexico-fy2000-fy2018.pdf">declined dramatically since 2010</a> from nearly 400,000 to <a href="https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration/usbp-sw-border-apprehensions-fy2019">166,000 in 2019</a>, and while 2019 was up from 2018, it came nowhere close to reversing these gains and was nothing like what the border has seen in terms of changes from Central America in 2019 (9 percent increase compared to a 172 percent increase).</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="fbabfb37-61b6-4698-829e-073a7a6f1c92" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="53e14355-9cc1-4ae9-87a2-a0c651f50af3" data-type="interactive" data-title="Mexican apprehensions"></div> <div><a href="https://infogram.com/53e14355-9cc1-4ae9-87a2-a0c651f50af3" target="_blank">Mexican apprehensions</a><br /><a href="https://infogram.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Infogram</a></div> </div> </div> </p><p>The administration has absolutely no business deporting Mexicans to Guatemala using the extraordinary and already inhumane policies that it has implemented for Central Americans. The administration needs to <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/legal-immigration-will-resolve-americas-real-border-problems">channel these immigrants into legal avenues for entry</a>, not forcibly remove them to a country that they do not know and do not want to go to.</p> <p><em>Update 1/9/2020: This blog was updated to reflect apprehensions through <a href="https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration">December 2019</a>.</em></p> Tue, 07 Jan 2020 11:55:15 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/no-unusual-migration-trend-mexicans-justify-deporting-them-guatemala H‑2A Guest Worker Minimum Wages Up in 2020, 57% above New State Minimums https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2a-guest-worker-minimum-wages-2020-57-above-new-state-minimums David J. Bier <p>Two dozen <a href="https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/best-states/minimum-wage-by-state">states are raising</a> <a href="https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/mw-consolidated">their minimum wages</a> in 2020. While the federal government’s minimum for all workers remains the same, the feds have hiked one minimum wage in 2020: the <a href="https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/adverse.cfm">Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR)</a> paid to H‑2A foreign seasonal farm workers. Despite the state changes, this rate will still far exceed the federal or state minimum wage in every state in 2020 by an average difference of 57 percent.</p> <p>The AEWR is the Department of Labor (DOL)-mandated wage for H‑2A seasonal farm workers. Farmers who hire even a single H‑2A worker must also pay the AEWR to every American worker as well if it is higher than what they would otherwise receive. Except for Alaska, each state has its own AEWR, which run <a href="https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/adverse.cfm">from $11.71 to $15.83</a> per hour in 2020 (based on 15 regions). State minimum wages start at the federal minimum of <a href="https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/mw-consolidated">$7.25 hourly and go to $13.50 in the state of Washington</a>.</p> <p>In every state, the AEWR far outstrips every state minimum. The average difference between each state’s AEWR and its minimum wage is 57 percent in 2020. In Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin, the AEWR is fully double the state minimum wage. In 2020, DOL is raising the straight average by 5.5 percent from $12.96 to $13.68 hourly. Every state will see the AEWR increase with Ohio seeing the largest increase of 9.5 percent.</p> <p>The 2020 rate increases continue a 2‑decade AEWR march higher. Since 2000, the AEWR has increased from a nominal wage of $7.21 (straight average) to $12.96. This 80 percent growth in the AEWR has doubled the pace of general price inflation as calculated by the <a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PCEPI">Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Index</a>.</p> <p> <div data-embed-button="embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="104cb897-8a5b-4c09-832f-7eea0dac4fc5" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <div class="embed embed--infogram js-embed js-embed--infogram"> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="6752434f-4400-41de-8f58-07f6321965be" data-type="interactive" data-title="Table 1: AEWR and State Minimum Wages"></div> <div><a href="https://infogram.com/6752434f-4400-41de-8f58-07f6321965be" target="_blank">Table 1: AEWR and State Minimum Wages</a><br /><a href="https://infogram.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Infogram</a></div> </div> </div> </p><p>The AEWR is unfair discrimination against farmers who are trying to follow the rules and hire foreign workers legally. It is supposed to reflect the actual hourly wage that farmers are already paying workers. But in practice, this is not the case.</p> <p>The DOL uses the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey of U.S. farmers to calculate the AEWR. To determine the wage, DOL annually <a href="https://www.nass.usda.gov/Education_and_Outreach/Reports,_Presentations_and_Conferences/reports/2018%20Final%20Farm%20Labor%20Report.pdf">divides</a> the total monetary compensation to all farm workers in a region in the prior year by total hours worked. Of course, this wage overlooks differences between localities, detailed job types, skills, and experience, leading to a misleading average.</p> <p>More importantly, by treating all monetary compensation as “wages,” the AEWR <a href="https://www.nass.usda.gov/Education_and_Outreach/Reports,_Presentations_and_Conferences/reports/2018%20Final%20Farm%20Labor%20Report.pdf">scoops</a> in overtime, hazard pay, bonuses, performance incentives, and all other additional payments. This means that the AEWR artificially inflates the base hourly wage in the following before including these types of extra compensation.</p> <p>In addition, by pricing out workers with below‐​average wages—typically less experienced workers who received less bonus pay—the mandate further inflates wages in each successive year. The AEWR is obviously designed to suppress hiring of foreign farm workers—which is why labor unions and left advocacy organizations argue that the AEWR should increase even more. This is ironic given the common claims that the minimum wages don’t suppress hiring.</p> <p>This analysis actually understates the difference between the AEWR and the state minimums because farmers who hire H‑2A workers must also provide their workers many other benefits that—unlike most state minimum wages—they cannot deduct even partially from the workers’ wages. DOL requires, for example, that farmers provide housing at no cost to the worker, cover their transportation to and from their home country (or state, for U.S. workers), and daily transit to and from work.</p> <p>At the end of the day, there is no evidence that hiring foreign workers harms U.S. workers and substantial evidence that unemployed U.S. workers refuse to take H‑2A jobs even though they all have a shot at them first.</p> <p>The AEWR is a political wage that the administration or Congress should terminate. I have previously written <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2a-farmers-will-benefit-house-reform-bill">about the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bill</a> that now has passed the House that would help rein in the AEWR. If we want to end illegal immigration, we should start by making it easier to hire needed workers legally.</p> Fri, 03 Jan 2020 12:12:37 -0500 David J. Bier https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2a-guest-worker-minimum-wages-2020-57-above-new-state-minimums