How Trump is really changing immigration: making it harder for people to come here legally

Good overview:

A Trump supporter named John B. who emailed me recently wrote that, “No one is against legal immigration.” President Trump and his administration are, I replied.

Yes, Trump still wants his big, beautiful wall to stop illegal border crossings. But he’s been railing against all forms of immigration since his campaign. And he’s having a much easier time chipping away at legal immigration than funding his wall. In some cases, the methods are strict quotas or new rules. But paperworkand red tape work, too. For instance, this administration tripled the number of pages in green card applications. Forms for sponsoring a foreign-born spouse are nine times longer than they used to be.

Here’s an overview of key ways Trump has made it more difficult and expensive to come here legally for foreign students, skilled temporary workers, green cards holders, refugees and others.

H1-B visas

The Trump administration has piled new compliance rules, documentation requirements and other regulations on H-1B visas. These changes make it much more costly for employers to use H-1B visas to hire skilled foreign workers, which is a likely reason that applications dropped by 20% from 2016 to 2018.

H4 visas

The Trump administration announced plans to take away work permits from those with H-4 visas — the visa for spouses of H-1B workers. In 2015, the Obama administration allowed H-4s to work, and about 91,000 of these visa holders, many of whom are as skilled as their spouses, leaped at the opportunity.

Foreign students

The number of foreign students at U.S. universities was down about 17% in 2017 and likely will fall further this year. A major draw of studying in the United States is the ability to work here after graduation. Those on student visas can legally work for 12 months after earning their degrees, and STEM graduates can stay for three years under a program called Optional Practical Training. In 2016, about 200,000 students signed up for OPT, which is often a first step toward an H-1B visa.

Foreign students fear that President Trump will restrict OPT or the H-1B visa. Trump hasn’t canceled OPT yet (and his administration even defended it in court) but $63,000 a year (the cost of tuition and living expenses at UCLA) starts to look like a very risky investment if paying for it depends on getting a work visa in a few years.

Refugees

Trump temporarily halted the entire refugee program last year, claiming that terrorists would get into the country masquerading as refugees. It started up again for most countries, but Trump precipitously cut the number of refugees the U.S. will accept. If admissions for 2018 continue at their current pace, 75% fewer refugees will arrive this year than in 2016. Trump even canceled a planned pilot program that would have allowed private individuals or charities to sponsor refugees and absorb all welfare costs — the kind of program Canada has had for more than a decade.

Muslim ban

Preventing terrorism was the reason given for Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, an executive order that limits or altogether bars visas for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries, North Korea and Venezuela. Lower courts keep ruling against it, but the ban and related policies are having a big effect. For instance, while all refugee numbers are down from 2016, the number of Muslim refugees has been cut by 91%. Immigrant visas issued to people from Muslim-majority countries are down 26%, and temporary visitors from Muslim-majority countries by 32%.

‘Extreme vetting’

Last year, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered additional security screenings for all immigrants and visitors seeking visas — a move also presented as a way of keeping out terrorists. Immigration attorney Shabnam Lotfi told me that these new procedures, “are causing significant and expensive delays for visa applicants who have already been vetted under the current effective security procedures.”

Asylum

The administration has directly and indirectly hampered the ability of foreigners to ask for asylum in the U.S. For instance, it cut the number of visas issued to Venezuelans by as much as 74% relative to 2013. That country is in political and economic crisis, but Venezuelans have to get to the U.S. to request asylum — and they can’t get here without a visa. Meantime, the Border Patrol is discouraging asylum-seekers from Central America by breaking up families who arrive at the southern border. The government places parents and children in separate immigration detention cells, sometimes for months.

Temporary Protected Status

In a string of announcements over recent months, Trump has said he’ll end Temporary Protected Status by 2020 for about 437,000 migrants mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti. TPS allowed them to stay here legally after natural disasters struck their home countries. More than 80% of TPS migrants from those countries have jobs here. They have about 273,000 U.S.-born children. Many have been here for decades; they won’t leave now, just as Salvadorans didn’t leave between 1996 and 2001 when their TPS was rescinded.

This is just the low-hanging fruit on the immigration tree. Trump would happily prune more if he could get Congress to go along. He endorsed the RAISE Act, which would cut legal forms of immigration by 50%. He so badly wants to eliminate diversity visas and severely restrict family-based immigration that he seemed willing to trade partial amnesty for some Dreamers (the young people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program). Still, the changes Trump pushed for would have resulted in the largest policy-driven gutting of legal immigration since the 1920s. Thankfully, they didn’t make it through the Senate.

Trump campaigned that he would take steps to grow the economy by 3% per year or more. To that end, he’s cut taxes and slashed regulation. But he needs legal immigrant entrepreneurs, investors and workers to keep expanding economic growth — especially with unemployment now below 4%. He won’t make America great again without letting in more legal immigrants.

Source: How Trump is really changing immigration: making it harder for people to come here legally

The 14 Most Common Arguments against Immigration and Why They’re Wrong | @CatoInstitute

Good long read and counter-arguments from a quasi-Libertarian perspective by Alex Nowrasteh (have only clipped the headings but most points are buttressed by reasonably solid evidence):

Arguments against immigration come across my desk every day but I rarely encounter a unique one.  In 2016, I wrote a blog responding to the most common arguments with links to different research.  Since then, academics and policy analysts have produced new research that should be included.  These are the main arguments against immigration, my quick responses to them, and links to some of the most relevant evidence:

1. “Immigrants will take American jobs, lower our wages, and especially hurt the poor.”

2. “Immigrants abuse the welfare state.”

3. “Immigrants increase the budget deficit and government debt.”

4. “Immigrants increase economic inequality.”

5. “Today’s immigrants don’t assimilate like immigrants from previous waves did.”

6. “Immigrants are a major source of crime.”

7. “Immigrants pose a unique risk today because of terrorism.”

8. “It’s easy to immigrate to America and we’re the most open country in the world.”

9. “Amnesty or a failure to enforce our immigration laws will destroy the Rule of Law in the United States.”

10. “National sovereignty.”

11. “Immigrants won’t vote for the Republican Party—look at what happened to California.”

12. “Immigrants bring with them their bad cultures, ideas, or other factors that will undermine and destroy our economic and political institutions.  The resultant weakening in economic growth means that immigrants will destroy more wealth than they will create over the long run.”

13. “The brain drain of smart immigrants to the United State impoverished other countries.”

14. “Immigrants will increase crowding, harm the environment, and [insert misanthropic statement here].”

via The 14 Most Common Arguments against Immigration and Why They’re Wrong | Cato @ Liberty

Why Birthright Citizenship Is Good For America

Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute makes the case for birthright citizenship (I would argue that integration is a more accurate term than assimilation):

The U.S. rule of birthright citizenship offers a stark contrast to policies pursued in Germany and Japan, where the children of immigrants are either denied citizenship or face a much harder path toward obtaining it.

The German guest-worker program of the 1950s through the 1970s admitted large numbers of Turks, Tunisians, Portuguese, and others to work in their growing economy. Originally, the Germans had no intention of letting the workers and their families stay permanently, but many, especially the Turks, did stay. Their German-born children were not allowed to become citizens. The same was true in Japan, where the Korean minority, called zainichi, was barred from citizenship for generations despite being born in Japan.

In both countries, the results were tragic. The lack of birthright citizenship created a legal underclass of resentful and displaced young people who were officially discriminated against in the government-run education system and had tenuous allegiance to the country in which they were born. After four generations in Japan, ethnic Koreans still self-identify as foreign. In both countries, these noncitizen youths are more prone to crime and extreme political ideologies like Islamism or communism.

Their failure to naturalize the Turks contrasts with Germany’s Aussiedler system that “repatriated” ethnic Germans and their families living in the territory of the Soviet Union, immediately granting them citizenship by virtue of their blood connection to Germany. Aussliedler inflows peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when approximately 2.2 million ancestral Germans were admitted and given citizenship. Germany partly rectified its system in 1999, extending citizenship to Turks and creating some legal categories that can gain citizenship through birthright.

Equality Breeds Contentment

Youths born to noncitizen immigrants in countries without birthright citizenship have little legal stake in the nations they were born in but also have no place to go. Many might gain citizenship through the ethnicity of their parents in Korea or Turkey, but with no connections to those nations, citizenship there is meaningless.

In the United States, by contrast, children of immigrants are legally on the same playing field as children born to American citizens. Both can serve in the military, purchase firearms, serve on juries, and be treated the same by the legal system. That is one reason why 89 percent of second-generation Hispanics and 96 percent of third-generation Hispanics have described themselves as American only. “Hispanic-American” or “Mexican-American” is still popular among some after several generations, just as “Italian-American” still survives, but these Americans do not view themselves as foreigners.

The likelihood of amending the Fourteenth Amendment’s citizenship clause is small, but that amendment should be defended because of how well it has aided immigrant assimilation in the United States. Remembering the Fourteenth Amendment as a correction to previous racist policies and court decisions is essential, but that history should not blind us to its pro-assimilation impact on the descendants of America’s immigrants.

Source: Why Birthright Citizenship Is Good For America