The Surprising Way Republicans Used to Use Immigration to Boost the Economy

Nice historical reminder. Never thought when Reagan was in power that he would be viewed as progressive a generation later:

There was a time when a Republican president formed immigration policy for its economic impact, rather than its rhetorical value as a campaign issue. In 1980, Ronald Reagan recognized soaring unemployment in Mexico as the driving force behind the increased flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. Then-candidate Reagan said he wanted to “make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, then while they’re working, and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back, they go back.”

While nobody would say Reagan, as president, solved the problem of illegal immigration—amnesty for 2.9 million illegals and increased employer responsibilities rubbed some the wrong way—his focus was on the needs of employers to find affordable labor, and the needs of immigrants to find jobs.

In fact, “there was a time in the 80s and 90s, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, when border patrol agents along the Texas border would regulate employment levels,” says Professor Gordon Hanson of the University of California, San Diego. “The border agents would keep track of the labor needs of employers in the Rio Grande Valley. The higher the need for workers, the weaker the enforcement would be.”

Fast forward to last week’s testimony by Fed Chief Jerome Powell on Capitol Hill. Powell addressed the pressures on homebuilders, who are trying to continue building affordable homes. “You have a shortage of skilled labor,” Powell said, “so it’s hard to get people on the job—electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other people…just to get the people, no matter what you pay them, just finding people who can do that work.”

“Would you say our immigration policy has something to do with that?” asked Democratic Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota.

“That’s what we hear from home builders,” Powell replied.

Depressing the housing industry

“The lack of labor force is one of the main concerns for U.S. business,” says Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at Compass, an independent real estate brokerage. Hepp cites a survey from John Burns Consulting indicating that 82% of builders report a labor shortage. And since the housing industry contributes roughly 15% to the economy, that’s significant potential growth not being realized.

“The current level of single-family construction,” Hepp says, “while improving, it is still at about 50 percent below the levels of housing starts we had during the housing boom in early 2000s.”

The issue of illegal immigration is a touchy political topic, but let’s look at economic space that illegal immigrants fill. They tend to arrive when the U.S. economy is booming, provide low cost labor that is flexible enough to go where it’s needed, when it’s needed, and fill many jobs that Americans are not willing to do, especially in housing, food service, hospitality services, and agriculture. (Legal immigrants, on the other hand, many of them sponsored by companies or families, tend to be more highly educated, demand higher wages, and are not as flexible in moving to where the jobs are—partially because they may be legally obligated to a sponsoring employer.)

That potential increase in the labor force could come in handy right now, with an estimated 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, and when there are more job openings than there are people looking for work.

Perhaps sensing that the full story was not being told last week, Republican Senator John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana asked Powell, “What is the economic impact of illegal immigration on America’s economy?”

“I haven’t tried to quantify that, but people who come in legally or illegally, they add to our workforce,” Powell said, “and they contribute to GDP, certainly, so that’s part of it. You can really boil down growth into labor force growth and productivity increases, and immigration—total immigration—has contributed more than half of the growth in our workforce in the last few years.”

In fact, one of the ways that the economy could grow faster is if there were more workers, who are also tax payers and consumers, who supported other workers, who were also tax payers and consumers, and so on, and so on.

End to an unwritten policy

“But the shortage in the labor force isn’t just because of Trump’s policies,” says Professor Hanson. “That unwritten policy of border enforcement, following the ups and downs of the economy, ended with the border enforcement crackdown in 2005 under the George W. Bush administration.” Ironically, this was done by the former Texas governor to appease conservatives in Congress as a step toward comprehensive immigration reform. But reform never happened, even as tighter immigration policies continued, including under President Obama.

Then came the Great Recession, which took away the incentive for many foreign citizens to seek unfilled jobs in the United States. It was what Professor Hanson calls the end of the “Great Mexican Emigration.”

Kennedy clarified his focus for Powell: “What about illegal immigration? Does it have an impact on wages?”

“You know, there’s been a lot of research on that and it has really not reached a clear conclusion on that,” Powell said. “There is research that finds there is no visible impact, and there’s research that finds there’s a modest impact.”

Senator Kennedy was likely suggesting that illegal immigrants drive down the wages of Americans, which is a big part of the political argument Republicans have used against illegals coming into the country. And according to several sources, the argument is correct, especially when it comes to lower income, lower educated Americans who might find themselves competing with immigrants who are also looking for low-skilled work.

But the real drain on the economy from illegal immigrants comes when the resources they take from our economy exceed their contributions to it, which tends to happen, according to Professor Hanson, in the early years, just after they’ve arrived.

We’ll assume that the illegal immigrant worker IS paying certain taxes, including sales tax, property taxes (indirectly as renters), and possibly payroll taxes, under false social security numbers. But if a family comes into the U.S. illegally, sends their kids to publicly funded schools, and then has more children—who as natives are entitled to all American benefits such as Medicaid—will they be taking more from the economy than they are paying into it?

That’s the much-disputed question, politically as well as economically. Since illegal immigrants operate largely in the shadows, and are not eligible for most public benefits, a certain number is hard to determine, at least one that both parties will accept.

The problem for the administration is that with unemployment at 3.7%, it’s hard to say there’s a clear and direct impact being felt by many Americans economically. Most Americans who want a job, can find a job. That doesn’t take away the political argument, which will presumably still resonate—again, not without some validity—with a part of the voting public.

But as this expanding economy gets historically long in the tooth—the recession ended in June of 2009—a cooling housing industry may also put a chill on an economy that the president is hoping will carry him to reelection next year. That is surely not what he intended

Source: The Surprising Way Republicans Used to Use Immigration to Boost the Economy

Trump’s ‘blatantly illegal’ immigration rules end asylum protections

One of the better summaries:

The Trump administration has announced new immigration rules ending asylum protections for almost all migrants who arrive at the US-Mexico border, in violation of both US and international law.

According to the new rules, any asylum seekers who pass through another country before arriving at the southern border – including children traveling on their own – will not be eligible for asylum if they failed to apply first in their country of transit. They would only be eligible for US asylum if their application was turned down elsewhere.

The change would affect the vast majority of migrants arriving through Mexico. Most of those currently come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, but an increasing number are from Haiti, Cuba and countries further afield in Africa and Asia.

The new rules were placed on the federal register on Monday and due to take effect on Tuesday, though they will be immediately challenged in court for contraventions of the US refugee act and the UN refugee convention guaranteeing the right to seek asylum to those fleeing persecution from around the world.

Source: Trump’s ‘blatantly illegal’ immigration rules end asylum protections

In killing citizenship question, Trump adopts Census Bureau’s preferred solution to a thorny problem

After all the sound and fury, after all the lies and pretence:

President Donald Trump’s decision this afternoon to abandon plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and instead rely on existing government records to generate citizenship statistics matches the Census Bureau’s preferred option for dealing with the politically explosive issue. It’s also a win for those who have wanted to keep such a charged question off the decennial headcount.

“This is Option C,” says former Census Director John Thompson, referring to a March 2018 memo in which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spelled out several options for developing a citizenship tally, and gave his rationale for deciding to include the question on the count that will begin on 1 April. Option C “is what the Census Bureau proposed to Secretary Ross,” adds Thompson, who stepped down in June 2017, a few months after Ross began his clandestine efforts to get the Department of Justice to request the question. Ross eventually chose what he called Option D, a combination of using information already in government agency files, known as administrative records, along with a yes/no question about citizenship on the census questionnaire sent to U.S. households.

The Supreme Court, however, blocked Ross’s decision, saying he had violated administrative law by providing a “contrived” rather than a “genuine” explanation for why he wanted to add the question. Critics of the question say it would have prompted many people living in the United States to decline to answer the census, leading to an undercount of the population, and was motivated by a desire to reduce the political power of regions that tend to support Democratic candidates.

Today, speaking at a hastily arranged one-way press conference in which he took no questions, Trump said he will issue an executive order telling every federal agency to “immediately” provide the Commerce Department with “all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country.” He said the goal is to generate “an accurate count of how many citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens are in the United States of America. Not too much to ask.”

Census experts say that the agency should be able to satisfy the president’s request to develop data on the first two categories – citizens and non-citizens. And the Census Bureau already has agreements with a number of federal and state agencies that allow it to access administrative records that include some citizenship information, according to this 2018 analysis by bureau researchers. But using administrative records to determine the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. is not possible, the experts say. And that’s a good thing, believes Robert Santos, vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

“What this administration really wanted was a tally of those who are undocumented,” says Santos, who is also president-elect of the American Statistical Association. “But that’s not going to happen. They will fly under the radar.” As a result, he says, “now they can participate in the census without fear” of political repercussions.

It’s also good news for Census Bureau, he adds. Extracting the agency from the bitterly partisan national debate over immigration should allow it to do its job of carrying out a complete and accurate census, he says.

Civil rights groups opposing the question also hailed the president’s decision as a victory but said they hadn’t given up their fight against the administration’s policies. “This is a welcome reprieve of his partisan agenda, and a win for all communities,” says Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference Education Fund in Washington, D.C. “[But] we remain on guard to combat any attempts to sabotage a fair and accurate count.”

Source: In killing citizenship question, Trump adopts Census Bureau’s preferred solution to a thorny problem

And further commentary:

Donald Trump pretended he was doing something meaningful on Thursday after he was forced to cave in on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

But his post-cave bait-and-switch to push an executive order is also going up in flames almost immediately after it was issued.

Page said:

“So just saying it’s not a cave does not make it not a cave. Just the attorney general saying congratulations, Mr. President, does not make it a congratulatory moment. And the executive order, it is not at all clear that it’s necessary to have a new executive order to give publicly available data from federal agencies to the Commerce Department. That would seem to be something that would be easy to do. And in fact, as you noted, the government already calculates the number of illegal immigrants and the number of non-citizens who live in this country, and they’ve done that for some time.”

Trump is pulling out all the distractions after his census cave-in

Donald Trump’s executive order stunt that he announced on Thursday isn’t the only distraction he’s pulling out following his census loss.

It was also reported today that the administration would move forward with its raids on thousands of undocumented migrant families. According to The New York Times, “Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials.”

The raids, which had been delayed last month due to widespread backlash, will likely separate more families. Even the president’s acting DHS secretary has admitted as much.

Of course, none of these steps are being taken because they are sound policy solutions. They are just the latest in a two-year string of distractions meant to paper over an endless string of policy and political failures from this White House.

Source: Trump’s Citizenship Executive Order Is Already Going Up In Flames

Immigrants are moving to smaller U.S. cities

Also happening in Canada to a certain extent:

As young Americans stream to coastal cities, immigrants are seizing opportunities in the midwest and south where mid-sized cities are struggling to maintain a younger, working-age population.

Why it matters: From 2014-2017, immigrants contributed nearly 33% of the total population growth in the top 100 U.S. metro areas — and they’re settling in smaller cities that aren’t typically considered immigration hubs, according to new research from New American Economy.

“Immigrants — very similar to other Americans — are looking for less crowded, more affordable cities that have dynamic job markets,” said Andrew Lim, research director at the bipartisan research and advocacy organization.

Details: Foreign-born migration helped reverse population decline in several metros, such as Detroit, Memphis, Dayton and St. Louis.

  • In 2017, immigrants were responsible for 98% of the population growth in metro Cincinnati, 88% of the growth in metro Birmingham, and 87% of growth in metro Miami.
  • Four of the top 10 cities seeing the most population growth from immigrants are in Florida — a state seeing a disproportionate growth of aging residents.

What’s happening: Many of the top destinations are grappling with a demographic double whammy: a growing aging population on one hand, and a dwindling young population on the other.

  • Immigrants to the U.S. are more likely to be of working age — between 25 and 64 — than the native-born population. Meanwhile, 98 of the top 100 metros saw an increase in population above the age of 65 between 2014 and 2017.
  • Healthcare is a popular job area as demands grow in caring for aging residents. In El Paso, for example, immigrants made up a third of healthcare workers in 2017. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, that number was 20%.

The big picture: Immigration is a national flashpoint right now, with controversies around poor conditions in detention centers along the Mexico border and political fights over whether the 2020 Census will include a citizenship question.

The research highlights the economic upsides of immigration.

  • Immigrant entrepreneurs grew by 7.7% in the top 100 metro areas between 2014 and 2017. The number more than doubled in Baton Rouge, and grew by more than 60% in Tulsa.
  • Immigrant homeownership increased by 9.5%, with Nashville, Oklahoma City and Charlotte seeing the fastest growth.
  • Despite growth in smaller cities, the more traditional metros (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco) still saw the highest levels of spending power and taxes paid by immigrants.

Go deeper:

Source: Immigrants are moving to smaller U.S. cities

The Other Census Disaster That’s Waiting to Happen

Have seen earlier discussion of the issue but this is the most comprehensive analysis:

Everyone hoping for an accurate 2020 Census breathed a sigh of relief two weeks ago when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to block the Trump administration’s cynical attempt to add a citizenship question to the forms—only to experience Twitter-tantrum whiplash when the president ordered his administration to make a last-ditch attempt to include it.

But with so much attention focused on the controversy over the citizenship question, another similarly disastrous Census Bureau decision has gone largely unnoticed: the administration’s choice not to substantively update the decennial survey’s questions on race. As a result, no matter how conscientiously Census Bureau staff administer the survey, a woefully inadequate portrait of the changing face of America will emerge.

The last census, in 2010, became a data disaster when “some other race,” showed up as the third-largest racial group in America. Over 20 million respondents, most with roots in Latin America or the Middle East, selected this none-of-the-above option, making it the most popular choice after white and black. Any time a public-opinion survey asks respondents to self-categorize and “none of the above” comes back as a popular answer, it’s a clear sign that the choices given don’t match up with people’s identities.

Facing this problem squarely, the Obama administration convened the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations, a panel of academic experts and minority community leaders, to advise the Bureau on improving its race questions for 2020. The committee made myriad recommendations, most crucially suggesting that a “Middle East or North Africa” category sit alongside the “Hispanic origins” box in the upcoming questionnaire. But the Trump administration overruled this advice and, aside from a few minor tweaks, is flying into the 2020 survey without substantive changes. Given continued Latin American and Middle Eastern immigration since 2010, and the more extreme forms of racial “othering” these groups have faced ever since candidate Donald J. Trump came down the escalator in 2015, experts fear that “some other race” will become the second-largest racial group in America according to the 2020 Census.

Every census since the founding of the country has asked about race and ethnicity. Until recent decades, race was not a matter of self-identification; historically, federal census-takers were charged with determining the race of each resident of their assigned census tracts according to their era’s standards. Tracing how race questions have changed over time offers a time-lapse history of American racial concepts in 10-year snapshots. (All of the race questions are conveniently archived on the website racebox.org.)

The most drastic changes to the census race questions took place after the fall of Reconstruction, at the rise of Jim Crow, when America’s mixed-race realities were blotted out and a strict racial binary imposed. Openly mixed-race activists, in particular Charleston’s “Browns” and New Orleans’s “Creoles of color,” had been central to post-Civil War civil rights progress. Their court challenges to segregation, of which Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was only the last and most famous, assailed the notion that Europeans and Africans remained distinct racial groups in America given centuries of overt and covert race-mixing. At the time, the “one-drop rule” that any African ancestry at all made an American a “Negro” was still new and not widely accepted. This more fluid racial mindset was reflected in the late 19th-century censuses, which all catalogued biracial “mulattos” as distinct from “whites” and “blacks.” The 1890 questionnaire recorded even finer-grained mixed-race categories: “quadroon” (an American with three European grandparents and one African grandparent) and “octoroon” (an American with seven European great-grandparents and one African great-grandparent). But with the firm establishment of the color line post-Plessy, the 1900 census switched to a unitary race. (Not until 2000 would the census again allow respondents to claim mixed-race identities, this time by checking more than one racial box.)

“Only in 1980 did the Census begin to grapple with Latino identity.”

As segregation took root, the stakes of being deemed “white” grew higher. Even as Jim Crow laws proliferated in the early 20th century, the states differed on their official definitions of what exactly a “white person” was and who precisely constituted a “colored person.” Myriad ethnic groups clamored to get into whiteness, often petitioning through the courts. “Semites,” for example, won their way into whiteness using clever, albeit pseudo-scientific, arguments. Their trump card, first argued in 1907 by H. A. Elkourie, a Syrian Christian physician in Birmingham, Alabama, was that if he wasn’t white then Jesus hadn’t been white either. Anglo-Americans’ revulsion at the thought they were worshipping a person of color each Sunday was strong enough that Elkourie and the fellow members of his “Semitic” “race” were deemed “white.”

The next major revamp of the census’s race questions came in the wake of the 1960s civil rights movement. For the first time, the Census Bureau empowered each respondent to choose her own race rather than have a census-taker determine it for her. And embracing the modern understanding that race has no biological reality, only societal meanings, the Census Bureau modified the racial categories to learn more about American society rather than engage in the fool’s errand of sorting humans into some fixed number of distinct races. To this end, the 1970 Census listed eight racial categories, one of which was “Hawaiian”—a useful category for understanding American society but a group so tiny no early-20th-century race scientists ever elevated it into their core “Races of Man.”

Only in 1980 did the census begin to grapple with Latino identity. Rather than add “Hispanic” to the list of races, it introduced a question to stand apart from the various racial choices: “Is this person of Spanish/Hispanic origin or descent?” By noting that Hispanics can be of any race, the Census Bureau hoped to track the growth of this community that comes in all colors. But this well-meaning attempt never fully worked since the Latin American and Anglo-American conceptions of race are fundamentally incompatible.

While the U.S., after Reconstruction, forced Americans to claim a retroactive racial purity, Latin America never denied its mestizo realities. On the most recent Brazilian census, for example, the majority of respondents identified as afrodecendente (Afro-descended). But in Brazil this identity does not in any way suggest that the same person is not also of European, Native American, and/or Asian descent; indeed, over 80 percent of self-identified afrodecendente Brazilians claimed roots on non-African continents as well.

In Mexico, the concept of race (la raza) is even more un-American. The Mexican supposition is that the people of the New World are, in a sense, a new race unto themselves, a mixture of all the world’s peoples. It is these mutually-incompatible conceptions of race between the U.S. and Latin America that has led millions of census respondents to check that they are of Latino origin but are members of “some other race.”

Arab-Americans are similarly migrants from an alternate racial system. Arab identity embraces people of all skin colors and is largely tied to language—people whose mother tongue is Arabic are Arabs even if they don’t live on Asia’s Arabian Peninsula. Though officially white in America since the early-20th-century rulings that “Semites” are white, contemporary American racism has again called Arab whiteness into question.

“The best-case scenario is that none-of-the-above comes out as the third-largest race in America rather than second-largest.”

The most recent federal definition of a “white person,” formulated in 1997 by the Office of Management and Budget and currently used by the Census Bureau—“A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa”—clearly includes Arabs. But if “whiteness” has no biological reality and is purely a socially-constructed category in American society for those who enjoy full citizenship, including the presumption of innocence, since 9/11, Middle Easterners have no longer been white. This mismatch between being officially white by the federal definition but not being treated as white in American society has sparked a wildcat campaign among some Middle Easterners not to check the “white” box on the Census (tag-line: “Check it right, you ain’t white”). Indeed, the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations found many Middle Eastern- and North African-Americans are doing just that, checking “some other race” in defiance of the current federal definition of whiteness.

At this point the 2020 race questions are set, with just a few tweaks from 2010. The 2020 form will include “Lebanese” and “Egyptian” as examples of white ethnicities to remind Arabs to, essentially, “check it right, you are white.” The new wording also adds “Aztec” and “Mayan” as examples of American Indian ethnicities to instruct people with roots in the New World beyond the United States borders that they should still identify themselves as indigenous.

Even with these minor changes, the best-case scenario is that none-of-the-above comes out as the third-largest race in America rather than second-largest. Whiteness in America is in flux today in a way it hasn’t been in a century—even if the Census Bureau’s political appointees, in keeping with the Trump administration’s Know-Nothingism on race, won’t admit it. An administration that has backed border walls and Muslim bans has already shown Latinos and Middle Easterners that, if whiteness means first-class citizenship, they’re no longer white. The painful irony is that the rise of “some other race” at first glance suggests America is becoming post-racial, while its real roots are in rising racism.

Source: The Other Census Disaster That’s Waiting to Happen

Citizenship question causing an uproar in U.S. has been part of Canada’s census since 1901

Politicization and weaponization in contrast to the more neutral approach in Canada:

A politically divisive debate continues to rage over U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census. That same question has been part of Canada’s census form for over a century without a ripple.

Trump has been waging a fierce fight to add the controversial query to the 2020 census, and said Friday he’s now considering an executive order to get it done after a Supreme Court ruling blocked his efforts.

Canada’s own long form census asks: “Of what country is this person a citizen?” Respondents have a choice of three possible answers: ‘Canada, by birth,’ ‘Canada, by naturalization’ or ‘Other country – specify.’

A spokeswoman for Statistics Canada, which manages the census, said the citizenship data is vital to various programs.

“The citizenship question has a long history on the Canadian census, being introduced for the first time on the 1901,” said Emily Theelen in an email.

“This information is used to estimate the number of potential voters and to plan citizenship classes and programs. It also provides information about the population with multiple citizenships and the number of immigrants in Canada who hold Canadian citizenship.”

Theelen said Statistics Canada’s data quality assessment indicators have not flagged any issues specifically related to the citizenship question. The Library of Parliament could not find any significant debate, controversy or court case related to the inclusion of a citizenship question on the Canadian census form.

In the U.S., the Republican administration’s push has triggered a partisan firestorm because of the enormous political stakes.

The once-a-decade population count determines the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives among the states, and the disbursement of about $675 billion in federal funding.

Disadvantage for Democrats

The Census Bureau’s own experts have said the question would discourage immigrants from participating in the census, which would result in a less-accurate census. That, say critics, would redistribute money and political power away from Democrat-led urban districts — where immigrants tend to cluster — and toward whiter, rural areas where Republicans do well.

Immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said the political and electoral landscape in Canada is drastically different from the one in the U.S. and would not allow for that kind of “gerrymandering” — the manipulation of electoral boundaries to favour one party over others.

“In Canada, we have an impartial electoral commission that redistributes the electoral boundaries according to the law based on objective criteria,” he said. “It’s not an issue here at all, because we don’t have that kind of gerrymandering that they have in the U.S.”

No sign of abuse in Canada

Waldman said it’s possible a census result showing a high percentage of undocumented people in a specific region of the U.S. could lead to stepped-up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) patrols there.

Up to now, there has been no evidence that census information has been abused in that way in Canada.

The U.S. Justice Department said Friday it will continue to look for legal grounds to include the question on the census, but it did not say what options it’s considering.

The U.S. government already has begun the process of printing the census questionnaire without the citizenship question, but Trump suggested Friday that officials might be able to add the citizenship query to the questionnaire after it’s been printed.

In the Supreme Court’s decision last week, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in saying the administration’s justification for adding the question “seems to have been contrived.”

The Trump administration has said the question was being added to aid in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box.

Canada conducts a census every four years. The next census is due in 2020.

Source: Citizenship question causing an uproar in U.S. has been part of Canada’s census since 1901

How The U.S. Citizenship Oath Came To Be What It Is Today

But while the 1790 naturalization law established a framework for becoming a citizen, it didn’t implement a standard oath for the country, leaving the naturalization process varied from state to state for more than 100 years.

With no uniform process in place, a presidential commission was created in 1905 to study how to reform the country’s naturalization process.

“Due to the high number of immigrants from all different locations spreading through all over and across the U.S., by then there was as many as 5,000 courts with naturalization jurisdiction, and each of these courts had developed its own processes for administering the oath,” Wang says.

Many of the commission’s recommendations were included in the Basic Naturalization Act of 1906, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. While the recommendations still didn’t lead to a standardized oath, at this point the decision was made to include language about defending “the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; and bear true faith and allegiance to the same,” according to the USCIS website.

It wasn’t until 1929 that the oath’s text was standardized. For much of the next two decades, the oath stayed the same. But with the U.S. facing a growing threat from the Soviet Union, the oath was amended in 1952 to emphasize service to country.

“There was an intent to make it more explicit that in becoming a citizen of the United States that you are also explicitly going to take action in defending this country when asked to,” Wang says.

The three major changes, Wang says, included, “adding [a part] around bearing arms on behalf of the United States when required … performing noncombatant services in the armed forces when required, and then the final one was added around performing work of national importance under civilian direction.”

These changes still exist in the oath used today.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Wang has gone to many naturalization ceremonies and has heard the oath recited many times, including by his own parents. No matter how often he hears those 140 words, he says, they still have emotional significance to him.

“Words matter, and when you hear people say this, each of them are doing what my parents did, which is actually give up part of their identity,” he says. “Something that they grew up with. Something that their family is.”

As people take the oath, they are often embracing a new identity and completing a journey that has lasted years and possibly even decades, Wang says.

“It truly is something that matters deeply to each and every one of the individuals that say it,” he says. “So when you see the tears on their faces, you can’t help but feel them welling up in your own.”

Source: How The U.S. Citizenship Oath Came To Be What It Is Today

USA: Military Families May Soon Lose Key Immigration Protections

Really hard to understand the ongoing cruelty of some of the Administration’s policies:

The Trump administration is considering changes to immigration policies that had previously protected the spouse and dependents of military service members from deportation, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official confirmed Monday.

“Parole in Place” is an immigration policy implemented at the height of the Iraq War to help deployed soldiers not worry that their undocumented family members would be deported while they were overseas.

It is one of several immigration options made available to the military in recognition of “the important sacrifices made by U.S. armed forces members, veterans, enlistees and their families. To support these individuals, we provide discretionary options such as parole in place or deferred action on a case-by-case basis,” the agency says on a web page for service members.

Parole in Place grants undocumented dependents and spouses a reprieve to be able to legally adjust their immigration status without having to leave the United States or be deported first. The program was rarely used until senior military leaders and then-members of Congress — including Vice President Mike Pence — urged in 2010 that the Department of Homeland Security increase access to the program.

A USCIS official confirmed exclusively to McClatchy, on condition of anonymity, that the agency is now reviewing the program. Any changes would be limited to dependents of service members, the official said.

Retired Army Reserve Lt. Col. Margaret Stock, an attorney who specializes in military immigration issues, said the administration is expected to issue a decision on whether or not to end Parole in Place at the end of July. She first became aware of the proposed changes when attorneys for some of the service members who could lose their dependents to deportation began expediting requests to get the reprieves for their family members.

The policy review comes at a time when it has become more difficult overall for service members to pursue U.S. citizenship. The number of military naturalizations has plummeted since President Donald Trump took office, and service members are now rejected for citizenship at a higher rate than civilian applicants, according to the most recent USCIS data available.

In the last several years, Parole in Place has been used sparingly, and has not protected all of the dependents of service members from deportation. The federal agency responsible for all adjudication of immigration cases does not track the number of waivers or deportations of service members or their dependents that it has processed.

Source: Military Families May Soon Lose Key Immigration Protections

Higher Asylum Grant Rates Predict Higher Family Appearance Rates in Top Immigration Courts

Interesting study. Similar findings to those of Sean Rehaag, with high variance among judges (thestar.com/…/getting-refugee-decisions-appealed-in-court-the-luck-of-the-draw-study-shows):

TRAC Immigration, a project of Syracuse University, published a report this week, showing that 81 percent of recently released families apprehended at the border showed up for all of their hearings. Some immigration court locations did much better than others in obtaining compliance from immigrant families. San Francisco’s court had almost zero no-shows, while two and five skipped out in Atlanta.

TRAC’s report hypothesized that it was possible that “the lowered appearance rates in some courts arose from particular deficiencies in the recording, scheduling or notification systems there.” While this could be, there is no way to test for such variation. Another strong hypothesis, suggested by Aaron Reichlin-Melnik of American Immigration Council, is that immigrants are much more likely to fail to appear in courts where they have a lower probability of receiving asylum.

Fortunately, TRAC also reports asylum grant rates by immigration court, allowing us to test this.

Figure 1 shows the relationship between asylum grant rates in FY 2019 and family appearance rates in the ten immigration courts that received the most family docket cases (in order of the courts with most cases). These ten court were initially designated to track “family unit” cases in November 2018, and while this practice has expanded to several other courts, 87 percent of the family cases tracked by the government are still in these ten courts.

The five courts with the highest appearance rates had asylum grant rates on average 55 percent higher than the five courts with the lowest appearance rates (37 percent to 23 percent). The five most successful courts had 89 percent of their immigrant families appear at all hearings compared to 75 percent at the other five courts.

The asylum grant rate in 2019 predicted a very significant portion of the variance in appearance rates between courts—42 percent to be precise—that year, and a 10 percentage point increase in the asylum grant rate in a court is associated with almost a 3 percentage point increase in the appearance rate for that court. There are other ways to measure the asylum grant rate. The immigration courts include asylum cases that were closed without a decision being made on the merits. But using that metric doesn’t change the association.

Higher failure to appear rates do not explain the higher denial rates, as just 1.4 percent of asylum denials are a result of a failure of the immigrant to appear. People who skip almost always do so before they officially file for asylum. It could be that immigrants who go to certain courts like Atlanta have worse asylum claims to begin with, but as TRAC notes, “there seems little reason for families with different strengths of asylum claims to migrate to some parts of the country and avoid others.”

Ultimately, the identity of the judge seems like the most important factor in winning asylum. The Government Accountability Office in 2016 found that even controlling for other relevant factors, “the defensive asylum grant would vary by 57 percentage points if different immigration judges heard the case of a representative applicant with the same average characteristics we measured.” It would be very useful if TRAC published data on the appearance rates by judge to determine if it’s the location or the judge that matters the most.

Obviously, because we only have data for a few courts in 1 year, it is impossible to nail down this relationship with certainty, but it appears that if every court had the same asylum grant rate as San Francisco (68 percent), the appearance rate for families would have increased to 90 percent. It may seem obvious that the likelihood of success in court makes people more likely to follow the legal process. But many people’s impression is that every asylum applicant has no case, so they have no reason to show up. That’s false, but unfortunately, some courts are turning this theory into a self-fulling prophecy.

Source: Higher Asylum Grant Rates Predict Higher Family Appearance Rates in Top Immigration Courts

A growing source of Canadian asylum-seekers: US citizens whose parents were born elsewhere

Sean Rehaag, who has done some good work analyzing trends of decision making by IRB adjudicators, looks at the recent rise in the number of asylum seekers from the US:

Jokes about moving to Canada became common among progressives in the United States during Donald Trump’s presidential bid. When he won, a spike in U.S. citizens seeking information about how to relocate crashed Canada’s immigration website.

I’m a scholar of Canadian immigration law and will soon become the director of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University in Toronto. My friends and colleagues in the United States, who still make those jokes, are often surprised when I fill them in on how U.S. immigration patterns in Canada have changed during the Trump administration.

Overall, the number of U.S. citizens who have immigrated to Canada for any reason rose from 7,522 in 2015 to 9,100 in 2017. In contrast with this modest 21% increase, the number of U.S. citizens applying for refugee protection during the same two years spiked by more than 1,000%. It grew from 69 in 2015 to as much as 869 in 2017.

The more than 1,500 U.S citizens who have sought a safe haven in Canada are mainly the children of people fearing deportation due to a change of their immigration status after spending years in the United States. Even with the recent increase, they still account for a small share of total applicants for refugee protection in Canada – only 1% in 2018, for example. Nonetheless, the dramatic growth in the number of refugee claims by U.S. citizens illustrates some of the differences between Canadian and U.S. immigration policies.

Long history

People from the U.S. have been seeking asylum in Canada since at least the 18th century.

Fearing mistreatment in the newly established United States, and drawn by offers of free land, as many as 100,000 British Loyalists fled to what is now Canada during and after the American Revolution.

Many enslaved people seeking liberty via the Underground Railroad, prior to the Civil War, headed to Canada. Around 20,000 to 40,000 made lives for themselves there.

In the 1960s and 1970s, some 100,000 young U.S. men, many with wives and children, came to Canada during the Vietnam War to avoid being drafted into military service – or in some cases after deserting. Canada enacted a law that let these “draft dodgers” immigrate with lawful status. Even though President Jimmy Carter issued a blanket pardon for them when he took office, about half remained in Canada.

More recently, dozens of U.S. soldiers who had voluntarily enlisted in the military and served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sought asylum in Canada to avoid jail time when they deserted because they came to object to those wars. This time, the Canadian government denied most of their refugee claims, saying that they could have possibly qualified for conscientious objector status back home. However, the Canadian public expressed substantial support for these war resisters.

Change of status

The more recent wave of asylum applicants is related to changes in U.S. immigration policy.

Before Trump took office, the U.S. had granted hundreds of thousands of immigrants without papers from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador and other countries temporary protected status. These policies protected formerly undocumented immigrants from deportation and let them work legally.

The Trump administration has tried to end temporary protected status for eligible immigrants of many nationalities, despite evidence that many of their countries remained dangerous or their economies were still too unstable for them to return.

For example, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous agency of the Organization of American States, asserts that Nicaragua operates as “police state” with government-sponsored repression that is resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that 62,000 Nicaraguans have fled to neighboring countries in the past year.

For now, the fate of about 300,000 of these immigrants from multiple countries awaits resolution in the courts.

A big share of the families with U.S. citizen-children seeking asylum in Canada today are immigrants from Haiti and other countries who fear losing their temporary protected status. Some people with this status from Nicaragua and Honduras have had it since 1999. Qualifying Sudanese immigrants have been shielded from deportation since 1997. The U.S. granted 59,000 Haitians temporary protected status in 2010, following a big earthquake.

Canada will probably deny the refugee claims of the U.S. citizen children because the system requires applicants to prove a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin. In this case, that would be the United States rather than, say, Haiti, Sudan or El Salvador.

But parents who obtain refugee protection in Canada will be able to obtain permanent residence for their children as well, putting them on the path to citizenship in Canada. Many likely will succeed with their claims. Canada approved about half of the refugee claims made in 2018after migrants crossed the U.S. border.

Indeed, some of the families with U.S. citizen children seeking asylum in Canada may figure that they are more likely to succeed in Canada than in the U.S. For example, Canadian refugee law is more permissive than U.S. asylum law for people fleeing gender-based violence or gang violence – both common types of claims for Central American asylum-seekers.

Different policies

Canadian and U.S. immigration policies have always been distinct but the contrast is becoming more stark.

Trump campaigned on an anti-immigrant agenda, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised voters he would increase the number of resettled Syrian refugees welcomed in Canada. On the same day that Trump first decreed a Muslim travel ban, Trudeau famously tweeted out his hospitality: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.”

Under Trudeau’s leadership, the Canadian government has decided to boost the number of immigrants it grants permanent resident status yearly, from 286,000 in 2017 to 340,00 in 2020.

The U.S., with a population that is nearly nine times bigger than its northern neighbor, grants permanent resident status to 1.1 million newcomers. The Trump administration is trying to overhaul the nation’s immigration policy in ways that could cut that number considerably and it has slashed refugee admissions. In April 2019, Trump addressed the rising number of asylum-seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. “We can’t take you anymore,” he said. “Our country is full.”

As long as these sorts of divergences persist, I believe that immigrants who have been living in the United States for years, some with children who are U.S. citizens, will keep coming to Canada seeking asylum.

Source: A growing source of Canadian asylum-seekers: US citizens whose parents were born elsewhere