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

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

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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