Niskanen Center: The rising cost of stagnant immigration policy

More on the implications of their recent study (from a Canadian perspective, this harm to the USA is to our benefit):

In a recent Niskanen commentary, we released new data revealing how Canada is poaching valuable graduates of American universities by offering a direct pathway to permanent residency based on merits alone–without requiring sponsorship or even a job offer. What’s more, American companies are increasingly moving their foreign employees to Canada and other nearby countries to avoid the delays in our immigration system.

By seeking immigration status for foreign employees in countries other than the U.S.,  businesses can dodge the visa caps, backlogs, and country caps currently plaguing our immigration system–a short-term win for these businesses.

The practice of moving business operations or employees abroad is commonly known as offshoring or, in the case of our closest neighbors, nearshoring. Although these practices may give businesses greater stability than our current immigration system, they could also severely affect the U.S. economy.

In a survey of over 500 business representatives, 86 percent reported that visa challenges forced them to hire employees abroad for roles intended to be U.S.-based. Ninety-three percent said they were likely to pursue nearshoring or offshoring in the future due to immigration barriers and labor shortages in the U.S.

Businesses consider these alternatives because even after demonstrating that no qualified American workers are available to meet their needs, they are often left without sufficient labor for months or even years due to backlogs and capacity restraints. At that point, transferring a new hire to work remotely from Canada, Mexico, or another nearby country that can promptly meet their immigration needs becomes the next-best option.

While remote work may now be the new normal for many Americans, there are economic consequences to losing out on in-person employment. Many American cities have already felt it, with office buildings remaining empty and downtown lunch spots shuttering their doors.

Furthermore, because American spending patterns have shifted away from city centers, other localities have been able to capitalize on the opportunity for economic gain.

Domestically, one program offers remote workers over $10,000 to live in certain parts of West Virginia, and internationally, many developing countries have profited from Americans’ desire to work remotely by offering so-called digital nomad visaswith hefty incentives.

These policies recognize that although the work contributes to a company’s profits elsewhere, the mere presence of those workers can still stimulate local economic growth.

Similarly, when American companies move workers to Canada out of necessity, Canada benefits through tax and consumption. Foreigners pay income tax to the Canadian government, even if they work for a company that does not have an office or operations in Canada. These workers then spend the vast majority of their income in Canada on rent, cars, groceries, and lifestyle goods.

This translates to the U.S. economy losing out on significant profits made by American businesses because they are used to stimulate economic growth in other countries.

The current outlook for retaining immigrant workers in the U.S. is also hardly promising. The H-1B program for specialty workers was established in the 1990s, and demand for the program has outsized its cap every year since 2004. Country caps have exacerbated already daunting wait times, and some green card wait times are nearly 50 years, even with employer sponsorship.

These factors, among others, make offshoring and nearshoring attractive alternatives for employers frustrated by the U.S.’s current limitations.

The U.S. must act fast to alleviate these concerns by updating the American immigration system so that it’s responsive to our economic interests, capable of attracting and retaining talent, and robust enough to encourage corporations to keep their workforce within our borders. If we don’t, we will only continue investing in the growth and prosperity of our competitors at the expense of our economy.

Source: The rising cost of stagnant immigration policy

Survey Finds H-1B Visa Restrictions Push More Jobs Out Of U.S.

Of note, another factor to leading to more high-skilled immigration to Canada:

A national survey of more than 500 human resources professionals across industries and company sizes has found immigration restrictions lead to more jobs, workers and resources being sent outside the United States. The survey results do not surprise immigration attorneys and members of the business community but contradict what many analysts consider questionable assertions by opponents of H-1B visas and immigration. The survey was conducted in February 2023 by Envoy Global, a global immigration services provider, and Cint, a digital insights and research company.

The survey results raise questions about the purpose of the government restrictions imposed on employers that try to grow their business and workforce in the United States. According to the survey:

– Employers are sending jobs outside the United States in response to visa restrictions. “86% of companies hired employees outside the U.S. for roles originally intended to be based inside the country because of visa-related uncertainties.” (Emphasis added.

– Companies are sending employees to other countries because of U.S. immigration policies. “82% of employers saw a foreign national employee forced to depart the U.S. because they were unable to obtain or extend an employment-based visa in the last year.”

– America’s loss is other countries’ gain, according to the findings. Among the companies surveyed, 62% relocated employees to Canada, 48% to Mexico, 48% to the United Kingdom, 31% to Germany and 25% to Australia. Canada has no annual limit on high-skilled temporary visas and a straightforward path to permanent residence for most employment-based immigrants.

– The problems are likely to continue. “93% of companies expect to turn to nearshoring or offshoring to fill positions abroad due to immigration barriers and labor shortages in the U.S.”

Academic research supports the survey’s findings. Britta Glennon, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, concluded in a study that restrictions on H-1B visas likely result in more jobs leaving the United States: “[A]ny policies that are motivated by concerns about the loss of native jobs should consider that policies aimed at reducing immigration have the unintended consequence of encouraging firms to offshore jobs abroad.”

Approximately half the employers in the survey cited the “limited number of H-1B visas available” as the primary immigration barrier affecting companies. Thirteen percent named slow and uncertain government processing, 15% cited government regulations and paperwork, 4% identified sponsorship costs and 21% named “all of the above” as problems.

Another recent poll, of 2,006 registered voters conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and Morning Consult, also showed support for more liberalized policies on international students and high-skilled immigration. “Over half of voters say that increasing high-skilled employment-based immigration (57%) and allowing foreign students with in-demand degrees to stay and work in the U.S. (56%) would have a positive impact on the economy,” according to the survey. Only about 12% to 13% thought more welcoming policies would have a negative impact.

Economists (and their research) overwhelmingly support the United States liberalizing rules for international students and employment-based immigrants. Economists Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih, Chad Sparber and Angie Marek Zeitlin found the annual numerical restrictions on H-1B petitions harm job growth for U.S.-born professionals: “The number of jobs for U.S.-born workers in computer-related industries would have grown at least 55% faster between 2005-2006 and 2009-2010, if not for the denial of so many applications in the recent H-1B visa lotteries.”

The polling found that language matters: “Across political party and race/ethnicity, voters are more likely to say employment-based immigration would have a positive impact when using the term high skilled compared to immigration broadly.” The survey also found, “Among Republicans . . . the most impactful messaging focus on competitiveness with China and having an economy for the future.”

The polling comes as efforts to liberalize rules for foreign-born scientists and engineers have been blocked in Congress, most recently in 2022 by Sen. Charles Grassley. Grassley prevented green card exemptions for foreign nationals with master’s and Ph.D.’s in science and engineering fields from being included in the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The number of Indians immigrating to Canada has more than tripled since 2013, largely due to that country’s more attractive policies for companies and high-skilled immigrants compared to the United States.

Surveys cannot determine policies. However, polling and the real-world experiences of businesses combined with sound analysis can point toward a better path.

Source: Survey Finds H-1B Visa Restrictions Push More Jobs Out Of U.S.

Previously unreported data: the U.S. lost 45,000 college grads to Canada’s high-skill visa from 2017 to 2021

Of note, Canadian advantage in play:

Despite having some of the best universities and training programs in the world, the U.S. struggles to retain high-value international students, thanks to our outdated immigration system. Canada has historically been one of our competitors for talent, and new data obtained by the Niskanen Center demonstrates just how stark this problem has become. To remain competitive in the global market, the U.S. must find ways to prevent the continued loss of domestically-trained talent.

The data demonstrate that Canada is eager to profit from the valuable training of our graduates and can do so by taking advantage of the systemic shortcomings that often render our labor market inaccessible to these foreign students.

Niskanen recently obtained previously unreported (and still unpublished) data from the Canadian immigration office’s Statistical Reporting Group detailing top Express Entry applicants’ educational and citizenship backgrounds. Express Entry is Canada’s recruitment arm for skilled talent worldwide. Recipients can pursue permanent residence in Canada without requirements for employer sponsorship or secured employment. Express Entry applicants must demonstrate their language skills, educational credentials, and work experience and are then ranked as a part of Canada’s point-based system. Only the top applicants are invited to seek permanent residence.

According to the data we obtained, between 2017 and 2021, approximately 45,000 invitations went to skilled workers who received their postsecondary education in the U.S–88 percent of whom were not U.S. citizens.

This is especially disconcerting because many international students at American universities do want to work in the U.S. after graduation. What’s more,the U.S. desperately needs these students. Still, our outdated immigration system makes employing them unnecessarily difficult.

One of the most common pathways for international students to remain in the United States is Optional Practical Training, followed by a bid in the H-1B lottery. Unlike Express Entry, success in the H-1B lottery is not based on merit, but on a random selection of petitions chosen for adjudication. The most recent rate of selection was about one in four, meaning that nearly 75 percent of H-1B hopefuls never had the chance to put their credentials before U.S. immigration officials.

This lottery and the overall capacity restraints of the immigration system put the U.S. at a distinct disadvantage. We invest in educating and training thousands of international students every year, often with incredibly valuable skill sets. But then we don’t offer opportunities for these skilled individuals to stay and contribute to our economy after graduation–despite the high demand from employers. This amounts to our loss, and Canada’s gain.

Since 2013, Canadian companies have regularly run billboard advertisements in Silicon Valley to target foreign talent frustrated by the American immigration system’s limitations. These billboards are straightforward: “H-1B Problems? Pivot to Canada.”  Though they target individuals, companies are also responding.

According to Envoy Global’s 2022 Immigration Trends Report respondents, 71 percent of American employers are pursuing global strategies to retain talent that couldn’t obtain U.S. work authorization, with Canada being the top destination for employee relocation.

This is a win-win scenario for Canada. Immigrants arrive ready to work with highly sought-after skills, contribute to the Canadian economy in tax and consumption, and fill — or create — jobs that can stimulate further economic growth.

While international students make up less than 5 percent of all higher education enrollees in the U.S., they are vastly overrepresented in our most crucial fields. For instance, in electrical engineering, petroleum engineering, and computer sciencegraduate programs, approximately 80 percent of students are foreign-born. When the U.S. fails to provide ample and accessible visa pathways for these students after graduation, they take their valuable skills elsewhere–to our competitors’ benefit, and to our detriment.

This new data spells out in stark numbers what we had already reasonably deduced: that the U.S. is in the midst of a brain drain, and Canada is reaping the benefits as talent moves elsewhere to put their critical skills into practice. The U.S. must respond promptly by providing ample and viable visa pathways that can protect the educational investments made in these students.

Source: Previously unreported data: the U.S. lost 45,000 college grads to Canada’s high-skill visa from 2017 to 2021

US Visa Hurdles Push More Companies to Relocate Foreign Talent

Note Canadian angle:

US employers are increasingly relocating employees abroad to hold onto key talent in the face of restrictive quotas on high-skilled foreign workers. 

Ninety-three percent of companies that responded to a survey of workplace immigration trends say they expect this year to turn to offshoring or nearshoring talent—transferring employees overseas or to a nearby country—because of a combination of immigration restrictions and labor demands. 

Canada is the top destination to relocate foreign workers, with 62% of responding companies sending workers there, according to the survey produced by immigration services firm Envoy Global Inc. It was followed by Mexico and the United Kingdom (48%) and Germany (31%). 

In most cases, the move is the result of challenges securing a work visa. More than eight out of 10 employers lost a foreign employee in the past year because they were unable to secure an H-1B or other employment-based visa. 

“There’s a continued frustration with the finite viability and challenge of securing a visa,” said Envoy Global President and CEO Dick Burke. “They’re pursuing the next best alternative, which is overseas.” 

The online registration period for H-1B specialty occupation visas opened last week, a preliminary step before US Citizenship and Immigration Services holds a lottery for the 85,000 visas available for fiscal year 2024. 

Demand for foreign workers with skills in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering has continued to grow across the economy, far outstripping that annual cap. 

At the same time, many companies are becoming more comfortable with hybrid and remote work to keep top talent. 

“The confluence of those factors”—immigration difficulties and the rise of telework—drove the increase in offshoring plans, Burke said.

O Canada

Recent international graduates with STEM degrees from US colleges and universities can work for up to three years on F-1 student visas under a program called Optional Practical Training. The program allows those graduates to remain and work in the US while trying their hands at getting an H-1B.

When an early-career worker has run out of immigration options after multiple attempts at the H-1B visa lottery, relocating them to Canada has become a top fallback option for employers, said Jennifer Behm, an attorney at Berardi Immigration Law.

Such nearshoring was already a “no brainer” for large, multinational corporations, but it’s drawing increasing interest from smaller and midsize firms as well. 

“When we’ve seen new interest, it has been the medium size firms, not the enormous conglomerates or multinationals,” Behm said. “We’ve successfully made it work for companies who only have US operations.” 

Canada is attractive because of its close proximity and similar time zones. It also offers a more worker-friendly immigration system, including immediate work permits for spouses and a quicker pathway to permanent residency, she said.

Relocation Services Industry

There hasn’t been a massive shift toward relocating workers abroad, but companies that do so are finding it easier, said Davis Bae, co-chair of the immigration practice group at Fisher & Phillips LLP. 

“Are people more interested in it now? Only because there are more resources,” he said. 

Smaller companies without operations abroad have been turning to professional employer organizations (PEOs) for human resource and compliance services when they face losing a skilled foreign worker. The PEO serves as the employer of record in a country like Canada so companies don’t have to establish their own offices outside of the US. 

Under this arrangement, paying to relocate a worker to Toronto or Vancouver costs a fraction of what it would cost to replace them with a new employee, said Marc Pavlopoulos, the founder and CEO of PEO Syndesus Canada Inc.

The company employs about 200 workers for US companies in Canada, roughly 90% of whom relocated after losing out on the H-1B lottery. Pavlopoulos works with smaller US-based tech companies that are seeking to grow, while also working toward a Canadian goal of adding 500,000 immigrants per year by 2025. 

“The Canadian Dream is a good one,” he said. “You get to keep your cool job and you’re on your way to getting a Canadian passport.”

Source: US Visa Hurdles Push More Companies to Relocate Foreign Talent

ICYMI: Biden outpacing Trump, Obama with diverse judicial nominees

Of note.

In Canada, the Trudeau appointments 2016-22 are (2016 baseline in parentheses): 56 percent women (36 percent), 10 percent visible minorities (2 percent), and 3 percent Indigenous peoples (1 percent):

For the Biden White House, a quartet of four female judges in Colorado encapsulates its mission when it comes to the federal judiciary.

One of the judges, Charlotte Sweeney, is an openly gay woman with a background in workers’ rights. Nina Wang, an immigrant from Taiwan, is the first magistrate judge in the state to be elevated to a federal district seat. Regina Rodriguez, who is Latina and Asian American, served in a U.S. attorney’s office.

Veronica Rossman, who came from the former Soviet Union with her family as refugees, is the first former federal public defender to be a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

With these four women, who were confirmed during the first two years of President Joe Biden’s term, there is a breadth of personal and professional diversity that the White House and Democratic senators have promoted in their push to transform the judiciary.

“The nominations send a powerful message to the legal community that this kind of public service is open to a lot of people it wasn’t open to before,” Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, told The Associated Press. “What it says to the public at large is that if you wind up in federal court for whatever reason, you’re much more likely to have a judge who understands where you came from, who you are, and what you’ve been through.”

The White House and Democratic senators are closing out the first two years of Biden’s presidency having installed more federal judges than Biden’s two immediate predecessors. The rapid clip reflects a zeal to offset Donald Trump’s legacy of stacking the judiciary with young conservatives who often lacked in racial diversity.

So far, 97 lifetime federal judges have been confirmed under Biden, a figure that outpaces both Trump (85) and Barack Obama (62) at this point in their presidencies, according to the White House and the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Among them: Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, that court’s first Black woman, 28 circuit court judges and 68 district court judges.

Three out of every four judges tapped by Biden and confirmed by the Senate in the past two years were women. About two-thirds were people of color. The Biden list includes 11 Black women to the powerful circuit courts, more than those installed under all previous presidents combined.

“It’s a story of writing a new chapter for the federal judiciary,” said Paige Herwig, a senior White House counsel.

The White House prioritized judicial nominations from the start and Democratic leaders in the Senate moved quickly on them. Particular focus was placed on nominees for the appellate courts, where the vast majority of federal cases end, and those coming from states with two Democratic senators, who could find easier consensus in a process where there’s still significant deference given to home-state officials.

Democrats hope to speed up confirmations next year, a goal more easily accomplished by a 51-49 Senate that will give them a slim majority on committees. In the past two years, votes on some of Biden’s more contested judicial nominees would deadlock in committee votes.

Schumer said he also hopes to install more judges in appeals courts that shifted rightward under Trump, an effort that the majority leader described as rebalancing those courts.

“Trump loaded up the bench with hard right ‘MAGA’ type judges who are not only out of step with the American people, they were even out of step with the Republican Party,” Schumer said in an interview, using shorthand for Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Despite their limited power to derail Biden’s judicial picks, some Republicans have fought ferociously against many of them, arguing that their views were out of the legal mainstream. The precarious 50-50 Senate meant several Biden nominees languished for months and were never confirmed before the Senate wrapped up its work this year.

Democrats also say certain judicial nominees, particularly women of color, were unfairly made into lightning rods by their GOP critics.

“The Republicans have just got a problem with this,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told the AP. “Not all of them, some do.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a committee member, said Biden’s picks were “very, very left, but unapologetically so” and that his colleague’s assertions about Republicans were “absurd.”

Despite the strengthened Democratic majority. the White House could nonetheless struggle to seat some judges over the next two years.

For instance, Biden has made barely a dent in the number of vacancies for district court judges in states that have two Republican senators, confirming just one such person: Stephen Locher, now a judge in the Southern District of Iowa. Home-state senators still get virtual veto power over district picks. Advocates want Democrats to discard that tradition, arguing it only allows for Republican obstructionism.

Durbin has said he would reconsider the practice if he sees systematic abuse of it. But such roadblocks have been rare, he said, and influential Republicans give some deference to Biden on judges.

One matter Biden has not been willing to address: the structure of the Supreme Court.

Any push to reshape the high court has found little footing at the White House despite its the court’s tilt farther right under Trump.

In June, the 6-3 conservative majority overturned the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional protections for abortion that had existed for nearly 50 years. In the same term, it also weakened gun control and curbed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to manage climate change.

Biden has argued the court is more of an “advocacy group these days.” But he has not embraced calls to expand the court, impose term limits or mandatory retirement, or subject justices to a code of conduct that binds other federal judges.

“I wouldn’t, in any way minimize the progress and the importance of what President Biden is doing on the lower courts,” said Chris Kang of Demand Justice, an advocacy group leading the push to expand the court. But “we need to look at the core problem, which is the Supreme Court.”

Source: Biden outpacing Trump, Obama with diverse judicial nominees

Adams and Parkin: Surveys show Canadian are less polarized and angry than Americans

Of note:

We are living in an era of populism and polarization. Our politics is divided and angry. And if anything is changing, it is changing for the worse. Or so we are often told.

As usual, the U.S. sets the tone. Our recent surveys — run on both sides of the border — bring this into focus. Compared to 1986, in the midst of Reagan era, Americans today are much less likely to be satisfied both with opportunities to get ahead in their country, and with their system of government. Republicans, in particular, are losing faith in the American dream and in their democracy.

Perhaps surprisingly, over the same period of time, there has been no noticeable change of opinion in Canada. Not everyone here is satisfied with opportunities to advance, or with our system of government. But, on average, Canadians are no more dissatisfied than they were in the mid-1980s. Certainly Conservative party supporters are more dissatisfied now that the Liberals are in power. But this is offset by growing satisfaction among Liberals.

A big shift has occurred in Canada, however, when it comes to social programs. In the mid-1980s, Canadians were almost twice as likely as Americans to be satisfied with social services for the poor and the elderly in their country. Today, there is no difference — while satisfaction in the U.S. has remained low, satisfaction in Canada has fallen sharply. And it has fallen among partisans on both the left and the right of the political spectrum.

This hardly fits the narrative of the rise of populism. Yes, there is evidence of growing dissatisfaction in Canada, but the focus of this dissatisfaction is our failure to better protect the most vulnerable in our society. 

If this seems too rosy, consider opinions on two other questions. In 1986, about 3-in-4 people in both Canada and the United States agreed that government should reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor, and that government should do much more to make sure racial minorities are treated fairly. Since then, agreement on both questions has declined in the U.S. In Canada, there has been no change.

True, there are signs of polarization in both countries, as the gap in agreement between the those on the left and right has widened. But the gap today between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. is about twice as wide as that in Canada between Conservatives and Liberals. On these questions, the opinions of Canadian Conservatives resemble those of American independents much more that those of their Republican “cousins.”

Then there is the notable absence of division in Canada between the views of racialized and non-racialized citizens. Predictably, in the U.S., African-Americans are much more likely than whites to call on government to act to promote both economic and racial equality; the gap emerges because white Americans are much less likely to favour these actions. 

Not so here, where equally large majorities of white and racialized Canadians call for government to act to reduce inequalities. 

Canadians must avoid looking upon these findings with smugness. Public opinion aside, we struggle to confront racism in our society. If Canadians have grown less satisfied with social services, it is a sign not only of social solidary, but also of the failure of our governments to deliver.

Pointing out that we are less polarized or angry than our American neighbours may be reassuring, but it does little to solve the problems we face. However, we at least can tackle these problems with an awareness that our history, society, culture and institutions are our own, with plenty of weaknesses, but also with undeniable strengths.

Source: Surveys show Canadian are less polarized and angry than Americans

U.S. Immigration Flaws Cause Ripple Effect in Canada

Of note:

While the U.S. grapples with questions of immigration reform, border security, and an ever-increasing visa backlog, neighboring Canada is experiencing immigration-related changes of its own.

Unlike the U.S., where population growth has steadily declined for decades, Canada is seeing the fastest population growth since 1957 — a demographic shift driven entirely by immigration. A significant percentage of this growth in recent years can be attributed to an increase in asylum claimants entering the country along the U.S.-Canada border. According to official government data, the number of asylum seekers crossing into Canada at informal entries along the country’s U.S. border reached the highest level since 2017.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) statistics show 23,358 asylum seekers have crossed into Canada at unofficial border points since the beginning of the year. While asylum seekers who enter Canada at official land border crossings are typically sent back to the U.S. for processing, migrants who cross elsewhere along the 5,500-mile border may remain in the country and file asylum claims with the Canadian government instead. These types of unauthorized crossings shot up during the Trump administration and have not slowed since President Biden took office.

Unofficial entries have become a common way for migrants to seek refuge in Canada and avoid being returned to the U.S. based on a decades-old agreement between the two countries. Ratified in 2004, the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) was designed as a way to manage U.S.-Canada land border crossings. Under the STCA, asylum seekers must request protection in the country where they first arrive, so migrants who enter Canada at official entry points are sent back to the U.S. — and vice versa. The idea underpinning the agreement is that both Canada and the U.S. are equally “safe” for refugees and offer access to fair asylum systems.

The pact has drawn widespread criticism from rights groups in recent years, with its future now being considered by Canada’s Supreme Court. Many in Canada argue that the U.S. is no longer a safe country for refugees, and therefore the U.S. government is unable to uphold its end of the agreement. Immigration advocates claim the policy forces asylum seekers to take increasingly dangerous journeys in order to cross the border, and migrants that do manage to cross are put at risk of immigration detention or deportation upon return to the U.S.

Canada’s asylum system and border policies are not the only areas to be impacted by grim immigration realities in the U.S. The sentiment that Canada may be a safer country for immigrants has rippled into other facets of the Canadian immigration system, namely the study and work permit sectors.

International student enrollment at Canadian colleges and universities doubled between 2016 and 2020 based on new analysis from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). By comparison, Boundless’ data report on international students found that U.S. schools experienced a 72% decrease in international student enrollment in 2020 compared to the previous year. NFAP’s analysis cited Canada’s friendlier immigration policies as a possible explanation, as the lack of reliable paths to a green card in the U.S. could also make Canada a seemingly safer immigration choicefor prospective international students. International graduates in Canada jump through far fewer hoops to obtain temporary work visas and permanent residence than their counterparts in the U.S.

In addition to losing international students, many highly skilled foreign nationals are choosing employment opportunities in Canada over the U.S. In 2021, House Immigration Chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren warned that the U.S. is losing immigrant talent to Canada because of “outdated and restrictive U.S. immigration policies.”

There is no numerical limit on how many work visas can be issued under Canadian immigration law. In contrast, it has become increasingly more difficult to get an H-1B work visa, which is typically the only practical option for immigrants to work in the U.S. long-term. The H-1B system itself is plagued with complex requirements and yearly caps that applicants and sponsoring employers must navigate. For example, in March 2021, sponsoring employers filed around 308,000 H-1B applications and over 72% of petitions were rejected.

Unlike the U.S., Canada also does not have a per-country limit on permanent residence, and immigrant workers are generally able to declare immigrant intent after working in temporary status for one year, regardless of country of origin. Meanwhile, the employment-based green card backlog stood at around 1.4 million in 2021, with applicants from certain countries like India estimated to wait several years to a decade before becoming eligible for a green card.

The trend of individuals selecting Canada over the U.S. for future immigration plans, regardless of which visa category they may fall under, is likely to continue with increased incentives from the Canadian government. Prime Minister Trudeau’s government announced plans to roll out new policies and programs to better recruit immigrant workers in industries suffering the most from labor shortages. Trudeau also set an ambitious target to bring in a record number of new permanent residents (more than 1.3 million) over the course of the next three years.

Source: U.S. Immigration Flaws Cause Ripple Effect in Canada

Douglas Todd: People of Indian descent a rising force in the U.S. and Canada

While the understandable focus is with respect to those of Indian descent holding leadership and senior positions, there is a larger group of workers in such industries as agriculture and trucking. From a political perspective, the outsized influence of Sikh and other Indo-Canadians reflects their geographic concentration: 47 ridings in Canada have 10 percent or more South Asian residents (2016 Census).

List: VM Ridings South Asian 10 percent

India is on the rise across the United States and Canada — in education, high-tech and politics.

The CEOs of five of the most powerful high-tech companies in North America have origins in India. They’re heading Microsoft, Google, IBM, Twitter and Match Group (which owns Tinder).And people of Indian ancestry are punching above their weight in politics in the U.S. and Canada. “There may well be an Indian-American president before there is an American Indian one,” says The Economist.

The educational achievements of people of Indian origin are above the norm in North America. And their are among the strongest of any ethnic group in the U.S. and Canada. This is not to mention one study showing people of Indian origin are almost four times more likely to own a home than the average Canadian.

India is the second highest source country for immigrants to the U.S., where 4.6 million have Indian origins, or 1.4 per cent of the total. They are mostly from southern India and tend to live in the U.S. South and East.

In Canada, India is the No. 1 source country for immigrants by far, accounting for 30 per cent of all newcomers since 2016.

There are 1.4 million people with Indian roots in Canada, most of whom are immigrants. They make up four per cent of the population. Generally from Northern India, most live in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Even though many are already flying high in U.S. high-tech, the impact of people of Indian background on Canadian business, especially, is growing sharply.

The influence of Indo North Americans is destined to expand further. Let’s look at why.

The tech sectors in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are expanding on the strength of a workforce where two of five are foreign born. And U.S. immigration rules designed to protect homegrown workers means our southern neighbour is losing thousands of Indian high-tech experts and others to Canada.

With the U.S. restricting its coveted H-1B working visa (including with a rule that no one country can be the source of more than seven per cent of recipients), many computer specialists are among the more than 217,000 people from Indian who can work in Canada as foreign students (they make up 30 per cent of all international students).

Canada also accepted 128,000 people from India last year as new immigrants, many of them programmers. And it’s on track for a similar number in 2022. That compares to just 39,000 immigrants from India in 2015, when Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were first elected.

Such business success is made possible in large part because educational levels soar among those of Indian descent.

In the U.S. three of four of adults of Indian background have bachelors degrees or better, according to Pew Research. That’s the highest of any Asian immigrant group, with Chinese Americans coming in at 57 per cent. The overall bachelor’s degree average in the U.S. is 38 per cent.

In Canada, educational achievement is also pronounced. A recent Statistics Canada study by Theresa Qiu and Grant Schellenberg found 50 per cent of South Asian-Canadians (mostly from India) had bachelors degrees or more. The portion rose to 62 per cent among South Asian women.

The portion of bachelors degrees among Canadians with origins in South Asia is much higher than the 24 per cent for white men and 38 per cent for white women, as well as the 17 per cent for Latin American men and 28 per cent for Latin American women. One of the few ethnic groups scoring higher than South Asians are Chinese Canadians.

And wages reflect education levels. The median household income in the U.S. of Indian households is by far the highest of any ethnic-Asian group, at US$119,000, according to Pew.

The typical Chinese American household brings in US$82,000. The median household income across the U.S. is US$67,000.

While U.S. figures on housing are not readily available, a consumer survey by Vivintel, based in Toronto, found that South Asians, a solid majority of whom are from India, are almost four times more likely to buy a homethan the average Canadian.

“Home ownership is very important to South Asians … because they’re told by their parents that renting is just throwing away your money,” says Rahul Sethi, a 38-year-old director of Vivintel who immigrated to Canada from India with his family.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the rise of Indians in North America is their oversized affect on politics.And it’s not just because of U.S. vice-president Kamala Harris, who went to an English-language high school in Montreal after her scientist mother from India, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, got a job researching breast cancer at McGill University.

Even though Harris is a front-runner as a future Democrat presidential nominee, she’s far from alone in U.S. halls of power.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, who surveys Asian American attitudes from the University of California, maintains Indo Americans are far likelier than other immigrant groups to get involved in politics as donors, voters and candidates. They tend to favour Democrats by a margin of three to one.

Ram Villivalam, a state senator in Illinois, says having Harris running to be president gives confidence to Indo Americans. Pramala Jayapal, the first woman of South Asian descent to preside over the Congress, is now one of four influential Indo American politicians, dubbed the Samosa Caucus, in the House.

A similar movement is happening in Canadian politics.

The Indo Canadian population, like the Indo American, leans liberal-left. More than 38 per cent of respondents to a 2021 YouGov poll would cast a vote for the Liberals — twice the number that planned to go with the Conservatives.

One in five backed the left-wing New Democratic Party, the country’s third largest party, which has been lead for five years by Indo Canadian Jagmeet Singh.

More than 12 per cent of cabinet ministers in the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are Indo Canadian, including Harjit Sajjan and Anita Anand. At least 14 Liberal MPs are Indo Canadian.

This impact list goes on in politics, as well as in business and education. Indo North Americans are on a roll.

Source: Douglas Todd: People of Indian descent a rising force in the U.S. and Canada

Ali-Khan: Finding the American Dream in Canada

Of note, getting some coverage in major US media:

This is a festive period for Muslims around the world. One Eid, or Muslim celebration, has just passed, and another is coming up in July. I’ve left strings of starry lights in the tall windows of our family room, where they can be seen twinkling from the street in our neighborhood outside of Toronto. There’s a shadowbox-like window by the front door, where I’d hung a colorful garland of star ornaments at the start of Ramadan in April.

I wasn’t always willing to mark my family publicly as Muslim. In fact, we were three years in to becoming Canadian when I first realized that I could put up lights for our celebrations without any of the trepidation I’d felt in my hometown in Pennsylvania. There is a huge contrast between being Muslim in Canada and being Muslim in America today and it has a lot to do with Canada’s decision to tell the truth about its history, while America buries its own.
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We left America in 2017, eight months into Donald Trump’s term in office. That was not a coincidence. There was something malignant about the leap from ordinary, private Islamophobia to a state sponsored anti-Muslim agenda that made leaving feel urgent, for me and for my husband, but especially for our children. We worried for their physical safety, but also for the sense of themselves they were developing at four and six years old.

Recent studies and surveys by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) tell us our concerns were justified. ISPU has been a boon to American Muslims, who had previously lacked good data about themselves, helping us see more clearly how we’re faring. In 2020, half of all Muslim parents reported having a school aged child who experienced bullying related to their religious identity in the previous year. In almost a third of those cases, the perpetrator was a teacher or school official. In 2021, Muslims reported experiencing institutional discrimination at levels much higher than other religious groups, for example 25% of Muslims vs. 5% among those of other religious affiliations reported religious discrimination while receiving health care. At the airport, those figures are 44% for Muslims contrasted with 5% of the general public, applying for jobs, it’s 33% for Muslims and 8% for the general public. It’s increasingly clear that the appropriate comparison for the rate at which American Muslims are experiencing discrimination is not with other religious groups, but other racialized groups. It is also increasingly clear that anti-Muslim attitudes in America are durable, as attitudes towards other racialized groups have also been.

All of the myriad ways in which American Muslims experience anti-Muslim bias, threats, and discrimination appear to be having serious impacts on our mental health. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2021 found that American Muslims are now twice as likely to have attempted suicide than Americans of other religious affiliations. It attributes this spike to religious discrimination and a reluctance among American Muslims to seek mental health treatment.

I first noticed the uptick in these trends after 9/11 and then again in 2015, when my kindergarten-aged daughter was told not to say she was Muslim at school. The teacher who told her this was Muslim herself, the only other Muslim at the school in any capacity. While it was likely the instruction was meant to be protective, it was nonetheless worrying. Unwilling to navigate a landscape in which it was dangerous for my six-year-old to be openly Muslim at school and seeing that this sentiment was increasingly normative in our nation’s culture, we began to plan our departure.

It’s not that Canada is utopian for Muslims. Even non-Canadians likely remember the Quebec City mosque shooting of 2017, in which 6 men were killed and 5 others injured by a 27-year-old named Alexandre Bissonnette. The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in Quebec tripled that year.

There was another mosque shooting just last week in Toronto. In 2019, Quebec passed Bill 21, banning certain public workers from wearing visibly religious symbols, widely understood as an attempt to prevent Muslim women in such positions from wearing hijab, though also affecting those who wear turbans, for example, or kippas.

Nor is Canada utopian for other racialized groups. Recent surveys and reports all suggest that Black and Indigenous Canadians continue to experience widespread discrimination in jobs, education, and social services, health disparities, and disproportionate rates of incarceration and violence. Like America, Canada has a legacy of Black enslavement and Indigenous genocide, as well as a long history of residential schools and police brutality. Like America, Canada interned ethnically Japanese people during World War II. When I was a child visiting cousins in Toronto, the epithet “Paki,” for South Asians, was ubiquitous. These aspects of Canadian history have driven modern racist attitudes and continuing disparities in wealth, land ownership, and political power.

So why move our children here? Why not make our stand where we have a large, layered community of friends and family? There is a specific element of Canadian governance that made us hopeful that our American dreams might be better realized in Canada. If you go to Canada’s Department of Justice website today, you’ll find this remarkable statement: “The Government recognizes that Indigenous self-government and laws are critical to Canada’s future, and that Indigenous perspectives and rights must be incorporated in all aspects of this relationship. In doing so, we will continue the process of decolonization and hasten the end of its legacy wherever it remains in our laws and policies.”

The Canadian government’s acknowledgement of itself as a colonial project that must be actively undone is a dramatic contrast to political discourse in America today. Americans rarely acknowledge the essential thefts of land and labor from Native and Black people that have made America possible. Certainly, America’s government has never articulated an intention to decolonize. Americans are taught that their country has already had its revolution, freeing its people from colonial domination.

Years ago, in preschool, my children brought home a flyer about how to make an apology. The first step, the flyer said, is to acknowledge wrongdoing. With its history of slavery and colonial genocide, Americans yet find this step so controversial that, today, we cannot even agree to teach our own history in public schools. In the years since my family moved to Canada, we find that while imperfect, this nation’s fundamental intention towards justice does, in fact, make it a better place for our children to live. Their elementary school curriculum, for example, includes a discussion of what it means to be a settler on land that was promised to First Nations peoples in treaties. It challenges our children to reckon with what human rights for all of us, newcomers from many waves of immigration, descendants of those trafficked in slavery, and Indigenous peoples, might look like.

The children know whose traditional land they live and study on. They think about where the descendants of those people are, and what debt they might owe to them. In the process they are developing the capacity to navigate competing interests, diverse identities, and unfamiliar traditions. They are building the tools for a better future through honest study of their nation’s past. They recognize that this model secures space for them, too. Recently, their teachers applied the same principles to create a meditation space in the gym for fasting children to use over lunch during Ramadan.

I don’t fully understand why Canada has chosen to confront its colonial legacy while America continues to minimize and deny its own. I continue to hope that America will eventually unite around a plain telling of its own history in choosing a path forward. It is, after all, the only path that is wide enough for us all.

Source: Finding the American Dream in Canada

The U.S. Failed Miserably on COVID-19. Canada Shows It Didn’t Have to Be That Way

Not to be smug, as USA provides too easy a benchmark. Better comparison is with Europe, where we are slightly better in terms of infection and death rates. Hard to see how even an enquiry will address the deeply divided public opinion and Republican denialism of science, evidence and susceptibility to mis- and disinformation:

646,970 lives.

This is the number of Americans who would be alive today if the United States had the same per capita death rate from COVID-19 as our northern neighbor, Canada.

Reflect for a moment on the sheer magnitude of the lives lost. 646,970 is more than the entire population of Detroit. And it is more than the total number of American lives lost in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam combined.

No country is more similar to the U.S. than Canada, whose economy and culture are closely intertwined with our own. Yet faced with a life-threatening pandemic of historic proportions, Canada showed far greater success in protecting the lives of its people than the U.S. How are we to understand Canada’s superior performance and the disastrous performance of our own country, which has the highest per capita death rate (3023 per one million, compared to Canada’s 1071) of any wealthy democratic country?
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In comparing the two countries, the starting point must be the different response at the highest levels of government. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in March 2020, “I’m going to make sure that we continue to follow all the recommendations of public health officers particularly around stay-at-home whenever possible and self-isolation and social distancing”. This message was reinforced by Dr. Teresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, who in March delivered a message urging solidarity, declaring “We need to act now, and act together.”

In the U.S., President Trump in striking contrast declared that he would not be wearing a mask, saying “I don’t think I will be doing it…I just don’t see it”. And instead of reinforcing the messages of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other leading public health officials, Trump actively undermined them, declaring in reference to stay-at-home orders in some states, “I think elements of what they’ve done are just too tough.” Not content with undercutting his top public health advisers, President Trump further undermined public confidence in science by suggesting “cures” for COVID-19, including at one point ingesting bleach and taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that research confirmed had no efficacy as a COVD-19 treatment.

These divergent responses at the national level were to shape responses at the state and provincial level of the U.S. and Canada, respectively, as well as the response of the public. By the beginning of July 2020, the impact of these divergent responses was already visible, with Canada’s death rate just 60 percent of the American rate. As Canada’s more stringent public health measures—which included larger and stricter stay-at-home orders, closure of restaurants, gyms, and other businesses, curfews, and limits on public gatherings—took effect, the gap between the two countries widened even more. By October 2020, the per capita death rate in Canada had dropped to just 40 percent of the rate in the U.S.

It is tempting to blame America’s disastrous response to COVID-19 on Trump, and there is no question that he bungled the situation. But the pandemic revealed deep fault lines in America’s institutions and culture that would have made effective responses difficult no matter who was in the White House. Had Barack Obama, for example, been in office when COVID-19 arrived, he, too, would have faced the country without a national health care system, one with deep distrust of government, exceptionally high levels of poverty and inequality, sharp racial divisions, a polarized polity, and a culture with a powerful strand of libertarianism at odds with the individual sacrifices necessary for the collective good.

The differences between the U.S. and Canada became even more starkly visible on the issue of vaccines. The U.S., which had purchased a massive supply of vaccines in advance, was initially far ahead, with 21 percent of Americans and only 2 percent of Canadians vaccinated by April 1, 2021. The U.S. was still ahead in July, but by October 1, 74 percent of Canadians were fully vaccinated, compared to just 58 percent of Americans. Part of the difference no doubt resides in the superior access provided by Canada’s system of universal, publicly funded healthcare. But equally, if not more important, is the far greater trust Canadians have in their national government: 73 percent versus 50 percent in the U.S. Coupled with greater vaccine resistance in the U.S., the net result is a vast gap in the proportion of the population that is not fully vaccinated: 32 percent in the U.S., but 13 percent in Canada.

Also implicated in the far higher COVID-19 death rate in the U.S. is the simple fact that Americans are less healthy than Canadians. Lacking a system of universal healthcare and plagued by unusually high levels of class and racial inequality, Americans are more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions associated with death from COVID. Americans have an obesity rate of 42 percent versus 27 percent for Canadians and a diabetes rate of 9.4 percent versus 7.3 percent for Canadians. Overall, the health of Canadians is superior and they live longer lives, with an average life expectancy of 82.2 years compared to 78.3 years in the U.S.

Exacerbating these differences in health are the deep cultural differences between the two countries. More than three decades ago, the sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset noted in Continental Divide that the ideologies of anti-statism and individualism were far more resonant in the U.S. than in Canada. For the many Americans influenced by the powerful libertarian strand in American culture and by its elaborate right-wing media apparatus, masks were a violation of freedom and vaccines a form of tyranny. Canada, which produced a trucker convoy that shut down the nation’s capital, is not immune to such sentiments. But they were far more pervasive in the U.S. and led to a degree of non-compliance with the government and public health officials that had no parallel in Canada; to take but one example, the percent of Canadians wearing masks in January 2022 when the Omicron variant was at its height was 80 percent compared to just 50 percent in the U.S.

Following a national disaster of this magnitude, there must be a serious inquiry into what happened and how it might be prevented or mitigated in the future. This is what the nation did after the attack on September 11, forming a Commission that issued a major report within two years of its formation. Surely a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than one million Americans warrants a report of at least equal seriousness. But in the current atmosphere of intense political partisanship, it might be better if such an investigation were conducted by a nongovernmental entity composed of distinguished citizens and experts, or by a non-political body such as the National Academy of Sciences. But whatever form such a commission might take, it must address a pressing question: why so many countries, including Canada, proved so much more effective in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We could—and should—learn from their experiences, so that the U.S. does better when the next pandemic arrives.

Source: The U.S. Failed Miserably on COVID-19. Canada Shows It Didn’t Have to Be That Way