The Case for an Immigration Tariff

While I don’t see how this approach would work better than the points-based systems in Canada and Australia, and how simple and transparent it would be to implement.

And other studies have shown that the high percentage of family class immigrants, including Asian, does not appear to be resulting in poor economic outcomes (see: One Face of Immigration in America Is a Family Tree Rooted in Asia):

The current U.S. immigration system favors non-economic immigrants. About 81 percent of new immigrants are family members of American citizens or green card holders, whereas only 5 percent earn green cards for employment or investment purposes. Our rapidly changing economy requires a more dynamic immigration system that allows in types of economic immigrants who are barred under the current system. Congress should create an additional visa category that would allow foreigners to work and live legally in the United States after paying a tariff. Immigrants who pay the immigration tariff would receive a “gold card” that does not directly lead to citizenship, but allows the immigrant to live and work legally in the United States. Congress could adjust the tariff rate on the basis of the immigrant’s estimated fiscal impact, as determined by the individual’s level of education or other relevant demographic factors. Several other countries charge high fees for visas or sell the right to immigrate, which offer excellent lessons in how to design a well-functioning immigration tariff for the United States. An American immigration tariff would create a dynamic, market-based, merit-based, relatively more economically efficient, and self-regulating system that would serve the ever-changing American economy.

Source: The Case for an Immigration Tariff

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

The Most Pro-Immigration House of Representatives in Over a Century

David Bier of the Cato Institute on the midterms and immigration:

In this election, journalists following the immigration beat will focus on the outcomes of individual races. Dave Brat, the Virginia nativist whose defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 doomed hopes of immigration reform, lost in a previously safe GOP seat. Democrats blew out Corey Stewart in Virginia and Lou Barletta in Pennsylvania, the most anti-immigrant Senate candidates. Kris Kobach, the author of state anti-immigrant laws across the country, cost Republicans the governorship in Kansas.

But the two most important outcomes of this election are in the big picture. First, nativists have officially squandered their last, best chance to restrict legal immigration. There may never be another moment like the one in 2017 and 2018, where the House, Senate, and White House were all controlled by Republicans with nativist agendas. They held multiple votes in the House and Senate on various measures to make legal immigration cuts, and all their efforts went down in flames.

The second outcome is even more important: the House of Representatives is now the most pro-immigrant that it has been since the 19th century. Current House Democrats would not only pass the broadest legalization in the history of the United States—they also would greatly expand legal immigration. No elected House Democrat is opposed to legalization, even if they would want it paired with some enforcement measures.

The last Democratic House from 2007 to 2010 did pass the Dream Act for a very small portion of the illegal population—only a subset of the Dreamers qualified—but it didn’t even reach a majority of the House (216, not 218, voted yes). House leadership lost 38 “blue dog” Democrats and got the votes of just five Republicans. Today, the Dream Act would easily pass the House with more than a dozen Republicans voting for it, even after moderate-Republican losses.

The last Democratic-majority House could not—and did not—pass any comprehensive immigration reform bill that would offer a path to citizenship for most illegal residents or expand legal immigration. From 1995 to 2006, the GOP majority bookended its tenure by passing the two harshest immigration enforcement bills since the 1920s: the Sensenbrenner enforcement bill in 2005 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act in 1996.

Except for one Congress from 1933 to 1994 Democrats controlled the House and during that time the House did pass several bipartisan immigration bills, a mix of expansive and restrictive measures. The Immigration Act of 1990 expanded legal immigration, while hiring more Border Patrol Agents. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provided for amnesty, but it was generally seen as a restrictive measure (which is why most of the Hispanic Caucus voted against it) because it made it illegal to hire someone without a valid photo ID, which naturally led to discrimination against Hispanic workers.

Prior to that, a Democratic-majority House passed the Refugee Act of 1980 which increased legal immigration for refugees. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 legalized the status of Cubans who made it to the United States, and the Immigration Act of 1965 replaced the old national origin quotas and expanded legal immigration (though more than anyone expected at the time). Before 1965, House Democrats did only very slight liberalizations, ending the Asiatic Bar Zone and allowing some Jewish refugees to resettle in the United States. They mostly maintained the restrictive system created by Republicans in the 1920s.

House Democrats today would not just protect every expansive immigration measure enacted from 1965 to 1990—they would greatly build upon them if they could reasonably expect them to be signed into law. The starting place for reform for them is the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, H.R. 15, a version of which the Senate had passed. At the time, every House Democrat except two cosponsored the legislation. The bill would legalize more than 8 million illegal residents and at least double permanent legal immigration.

However, the bill also had some provisions that are unlikely to remain. In particular, while it expanded immigration overall, it ended the Diversity Visa Lottery and cut so-called “chain migration,” two issues that President Trump has championed. Because the lottery disproportionately benefits African immigrants—who Trump reportedly referred to as coming from “shithole” countries—many Democrats are now opposed to repealing it as a matter of principle.

Rather than cutting family-sponsored immigration, Democrats will seek to expand it. The legalization provisions were also very restrictive, covering just three quarters of the illegal resident population. Democrats would certainly go further now. Especially after seeing how their colleagues did in this midterm, the remaining moderate Republicans would likely sign onto these measures if tied to stricter enforcement.

As importantly, this House will have the backing of the most pro-immigration general public in recorded history. More Americans oppose cuts to immigration and favor expanded immigration than at any point since at least 1965. Because the Senate is still in GOP hands, however, Democrats will have to focus on chipping away at the numerous legal immigration restrictions and enforcement measures that the Trump administration has implemented or has plans to implement. Republicans would be wise to work with them in a bipartisan manner.

Source: The Most Pro-Immigration House of Representatives in Over a Century

President Trump Isn’t Breaking Immigration Arrest Records

Cato Institute does some of the better analysis of US immigration policies and practices:

President Trump has made no secret about his intentions to deport illegal immigrants. His statements as well as administrative actions to remove certain guidelines that focused enforcement efforts on criminals has understandably caused a lot of concern among illegal immigrants, their American families, and those concerned with their plight. They should take comfort that the Trump administration’s efforts to boost arrests, the necessary precursor to a deportation, are stymied by limited local and state law enforcement cooperation with the federal government when it comes to identifying illegal immigrants.

Recently released data on the number of arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows that they are arresting many fewer illegal immigrants under Trump’s administration than under President Obama’s, at least through June of 2018.  During the first full 17 months of the Obama administration, from February 2009 through June 2010, ICE arrested 437,671 illegal immigrants.  For the same first full 17 months of the Trump administration, ICE arrested 226,138 illegal immigrants, about half the number arrested during the same period in Obama’s administration.

Relative to the last full month of the previous administrations, the number of ICE arrests under Trump is up by a whopping 37 percent (Figure 1).  Over the same time, President Obama’s ICE was arresting 25 percent more people than under the last full month of the Bush administration, quite a significant increase on its own.  The increase under Trump is larger as a percentage because it started from a low base, but the increase in the number of arrests under Obama was larger.  For instance, the number of arrests under Obama was 5,803 greater in June 2010 than in December of 2008.  At the same point in the Trump administration in June of 2018, the number of arrests was up 8,965 over December 2016.

There are two broad categories of arrests by the ICE.  The first is called custodial arrests, which is when ICE picks up an illegal immigrant arrested by another law enforcement agency such as state or local police departments.  The second is called ICE arrests, which is when ICE itself arrests illegal immigrants on the streets.  Figure 2 shows that the number of custodial arrests have fallen dramatically since October 2008 while the number of ICE arrests has stayed relatively constant.  This means that local and state non-cooperation with ICE works to reduce the number of ICE arrests as between 70 percent and 90 percent of those arrests are custodial over the entire time.

Some states, like Texas, are fully cooperating with ICE when it comes to immigration enforcement while others like California are resisting mightily.  In Texas, there were 3,963 ICE arrests in May 2018 compared to 2,584 in December 2016, a 53 percent increase.  In California, there were 1,587 ICE arrests in May 2018 compared to 1,356 in December 2016, a 17 percent increase.  ICE is more active everywhere in the country, in sanctuary states and non-sanctuary states, but the difference is stark across such jurisdictions.

The federal government under Presidents Bush and Obama convinced virtually every locality in the United States to sign up for the Secure Communities program that essentially turned over the vast majority of the arrested illegal immigrants to ICE for deportation.  Since President Obama was a Democrat, there was little initial political opposition to the massive increase in states and localities cooperating with the feds via Secure Communities – especially in Democratically controlled states with large numbers of illegal immigrants.  However, political reluctance to cooperate via Secure Communities built rapidly.  In 2011 Massachusetts, Illinois and New York requested to opt out of the program.  States like California then limited statewide cooperation with ICE and then President Obama replaced Secure Communities with a less punitive version called the Priority Enforcement Program that targeted criminals, which was in effect from 2015 to 2017.  Today, most states and localities with large numbers of illegal immigrants are not cooperating with President Trump’s ICE nearly as much as they cooperated with President Obama’s ICE – which is preventing Trump from arresting and, eventually, deporting large numbers of illegal immigrants.

There are other, lesser reasons why the Trump administration is unlikely to reach President Obama’s deportation record.  One is bureaucratic incompetence in the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and other executive branch chaos that has so far prevented an orderly and organized deployment of law enforcement resources.  As a partial result of those administrative problems, they are incapable of convincing states and localities to enforce federal immigration laws.  Another reason is that illegal immigrants in 2018 are savvier than they were in the past, are better able to avoid law enforcement, and the few who were criminals were deported over the years, fewer new illegal immigrants have taken their place, and those remaining are less likely to come into contact with law enforcement.

State and local government reluctance to enforce federal immigration laws and cooperate with the Trump administration has limited its ability to arrest and, eventually, deport large numbers of illegal immigrants.  At the current rate, ICE under the Trump administration will be able to arrest about half a million fewer illegal immigrants relative to the Obama administration even if President Trump serves two full terms.  Those who are dispirited by the Trump administration’s efforts to deport large numbers of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants should take some solace that their efforts to block full local and state cooperation with ICE is bearing fruit.

Source: President Trump Isn’t Breaking Immigration Arrest Records

Over 100 Million Immigrants Have Come to America Since the Founding

Nice charts and analysis. While I am far from being a libertarian, Cato Institute analysts do some really good work in this area:

America is a nation of immigrants, and throughout its history, it has received nearly 100 million immigrants. I almost wrote that America “welcomed” them, but the fact is that very few of those 100 million were broadly popular with the public when they arrived. They came nonetheless. They thrived, and those immigrants—at least those who stuck it out in the face of harassment and discrimination—and their descendants built the country that we have today.

The term “immigrants” refers to foreigners who come to the United States with the intention to settle permanently. They are distinct from “nonimmigrants” who make temporary visits to the country, such as tourists, students, and guest workers. Figure 1 provides the breakdown of immigrants by the last legal status that the immigrant held. An illegal immigrant who receives legal permanent residency is listed as a legal immigrant, even though he may have entered illegally or lived illegally in the United States at some point. It includes all immigrants since the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, but does not include slaves imported involuntarily to the United States (the legal slave trade ended in 1808).

Figure 2 breaks down the number of new legal permanent residents admitted annually from 1783 to 2018. The bars show the absolute figures and the line the number as a share of the U.S. population. The government didn’t collect annual statistics prior to 1820, but a general consensus appears to have arrived at about 250,000 immigrants from 1783 to 1819. I estimated the annual figures for the period by assuming a modest jump after the French Revolution in 1789, a significant jump in 1793-94 following the Haitian Revolution, a significant decline during the Napoleonic Wars, and an almost  total elimination during the War of 1812. These assumptions produced period averages similar to those estimated in American Immigration by Maldwyn Allen Jones and which accord with other accounts of the period.

The average number of new legal immigrants per year from 1783 to 2017 was 370,169, and the average immigration rate was 0.4 percent of the population—that’d be the equivalent of 1.3 million people in 2018. For context, the United States is on pace to admit about 1 million new immigrants in 2018 or 0.32 percent of its population.

The estimate for the number of illegal immigrants is much more tentative for obvious reasons. About 11.3 million immigrants without legal status show up in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in 2016. Broadly reliable estimates of the illegal population exist back to 1980. While relatively few people immigrated illegally prior to the 1980s, I estimated amounts using the available evidence. Based on estimates of the mortality and emigration rates of illegal immigrants in recent years, we can conclude that about 1.4 million immigrants died without status and 6.4 million illegal immigrants voluntarily emigrated. In addition to these, about 2.4 million were deported. It would be reasonable to increase these figures by 10 to 20 percent, but the overall picture of U.S. immigration in Figure 1 would hold.

America’s tradition of receiving people from around the world is admirable, but as Figure 2 shows, the rate of legal immigration right now is still far lower than its historic highs in the 19th and early 20th century. America can not only easily sustain a much higher rate of legal immigration than what it permits at the moment—it would benefit greatly from a much higher rate.

Source: Over 100 Million Immigrants Have Come to America Since the Founding

Trump builds his wall against legal immigrants

Good analysis of some of the administrative measures being implemented:

While President Trump has failed to build a wall across the southern border, his administration is constructing a wall nonetheless—just one made of paperwork, rather than concrete, and targeting legal, rather than illegal, immigrants. Last week, the administration released its latest brick in this virtual wall: a policy that would give government officials the ability to deny legal immigrants outright with no opportunity for them to correct mistakes on their applications and then attempt to deport them.

This latest policy is the culmination of a year-and-a-half of groundwork. First, the administration massively expanded the amount of paperwork in immigration forms by double or, in some cases, triple. The new forms asked vague and legally complex questions, which require a lawyer to answer and make it far more likely mistakes will happen. The administration continues to euphemistically refer to this as “extreme vetting” when it is nothing more than extreme bureaucracy.

Second, pursuant to the president’s protectionist Buy American, Hire American executive order, the government began to issue far more Requests for Evidence (RFE) to support visa petitions. RFEs are issued when adjudicators demand new evidence before issuing an approval or denial. For H-1B high skilled visas, employers saw a 45 percent increase in the number of RFEs. RFEs lengthen the process of applying, increase attorney fees, and raise the cost of hiring a foreign worker overall.Third, just this month, the Trump administration rolled out a policy that would allow certain legal immigrant applicants whose petitions are denied to be placed in removal proceedings—the start of the deportation process—if the denial results in their permission to stay in the country expiring.

This is a common scenario because employers can wait until just prior to the expiration of their status to file a renewal request. If the request is denied, the legal employee—who likely had no control over when the employer filed—is suddenly an illegal immigrant. Under prior administrations, the person could voluntarily leave the country or potentially reapply, but this administration would seek to deport them, which—if successful—results in a decade ban on returning.

Finally, we have last week’s policy that brings together the entire effort so far. Now, rather than issuing RFEs for mistakes in applications, the government will give adjudicators the ability to deny the application outright. An outright denial would require the applicants at a minimum to refile or file an appeal with all the fees and attorney time that those options entail.

This policy is misguided in part because the adjudicators often simply overlook evidence already provided. Applicants resupply it and are approved. In fact, the overwhelming majority of applications that receive RFEs are ultimately approved. Despite a 45 percent increase in the number of RFEs last year, the denial rate for applications only increased slightly.

For this reason, this new policy allowing outright denials rather than an RFE is likely to get the results that the other policies failed to achieve: more denials and fewer foreign workers in this country. Higher costs and risks will lead fewer to apply, and more legal immigrants to seek out other countries that could use their talents.

With each new brick, the virtual wall against legal immigration grows higher. The costs and risks are clearly having an effect. Immigration is down. Visits to the United States are down. These policies harm America’s economy by keeping foreign talent overseas and driving away potential customers for U.S. businesses. With a booming economy, and more job openings than unemployed workers, legal immigration policy should welcome foreigners willing to work, not seek to drive them home.

David Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

Source: Trump builds his wall against legal immigrants

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

Data Clashes With Emotion As CPAC Immigration Panel Goes Off The Rails – Talking Points Memo

One can and should be able to debate immigration issues with respect for what the data tells us and, needless to say, in a more respectful fashion. But some fora are less conducive than others but still important to ensure that the evidence is presented:

The only panel dedicated to immigration at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference quickly went off the rails Thursday, with audience members drowning out panelists’ presentation of data about the benefits of immigration with boos, laughter, and stories of “obvious illegal immigrants defecating in the woods, fornicating in the woods.”

As David Bier, a policy analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute, attempted to lay out research proving that immigrants actually have lower crime rates than native-born Americans, contribute significantly to the economy  and are assimilating just as well or better than past generations of immigrants, his fellow panelists derided his statements as “nutty” and angry audience members shouted him down.

“Sweetie, you’re too young to know,” one woman called out as Bier said that the economy has historically done well during periods of high immigration to the United States.

When he noted that the U.S. proportionally takes in very few immigrants and refugees compared to other nations, a man interjected, “You’re a dreamer!” and much of the crowd broke out in applause and jeers.

Though this year’s CPAC fell squarely amid a legal and political battle over the fate of nearly 2 million young immigrants known as Dreamers, the issue was far from the top of the agenda at the annual gathering. The only panel dedicated to the topic was held in a small, windowless room at 5 p.m. on Thursday—after many attendees had already left for one of the conference’s many boozy receptions.

And though the panel was titled, “You May Say You’re a DREAMer But You’re Not the Only One,” it focused very little on the DREAMer population—the group of upwards of 1 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children whose legal protections were rescinded by the Trump administration last year and will expire in early March.

Instead, the event became a general airing of fears and grievances about both legal and illegal immigration. The panel’s moderator, Christopher Malagisi, claimed, without evidence, a “ploy” by Democrats to offer immigrants a path to citizenship in exchange for their votes.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), who faces a primary from a Trumpian hard-right newcomer, similarly accused Democrats of putting the economic interests of young immigrants over those of young American citizens. Whenever Bier cited research to counter incorrect claims from his fellow panelists and the audience that recent immigrants are disproportionately criminal, are an economic drain on government or take several generation to learn English, he was met with vocal hostility.

During a heated question and answer session during the immigration panel, a man from Four Corners, Virginia went on an extended diatribe about a Latino man who once crashed his car in front of his house.

“I had to go down to court to testify, and I was the only white face in the crowd other than the lawyers being paid to translate for these people,” he said. “You can go down to Four Corners Park and see obvious illegal immigrants defecating in the woods, fornicating in the woods, and on and on and on. These people are not the immigrants of the 20s and 30s. They will never be able to get good jobs here and be good citizens. Is that in your study?”

Struggling to be heard over the loud applause that ensued, Bier responded, “If you look at the data, the people committing crimes are overwhelmingly native-born Americans. So if you want to talk about the effect of immigrants on the crime rate, they actually lower the crime rate, resulting in a safer society. Obviously there are some immigrants who do commit crimes, just like there were some who committed crimes back when the Irish were the ones coming in.”

“Oh, I’m Irish, don’t you talk about the Irish,” an older woman angrily called out.

“Guys, guys, let him respond,” the moderator pleaded with the audience as the crosstalk and scoffing grew louder.

Only a small handful of people came up to Bier afterward to offer support and sympathy. Among them was Carolyn Meadows, the vice chair of the American Conservative Union, which organizes on CPAC.

“I think you’re a brave young man,” she said. “I really do. Thank you for coming.”

Still, speaking to TPM after the panel wrapped up, Bier said he still believes in the power of facts and research to convince conservatives of the benefits of immigration.

“The data is the thing that’s going to win people over,” he said. “It’s just about showing them that immigrants are not what they think they are and hoping that falls on receptive ears. There are people who can be convinced, people who know immigrants personally, who know they are contributing to society and they’re not all defecating in the woods.”

But having attended CPAC for the last six years, Bier conceded that the Republican base’s attitude toward immigrants has not significantly shifted.

“I don’t think it’s that different [from past years],” he said. “There’s always a very large contingent most passionate about immigration—about opposing it. It certainly seems like the passion is always with the side that wants to restrict it and not with the side that wants it to be more open.”

via Data Clashes With Emotion As CPAC Immigration Panel Goes Off The Rails – Talking Points Memo

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Trump immigration plan could keep whites in majority for up to 5 more years – Washington Post

Another example of good data-based analysis:

President Trump’s proposal to cut legal immigration rates would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by as few as one or as many as five additional years, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

The plan, released by the White House last month, would scale back a program that allows people residing in America to sponsor family members living abroad for green cards, and would eliminate the “diversity visa program” that benefits immigrants in countries with historically low levels of migration to the U.S. Together, the changes would disproportionately affect immigrants from Latin America and Africa.

Currently, the Census Bureau projects that minority groups will outnumber non-Hispanic whites in America in 2044. The Post’s analysis projects that, were Trump’s plan to be implemented, the date would now be between 2045 and 2049, depending on how parts of it are implemented.

(The Post’s methodology for estimating the annual impact of Trump’s proposed cuts is explained in more detail at the bottom of this story. Projecting this far into the future based entails certain assumptions that could alter the range, but demographic experts said The Post’s approach was reasonable.)

All told, the proposal could cut off entry for more than 20 million legal immigrants over the next four decades. The change could have profound effects on the size of the American population and its composition, altering projections for economic growth and the age of the nation’s workforce, as well as shaping its politics and culture, demographers and immigration experts say.

“By greatly slashing the number of Hispanic and black African immigrants entering America, this proposal would reshape the future United States. Decades ahead, many fewer of us would be nonwhite, or have nonwhite people in our families,” said Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development (CGD), a think tank that has been critical of the proposal. “Selectively blocking immigrant groups changes who America is. This is the biggest attempt in a century to do that.”

Trump’s plan calls for eliminating all family-based visa programs that are not used for sponsoring either minor children or spouses. That means several current family-based visa programs – including those that allow sponsorship for siblings, adult parents and adult children – would be canceled. It also calls for the elimination of the diversity visa lottery, and the reallocation of its 50,000 visas to reduce the number of immigrants already on a backlog and to go to a new visa based on “merit.”

The Post analyzed a low-end and high-end estimate for cuts to legal immigration under the Trump plan. The low-end estimate, provided by Numbers USA, a group that favors limiting immigration, suggests that about 300,000 fewer immigrants will be admitted legally on an annual basis. A high-end estimate from the Cato Institute, which favors immigration, suggests as many 500,000 fewer immigrants would be admitted. Cato bases its number, in part, on assumptions that more family visa categories will be cut.

Last August, Trump endorsed a Senate bill written by Sens. Tom Cotton , R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., that would cut legal immigration levels by close to 500,000 people annually, according to estimates by the bill’s authors. The White House has not released any estimates of its own plan.

If Trump’s plan is not implemented, the white share of the population is expected to fall from above 60 percent in 2018 to below 45 percent in 2060. The Post’s lower estimates of the impact of Trump’s proposal show whites staying the majority group until 2046.

To its defenders, the White House proposal offers a reasonable compromise. Trump would move America to an immigration system based less on bringing families together or encouraging diversity and more on bringing in those with skills proven to the economy. (He also proposes protecting about 1.8 million young immigrants known as “dreamers” in exchange for a significant boost to funding for border enforcement and a border wall.)

“It is time to begin moving toward a merit-based immigration system – one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country,” Trump said in his State of the Union address last week.

But by reducing the country’s overall population, the plan would eventually reduce the overall growth rate of the American economy. Under Trump’s plan, the American economy could be more than $1 trillion smaller than it would have been two decades from now. That’s largely because the economy would have fewer workers.

The plan could also raise the median age of the American worker. About four of every five immigrants is projected to be under the age of 40, while only half of the country’s overall population is that young, according to Census Bureau data. A demographic crunch is already expected due to millions of upcoming retirements from the aging “baby boomer” generation, raising concerns about the long-term solvency of programs such as Social Security and Medicare that rely on worker contributions.

The plans could have long-term ramifications for America’s political system, given that about 54 percent of all immigrants are naturalized within 10 years and thus able to vote, although naturalization rates vary widely based on immigrants’ country of origin, according to the latest data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Hispanic immigrants who are registered voters favor Democrats over Republicans by a 70 to 18 margin, and registered voters who are Asian immigrants favor Democrats by a 50 to 33 margin, according to the most recent data available from the Pew Research Center. (Similar data was not available for African immigrants.) Approximately 78 percent of immigrants from Africa and 65 percent of immigrants from Asia were naturalized within 10 years.

But while these effects of delaying America’s diversification would be significant, they would not fundamentally change the country’s demographic destiny. Experts say the main driver of diversification in America is the native-born Hispanic population, which grew by about five million from 2010 to 2016, just as the native-born white population shrank by about 400,000 over the same time period, according to Census Bureau data.

Among young Americans, the share of the non-Hispanic white population is already under 60 percent – a number that falls close to 50 percent among newborns and toddlers.

“You can shut the door to everyone in the world and that won’t change,” said Roberto Suro, an immigration and demography expert at the University of Southern California. “The president can’t do anything about that. If your primary concern is that the American population is becoming less white, it’s already too late.”

But if Trump’s plan were put in place, many of the family immigrants who would eventually be exposed to the cuts come from Latin America. In fiscal year 2017, about 28,000 Mexicans received family-based visas, with immigrants from Asia receiving almost 90,000 and immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean receiving more than 60,000, according to State Department data.

The changes to legal immigration could vary widely depending on unforeseeable events, including increased economic development in Asian and African countries, dislocation caused by climate change or decisions made by future administrations.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution , produced a separate estimate of the impact of Trump’s proposed cut to legal immigration. He found that the plan would delay the arrival of a “minority-majority” nation by three years, to 2047, and stressed his projections were the best possible with the publicly available information.

Another big factor is what happens to the population of roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants, including the “dreamers,” currently in the country. The Post’s calculations (like the Census Bureau’s) currently assume they will stay. But their future status is unresolved, and if any significant number of them are forced to leave the country, it could push back the minority-majority date as well.

“The President has laid out a reasonable framework that addresses the key security issues identified by the frontline men and women” of the Department of Homeland Security, said Tyler Houlton, an agency spokesman, in a statement. “It secures the borders and ensures we can remove those we apprehend, including criminal aliens. It also seeks to protect nuclear family migration while ending two problematic visa programs that do not meet the economic or security needs of the country.”

Trump’s proposal is unlikely to be implemented in its current form. It requires congressional approval, and Democratic leadership opposes it.

“These historically high levels of legal immigration only date back a few decades,” said Chris Chmielenski, director of content and activism at NumbersUSA. “The numbers we’ve seen recently are abnormal, and Trump’s proposal would eventually return us closer to historical levels.”

Immigration advocates say the percentage of the foreign-born population has been higher at several points in American history, even if the overall number of incoming immigrants has increased. Looking at the share of the population, which accounts for overall population growth, recent levels of legal immigration appear roughly in line with historical averages, with a decrease after World War II an outlier, according to Migration Policy Institute statistics.

“Recent immigration flows have been a small fraction of historical levels,” said Clemens of CGD.

Others who favor immigration restrictions have pointed to the necessity of reducing what they call the social disruption of high levels of immigration, which strikes some liberal critics as code for keeping America’s white population in the majority.

“We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, an immigration restrictionist in Congress, said on Twitter last year.

One of the biggest unknowns is how long new immigrants will identify as racial minorities.

Some academics, as Duke Professor William Darity Jr. wrote in The American Prospect, argue that many Latino immigrants “identify less as Hispanic and more as non-Hispanic white” the longer they stay in America – a phenomenon similar to the absorption of Irish and Italian immigrants into the idea of “whiteness.”

Other demographers say a real and important shift is underway, with important consequences for American politics. They note that many Hispanics already identify as white and yet still vote like a minority group. “The contention that [Hispanics] will think of themselves as white in the future is unsettled,” said Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of a book about how demographic changes will affect American politics. “It definitely seems like they’re a different breed of cat.”

But perhaps the most lasting impact of Trump’s policies would be not to America, but to the millions of immigrants from poor and developing countries that the United States would be denying entry to, said Angélica Cházaro, a law professor at the University of Washington who specializes in questions of immigration.

“We’re talking about susceptibility to pain and violence and economic and social instability for millions of black and brown people,” Cházaro said. “People have organized their lives around the possibility of legal immigration, and this forecloses that route.”

Methodology

In 2014, the Census Bureau projected the U.S. population by race, ethnicity, sex, age and nativity. Those projections, the most recent available, are the basis for the prediction that the country will become “majority minority” in 2044.

To adjust those forecasts, we assumed cuts of between 300,000 and 500,000 per year and we assumed the cuts would be applied proportionally to each race and ethnicity based on their forecast representation in the immigrant population. The 300,000 estimate from NumbersUSA comes from projections of the Trump administration’s plan to cut several kinds of family-based immigration visas – those for siblings (65,000 visas annually), those for adult children (another 50,000) and those for adult parents of immigrants (another 125,000). NumbersUSA also projects a 55,000 reduction in annual visas awarded from the elimination of the diversity visa lottery.

The high estimate of Trump’s proposal found by the Cato Institute starts with all of the cuts found by NumbersUSA. But Cato also says other family-based visa programs are likely to be cut under Trump’s plan. For instance, Cato says a program for visas for children of non-citizens will be cut, because a Senate proposal similar to the White House framework eliminates it. That accounts for an additional 95,000 fewer visas annually between the groups’ projections. Cato also projects the annual impact of cutting visas for adult parents will be far greater than NumbersUSA does, because Cato looked at the number of these visas awarded in 2016, whereas NumbersUSA took a 10-year average of these visas. That accounts for an additional difference of 50,000.

We projected children that the lost immigrants would have had based on Census Bureau estimates of their female population of childbearing age, plus Pew Research projections of first-generation immigrant fertility by race and origin. In some cases, when it was the only data available, we used Census Bureau figures for “black only” and “Asian only” as a rough analog for “black, non-Hispanic” and “Asian, non-Hispanic.” Other groups were treated similarly.

The Census Bureau made no distinction between documented and undocumented immigrants. Our estimates only include the policy’s direct effect on legal immigration, but our models of the race, age and sex of immigrants are based on the full immigrant population. We found that more complicated models produced similar results.

We arrived at rough estimates of GDP growth by comparing our predictions for the country’s entire population under various scenarios with forecasts of per-person economic output by PwC , a global consulting firm. The estimates don’t account for how the exclusion of certain groups of immigrants would change the overall age, education and skill level of the labor force.

via Trump immigration plan could keep whites in majority for up to 5 more years – Chicago Tribune

America Is One of the Least “Generous” Countries on Immigration | Cato @ Liberty

Strange to compare US and other OECD countries with Gulf states which only have guest workers, with no or extremely limited pathway to permanent residency or citizenship. False comparison that undermines their arguments. A two-year time series is also misleading:

During his State of the Union speech, President Trump will tout his plan for draconian restrictions on legal immigrants. Supporters, like House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), justify the plan by claiming that America is “by far the most generous nation in the world for legal immigration.” Not only is “by far” clearly false, but when you consider its wealth, America is already among the least generous to immigrants around the world.

The United States ranks in the bottom third of wealthy countries in terms of net new immigration as a share of total population from 2015 to 2017 as well as total foreign-born residents as a share of total population, according to figures  from the United Nations. Trump’s plan would make America even more closed than it already is.

The United Nations data contains information on the foreign-born populations in all countries (or semi-independent provinces) around the world.* U.S. immigration is decidedly unimpressive compared to all countries. Although America does have the highest total number of foreign-born residents in the world, a fair comparison requires controlling for the size of its current population. After all, a million new people entering India with a population of 1.3 billion would have very different effects than a million new people entering Estonia with a population of 1.3 million.

With this in mind, it is clear that America is nowhere near “the most generous country in the world” on immigration. Of the 232 jurisdictions that the UN includes, America ranks just 64th overall. Focusing on the rate of new immigrants as a share of total population, the United States had only the 49th highest net immigration rate from 2015 to 2017 (inflows minus outflows of foreign residents divided by total population). This places the United States rank in the 72nd and 79th percentiles in the world, respectively.

This assessment is still misleading, however, because it compares the United States to countries that very few immigrants would want to immigrate to. The United States’ ranking among more prosperous countries is even less inspiring. Of the 50 countries or provinces which had, according to the United Nations, a gross domestic product (GDP) of at least $20,000 per capita in 2015, the United States has the 34th highest share of foreign-born residents as well as the 34th highest net immigration rate (Table 1). This places the United States rank in the 32nd percentile on both measures.

The 50 most prosperous countries have double both the average foreign-born share and average immigration rate of the United States. Those countries at or above the 50th percentile have an average foreign-born share three times the U.S. share and an immigration rate four times as high as the U.S. rate. The United States is far from generous: it is downright stingy to immigrants. Figure 1 provides the net immigration rate from 2015 to 2017 for the United States and the 33 countries that rank higher than it.

Figure 1: Countries With Highest Net Per Capita Immigration From 2015 to 2017 and a Per Capita GDP Above $20,000 in 2015

 

Sources: United Nations (Foreign Populations); United Nations (Total Populations); United Nations (GDP Per Capita) 

This still considerably overstates America’s generosity because such a large share of America’s foreign-born population is here illegally: almost a quarter. This appears to be one of the highest shares in the world. Many of America’s immigrants are already defying America’s attitude toward them. In other words, U.S. law is not only hostile toward new immigrants. It is hostile toward its existing foreign-born residents.

By almost any reasonable standard, America is already one of the least generous countries in the world toward legal immigrants. If the United States does implement the White House’s immigration framework, it would be moving its nation’s immigration system in the opposite direction of the rest of the world. Other developed economies are opening their borders to more immigrants than ever, while the United States would have sent its immigration rate back to its lowest level since World War II.

America, however, doesn’t need to be “generous” toward immigrants at all. It is in the country’s self-interest not to prohibit foreigners from living and working in America. Allowing people to freely move and work where they want is not charity. It is an expansion of the free market and allows people to contribute to the economic prosperity of the country and expandthe pie for everyone. The president’s plan would make America both less generous and less prosperous.

Table 1: Immigration and Immigrant Population Ranking for Countries with Greater Than $20,000 Per Capita Gross Domestic Product

  Increase in Foreign-Born* From 2015-17 As a Share of Total Population Total Foreign-Born* Residents as a Share of Total Population
  Country Rate Country Share

1

Kuwait

6.5%

United Arab Emirates

90.8%

2

Turks and Caicos

5.3%

Kuwait

79.4%

3

Saudi Arabia

4.5%

Sint Maarten

72.9%

4

United Arab Emirates

3.5%

Turks and Caicos

71.4%

5

British Virgin Islands

2.7%

Qatar

69.4%

6

Sint Maarten

2.5%

British Virgin Islands

66.3%

7

Germany

2.4%

Liechtenstein

66.0%

8

Liechtenstein

2.4%

China, Macao SAR

58.8%

9

Austria

1.9%

Monaco

55.5%

10

Macao SAR

1.8%

Bahrain

52.7%

11

Sweden

1.5%

Andorra

52.6%

12

Singapore

1.4%

Singapore

47.4%

13

Brunei Darussalam

1.4%

Luxembourg

46.6%

14

Australia

1.4%

Cayman Islands

40.6%

15

Qatar

1.4%

Hong Kong SAR

39.8%

16

Bahrain

1.3%

Saudi Arabia

38.6%

17

Ireland

1.2%

Anguilla

38.2%

18

Switzerland

1.1%

Aruba

34.8%

 

Average

1.1%

Average

30.9%

19

Denmark

1.1%

Bermuda

30.6%

20

Cayman Islands

1.0%

Switzerland

30.1%

21

Norway

1.0%

Australia

29.6%

22

Iceland

0.8%

Brunei Darussalam

26.0%

23

Canada

0.8%

New Caledonia

24.5%

24

Anguilla

0.7%

Israel

24.3%

25

Malta

0.7%

Curaçao

24.3%

26

United Kingdom

0.7%

New Zealand

23.1%

27

Bahamas

0.6%

Canada

21.9%

28

New Caledonia

0.6%

Austria

19.1%

29

Luxembourg

0.6%

Sweden

17.9%

30

Hong Kong SAR

0.6%

Ireland

17.2%

31

New Zealand

0.6%

Cyprus

16.3%

32

Monaco

0.6%

Bahamas

16.0%

33

Finland

0.5%

San Marino

15.9%

34

United States

0.5%

United States

15.6%

35

Curaçao

0.5%

Norway

15.4%

36

Netherlands

0.4%

Germany

14.9%

37

Slovenia

0.3%

United Kingdom

13.5%

38

Aruba

0.2%

Spain

12.8%

39

San Marino

0.2%

Iceland

12.7%

40

Italy

0.2%

France

12.3%

41

Belgium

0.1%

Netherlands

12.1%

42

Spain

0.1%

Slovenia

11.8%

43

Japan

0.1%

Denmark

11.5%

44

Republic of Korea

0.0%

Belgium

11.2%

45

Greenland

0.0%

Greenland

10.7%

46

France

0.0%

Malta

10.6%

47

Cyprus

-0.3%

Italy

9.9%

48

Bermuda

-0.3%

Finland

6.3%

49

Israel

-0.6%

Republic of Korea

2.3%

50

Andorra

-1.3%

Japan

1.8%

Sources: United Nations (Foreign Populations); United Nations (Total Populations); United Nations (GDP Per Capita)

via America Is One of the Least “Generous” Countries on Immigration | Cato @ Liberty