School agents benefit both Canada and China – The Conversation

The analysis of the numbers and practices is more interest than what appears to be shilling for education consultants while indicating a possible regulatory gap:

China is the No.1 source country of international students who come to study in Canada. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, 150,000 international students from China studied in Canada in 2017.

Any political impact on Canadian and Chinese relations is potentially serious for a wide global network with something at stake related to Chinese students in Canada — including students and their families, universities and services related to international study, such as education agents.

Education agents play a significant role in counselling and referring students to international education providers. They connect the people involved in international education, linking students, parents, education providers, visa offices, professional service providers such as language training institutions, academic program evaluation agencies, travel and accommodation providers and finance institutions to each other in order to facilitate study in another country.

As an education researcher focused on studying trust and leadership, and as part of my university’s recruitment efforts, I have studied how students and their families decide to invest in international education, including through using education agents.

I also supervised a student’s research project that investigated the role of education agents in China. The student, Haiying Li, helped to inform this article. Li worked as an education agent between 2001 and 2014 in various capacities: among her roles, she worked for our university, and as a consultant for Beijing-, and Guangzhou-based firms and at a program supporting Masters students based in Vancouver and Shanghai. This was before she became a student in Canada.

What I have seen is that education agents play a significant role in helping international students come from China to Canada, and the agents’ work benefits both countries’ economies and people.

How agents work

The agents provide services such as identifying the institution and course of study that meet the student’s needs, helping the students finish applications, submitting grade records and serving as a liaison. Some agencies may also provide training for required language proficiency tests. In some cases, after the student enrols the agent can play the role of cultural mediator.

Based on research conducted in 2014, 60 per cent of international students used an education agent to apply to Canadian colleges and universities.

Among the three different types of education agents, the first is an institution representative who receives a commission by the school they represent. The second type is the student’s representative; the student pays for advising services typically to apply to academic programs offered by the best-ranked universities.

The third type of agent may be remunerated by both a student and an institution. The student pays for the agent’s professional overseas study consulting service; the agent may also receive commission from schools who she or he works for.

Canada benefits

I teach and supervise many international students, including Chinese students. Students’ eagerness and wonder in a new place is common, yet no less beautiful each time it unfolds, reinforcing the significance of intercultural experiences.

International students bring Canadians the opportunity to begin to understand cultural differences and similarities and to become better equipped to live successfully in a multicultural global economy.

International students bring both more money and jobs to Canada, contributing more than $15.5 billion to Canada’s economy annually. They bring knowledge, information and skills to Canada.

The federal government reports that international student spending directly and indirectly supported 168,860 jobs in Canada in 2016, an increase of 38 per cent over 2014. Thus international students have direct impacts on GDP, jobs and tax revenue.

Agents working for schools recruit students to Canadian institutions but if they perform their role successfully, they also raise the brand image of the institutions.

These agents also market Canada. They show the advantages of Canada amid other prospective countries of study, empahsizing the quality of education, the multicultural nature of Canada, safety, the beautiful Canadian environment, the potential for new economic development, the high-quality life style and immigration pathways for international students.

A 2013 report commissioned by the Council of Ministers of Education Canada based on a voluntary survey of 145 elementary, secondary and post-secondary Canadian educational administrators, and government officials in education says that how schools use and manage agents varies significantly (of note: Québec survey responders reported minimal use of agents). More research about agents’ work in Canada would be helpful.

Agents in China

Consultants EY Parthenon report that the total agent market size in China is USD$1.2 billion. In 2017, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education, 608,400 Chinese students were going abroad.

Students who leave China to study internationally come from across the country, including from what China classifies as first-, second- and third-tier cities. China ranks these cities based on five indicators: availability of business resources, urban hubs, activity of urban people, lifestyle diversity and future plasticity.

From the perspectives of parents and international students, the education agent is a conduit. Working with an education agent is reassuring because the agent can understand parents, students and their families and speak their language and thus help navigate a huge emotional and financial decision.

Trustworthiness

Some existing studies suggest that students and their families often choose the institutions that the agents recommend.

But researchers Mengwei Su and Laura M. Harrison argue this reliance has not always been beneficial to students: they argue that in our globalized economy students may be exploited for economic gain and that “delegating recruitment to overseas agencies causes mismatches between host institutions and the Chinese students.”

In a context where Chinese study abroad has grown rapidly and not every country agrees on regulatory practices (Canada is not a signator to an 2012 agreement signed by the U.K., Australia, Ireland and New Zealand for best practices agents’ trustworthiness is a significant issue for families and schools.

Eight interviews recently conducted with people knowledgeable about agent work (one agent in China, one director of international marketing representative from a Canadian university, three mothers of international students and three international students) suggested some values and standards that could be probed in further research.

In creating trustworthy relationships between clients and agents, positive feedback from the client’s friends was significant: in other words, a word-of-mouth referral. Successful experiences shared by previous clients, coupled with objective comparisons of service price, service quality and personal qualities of the agents all mattered.

With the growing markets in international education, high-quality services by trustworthy professionals are essential.

Source: School agents benefit both Canada and China – The Conversation

Unlikely new residents are reviving Australian country towns

A reminder of the contribution some lower skilled immigrants can make to rural communities and a caution regarding the limits of encouraging more high skilled immigrants to settle there:

First came the Burmese, then the Afghans and the Africans. Since 2016, 400-odd Yazidis have washed up in Wagga Wagga, a regional centre south-west of Sydney. Its primary school has had to hire interpreters to communicate with families (fully a fifth of its students are refugees). The local college teems with parents learning English and new trades. Doctors have had to brush up on illnesses rarely found in the area. Few locals seem fussed about the changes. And to those fresh out of war zones, “Wagga” is an idyll. “My children are safe,” says Ismail Darwesh, a Yazidi who fled Islamic State’s attempt to wipe out his people, a religious minority in Iraq and Syria. “Everything you want you can get here.”

The refugees have been sent to Wagga Wagga under a scheme which brings beneficiaries from foreign camps to rural Australia (most settle in urban areas). The hope is that they can offset the population decline that threatens many outback settlements with extinction, as birth rates fall and youngsters head for cities. Wagga Wagga’s Multicultural Council says the population is only growing thanks to the new arrivals. Immigrants are helping to stem shrinkage in another 150 localities.

The scheme helps big cities, too, by easing the pressure on roads, schools and hospitals there. Thousands of Iraqis and Syrians descended on Sydney’s western suburbs after extra visas were dished out to them in 2016 and 2017. Many have struggled to find work, and conservatives grumble about ghettoisation. A recent report from the Centre for Policy Development, a think-tank, found that just 17% of “humanitarian entrants” have jobs after 18 months in Australia. Yet remote towns are crying out for people to fill vacancies on farms, in abattoirs and to look after the elderly. The cost of living is lower than in Sydney or Melbourne and, for farmers like Mr Darwesh, a quiet life is appealing anyway.

To stay afloat, some outback towns have taken to recruiting migrants for themselves. A piggery in Pyramid Hill, in northern Victoria, started sponsoring workers from the Philippines a decade ago. They now make up a fifth of its 500-odd population, keeping not just the business afloat, but also the local school. Another town in the same state, Nhill, lured 160 Burmese refugees from Melbourne with jobs at a food company, adding perhaps A$40m ($28m) to its economy. A group of residents in Walla Walla, a dot in New South Wales, is now scouting for refugees from Sydney. “We have jobs, we have housing and we have education,” says Andrew Kotzur, who runs the local steelworks. “We just need more people to sustain them.”

Asylum-seekers and farm labourers make up a tiny portion of the immigrants pouring into Australia. The conservative coalition government is keen to rusticate others, too. Scott Morrison, the prime minister, has suggested that some of Australia’s 500,000 foreign students could be sent to regional universities. The population minister, Alan Tudge, added that visa restrictions and incentives could be used to push skilled migrants out of Melbourne and Sydney. Almost all the best-qualified arrivals settle in those two cities, but luring them out will not be easy. It is partly owing to migration that Sydney and Melbourne are thriving. Foreign accountants and it geeks choose them for well-paid work and swanky suburbs. Rob them of both, and far fewer would come to Oz at all.

Source: Unlikely new residents are reviving Australian country towns

Trump’s immigration policy has foreign tech talent looking north of the border

These articles keep on coming in the US press (less so in conservative medias like Fox):

Over dinner at a noodle bar, a Canadian entrepreneur pitched a table of U.S. tech executives: Your foreign workers should trade sunny California for snowy Calgary, he told them. And they listened.

Highly skilled foreign workers and the American firms that employ them are in a bit of a visa panic. President Trump has vowed to crack down on the H-1B visa program, which allows 85,000 foreigners per year to work in “specialty occupations” in the United States. But there are no new rules yet, creating climate of uncertainty and fear, particularly in Silicon Valley.

Canadian businesses sense an opportunity. The Canadian tech scene has sought for years to compete with Silicon Valley, trying to lure talent north. In the early days of the Trump administration, “moving to Canada” talk surged among Americans, but most foreign workers waited.

Now some are making the move.

Though it is hard to track how many foreign nationals have moved from the United States — the Canadian government tracks newcomers by country of citizenship, not residence — immigration lawyers and recruiters on both sides of the border say the number of inquiries from nervous H-1B holders has skyrocketed since 2017.

A small group of Canadian entrepreneurs are dropping into Silicon Valley to persuade companies that rely on foreign tech workers to move them across the border.

Irfhan Rawji, the Canadian entrepreneur trying to sell U.S. tech executives on Canada over dinner, last year founded a company called MobSquad that helps tech companies move software engineers and other highly skilled workers to Canada. He travels regularly to Silicon Valley to promote his Canadian “solution.”

“Our turnaround to bring a foreign worker to Canada is under four weeks,” he said. “It’s typically longer for them to pack up their stuff.”

For Akshaya Murali, an Indian national who spent nearly a decade in the United States working for companies such as Microsoft and Expedia, moving to Toronto meant an end to living visa to visa.

She and her family applied for permanent residence in Canada and were approved.

Her employer, Remitly, then worked with MobSquad to move her job north. MobSquad signed a contract with Remitly and then hired her to do the same job — senior product manager — for Remitly from Toronto.

MobSquad’s cut is the difference between her total compensation in pricey San Francisco and the cost of the same work in Toronto, which is lower.

Remitly’s chief product officer, Karim Meghji, said the process went so smoothly that he will probably do it again. “My next step is thinking through, ‘What else can I do in Canada?’ ” he said.

Murali landed in Toronto in October and is settling in. “It’s a nice place to bring up our son, really family-friendly,” she said. “The only thing is the weather.”

Seeking stability

Silicon Valley’s visa anxiety did not start with Trump, but his policy moves and anti-immigrant rhetoric have compounded the problem, according to tech executives, immigration lawyers and people who have moved.

Months into his presidency, Trump issued a “Buy American and Hire American” executive order that ordered the Department of Homeland Security to review the H-1B visa program with the intention of more closely vetting applicants.

In the wake of the order, there were reports of an uptick in visa denials and requests by immigration officials for additional information, turning the issue into a topic of conversation for big U.S. companies and immigrant communities alike.

In August, chief executives from top U.S. firms including Apple, Cisco and IBM sent a letter to DHS expressing concern about the changes. “Inconsistent immigration policies are unfair and discourage talented and highly skilled individuals from pursuing career options in the United States,” it said.

Asked to comment on these reported changes, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Michael Bars said, “Increasing our confidence in who receives benefits is a hallmark of this administration.”

Bars said proposed changes now under review would make the H-1B process more efficient and ensure the best applicants get visas.

Many have found the uncertainty over the changes to the H-1B program confusing and costly.

S. “Sundi” Sundaresh, the chief executive of Cinarra Systems, a start-up that provides location analytics based on mobile data to businesses, says getting U.S. work visas is a significant challenge.

His company employs 55 people worldwide, including 15 in the United States. He has three people on H-1Bs but would hire more if the process were easier.

Recently, an employee who was working remotely and waiting on a U.S. visa quit in frustration. When a second worker reached the same point, he started looking for options and is now talking to MobSquad about Canada. “We can’t lose a second one,” he said.

Michael Tippet, a Canadian entrepreneur who founded a company that helps U.S. firms set up satellite offices in Vancouver as a buffer against uncertainty in the United States, said highly skilled, foreign-born workers feel anxious and frustrated.

“From the company’s perspective, the primary motivation is that they can continue to attract top talent,” he said. “To have those people work for you, you have to show you’ve got their back.”

If you don’t have their back, they may leave.

Amogh Phadke, an Indian citizen with a master’s degree in computer science, an MBA and work experience at FedEx and Fannie Mae, wanted to build his life in the United States.

“I was struggling for 10 years with my immigration status,” he said. His breaking point was the Trump administration’s as-yet-unrealized threat to stop granting work visas for spouses of H-1B holders.

His wife, an Indian national who was studying in Canada, no longer wanted to join him stateside. “She said, ‘It’s here, or we are going back to India.’ ”

He decamped to Edmonton, the chilly capital of Alberta, last year.

The pitch for Canada

While the debate over immigration roils the United States, Canada’s major political parties are broadly supportive of increasing the number of immigrants, as long as they are skilled.

In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government launched the Global Talent Stream, a program designed to fast-track work authorization for those with job offers in high-demand realms of science and tech.

Successful applicants can get a work permit in a matter of weeks. Spouses and children are eligible for work or study permits.

More than 2,000 companies have applied to hire Talent Stream workers, the department for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in an emailed statement.

With the door wide open, the Canadian government’s biggest challenge may be actually making the case for Canada.

Recent arrivals said the country is not really on the radar. When Phadke told Americans he was moving to Edmonton, they were shocked. “My colleagues were like, ‘Oh, my God, nobody lives in the middle of Canada. Are there going to be roads there?’ ”

When people heard how quickly he could move, he was met with more skepticism. “They asked, ‘Is it a scam?’ ”

“Canada is really bad at marketing itself,” said Vikram Rangnekar, a former software developer for LinkedIn who recently moved from the Bay Area to Toronto.

When he landed, he was so impressed with the city that he started writing about it. He later started Mov North, a site for people thinking about moving.

The site includes information on dressing for the cold — “The adage ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’ is entirely true” — and information about benefits like paid maternity leave. It also tries to connect software engineers with Canadian companies.

Hugo O’Doherty, an editor at Moving2Canada.com, a website catering to would-be immigrants and new arrivals, said Canada can’t often compete with Silicon Valley salaries, but that tech types make good money relative to the cost of living.

They also gain peace of mind. Noncitizens in the United States “don’t know if they will able to stay, if their spouse will be able to work, if their kids will have a pathway to citizenship,” he said. In his experience, Canada appeals to people who want stability.

For MobSquad’s Rawji, it is all about seeking out the best and brightest and putting them on a path to citizenship. “Our social mission is to change the Canadian economy,” he said.

To those wondering about their status in the United States, he says: Come north.

Source: Trump’s immigration policy has foreign tech talent looking north of the border

John Ivison: Unilateral regulatory changes could be answer to Canada’s border problems

Interesting series of suggestions from former immigration officials and Conservative staffers, some more well thought out than others (Ivison and I spoke briefly regarding this option).

But fundamentally, I am unconvinced that unilateral approaches, without US cooperation or at least acquiescence, will work. Will the US accept back those refused asylum seekers? And if not, then what.

Not to mention the likely legal challenges that will emerge. After all, the government lost one Federal Court decision regarding appeals to negative refugee rulings and unclear whether an appeal would have changed that decision:

In his State of the Union address in 1995, Bill Clinton said the U.S. is a nation of immigrants but also a nation of laws. It is wrong and self-defeating to permit abuse of those laws at the border, he said.

In his recent interview with the National Post, Justin Trudeau sounded more concerned with rationalizing the surge of migrants on Canada’s southern border than regaining control of the flow of asylum-seekers crossing from the U.S.

He offered no new ideas on how to stop those entering Canada illegally between official ports of entry and suggested the new arrivals will be an economic boon for the country.

“The fact that we have extremely low unemployment, we’re seeing labour shortages in certain parts of the country, (means) it is a good time to reflect that we are bringing in immigrants who are going to keep our economy growing,” he said.

The government has paid lip-service to modernizing the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. that states migrants claiming refugee status must make their claim in the first “safe” country they arrive in – Canada or U.S.

A loophole in the pact with the Americans means it does not apply between official points of entry.

But there has been no progress in actually closing that loophole. The Trudeau government appears to have thrown up its hands in the face of American intransigence.

But Canadians’ faith in an immigration system that is legal, secure and economically-driven has been shaken. There is disbelief that the federal government can do nothing to take back control of Canada’s borders.

With good reason. There is no question that the political and legal environment has limited the government’s room for manoeuvre. But it is also true that the Liberals have not shown the will to reinforce the integrity of the refugee system. For example, once elected, the Trudeau government decided not to appeal a Federal Court decision that ruled it was unconstitutional for the government to strip asylum-seekers from countries designated as “safe” from appealing negative refugee rulings.

James Bissett was head of Canada’s immigration service and is a former Canadian ambassador. He suggested that by passing new regulations under the current Immigration Act, the government could act unilaterally and prevent applications for asylum from people residing in a “safe” country (apart from citizens of that country).

“Designating the U.S.A. a ‘safe’ country and passing an order-in-council accordingly would stop the flow across the border. I don’t see this as a violation of the Safe Third Country agreement, but if it is, then we should unilaterally end the agreement,” he said. “But I’m afraid the government doesn’t want to stop the flow and hopes a large portion of the population will agree to keep the flow coming.”

Andrew House, a lawyer at Fasken and a former chief of staff to successive Conservative public safety ministers, called Bissett’s idea a “sound approach” but said that there is “virtually no possibility” of it being adopted by the Liberal government that dropped the legal appeal on refugees.

Howard Anglin, Jason Kenney’s former chief of staff when he was immigration minister, agreed that building on the existing designation of the U.S. as a safe third country would be legally possible but would likely face major practical problems. While the 1951 Refugee Convention ruled out asylum shopping, the U.S. is unlikely to take back claimants who don’t have legal status in the States, he said.

But Anglin said Canada could at least pass a regulation making anyone with legal status in the U.S. (either temporary or permanent) ineligible to claim asylum. It could include anyone who has been denied asylum in the U.S., after having gone through its asylum process.

“There is some risk the U.S. might consider this a unilateral expansion of the Safe Third Country agreement, and thus a violation of it, and that they could become difficult in administering it on their end, or even cancel it altogether,” he said. But, despite the likely outcry from refugee lobbyists, he said most Canadians would understand why Canada should not encourage asylum shoppers.

Andrew House was more enthusiastic about another of Bissett’s suggestions – that those who cross illegally be brought to an official port of entry and have their case examined there. House suggested that this could be done without abrogating the Safe Third Country agreement.

“There is no sensible reason why Canada would not choose to view the geography in imminent proximity to a port of entry as the port of entry.

“The language in the STCA is clear: ‘country of last presence’ means that country being either Canada or the United States, in which the refugee claimant was physically present immediately prior to making a refugee status claim at a land border point of entry.

“Consider the geography of many Canadian ports of entry – they are not right on the border, they’re often set back several hundred metres. And yet we deem the ‘country of last presence’ to be the U.S., not Canada. Why doesn’t Canada choose to interpret the STCA in such a way that a person attempting to cross 100 metres to the left of a port of entry is simply apprehended, brought to the port of entry and processed per the intended operation of the STCA – that is, turned back to the U.S.?”

If Canada is to live up to its aspiration to be a nation of laws, it’s high time it started exploring some of these regulatory changes. The lack of action smacks of a clash between the administrative will and the political won’t.

Source: John Ivison: Unilateral regulatory changes could be answer to Canada’s border problems

Toronto Sun Editorial: Immigration concerns about the process, not people

Ongoing conservative theme, one that has a certain resonance given the importance of perceptions of border management to public support of immigration (polling responses depend in part on how the question is formulated as illustrated by this famous Yes, Minister episode 1:38Survey (Yes, Prime Minister S1E2).

And while the “hectoring” of the PM is not helpful, neither is some of over-hyped rhetoric of the Conservatives, as both understand some of the complexities involved and the lack of simple solutions:

Canadians have largely been supportive of immigration for many years. How can they not be? So many Canadians are either immigrants themselves or have parents or grandparents who were born elsewhere.

So it’s concerning that public support for immigration has started to slip.

A new Ipsos Global Public Affairs poll shows that while Canadians back immigration more broadly, they’ve have significant concerns about how immigration is being managed.

The poll reveals 44% of people say that there are now too many immigrants coming to Canada. And a majority of respondents believe Canada is too welcoming to new arrivals.

Where is this coming from? What drives this perspective?

Brian Lilley explained in a Sun column that “a full 57% of Canadians agree with the statement that “immigration has placed too much pressure on public services in Canada.” That includes 77% of Conservative voters but also 51% of Liberal voters and 48% of NDP voters.”

In other words, at a time when people are anxious about issues, such as their economic future and the rising cost of living, they also worry about the economic costs and tax burdens that come with increased immigration.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken to hectoring those who express such concerns, last month divisively rejecting as immigration concerns as “fear-mongering” and anti-immigrant bias.

This is a naked, political smear tactic — aimed in an election year primarily at federal Conservatives — because the Trudeau Liberals have so utterly botched the care and settlement of refugees who are arriving daily at our borders.

But whether it’s the various measures the Liberals have taken to make it easier to get citizenship to Canada or their failure to take financial responsibility for migrants, Canadians increasingly are losing confidence in our immigration system.

We highly doubt frustrations with immigration are about the immigrants themselves. It’s about the way things are being done. It’s not about people but process.

One of the best ways we can enhance the popularity of immigration in Canada is being enhancing the integrity of the immigration system in Canada.

If the system has holes, if it looks like it’s easy to game, if the government acts like borders don’t matter, confidence will erode.

Let’s have a welcoming but well-managed immigration system that will make everyone proud.

Source: EDITORIAL: Immigration concerns about the process, not people

Douglas Todd: How Chinese, Filipino and other immigrants differ

I am a great fan of Dan Hiebert’s work and Todd’s article only whets my appetite to check out the interactive website:

Chinese and Filipino immigrants come to Canada with equally solid levels of education — but beyond that they’re remarkably different.

A revealing new “super-diversity” website created by a University of B.C. geographer, Daniel Hiebert, shows nine of 10 recent Chinese immigrants arrive in Metro Vancouver with enough money to immediately buy homes. But only half hold down jobs during their first five years in Canada, while four of 10 report they’re surviving on low incomes.

In sharp contrast, as Hiebert points out while showing his data-rich charts and maps on his interactive website, nine of 10 Filipino immigrants have jobs within five years of arriving in Metro Vancouver. Less than 10 per cent of Filipinos say they are on low incomes, and just four in 10 own their homes.

This is just a sample of the almost endless array of demographic insights about Canadian immigration, refugees, ethnicity, economic class and religion that can be readily discovered on the website, www.superdiv.mmg.mpg.de.

With a team of international scholars, Hiebert has been designing the site to help Canadian policy-makers, academics, journalists and the public “get a factual sense of how the world is changing. So that they can make their own interpretations.”

The website’s graphics quickly reveal nuggets about “super-diversity” in Canada, including that Metro Vancouver Muslims come from an astonishing 117 different ethnic backgrounds, and that initially disadvantaged refugees eventually do well in terms of education, income and housing after about two decades in Canada.

The super-diversity website democratizes immense pools of data from 1980 on, which have long been difficult or impossible for most Canadians to tap. The site provides the basis for an informed Canadian debate on immigration, which has so far been held back by exaggerated claims by both skeptics and advocates.

The website, created in collaboration with German and other scholars (thus the country code “.de” in the domain name), includes interactive maps that break Metro Vancouver down into 3,400 small chunks. Viewers can analyze each for such things as ethnicity, income, mobility, language and education levels.

This snapshot of a chart created by Prof. Daniel Hiebert shows the economic and housing outcomes of recent adult immigrants, those who arrived in Metro Vancouver between 2011 and 2016. It shows an amazing 90 per cent of new ethnic Chinese immigrants bring enough wealth to quickly buy a home in Metro Vancouver, in contrast to patterns in Sydney and Auckland. (Source: http://www.superdiv.mmg.mpg.de)

Since Hiebert’s Canadian research for the first time correlates 2016 census information with “landing data” provided by the federal immigration department, he was able to discover that immigrants in general, but ethnic Chinese in particular, move unusually quickly into Metro Vancouver’s housing market.

“The Chinese story is one of a great transfer of wealth” into Canada from offshore, he said. “Home ownership rates reflect that wealth transfer.”

The interactive online charts show the overall rate of home ownership by ethnicity — with nine in 10 ethnic Chinese owning their homes in Metro Vancouver, compared to eight in 10 South Asians, seven in 10 Caucasians and Koreans, six in 10 Filipinos and just four in 10 blacks, Arabs and Latin Americans.

The maps and charts created by Hiebert, Steven Vertovec, Alan Gamlen and Paul Spoonley also show the most “mobile” regions of Metro,the neighbourhoods in which people are more likely to move frequently. They tend to be in the north end of the City of Vancouver (from Kitsilano to Strathcona), New Westminster, parts of North Vancouver and around the City of Langley.

Hiebert’s maps also reveal which neighbourhoods come with the widest range of incomes, which he considers healthy. “You get more vibrancy in neighbourhoods in which you get to know people from other income levels. Gated communities are the worst. Nobody understands each other’s lives.”

While the west side of Vancouver tends to have a high ethnic mix, it has low diversity of incomes. In contrast, residents of the east side of Vancouver and south Burnaby have a range of incomes. “There’s a kind of upstairs-downstairs phenomenon” in the latter neighbourhoods, Hiebert said, with reasonably well-off homeowners serving as landlords to renters in basement suites.

Even though the amount of data on display in the “super-diversity” website is immense, Hiebert’s task in the next couple of months is to add more user-friendly statistics — this time on the often-ignored number of temporary residents and international students in Canada.

Their numbers have doubled in a decade to almost one million, with almost 200,000 in B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver. Hiebert, who is often asked to advise politicians and civil servants, acknowledged policy-makers rarely take into account this significant cohort of newcomers, who some say add to the intense pressure on the city’s rental market and transit system.

One of the aims of the super-diversity website is to compare migration issues in Canada with those in Australia and New Zealand. They are three of the five English-language countries (the others are Britain and the U.S.), that Hiebert says are magnets for “millions of millions of people around the world who want to learn English.”

Asked to compare migration to Sydney and Auckland with that to Metro Vancouver, Hiebert said each has large populations of Chinese immigrants.  But Metro Vancouver receives the most educated ethnic Chinese, he said, and far more who are ready to buy homes.

While the rate of home ownership among recent Chinese immigrants to Metro Vancouver is about 90 per cent, the rate is only about 50 per cent in Sydney and just 20 per cent in Auckland.

Source: Douglas Todd: How Chinese, Filipino and other immigrants differ

Fact-checking immigration: Boustan uses big data to explore myths about the past

Some interesting work here:

“When the horns started to blow and we saw the Statue of Liberty, I thought I was in heaven. Really. She’s up there and saying, ‘Come on in. From now on you are a free person.’”

These are the words of Turkish immigrant John Alabilikian, who came to the United States in 1922, collected by the Ellis Island Foundation in 1985 as part of its oral history library. In his interview, Alabilikian described escaping the Armenian genocide and journeying to America.

Personal anecdotes like these serve as a rich source of data for economist Leah Platt Boustan, who brings modern statistical analysis and big-data tools to the study of historical events and trends. With the recent digitization of first-person accounts and other documents, Boustan can uncover insights from people’s personal experiences in ways previously not possible. “It’s almost as if we can conduct surveys of people who lived in the past,” she said.

Statue of Liberty with quote from Leah Boustan, Professor of Economics; “Many people imagine that [19th-century] immigrants from Europe very quickly climbed the economic ladder and adopted U.S. behavior norms, and that immigrants today are slower to do so. That’s not the case.”

Boustan, who joined Princeton as a professor of economics in 2017, has an impressive record of proving and disproving ideas that people believe based on anecdotes or “gut feelings.” In the past, economists and historians had few data tools, but with today’s powerful computers and mathematical approaches, historical perspectives can be tested against hard numbers.

“Often what we think we know, we don’t really know,” Boustan said. “If you start to introspect, and ask, ‘Where do my beliefs come from?’ you might realize they come from your family’s experience or from relatively few anecdotes. We rarely test our beliefs with thousands of cases.” Boustan tries to rediscover that lost nuance, giving economists and historians a statistical footing for their research.

One of the questions Boustan has tackled is the issue of “white flight.” Between 1940 and 1970, white Americans left cities in large numbers, but historians have debated whether this exodus was motivated by the desire to pursue opportunities in suburbs or because of an influx of black Americans. Boustan’s analysis, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2010 when she was on the faculty at the University of California-Los Angeles, suggests that both were true.

Another of Boustan’s recent projects is on the age of mass migration, a period from around 1850 to about 1920, when more than 30 million Europeans moved to the United States. Working with longtime collaborators Ran Abramitzky at Stanford University and Katherine Eriksson at the University of California-Davis, and with support from the National Science Foundation, Boustan compared historical data to today’s records, asking: Are immigrants today assimilating more slowly than they did in the past?

“Many people imagine that immigrants from Europe very quickly climbed the economic ladder and adopted U.S. behavior norms, and that immigrants today are slower to do so,” Boustan said. “That’s not the case.”

Crowds on 19th century immigrant ships

Leah Boustan, professor of economics, uses digitized historical records and other sources — like this 1906 photograph of immigrants on an Atlantic liner — to give researchers a statistical footing for studies on immigration, past and present.

Prior work suggested that European immigrants during the age of mass migration were paid less than native-born workers upon first arrival, but then quickly caught up. Boustan and her collaborators tracked the occupations of 21,000 natives and immigrants over two decades, and, in work published in 2014 in the Journal of Political Economy, showed that this common wisdom does not fit the facts in two different ways. Many recently arrived immigrant groups did not have lower earnings than natives and, overall, the income of immigrants and natives rose at close to the same rate.

Slow rates of economic assimilation are consistent with the experiences of recent immigrants, according to studies by other researchers, Boustan said. “There is nothing special — or necessarily alarming — about economic convergence that takes more than one generation,” Boustan said. “We have been there before.”

One measure of cultural assimilation that Boustan looked at was how immigrants named their children. Because selecting a child’s name costs nothing, and thus is independent of socio-economic status, Boustan argued that names indicate a family’s eagerness to adopt American culture. In work supported by a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation, she and her colleagues used millions of entries from recently digitized census records to calculate a “foreignness index” for each name in the early 1900s. She conducted a similar exercise using birth certificate records from California today. In both cases, she found that immigrants shift away from foreign-sounding names as they spend more time in their adopted nation, and at the same rate.

“What was striking about those two sets of analyses — the past and present — is that the speed of cultural assimilation, by this measure, is almost identical in the past and present,” Boustan said. The study is detailed in an NBER Working Paper posted in July 2016.

Boustan’s work is part of a growing trend in economics toward harnessing large data sets to explain historical observations, said her colleague and former mentor, Henry Farber, Princeton’s Hughes-Rogers Professor of Economics. Farber met Boustan when she was an undergraduate at Princeton in the late 1990s. Boustan later earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 2006 and then became a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Today, Boustan’s office is only a few doors down from Farber, who is next door to his own dissertation adviser, Orley Ashenfelter, the Joseph Douglas Green 1895 Professor of Economics — three generations of empirical economics in one hallway. “Princeton is lucky to have her on the faculty,” Farber said.

Boustan is also part of the trend toward increasing female participation in a historically male-dominated discipline. When a leading journal recently asked her how the field might attract and train more women, she was caught off guard. “I realized that I didn’t know much about the overall situation of women in economics — I only knew anecdotes from my personal experiences,” Boustan said.

So she began investigating the problem with her characteristic big-data approach. “It is a very important question, and the best way to work on big questions is to take a look at the data,” she said.

She paired with graduate student Andrew Langan to collect data on the male-female graduate student ratios in economics departments at leading research universities and learn more about why some programs have more success than others in training women. Graduate programs in economics are on average 30 percent female across the nation, with some as low as 10 percent female and others achieving a 50-50 balance, Boustan and her team found.

“The average picture looks gloomy, but there are some bright rays,” Boustan said. For example, even departments with high numbers of male students and faculty can serve female students well if they provide opportunities for training and mentoring, they found.

Boustan keeps this in mind as she mentors and advises students in Princeton’s economics department. One advisee, Ji Won Choi, said, “I hope I can be an example, like Leah, for others in the future.”

Until recently, Princeton’s Department of Economics had few women in senior faculty positions, but the department has doubled its number of female faculty members over the past four years, said Janet Currie, the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, who was department chair until June 2018. “Nevertheless,” Currie said, “we are not where we would like to be, and we’ll need continuous effort not to lose the gains we have made and to diversify the faculty and student body in other dimensions.”

With so many charged topics facing society today, from the equitable treatment of women in the workplace to the role of immigrants in building the nation, Boustan’s data-driven approach to controversial issues is more relevant than ever. To explain the importance of this work, Boustan quotes her former mentor, the Harvard economic historian and labor economist Claudia Goldin: “The best historical questions are the ones that speak to the world we live in today.”

Source: Fact-checking immigration: Boustan uses big data to explore myths about the past

John Ivison: Trudeau sounds resigned to his inability to solve Canada’s border-crosser problem

Interesting and nuanced commentary, including recognition by the Prime Minister in terms of the limitations:

Justin Trudeau appears to have given up hope of reducing the flow of people crossing from the United States illegally to claim asylum, and is test-driving fresh rationalizations on why a migrant surge might not be such a bad thing. The new line from the Prime Minister is that the flow of asylum seekers may prove an economic boon for Canada.

“The fact that we have extremely low unemployment, we’re seeing labour shortages in certain parts of the country, (means) it is a good time to reflect that we are bringing in immigrants who are going to keep our economy growing,” Trudeau said in a pre-Christmas interview.

The statement came in response to a question about a contention by his predecessor, Stephen Harper, that an immigration system that is legal, secure and economically driven will have high levels of public acceptance, while the “irregular” migration phenomenon has made the system less secure and less economically driven.

It is clear there are labour shortages. A Business Development Bank of Canada study in September found four in 10 small- and medium-sized companies struggling to find new employees. But an orderly immigration system aims to match the skills of newcomers with the demands of employers. The free-for-all at the border is a triage situation. The only thing economically driven about it is the desire of the migrants crossing illegally to have a higher standard of living than they had in their country of origin.

Who can blame them? But it’s no way to run a country.

To claim this abuse of process will help the economy to grow is the latest attempt by the Trudeau government to justify its loss of control over the Canada-U.S. border. In November, Bill Blair, the border security minister, tried to sanitize the situation by pointing out that 40 per cent of migrants crossing illegally are children, suggesting that Canada is merely living up to its human rights obligations.

Neither argument can rationalize a situation where the integrity of the immigration system is being violated.

Trudeau pointed out that the Liberals have injected extra resources ($173 million in budget 2018) to ensure that everyone who arrives in Canada, even if they cross between official border crossings, is given a full security screening. “There are no loopholes or shortcuts, in that our immigration system continues to apply to everyone who arrives in this country,” he said.

This is true. The flow of migrants, mainly from Nigeria and Haiti, is costing the federal government a pretty penny — $340 million for the cohort of migrants who arrived in Canada in 2017, according to a November report by the Parliamentary Budget Office — not to mention straining provincial resources (the PBO estimated a cost of $200 million each for Ontario and Quebec). Such generous provision has attracted yet more asylum shoppers — year-over-year numbers suggest more people crossed illegally into Canada between January and September this year (15,726) than in the same period last year (15,102).

The endless appeals process means there is a massive backlog that is likely to require reform to reduce.

But at least the government has some control over the process once migrants have claimed asylum. When it comes to reducing the number flowing across the border, the Liberals appear accepting of their impotence.

Blair’s mandate letter gave him the lead role in talking to the Trump administration about “modernizing” the Safe Third Country Agreement, which states migrants claiming refugee status must make their claim in the first “safe” country they arrive in — Canada or the U.S.

A family from Haiti approach a tent in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, stationed by Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as they haul their luggage down Roxham Road in Champlain, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

A loophole in the pact with the Americans means it does not apply between official points of entry.

But there appears to have been little progress on closing the loophole since public safety minister Ralph Goodale met then-homeland security secretary John Kelly in March, when they agreed to “monitor the situation” at the land border. Blair visited Washington in November to meet homeland security officials and his office says talks are “ongoing.”

They are likely to remain so.

No matter how much money the government spends trying to process asylum claims, a solution requires cooperation from the Trump administration — and that has not been forthcoming.

Even under Obama, there was no interest in extending the Safe Third Country Agreement to anyone crossing from the U.S. — a move that would increase the number of asylum claimants south of the border. There is likely to be a similar lack of concurrence about joint border enforcement patrols to stop people crossing in the first place.

But the agreement is currently as useless as a pulled tooth. There can be few issues of greater importance in the cross-border relationship and the point should be made forcefully in Washington whenever the Americans want something.

Canada’s consensus on immigration is in jeopardy, as economic migrants ignore this country’s laws and its borders.

Trudeau sounds resigned to being bound in an insoluble quandary. The upshot is that he is trying to promote an uncontrolled migration system as one that is not only orderly, but is of net benefit to Canada.

It is going to be a tough sell.

Source: John Ivison: Trudeau sounds resigned to his inability to solve Canada’s border-crosser problem

Canadian Immigration and Refugee Law: A Practitioner’s Handbook, 2nd Edition by Chantal Desloges and Cathryn Sawicki – Review

As one who looks at immigration from a data and policy perspective, reading Canadian Immigration and Refugee Law: A Practitioner’s Handbook deepened my understanding of legal perspectives and experience in supporting clients through the various immigration and refugee processes. Practitioners Chantal Desloges and Cathryn Sawicki (we follow each other on Twitter) have compiled a comprehensive and practical handbook that I found particularly useful in deepening my understanding of the intricacies of immigration policies.

The Handbook is impressive, close to 700 pages, broken into 16 chapters, with an extensive glossary, table of cases, and index. Each chapter starts with a helpful introduction explaining the relevant policies and programs. The table of contents is helpfully designed to allow readers to go directly to the topic of interest. 

The book features helpful graphics: organization charts, flow charts, and summary tables. The tables are particularly helpful and cover a range of areas: the roles and responsibilities of different actors, contrasting different programs (e.g., between the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program), occupational codes, the nature and steps in the processes, and the key provisions of the relevant legislation along with the relevant articles.

While the material is complex, and the intricacies appear almost infinite, the authors have made every attempt to write in as accessible language as possible. Yet this more accessible language does not “dumb down” the complexity of the content but rather makes the material easier to follow and, I expect, to explain to clients. This was further aided by selected media stories that highlight the practical impacts of the issues and decisions discussed (e.g., an article on what immigration officers look for with respect to applications for spousal sponsorship). The Handbook also includes some statistics (e.g., on the different waves of refugees) although in my view, too sparingly, as some sections such as permanent residency, would benefit from a data breakdown of the various programs to provide greater context.

The Handbook focuses on practical advice for counsel in representing clients. This is particularly extensive with respect to family class immigration, immigration appeals, the refugee determination process and judicial review, likely reflecting where most immigration law practice takes place. The recurring advice applying to all sections is that the responsibility lies with the applicant in making any application or request for consideration, the need for honesty and disclosure by the applicant  (and counsel’s professional responsibility to cease representation if the applicant is not being truthful) and that file prepared should be complete and well-organized to facilitate decision maker review. Implicitly, this essentially is a recommendation to use counsel in these areas of more complex immigration law.  

I do have, however, a few quibbles with some of the material: 

One nice touch, the Handbook uses she and her as much as he and him in referring to persons rather than just one gender.

As I was reading the Handbook, I kept on asking myself who might be the potential audience for such a comprehensive treatment beyond the obvious ones of current and future immigration lawyers and reputable immigration consultants? It is clearly a specialized publication, not designed for the general public, even if written in an accessible manner.

Policy practitioners generally rely on consultation with government lawyers to ensure their policy proposals are in conformity with law. However, reading the Handbook, I found that I benefitted from both the general and more specific treatment of the issues, and have already returned to the Handbook to answer some media enquiries. 

Certainly, policy practitioners new to immigration would benefit from reading the specific chapter relevant to their work. While it may be too much to expect (hope?) that political staffers and political commentators would read relevant sections to the issues of the day, they would clearly benefit from doing so, as some ill-informed debates regarding Canada’s international and domestic obligations regarding asylum seekers illustrate. Other potential audiences would include academics and think tank experts specialized in immigration.

Overall, the Handbook lives up to its billing as a practitioners handbook, but one relevant to anyone with a specialized professional interest in immigration issues.

Cato’s 2018 Immigration Research in Review | Cato @ Liberty

While I am far from being a libertarian, I do find that Cato’s analysis of immigration issues, and particularly of immigration-related data, impressive and worth following. Their round-up provides a good sense of the scope of their research and analysis, particularly with respect to some of the myths circulating or being propagated by the Trump administration:

Cato’s immigration policy team was very busy in 2018.  My colleagues David Bier and Andrew Forrester, in addition to some contributions by myself and numerous outside authors like the stupendous Michelangelo Landgrave, worked non-stop to produce almost 180 pieces this year in the form of blog posts, op-eds, Cato research papers, and peer-reviewed academic articles.  David Bier summarized many of these pieces in a twitter thread for those on Twitter.

Of those, I’m most proud of the pieces that discovered original facts and figures to illuminate the immigration issue.  With rare exceptions, the most valuable immigration policy research is that which produces original facts and figures, as too much of the debate over this topic is emotional and ungrounded.  We are trying to make the debate about the facts and contributing those that we have discovered on our own in the process. Below is a rundown of the original facts and figures that Cato scholars have calculated in 2018 by subtopic with links to our research.

Assimilation

The recent surge in immigrants along the border are low-skilled, poorly educated, and from Central America – but that doesn’t stop them and their descendants from learning English, converging to American wages, and joining the military at rates comparable to or higher than native-born Americans.

Border Security, the Wall, and Interior Immigration Enforcement

Much of the national immigration debate proceeds under the implicit and incorrect assumption that immigration enforcement only harms illegal immigrants. My colleague Matthew Feeney waded into the immigration debate with an excellent primer on how increased immigration enforcement, both at the border and in the interior of the United States, will infringe upon the civil liberties of American citizens and lawful permanent residents as well as an examination of legal protections that can help mitigate the lost rights.  Complementing Feeney’s paper is our finding, based on data from Travis County in Texas, that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targeted at least 228 American citizens as illegal immigrants in that county over 12 years – or about 0.9 percent of all those detained.

Related to interior immigration reform is the E-Verify program, which is an electronic eligibility for employment verification system run by the federal government.  Congress created it in an attempt to turn off the magnet that attracts illegal immigrants to the United States in the first place: higher wages and low unemployment.  In theory, E-Verify would allow employers to check the identity information of new hires against government databases to see if they are legally eligible to work and to deny illegal immigrants.  For years, members of Congress have introduced bills to make E-Verify a national mandate to be used whenever a business hires somebody – including American citizens.

Four states have mandated E-Verify for all new hires, but only 56 percent of new hires in those states were run through E-Verify in the second quarter of 2017.  To be effective, a much higher percentage of new hires must be checked through E-Verify.  The four states that mandated E-Verify are Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina.  Over time, the rate of new hires has barely budged in those states – even in South Carolina where the state conducts random audits of employers to supposedly guarantee compliance.  If those conservative states can’t effectively enforce an E-Verify mandate, there is no hope for doing so nationally.

Our next piece of original research confirmed that California’s TRUST Act, which limited state law enforcement cooperation with ICE, dramatically reduced deportations from that state.  Although deportations from California were falling prior to the TRUST Act going into effect in 2014, deportations from California that year dropped 39 percent relative to 2013.  In the rest of the country, the number of deportations only dropped 9 percent over the same period.

Much of the rest of our original research focused on border enforcement.  Republicans introduced a bill in 2018 to spend more on Border Patrol in the next five years than has been spent over the last 5 decades – in real terms.  A portion of that extra money would be spent on drones to patrol the border, an enforcement tool that has already been used on the border and is responsible for 0.5 percent of all border apprehensions at an astonishing cost of $32,000 per arrest.  Apprehended border crossers, whether discovered by drones or more traditional methods, spent an average of 39 hours in detention in late 2014 and 2015 or 12.8 million hours total.  Of course, all of this extra enforcement is unnecessary as the lesson of marijuana legalization on the state level shows that smuggling can more effectively be cut with better laws that allow cross-border flows rather than crackdowns.

Part of the justification for more spending and technology on the border is that Border Patrol agents face severe threats on the job.  While they certainly do, it’s not nearly as dangerous as many assume.  Thirty-three Border Patrol agents died on the job from 2003 through 2017 or about one death for every 7,968 agents per year.  Six of those agents were murdered on the job while the other 27 died in accidents or in unknown circumstances.  Their on-the-job murder rate is about 1 in 43,824 per year from 2003 onwards, much lower than the 1 in 19,431 annual murder rate for Americans during the same time period.  Every one of those murders or deaths is a tragedy, but those rates do not indicate an exceedingly dangerous job.

Crime

In 2016, illegal immigrants were 47 percent less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans and legal immigrants were 78 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives.  By race and ethnicity, legal immigrants and illegal immigrants were less likely to be incarcerated than their native-born co-ethnics.  In the state of Texas, which actually counts criminal convictions by immigration status, the illegal immigrant criminal conviction rate is about half that of native-born Texans and the legal immigrant conviction rate was 66 percent below.  In Texas, that pattern also holds for crimes like homicide, larceny, and sex crimes.  Nationwide, only about 11 percent of “criminal aliens” actually committed a violent or property crime and 60 percent of those “criminal aliens” deported committed only a victimless crime. Related to these findings, DACA recipients were far less likely to be arrested than those who were not in DACA.

Illegal immigrants could commit more crimes and escape punishment for them by fleeing back to their home countries, but police clearance rates (the rate as which police solve crimes) are not correlated with the size of the illegal immigrant population even with numerous controls.  There is even some evidence that motor vehicle theft and burglary are solved as slightly higher rates in states with more illegal immigrants as a proportion of their population.  This is consistent with our finding that the interior immigration enforcement program had no effect on crime rates in North Carolina although it did increase assaults against police officers.  Interestingly, Arizona’s passage of an E-Verify mandate in 2007 drastically increased the flow of non-citizen offenders into Arizona state prisons – a serious potential side-effect of increased immigration enforcement that E-Verify supporters have yet to address.

Crime in Mexico along the U.S. border is a serious problem, but we found a negative correlation between homicide rates in Northern Mexico border states and homicide rates in American border states.  Expanding on the theme of crime flowing over the border, only about 0.2 percent of all border apprehensions in the first half of 2018 belonged to a gang.

DACA and Legalizing Unlawful Immigrants

President Trump’s slow-motion cancellation of the DACA program made for DACA-recipients and other Dreamers a big political issue in 2018 and several bills to do so in exchange for a border wall were proposed.  Many of those bills would have legalized only a small proportion of the Dreamer population, about half the number that President Trump claimed.  Another proposal would have denied a path to citizenship for 82 percent of Dreamers.

Economic Growth, Fiscal Effects, and Wages

Former visiting fellow Ike Brannon estimated that reversing DACA would cost the U.S. economy $351 billion from 2019 to 2028 in lost income and that the U.S. Treasury would lose $92.9 billion in tax revenue.  Under Trump’s proposal to halve legal immigration, we used a simple model to show that it would reduce the size of the U.S. economy by about $19 trillion in 2060 relative to what it would have been under the status quo, mainly by reducing the growth of the American population by 26 million.

Wage and economic assimilation of new immigrants is vitally important. Newly arrived immigrants have wages lower than otherwise identical natives, but those wage differences diminish greatly or disappear entirely after about two decades of working in the United States.  The immigrant wage gap has diminished in recent years.  Furthermore, illegal immigrants initially faced a hefty wage penalty of about 11.3 percent relative to legal immigrants due to their lack of legal work status.

Health

Many commentators expressed fear that immigrants, especially those in the migrant caravans, would spread disease once they arrive.  However, vaccination rates in Mexico  and Central America are generally higher than or about the same as those in the United States.

Immigration Affects the Fundamentals of Economic Growth

The best criticism of expanded legal immigration is that the new Americans and their descendants could vote for bad policies that diminish the prosperity of the United States.  On its face, this is plausible as immigrants generally come from countries with worse economic and political institutions than the United States.  Immigrants today are coming from more democratic countries than immigrants who came in the past.  Additionally, we published a working paper that examined a quasi-natural experiment in Jordan where a large and sudden exogenous shock of migrants permanently moved there.  We found that the migration significantly increased economic freedom.  That paper was accepted for publication in the World Bank Economic Review, the 28th best peer-reviewed academic economic journal in the world.  More impressively, that publication marks the first peer-reviewed publication for my talented colleague Andrew Forrester.

Unrelated to immigrant effects on public policy, we investigated whether immigrants could worsen U.S. economic growth by reducing the quality of firm management and found precisely nothing.

Immigration Policies in Foreign Countries

No analysis of American immigration policies is complete without a comparison to policies in other countries.  The United States ranks in the bottom third of wealthy countries in terms of net new immigrants as a share of total population from 2015 to 2017 as well as total foreign-born residents as a share of total population.  Singapore’s relatively open immigration policy provides a possible model for the United States.  About 47 percent of Singapore’s population is foreign-born, more than three-times greater than the United States as a whole and larger than any American urban area, but with fantastic economic effects compared to its neighbors.

Legal Immigration

One of President Trump’s immigration reform frameworks would have cut 22 million legal immigrants over the next 50 years and, if it was in place since 1965, it would have reduced legal immigration by about 23 million.  That latter figure doesn’t include the tens of millions of our fellow citizens born here since 1965 who would not be Americans if that framework was applied retroactively.  Consistent with the President’s plans to cut legal immigration, his administration has increased the denial rate for visas by 37 percent.

President Trump and those who want to cut legal immigrants have frequently said that they want to reduce low-skilled immigration and boost the number of highly-skilled immigrants so that our immigration system looks more like the Canadian system.  This is unnecessary as our immigration system, on its own, is already admitting far more skilled immigrants than it used to.  On paper, the proportion of skilled new immigrants admitted to the United States from 2012-2016 is about the same as in Canada during that time:  49 percent with a bachelors or above education admitted to the United States compared to 52 percent in Canada.  Even immigrants who arrive via family-reunification and on the diversity visa are more educated than native-born Americans.

Although our legal immigration system is admitting more skilled immigrants on its own, serious problems remain.  For instance, Indian immigrants with advanced degrees face a 150-year wait for employment-based green cards.  That is shockingly unfair and economically destructive, even for a government bureaucracy.  Small tweaks to our immigration system could reduce that problem significantly.  More importantly, a small administrative change that is consistent with current law could increase legal immigration by 27 percent across the board and allow in far more skilled immigrants.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

President Trump’s so-called Muslim ban has cut Muslim refugees, immigrants, and travelers by 91 percent, 26 percent, and 60 percent, respectively.  Related to that, Trump’s refugee policy has also cut the number of Christian refugees by 64 percent.  Additionally, signing a Free Trade Agreement with the United States does not boost the number of refugees or asylum-seekers who come from those countries.  The Syrian Civil War is winding down, but a persistent criticism over recent years is that rich Gulf States have not sponsored any Syrian refugees.  While legally true, that analysis ignores the fact that the Gulf States have allowed over 1.2 million Syrians to enter and remain on their territory on non-refugee visas over that time in response to the humanitarian crisis.

Terrorism

President Trump favored “extreme vetting” for new immigrants and travelers to prevent future terrorist attacks. But since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S government has done an admirable job screening out terrorists.  From 2002-2016, the government issued one visa to a radicalized terrorist for every 29 million non-terrorists and issued 379 million visas for each deadly terrorist.  The government undertakes many more counterterrorism activities than just visa vetting.  Since 9/11, they have spent $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism.  Assuming the statistical value of life is $15 million, that spending would have to have prevented about 188,740 murders in terrorist attacks during that time to break even – or over 1,000 times as many people as were actually murdered in terror attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11.  That is extremely unlikely.

About 3,518 Americans have been murdered in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1975 through the end of 2017.  That’s about a one in 3.3 million chance per year of being murdered in a terrorist attack here committed by any terrorist.  By comparison, 7,548 people have been murdered by animals during that time – a death rate about double that caused by terrorists.  The annual chance of dying in a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom during that time is higher at about 1 in 1.1 million per year.  Since 9/11, the chance of being murdered in a terror attack in France has been about 7-times higher than in the United States.  Terrorism is obviously a threat to Americans that the government should seek to keep low, but its deadliness should not be exaggerated.

The migrant caravan dominated headlines in 2018, but the terrorist threat from asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants has been very low since 1975 and not a single terrorist from Mexico or Central America has entered during that time.  The last year that illegal border crossers who were eventually convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil entered the United States was in 1984.  They came as children and were arrested in 2007 before they killed or injured anybody.  Furthermore, those apprehended along the border from Muslim countries haven’t committed any attacks on U.S. soil and none of the examples given meet that criteria.

Welfare

On the basis of monetary value, immigrants individually consume about 39 percent fewer welfare benefits than native-born AmericansImmigrants and their native-born children consume about 33 percent less welfare individually than native-born Americans whose ancestors have been here for at least two generations.

Conclusion

Immigration has been one of the top policy issues since 2015.  Cato scholars have been at the forefront of publishing new facts and figures to illuminate this debate.  This post does not include our other activities such as our work with Rep. Grothman (R-WI) to reduce immigrant welfare consumption, our numerous public debates, summations of outside research, and weekly analysis of immigration-related events.  We hope to continue this pace of original research in 2019 and beyond.

Source: Cato’s 2018 Immigration Research in Review | Cato @ Liberty