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

Good overview:

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

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

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

H1-B visas

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

H4 visas

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

Foreign students

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

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

Refugees

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

Muslim ban

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

‘Extreme vetting’

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

Asylum

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

Temporary Protected Status

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

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

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

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

Canada 150 research chairs draw scientists fleeing Trump, guns and Brexit – The Globe and Mail

Continues a series of anecdotes regarding the relative attractiveness of Canada:

The day after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, Alan Aspuru-Guzik, a prominent professor of chemistry at Harvard University, picked up the phone and called Canada.

For Dr. Aspuru-Guzik, who specializes in developing advanced materials for energy generation, the 2016 result was a signal to close up shop. Born in the United States and raised in Mexico, Dr. Aspuru-Guzik has family roots that trace back to Spain, Poland and Ukraine. It’s the kind of varied background, he said, that instills a predisposed wariness of political authoritarianism and economic instability. And the Trump presidency has put his instincts on high alert.

“Many of my colleagues have told me that they will leave the United States if things get worse,” Dr. Aspuru-Guzik said. “The difference is that I already think it’s worse.”

On Thursday, Dr. Aspuru-Guzik is set to be named one of 20 newly hired Canada 150 research chairs at a briefing in Ottawa. He plans to leave his position at Harvard this summer to take up a new role at the University of Toronto, where he will continue his research and aim to spin off startup companies from his scientific work.

“Great science is all about great people. So being able to attract someone of Alan’s calibre is a coup for this country,” said Alan Bernstein, director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in Toronto. It was Dr. Bernstein who was on the other end of the line when Dr. Aspuru-Guzik made his postelection call, setting the wheels in motion for his eventual move.

A total of 25 Canada 150 research chairs will be established at Canadian universities under the one-off program, supported with $117.6-million in federal funding. Four chairholders were already named late last year, including computer scientist Margo Seltzer who, like Dr. Aspuru-Guzik, is leaving a faculty post at Harvard to come to Canada.

“I think it speaks to what Canada is doing here in science,” federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan said. “We’re in a global competition for talent.”

Several of the appointees who spoke to The Globe and Mail before Thursday’s announcement were enthusiastic about what they perceive to be a collaborative, pro-research culture in Canada. But many also expressed a sense of relief when speaking about what they were coming from.

The haul of prominent scientists attracted to the new chairs suggests that a predicted brain gain for Canada owing to reactionary politics in the United States and elsewhere is having an impact and that scientists are indeed voting with their feet.

For example, when asked what she would be giving up by leaving North Carolina’s Duke University to come to the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Anita Layton, a biomathematician whose work relates to kidney function, summed it up in two words: gun violence.

Dr. Layton, who did her graduate work in Canada and whose parents live in Toronto, explained that her children, ages 14 and 10, have recently been in lockdown exercises at school to practise for an armed assault.

“This is their world … It’s normal life for them and I find it really sad,” she said.

Family considerations played a role in her move, but she added that Waterloo’s strong mathematics department offers just as many professional advantages as Duke, with the added benefit of $350,000 in funding tied to her research chair which ensures years of continuing support.

Funding stability was a key factor for Judith Mank, an expert in the genomics of diversity, who will be moving her laboratory from University College London to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Like that of a number of British-based researchers, Dr. Mank was thrown into turmoil by the outcome of the 2016 Brexit vote.

“I got really worried because all of our funding is from the European Union and we’re not sure if we’ll be able to access that,” she said.

At UBC, Dr. Mank will be supported by a $1-million funding tranche that goes with her top-tier Canada 150 chair.

The same amount has been allocated to the University of Saskatchewan for James Famiglietti, a hydrologist currently with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California who will become the director of the university’s highly regarded Global Institute for Water Security.

Dr. Famiglietti is well known for his public appearances in the United States, particularly during California’s recent, prolonged drought and testimony before Congress. A specialist in remote sensing, he has expertise in gauging water resources from space, and the impact of climate change on those resources.

He said the real advantage he anticipates in coming to Canada is in being able to access parts of the world that are undergoing water stress but where U.S. federal employees are typically prohibited from visiting.

“The goal is to begin reaching out to the hottest of the hot spots for water scarcity around the world,” Dr. Famiglietti said.

Among the newly selected chairs are several Canadian researchers, including Katherine O’Brien, a global health vaccinologist who is heading to Dalhousie University after her 30 years at premier research facilities in the United States and around the world.

“It was the right time for me to come back,” she said, avoiding any discussion of U.S. politics.

But for Dr. Aspuru-Guzik, the motivation for his move is clear: “I believe that life is short and that I should live in a place that is consistent with my values.”

via Canada 150 research chairs draw scientists fleeing Trump, guns and Brexit – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: World’s youngest billionaire warns on Trump – BBC News

Impact of anti-immigration rhetoric and on the UK:

Anti-immigration rhetoric coming from the White House is deterring software developers from going to the US.

That’s according to the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, 27-year-old Irishman John Collison.

Stripe, the company he founded with his brother Patrick, provides the payments plumbing for hundreds of thousands of online businesses.
Collison said that his fast-growing business had noticed the difficulty in luring top talent to Silicon Valley.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the Limerick man said he feared the same may prove true for the UK because of Brexit.

“People are less willing to move to the US,” Collison said. “They don’t even want to enter the visa process because of the perceived political climate here and how welcoming it is to immigrants and I think the perception (of the UK) will also make it harder to recruit in the UK”

He said the stakes were high as it ultimately risked the UK’s ability to produce a vibrant and successful technology sector.

‘The brightest and the best’

Collison has accepted there is no going back but says the government should be a sending a clear message that international talent was welcome in the UK.

“What’s done is done but what I think we can now affect is the perception of the UK as an attractive place to live, work and do business, ” he said.

“It’s something we are screwing up in the US and I think there is a very clear opportunity to send a message that the UK is a good place to emigrate to.”

Collison’s frustration is compounded by the fact that these perceived forces of deterrence fly in the opposite direction to the way the world of commerce and technology are evolving.

He says: “There is a juxtaposition between an outward, global, technology and export-based economy on the one hand and the anti-immigrant signals from the US and Brexit.”

The UK government insists that it understands the need to lure the “brightest and best” from around the world – it recently doubled the number of visas available for exceptionally talented individuals from outside the EU who show promise in technology, science, art and creative industries from 1,000 to 2,000.

But the long-term position of EU nationals who arrive after Brexit is less clear.

Stripe is has just signed a deal with Amazon

That is perhaps one reason why Collison and his older brother are betting big on Dublin as their European headquarters.

“There are a few reasons. First, it’s in the European Union, second, it’s a real international melting pot with the skills we need and third it’s a nice vibrant city to live in – there’s more of a craic (more fun) in Dublin.”

via World’s youngest billionaire warns on Trump – BBC News

Toronto runner set to get Canadian citizenship, trump U.S. travel ban

Good news story:

It appears Soroush Hatami’s dream to compete in the Boston Marathon is finally about to come true.

“That’s exciting news … There’s a high possibility I can get my passport right on time and I hope I can make it to Boston,” Hatami said.

The 37-year-old, who emigrated from Iran to Toronto in 2013 and is a permanent resident of Canada, is set to receive his Canadian citizenship on Friday afternoon.

It would help clear a major hurdle that has barred him from entering the United States.

Marathon runner stopped in his tracks by Trump travel ban

U.S. Supreme Court allows Trump travel ban on residents of 6 mostly Muslim countries

Last January, an executive order issued by U.S. President Donald Trump blocked citizens of several Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States — including Hatami’s birth country of Iran.

Despite qualifying for the Boston Marathon back in October 2017, Hatami was banned from entering the U.S., based on his Iranian citizenship; a decision he calls “unfair” and “xenophobic”.

With over 30,000 runners annually, the Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious and well-known marathons in the world. (Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

“Targeting countries and banning everyone from those countries, doesn’t help with U.S. national security,” Hatami said.

But now, with the runner set to take the oath of citizenship after a months-long application process, he’ll be able to apply for a Canadian passport. According to the Government of Canada’s website, with express processing a new passport can be delivered in two to nine business days.

2018’s Boston Marathon is set for April 16.

Beyond the race, Hatami and fellow long-distance runner Daniel Sellers say they aren’t done fighting against the travel ban and hope to help those who may be caught in similar predicaments.

“That’s great that we’re about to realize our goal. However on the other side, the travel ban is not over and our campaign is not over.”

via Toronto runner set to get Canadian citizenship, trump U.S. travel ban – Toronto – CBC News

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

A Modest Immigration Proposal: Ban Jews: Stephens – The New York Times

Good column and reminder:

Until his dying day, my dad’s Uncle Bern was a communist sympathizer. I remember him as an affable old man with a gracious wife who made a modest living selling antique lace. He probably wouldn’t have hurt a fly. Yet he found much to admire in the most murderous ideology of the 20th century, responsible for tens of millions of deaths from the killing fields of Cambodia to the gulags of Murmansk.

If you’re Jewish in America, chances are there’s at least one Uncle Bern somewhere in your family tree. As the scholar Ruth Wisse noted last year in Tablet magazine, Jewish intellectual life in the 1930s and 40s was largely defined by one’s stance toward one thing: The Party. Historians reckon that Jews accounted for nearly half the Communist Party’s total membership in those years, while many other Jews were close fellow travelers.

Most of these people, like my great-uncle, were deeply misguided idealists who otherwise led quiet and decent lives. A tiny handful of others — including atomic spies Julius Rosenberg, David Greenglass, Harry Gold and Morton Sobell — betrayed America’s most important military secrets to Stalinist Russia and did incalculable damage to the country and the world.

Here’s a thought experiment: Would the United States have been better off if it had banned Jewish immigration sometime in the late 19th century, so that the immigrant parents of Rosenberg and Sobell had never set foot here? The question is worth asking, because so many of the same arguments made against African, Latin-American and Muslim immigrants today might have easily been applied to Jews just over a century ago.

Consider some of the parallels.

Crime? In 1908, the New York City police commissioner, Theodore Bingham, caused a public uproar (for which he later apologized) when he claimed that half the city’s criminals were Jews. The truth was closer to the opposite: Jewish crime rates, at about 16 percent, were considerably lower than their roughly 25 percent share of New York’s overall population. The same goes today, when, contrary to much Trumpian propaganda, incarceration rates for immigrants are nearly half what they are for native-born Americans.

Racial desirability? Just as Donald Trump wants more Norwegian immigrants and none from “s-hole countries,” the early 20th-century eugenicist, conservationist and immigration restrictionist Madison Grant was obsessed with protecting the “Nordic” races against those he termed “social discards” — including “the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian and the Jew.”

Assimilation? This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked, in an interview with Fox News, “What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” That seems to be the general way of thinking in this administration.

Now compare that to a 1907 article in McClure’s magazine, titled “The Great Jewish Invasion,” which observed of Russian Jews, “no people have had a more inadequate preparation, educational and economic, for American citizenship.” Henry Adams, the great American patrician, wrote of “furtive Yacoob or Ysaac still reeking of the ghetto, snarling a weird Yiddish.” In 1914, Edward Alsworth Ross, the famous progressive sociologist from the University of Wisconsin, called Jews “moral cripples” whose “tribal spirit intensified by social isolation prompts them to rush to the rescue of the caught rascal of their own race.”

Subversion? During the campaign, Donald Trump said at a New Hampshire rally that Syrian refugees “could make the Trojan horse look like peanuts.” His campaign then infamously called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Similar charges have long been leveled at Jews. Henry Ford accused Jews of causing the First World War. A generation later, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh charged Jews with trying to inveigle the United States into war. Lindbergh was the leading champion in his day of “America First.” Still later, Jewish “neocons” somehow became the shadowy instigators of America’s wars in the Middle East.

O.K., you get the idea. And it’s worth acknowledging there are often kernels of anecdotal or statistical truth for nearly every ethnic stereotype. Jews were indeed overrepresented in radical political circles. Jewish gangsters — a.k.a. the “Kosher Nostra” — were nearly as notorious as their Irish and Italian peers in the early 20th century. There were Jewish students who rallied against the draft during the First World War, just as many more would rally against it over Vietnam.

Yet imagine if the United States had followed the advice of the immigration restrictionists in the late 19th century and banned Jewish immigrants, at least from Central Europe and Russia, on what they perceived to be some genetic inferiority. What, in terms of enterprise, genius, imagination, and philanthropy would have been lost to America as a country? And what, in terms of human tragedy, would have ultimately weighed on our conscience?

Today, American Jews are widely considered the model minority, so thoroughly assimilated that organizational Jewish energies are now largely devoted to protecting our religious and cultural distinctiveness. Someone might ask Jeff Sessions and other eternal bigots what makes an El Salvadoran, Iranian or Haitian any different.

via A Modest Immigration Proposal: Ban Jews – The New York Times

The White House Is Seeking a Major Shift of Opinion on Immigration

Moving towards the Canadian and Australian models given priority to the economic class with, of course, falsehoods regarding the percentage of immigrants in jailed (less than non-immigrants) and exaggerations regarding links to terror:

The White House is embarking on a major campaign to turn public opinion against the nation’s largely family-based immigration system ahead of an all-out push next year to move toward a more merit-based structure.

The administration was laying the groundwork for such a drive even before an Islamic State-inspired extremist who was born in Bangladesh tried to blow himself up in Midtown Manhattan on Monday. It is assembling data to bolster the argument that the current legal immigration system is not only ill-conceived, but dangerous and damaging to U.S. workers.

“We believe that data drives policy, and this data will help drive votes for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.

White House officials outlined their strategy this week exclusively to The Associated Press, and said the data demonstrates that changes are needed immediately. But their effort will play out in a difficult political climate, as even Republicans in Congress are leery of engaging in a major immigration debate ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

The issue is expected to be prominently featured in the president’s Jan. 30 State of the Union address. The White House also plans other statements by the president, appearances by Cabinet officials and a push to stress the issue in conservative media.

The administration was beginning its campaign Thursday with a blog post stressing key numbers: Department of Homeland Security data that shows nearly 9.3 million of the roughly 13 million total immigrants to the U.S. from 2005 to 2016 were following family members already in the United States. And just one in 15 immigrants admitted in the last decade by green card entered the country because of their skills.

Other planned releases: a report highlighting the number of immigrants in U.S. jails, assessments of the immigration court backlog and delays in processing asylum cases, and a paper on what the administration says is a nexus between immigration and terrorism.

Critics have questioned the administration’s selective use of sometimes misleading data in the past.

The proposed move away from family-based immigration would represent the most radical change to the U.S. immigration system in 30 years. It would end what critics and the White House refer to as “chain migration,” in which immigrants are allowed to bring a chain of family members to the country, and replace it with a points-based system that favors education and job potential — “merit” measures that have increasingly been embraced by some other countries, including Britain.

Gidley said that for those looking to make the case that the U.S. is ill-served by the current system, “transparency is their best friend.”

“The more people know the real numbers, the more they’ll begin to understand that this is bad for American workers and this is bad for American security. And quite frankly, when these numbers come out in totality, we believe it’s going to be virtually impossible for Congress to ignore,” he said.

The public is sharply divided on the types of changes President Donald Trump is advocating.

A Quinnipiac University poll in August found that 48% of voters opposed a proposal that Trump has backed to cut the number of future legal immigrants in half and give priority to immigrants with job skills rather than those with family ties in this country. 44% of those polled — including 68% of Republicans — supported the idea.

The White House hopes to see Congress begin to take up the issue early in 2018 — though it has yet to begin discussions with congressional leaders over even the broad strokes of a legislative strategy, officials said.

Trump has laid out general principles for what he would like to see in an immigration bill in exchange for giving legal status to more than 700,000 young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. These include the construction of a border wall, tougher enforcement measures and moving to a more merit-based legal immigration system. In September, Trump gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix to allow the young immigrants known as “Dreamers” to stay in the country, creating an early-2018 crisis point he hopes will force Democrats to swallow some of his hardline demands.

Source: The White House Is Seeking a Major Shift of Opinion on Immigration

Canada on alert as U.S. announces end to temporary resident status for Haitians

Revealing insights on just how hard it is to combat social media messages (MP Dubourg’s comments):

A decision by the Trump administration to end a temporary residency permit program that has allowed almost 60,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States has the Canadian government on alert for a potential new surge of asylum seekers at the border.

The Homeland Security Department said late Monday that conditions in Haiti have improved significantly, so the benefit will be extended one last time — until July 2019 — to give Haitians time to prepare to return home.

Haitians were placed on notice earlier this year, and, few months later, waves of people began crossing illegally into Canada from the U.S. to claim asylum, catching the Liberals off guard when the crowds began to number more than 200 people a day.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said while Canada remains an “open and welcoming country to people seeking refuge,” anyone entering Canada must do so “through the proper channels.”

“Entering irregularly is not a ‘free ticket’ into Canada,”‘ Hursh Jaswa said late Monday.

“There are rigorous rules to be followed and the same robust assessment process applies. Those who are determined to be genuinely at risk, are welcomed. Those who are determined not to be in need of Canada’s protection, are removed.”

“We’re following it very carefully,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said, adding the physical apparatus required for the RCMP and border guards to deal with an influx is in place, as are contingency plans for a variety of “what if” scenarios.

The surge this summer prompted an outreach campaign to Haitian communities in the U.S. to counter misinformation about Canada’s immigration program circulating through social and traditional media channels and blamed for some of the new arrivals.

The misinformation — and the government campaign to counter it — continue.

Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg said that the recent announcement that Canada will accept close to one million immigrants over the next three years ended up as a story in the Haitian press about Canada opening its doors to a million immigrants this year. It was framed as proof Haitians were welcome.

Dubourg said he called the paper two weeks ago to clear things up but not before he realized the story had been shared hundreds of times on Facebook.

He said there is a great deal of uncertainty in the Haitian community, but the message needs to get out that Canada isn’t necessarily a default option. He’ll be taking that to New York on Tuesday in his second trip to the U.S. for outreach purposes.

“I’m there to inform them: be careful before you make a decision,” he said in an interview Monday.

Dubourg, who is Haitian, will also be trying to clear up a misconception that asylum is simple to obtain in Canada.

He said statistics he has seen suggest the acceptance rate for Haitians who arrived over the summer now sits at 10 per cent, down from about 50 per cent previously. The Immigration and Refugee Board was unable to immediately confirm that number.

via Canada on alert as U.S. announces end to temporary resident status for Haitians – Politics – CBC News

Donald Trump Has Nominated 480 People So Far in His Presidency. 80% of Them Are Men.

Says it all:

And if there is one trend that has defined this current president’s staffing decisions, it has been his proclivity to turn to men when filling out key posts.

Since he assumed office, Donald Trump has sent 480 nominations to the U.S. Senate for positions in the judicial branch and executive branches. Of those, The Daily Beast found, 387 were men—constituting just over 80 of all of Trump’s nominees.

The trend goes across government, though it is truly accentuated in certain fields. For example, Trump has nominated 282 men for high-ranking cabinet positions compared to 77 women. He has nominated 55 men for tax, armed forces, veterans claims, district, appellate, and supreme court judgeships compared to 13 women. And he has nominated 50 men to U.S. attorney posts compared to just three women.

Numerous executive branch departments have not had a single woman nominated to their ranks. Though some of them have only a handle of confirmable positions, others like the  Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy have had seven nominees respectively to date. All of those nominees were men.

via Donald Trump Has Nominated 480 People So Far in His Presidency. 80% of Them Are Men.

Trump Administration To Drop Refugee Cap To 45,000, Lowest In Years : NPR

A smaller percentage than others. USA already had far fewer refugees than others in 2016:

EU USA Canada Australia
2016 Population

510,100,000

323,100,000

36,290,000

24,130,000

Refugees resettled or granted asylum

720,000

84,994

58,910

17,955

Per capita percent

0.14%

0.03%

0.16%

0.07%

The Trump administration plans to cap the number of refugees the U.S. will accept next year at 45,000. That is a dramatic drop from the level set by the Obama administration and would be the lowest number in years.

The White House formally announced its plans in a report to congressional leaders Wednesday, as required by law.

The number of refugees the U.S. admits has fluctuated over time. But this cap is the lowest that any White House has sought since the president began setting the ceiling on refugee admissions in 1980.

Refugee resettlement agencies are disappointed with the 45,000 cap, which they say falls far short of what is necessary to meet growing humanitarian needs around the world. They had recommended a limit of at least 75,000.

Last year, the Obama administration set the cap at 110,000. Only about half that number have been admitted, after the Trump administration put the entire refugee resettlement program on hold under its travel ban executive orders.

“Churches and communities, employers and mayors, are heartsick at the administration’s callous and tragic decision to deny welcome to refugees most in need,” said Linda Hartke, the president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of largest resettlement agencies in the country.

The debate over refugees is often framed as a clash between humanitarian goals and national security.

But Trump administration also argues that the U.S. spends millions of dollars a year to screen and resettle refugees and to help them once they arrive.

“For the cost of resettling one refugee in the U.S., we can assist more than 10 in their home region,” President Trump said in a speech to the United Nations earlier this month.

Once they arrive, refugees qualify for many social services, including health care, food stamps and cash assistance. Many of those costs fall on state and local governments, and some states are pushing back.

Earlier this year, Tennessee took the federal government to court over refugee resettlement.

“The bottom line is the federal government is coercing the state of Tennessee to spend Tennessee taxpayers monies in ways that some individual Tennesseans disagree with,” Republican state Sen. John Stevens told member station WPLN in March.

But many mayors across the country see refugees as an economic boon for their cities.

“These people are paying taxes. They’re buying houses. They’re going into our schools,” said Stephanie Miner, the mayor of Syracuse, N.Y.

Miner, a Democrat, says refugees are helping revitalize the city’s north side, which was home to Italian and German immigrants before them.

Source: Trump Administration To Drop Refugee Cap To 45,000, Lowest In Years : NPR