Canada Wins, U.S. Loses In Global Fight For High-Tech Workers

The latest article on the “Canadian advantage:”

Hundreds of tech workers pack an auditorium for a recent networking event in Toronto. The evening’s host glides around the room on a hoverboard, equal parts game show host and tech bro.

“Who here is new to Canada?” asks Jason Goldlist, the co-founder of TechToronto, an organization that helps newcomers navigate the city’s fast-growing tech ecosystem.

Dozens of hands shoot up in the air — one belonging to Alok Chitnis, who moved to Canada last year. Chitnis is originally from India. He went to graduate school in the U.S. and found a job in Colorado. But last May, he moved to Canada to launch his own startup.

“It’s vibrant. It’s very welcoming for immigrants,” Chitnis says. “There are a lot of services by the government to help newcomer entrepreneurs especially. So the whole ecosystem is pretty welcoming compared to the U.S.”

If there is a war for global tech talent, right now Canada is winning — and the U.S. may be losing its edge. Toronto saw the biggest growth in technology jobs of any North American city over the past five years, outpacing San Francisco, New York and Seattle. Vancouver also made the top five.

The tech industry across Canada is booming. And one of the biggest reasons is U.S. immigration policy. The Trump administration has made it harder for high-skilled workers to get visas. It also has blocked entrepreneurs from some majority-Muslim countries altogether under the travel ban, which it’s moving to expand to more countries.

Canada, meanwhile, has been making it easier for tech workers to immigrate there. A new streamlined visa in Canada has brought in more than 40,000 tech workers from around the world in the past two years alone.

“While the States has gone, ‘Let’s make it difficult to get the employees here on a visa,’ Canada’s gone the exact opposite, and it’s beneficial for Canada,” says Alex Norman, the other co-founder of TechToronto. “You had a fast-growing ecosystem here that’s been getting a shot of steroids.”

Under the Trump administration, high-skilled workers are getting rejected at a higher rate. In 2015, 92% of new H-1B visa applications were approved. But in the last two years, the approval rate dipped to only 75%.

Immigration authorities say they’re trying to ensure that companies follow the rules. Employers are required to show that hiring a foreign worker will not hurt Americans.

“You know, I have a high regard — as does the president — for protecting U.S. workers,” said Ken Cuccinelli, who was then the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in an interview last year.

Cuccinelli was asked about the need to crack down on fraud and abuse. “The H-1B program has been controversial in this regard,” he said. “And it is concerning.”

Meanwhile, U.S. tech companies complain that they can’t find enough qualified candidates to fill all their open jobs.

More than a dozen hiring managers from tech startups recently squeezed into a private dining room at Del Posto, a high-end New York City restaurant. One of them was Susan Riskin, the head of human resources at Bitly, which is well-known for making Web addresses shorter.

“We doubled the size of our technology team in the last year,” Riskin said. “And we feel like we have exhausted New York and Denver. And now it’s like we’re trying to figure out where to go next, what we need to do.”

All of the hiring managers at the table were confronting a similar problem. They came for the New York strip steak and Italian wine — but also to hear a business pitch from Irfhan Rawji, the founder of a Canadian company called MobSquad.

“If you’d rather fill a job than go without, call us,” Rawji said. “We’ll open a virtual subsidiary for you in Canada. You get access to the world.”

Rawji’s pitch, in a nutshell, is this: Say your firm wants to hire an international tech worker, but the worker’s visa application is rejected or the application process is dragging on for months.

“The next-best solution to keeping them here in the U.S., if you can’t do that, is to put them in Canada,” Rawji said. “The flights are an hour and a half to two hours. It’s the same business culture. And we try to match or beat the total cost for you here.”

U.S. tech companies have long relied on a steady stream of engineers and software developers from China, India and elsewhere. The process of getting an H-1B visa was often expensive and slow, says Meagan Soszynski, the head of human resources for an advertising app called Yieldmo. But at least it was predictable.

“You followed a certain process, you paid a premium, but you pretty much always got the outcome that you wanted,” says Soszynski.

She says that’s not the case anymore.

“In the last year, I would say every one of my H-1B cases have been met with some sort of delay,” Soszynski says. “So the immigration changes are certainly being felt by us on the front lines.”

The U.S. remains a popular destination for international workers. The number of applicants for H-1B visas stills exceed the annual cap of 85,000. But in recent years, fewer are applying.

“The biggest thing that’s going to hurt the U.S. competitiveness is the overall rhetoric or tone” on immigration, says William Kerr, a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of The Gift of Global Talent, who also serves on the board of MobSquad.

“If you think about migration, people are making a choice to come and invest in their lives, whether for school or for work, and they want to have long-term opportunities,” Kerr says. “And the uncertainty and the hostility really dampen that enthusiasm.”

President Trump says he understands the problem.

“We have to allow smart people to stay in our country,” Trump said in an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News this month.

“We don’t have enough of them. And we have to be competitive with the rest of the world too,” Trump said.

But global tech workers say the Trump administration’s policies make the U.S. less attractive.

Ozge Yoluk started a new job in Toronto this month. She was born in Turkey and studied in Europe. Yoluk worked as a postdoctoral researcher in computational biology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. She says the field is “like playing video games” — except in these games, the characters are proteins and experimental drugs.

The company she joined, ProteinQure, is using tech to design new treatments. Pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. are doing similar work. But Yoluk says she didn’t even bother applying for those jobs.

“Getting a visa in the U.S. is not easy,” Yoluk says. “And it’s really costly, not just for the companies but also for the person itself.”

Yoluk says the higher rejection rate for work visas has made U.S. companies more reluctant to sponsor foreign workers — and foreign workers more reluctant to go through the process.

“I said I will not waste my time applying for positions in the States,” Yoluk said. “Whereas in Canada, the process was easy.”

Yoluk says she got her Canadian visa approved in about two weeks. She didn’t even need a lawyer to navigate the process.

A few blocks away, I met Milad Zabihi at a coffee shop in downtown Toronto. Zabihi is the CEO of a startup called Peekage, which helps companies target customers. Zabihi immigrated to Canada from Iran. Several of the company’s other co-founders are also Iranian.

“We are a bunch of friends from university time,” Zabihi says. “We were thinking of like, you know, starting something new.”

Zabihi says they wanted to locate this new venture in the United States. But then, Trump’s travel ban blocked most immigrants and visitors from Iran and several other Muslim-majority countries.

“Everyone’s like, OK, the U.S. is not an option,” Zabihi says. “Especially we like, you know, what is happening right now with the new administration and Islam. So we were basically thinking of, like, what would be the best next option.”

Now big U.S. tech firms are following global tech workers north of the border.

Google, Microsoft, Intel and Uber have either opened or announced plans for new offices in Canada.

“Toronto’s now the fastest-growing tech city in North America,” said Yung Wu, the CEO of the MaRS Discovery District, a technology hub in Toronto that’s home to 150 tech startups. It takes up most of a city block, with multiple buildings connected by a soaring glass atrium.

Wu says the Toronto tech industry has been growing for a while. But the U.S. immigration crackdown accelerated that growth.

“Look, every time Trump tweets, we get another sort of injection, which is all good from my perspective,” Wu says. “Companies are locating here because they can get access to foreign talent faster.”

Wu says hiring the right people at the right time can be the difference between a company that succeeds and one that doesn’t.

Canada is betting on it.

Source: Canada Wins, U.S. Loses In Global Fight For High-Tech Workers

‘Mexico has become Trump’s wall’: how Amlo became an immigration enforcer

Of interest (just as the Safe Third Country Agreement acts as a wall with the USA):

When a group of Central American families forded the Suchiate River into Mexico last week, they were greeted by a wall of national guardsmen who locked riot shields and fired teargas into the crowd.

Questioned about the incident, Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, dismissed it as “an isolated case” and said such scenes were “not the style of this government”.

The very next day, the national guard once again teargassed migrants near the border with Guatemala. News footage showed women and children howling in distress as guardsmen rounded them up and loaded them on to buses.

The president, generally referred to as Amlo, once railed against the abuse visited on migrants. In opposition, he pleaded for Mexico to provide safe passage to people heading for the US border.

But 13 months into his presidency – and under the looming threat of US tariffs – Amlo has assumed a new role: immigration enforcer.

The president his struggled to reconcile his past rhetoric with current actions, claiming good intentions at every turn, invoking human rights and even citing scripture to call for the proper treatment of migrants.

But Amlo has staunchly defended the national guard, a militarised police forced he created last year ostensibly to fight organized crime. Its first deployment was against migrants, even as violence continues to wrack the country.

“The national guard resisted a lot because there was aggression, on the part of the migrants,” he told reporters. “They didn’t fall in the trap of responding with violence, which is possibly what the leaders of these caravans and our political adversaries were looking for.”

Cabinet ministers parroted the same line: “In no way was there an act of repression,” said the interior minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero. “A tragedy was avoided,” said the foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard.

The National Immigration Institute, meanwhile, said that it had “rescued” 800 migrants – using the word as a euphemism for “arrested”.

As he swept to power in 2018, Amlo promised to end a bitter history of government repression: under successive administrations, soldiers and police have often been deployed to disperse – and disappear – protesters and opposition activists.

“Mexico has a long history of its government acting out against its citizens,” said Esteban Illades, editor of the magazine Nexos.

But the arrival of migrant caravans from Central America has exposed the extreme ideological promiscuity of Mexican politics. Like his ministers, members of Amlo’s coalition have followed the president’s lead and turned against the caravans.

Source: ‘Mexico has become Trump’s wall’: how Amlo became an immigration enforcer

Scoop: Trump to target “birth tourism” in new immigration fight

Will be interesting to see if this proposal proceeds and, if so, the inevitable implementation and court challenges:

The Trump administration has a new target on the immigration front — pregnant women visiting from other countries — with plans as early as this week to roll out a new rule cracking down on “birth tourism,” three administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has threatened to end birthright citizenshipand railed against immigrant “anchor babies.” The new rule would be one of the first tangible steps to test how much legal authority the administration has to prevent foreigners from taking advantage of the 14th Amendment’s protection of citizenship for anyone born in the U.S.

  • “This change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” a State Department official told Axios.
  • The regulation is also part of the administration’s broader efforts to intensify the vetting process for visas, according to another senior administration official.

The big picture: “Birth tourists” often come to the U.S. from China, Russia and Nigeria, according to the AP.

  • There’s no official count of babies born to foreign visitors in the U.S., while the immigration restrictionist group Center for Immigration Studies — which has close ties to Trump administration immigration officials — puts estimates at around 33,000 every year.

How the new regulation would work: It would alter the requirements for B visas (or visitor visas), giving State Department officials the authority to deny foreigners the short-term business and tourism visas if they believe the process is being used to facilitate automatic citizenship.

  • It’s unclear yet how the rule would be enforced — whether officials would be directed to consider pregnancy or the country of the woman’s citizenship in determining whether to grant a visa.
  • Consular officers who issue passports and visas “are remarkably skilled at sussing out true versus false claims,” the senior official said.
  • “The underlying practical issue is that very few people who give birth in the U.S. got a visa for that specific purpose. Most people already have visas and come in later,” according to Jeffrey Gorsky, former chief legal adviser in the State Department visa office.

This is but one step in the administration’s plans to make it harder for people from other countries to benefit from birthright citizenship.

  • “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” the senior official said. “Just the legal recognition that this is improper and wrong and not allowed is a significant step forward.”
  • The plans to address the use of B visas for birth tourism were included in the latest version of the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.
  • Immigration experts expect there to be a similar rule for Customs and Border Protection to go along with the State Department’s regulation.

What to watch: Most of Trump’s major immigration moves have been met with lawsuits. If the regulation leaves it to officers’ discretion to ensure that B visas aren’t used for birth tourism, it would be difficult to challenge in court, according to Lynden Melmed, an attorney and former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  • “State Department officials have all the discretion in the world to deny people visas,” said Sarah Pierce of the Migration Policy Institute. Foreign nationals who are outside the U.S. and have not yet received visas “don’t have a lot of legal standing.”
  • But specific restrictions that could keep out non-birth tourism visitors — such as pregnant women coming to the U.S. for business, etc. — would be legally questionable, according to Melmed and Gorsky.

Source: Scoop: Trump to target “birth tourism” in new immigration fight

From India to US, a citizenship crisis is burning across the world

Dispiriting reading:

Across the world, there are fires burning and they are not only climate-change induced or climate threatening. The concept of who is a citizen of a nation and what are their rights has become a burning topic.

Under President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilians who are Amazonian Indians are increasingly under threat. In Bolivia, the fall of leader Evo Morales has disenfranchised indigenous Bolivians. Many living under US President Donald Trump are worried about their lives and the well-being of their families, and fear deportation despite being an integral part of American socioeconomics.

As Brexit looms, there is trepidation among many Europeans who have made Britain their home. The Roma in many parts of Europe continue to face persecution from their governments.

There are upheavals in the middle economies of the world too, with millions in Hong Kong and tens of millions in India facing an uncertain future. The unfulfilled obligations in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong government’s increasing coordination with Beijing has unsettled many citizens of the special administrative region.

In India, the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has decided to implement a two-pronged strategy which threatens the country’s secular ethos. This government’s amendment of a 1955 citizenship act grants citizenship to refugees from neighbouring countries belonging to religions other than Islam. This legislation has been amended in the past to limit citizenship to those having at least one Indian parent and, later, to the parent not being an illegal immigrant.

Simultaneously, there is a plan to conduct a biblically inspired National Register of Citizens which will be the arbiter on the citizenship of each Indian. Though the implementation of both or either is perceived as targeting Muslims, the collateral damage will be in the millions because many people do not have, or have insufficient, documents to prove their citizenship.

Source: From India to US, a citizenship crisis is burning across the world

ICYMI USA: Not on form, but brawl over citizenship question continues

We shall see the net result of these efforts on census participation once the Census is complete and analysed:

The U.S. Supreme Court decided a citizenship question won’t be on this spring’s census form, but that doesn’t mean the fight over it has ended in courtrooms across the country.

In Maryland, civil rights groups are trying to block an order from President Donald Trump to gather citizenship data through administrative records. In New York, other civil rights groups are seeking sanctions against Trump administration attorneys for not turning over documents related to the citizenship question’s origins. Democratic lawmakers in the District of Columbia are fighting for similar documents, and Alabama officials are suing the Census Bureau to keep immigrants living in the country illegally from being counted during the process that determines the number of congressional seats each state gets.

All of the lawsuits touch on whether the number of citizens, instead of the total population, will be used for redistricting or apportionment — the process of divvying up congressional seats among the states after the 2020 census. Opponents say doing so would dilute the influence of minorities and Democrats, which they argue was the true intent of the Trump administration’s desire to add a citizenship question in the first place.

The U.S. Constitution specifies that congressional districts should be based on how many people — not citizens — live there. But the legal requirements are murkier for state legislative districts.

Source: Not on form, but brawl over citizenship question continues

USA: Why Hostility to Immigration Runs So Deep

Good commentary regarding some of the causes of the hostility of many Americans to immigration, largely based on misperceptions and not the actual evidence, and the contrast with Canadian support based on immigration that favours skilled workers.

Given US discussions of their H1-B visa program (workers for the tech industry), not convinced that this would change anti-immigration discourse much:

Public opinion about immigration is hard to understand. Americans express more favorable views toward immigration since Donald Trump was elected president:

But these poll numbers come with several caveats. First, the surge in support for immigration might simply be a reactionto the xenophobia of the Trump administration and could fade after he leaves office. Second, the polls say little about the salience of the issue to the two sides; opponents of immigration might be more motivated than advocates, and thus fight harder. Finally, it’s worth noting that even now, those who support decreasing immigration outnumber those who back increasing it. And this data is just for the U.S.; other countries may be going in the opposite direction.

Why does the public seem to have an anti-immigration bias? The bulk of the data shows that immigrants, at least in the U.S., are a healthy and positive force. They are highly upwardly mobile. They make outsized contributions to technology and industry. They don’t push down the wages of native-born workers and in the case of high-skilled immigrants they even raise them. They commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans. They pay plenty of taxes that help support local and state governments. They revitalize dying small towns and blighted neighborhoods. Why are so many Americans wary of what seems on paper like an unadulterated good?

One possible reason is that Americans, though more positive toward diversity than those in many other countries, also worry that their culture will be diluted by newcomers. Racial prejudice toward immigrants from nonwhite countries plays a role as well. And politics may also be a factor; because children of immigrants tend to vote for the Democrats, Republicans may fear that immigration poses a threat to their electoral strength.

But on top of all this, anti-immigration sentiment may be intertwined with suspicion of the welfare state. People may overestimate the amount of public resources spent on immigrants. And they may be less willing to distribute government benefits to people from other countries.

That’s the upshot of a recent paper by economists Alberto Alesina, Armando Miano and Stefanie Stantcheva. The authors conducted detailed surveys with 24,000 native-born people in six developed Western countries — the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Sweden and Italy. What they discovered is a pervasive tangle of misperceptions.

First, native-born people in all the countries surveyed tend to substantially overestimate the number of immigrants. Across the entire demographic and political spectrum, people said that the share of immigrants in their countries was about 10 to 15 percentage points higher than it actually was. They also tended to make mistakes about the people coming in, overestimating the share of Muslim immigrants and underestimating the share of Christian ones (except in France). And they tended to underestimate immigrants’ share of the highly educated workforce. The researchers also found that people tended to assume that immigrants receive more welfare benefits than the native-born.

So many people in rich countries seem to think of immigration much the way it’s depicted on the famous poem on the Statue of Liberty — a tired, hungry, poor huddled mass. Even those who normally support the welfare state might be inclined to curb benefits if their country was faced with such a teeming horde of needy newcomers. That inclination will be even stronger among those who don’t like the idea of the welfare state in the first place, who blame the poor for their poverty, who simply don’t care about foreigners, or who buy into racist stereotypes. In a follow-up paper, Alesina and Stancheva show mathematically how all of these factors combine to reduce support for welfare.

Sure enough, Alesina and his colleagues found that when they ask people questions about immigration before asking them about redistribution (rather than afterward), their support for the welfare state goes down. Unsurprisingly, the effect is stronger among conservatives.

So immigration seems likely to reduce support for redistribution. But advanced countries all have big welfare states and are unlikely to abandon them up any time soon. Instead, it seems likely that many will try to shut the gates to foreigners instead.

Those who know the benefits of immigration will have trouble formulating a response. Information campaigns telling people that immigrants are a net fiscal positive seem unlikely to work (the Alesina study, for example, found that respondents weren’t very interested in learning actual facts after the survey was over). Campaigning against racism and negative stereotypes of the undeserving poor may help, but changing deep-seated attitudes is always an uphill battle.

One approach might be to admit more skilled immigrants. Studies show that educated immigrants contribute much more in tax revenue than they take out; most people instinctively know that engineers or doctors are not likely to claim welfare benefits.

Tilting the immigration system toward skilled workers, as Canada and other countries do, won’t just help keep government coffers flush — it might help preserve broad support for both immigration and the welfare state, even in the face of stubborn public misperceptions.

Source: Why Hostility to Immigration Runs So Deep

USA: New Immigration Fees To Hit Businesses Hard

Quite striking. Continues to strengthen the “Canadian advantage” in attracting high-skilled immigrants:

Will “Pay more for less service” be the Trump administration’s new marketing slogan for businesses dealing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)? The administration plans to raise fees more than 50% for many business applications, while workers will need to pay more to become citizens or gain permanent residence.

On November 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule that would increase fees across key business immigration categories, in essence, levying a tax increase on employers that access the global market for labor. The fee increases come at a time when U.S. job openings in 2019 outnumbered the unemployed by “the widest gap ever,” which, along with a large body of economic research, undermines the argument that immigrants prevent natives from finding jobs.

The fee increases are unlikely to reduce processing times at the agency because USCIS states in the rule that it will not change the policies that have created the longer delays. Lack of money does not seem to be the problem: The average USCIS case processing time increased by 91% between FY 2014 and FY 2018, at the same time the agency’s budget rose by 30%, according to USCIS data, notes the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Processing times became longer at the agency even when the number of new cases dropped by over one million between FY 2017 and FY 2018.

Case processing times have increased in the past few years due to:

  • The USCIS director requiring adjudicators to no longer defer to prior adjudications when evaluating extension of status applications, which has led to a larger workload and compelled many experienced employees of tech companies to leave the United States.
  • The administration employing terms such as “heightened screening and vetting” of applications to justify resource-intensive checks without analysis as to their benefit.
  • USCIS transferring resources, including personnel, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A close reading of the proposed fee regulation indicates USCIS will continue and, in some cases, expand these policies.

Below is a summary of the proposed fee changes by visa category:

H-1B and L-1 Visas: The fee for L visa petitions will increase by 77%, rising from $460 to $815. The fee for an H-1B petition will rise by 22%, from $460 to $560.

If enacted, much higher fees will be imposed on companies with more than 50 employees that have at least 50% of their workforce in H-1B and L-1 status. USCIS proposes in the fee regulation to reinterpret the law to impose an additional $4,000 fee not just on initial H-1B petitions and a $4,500 fee on initial L-1 petitions, as is the current practice laid out in the statute (Public Law 114-113). USCIS also proposes to impose the fee for extensions when the fraud prevention and detection fee is not collected.

“USCIS’s proposed change in how it interprets the applicability of the Public Law 114-113 fee is unreasonable and clearly unlawful as it runs counter to clear statutory language indicating the 50/50 fees should only apply to petition filings where the fraud prevention and detection fee is also required,” according to Vic Goel, managing partner of Goel & Anderson, LLC. “Given that this proposed interpretation is also diametrically opposite to USCIS’s own longstanding interpretation of this provision, it raises questions about the agency’s motivations for this change after so many years.” (See here for more on the legislative history.)

Other High-Skilled Employment Visas: USCIS is increasing a range of high-skilled visa petitions by more than 50%. Petitions for O visas (extraordinary ability/achievement) would rise by 55%, from $460 to $715. Fees would increase by 53%, from $460 to $705, for petitions for the TN (NAFTA professionals), E (treaty traders and investors), P (athletes/entertainers), Q (cultural exchange) and R (religious workers) categories, as well as for H-3 visas for training. USCIS will change the current I-129 form, now used for multiple categories, and rename the forms based on the visa type.

Premium Processing: USCIS proposes to change premium processing. The cost will remain the same. However, USCIS will now process a case within 15 business days, rather than the current 15 calendar days. That means it will take longer for employers to receive decisions when paying the additional $1,440 premium processing fee.

H-2A and H-2B Visas: The current fee for H-2A (seasonal agricultural) and H-2B (seasonal nonagricultural) petitions is $460. USCIS proposes to raise the fee for H-2A to $860 and H-2B to $725 for petitions with named workers and limiting an application to 25 workers. Costs for employers could rise considerably, since H-2A and H-2B petitions can now list 100 or more workers.

Increasing Costs for Workers, Including for Adjustment of Status: In its comments to the proposed fee rule, AILA notes applicants for adjustment of status (obtaining permanent residence inside the U.S.) will “see at least a 75% increase in the total cost of filing forms I-485 [for adjustment of status], I-765 [for employment authorization] and I-131 [for a travel document].” That is because USCIS will now charge separate fees for the three forms.

USCIS would increase the cost of the application to become a U.S. citizen by more than 80%, rising from $640 to $1,170 (although a separate $85 biometrics fee would be eliminated). USCIS would also raise the cost for an asylum applicant to apply for an employment authorization document from the current zero to $490, one of many policy changes to discourage asylum applications.

Doug Rand of Boundless said in an interview to anticipate at least two or three months into 2020 before a final rule on the fee increases is published. He believes lawsuits and preliminary injunctions are both possible.

Businesses are not pleased with the USCIS proposal to raise fees. “Many companies . . . consider this proposal as imposing increased costs on them for, at best, the same suboptimal services they current receive from USCIS,” commented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The best way to understand the plan to increase fees is as another tax or tariff. It is aimed at admitting fewer immigrants, foreign-born workers and professionals by taxing them more. Given America’s demographic issues, the country’s demand for labor and the increasing importance of high-skilled workers, economists would question the wisdom of the administration’s policies.

Source: New Immigration Fees To Hit Businesses Hard

Homeland Security to share citizenship data with Census Bureau

Not surprising and there will certainly be some data issues as flagged, one’s that the administration will of course dismiss given the intent is more to disenfranchise minority voters and reduce the population count of states with higher numbers of immigrants (legal and other):

The Department of Homeland Security is agreeing to share citizenship information with the U.S. Census Bureau as part of President Donald Trump’s order to collect data on who is a citizen following the Supreme Court’s rejection of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form.

Trump’s order is being challenged in federal court, but meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security two weeks ago announced the agreement in a report. It said the agency would share administrative records to help the Census Bureau determine the number of citizens and non-citizens in the U.S., as well as the number of immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Information to be shared includes personally identifiable data, the Homeland Security document says. Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from releasing personally identifiable data, and the bureau says in its fact-sheet on privacy, “Your answers can only be used to produce statistics — they cannot be used against you in any way.”

The Census Bureau has promised the data will be kept for no more than two years, and will then be destroyed, according to the agreement. The data will be used to help the Census Bureau create a model estimating the likelihood that each person in the U.S. is a citizen, non-citizen or an immigrant in the country without legal permission.

Among the information Homeland Security will provide is a person’s alien identification number, country of birth and date of naturalization or naturalization application. The department is awaiting word on whether it will be allowed to release information on asylum and refugee applicants, which typically is prohibited from being disclosed.

Because a person’s citizenship status can change often over time, the citizenship data provided by Homeland Security will likely be inaccurate, said Andrea Senteno, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of the civil rights groups challenging Trump’s order in federal court in Maryland.

“The information out there over whether someone is a non-citizen or what type of immigrant status they may be is going to have a lot of holes in it,” Senteno said.

The Homeland Security document acknowledges risks that the Census Bureau will assign an inaccurate immigration status to someone, that people won’t be able to correct mistakes about themselves and that Homeland Security information will be linked inaccurately to data from other sources used by the Census Bureau.

“Linking records between datasets is not likely to be 100% accurate,” the Homeland Security document notes.

Trump ordered the Census Bureau to collect citizenship information through administrative records from federal agencies and the 50 states after the Supreme Court ruled against his administration last summer by deciding that a citizenship question wouldn’t be allowed on this spring’s 2020 Census questionnaire.

The administration had said the question was being added to aid in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box. But Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in saying the administration’s current justification for the question “seems to have been contrived.”

Opponents of the citizenship question had argued it would scare off immigrants, Hispanics and others from participating in the once-a-decade headcount. The 2020 Census will help determine how many congressional seats each state gets as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funds.

The federal lawsuit challenging Trump’s order to collect the citizenship data claims that the data gathering is motivated by “a racially discriminatory scheme” to reduce the political power of Latinos and increase the representation of non-Latino whites.

As part of the order, the U.S. Census Bureau has asked state drivers’ license bureaus for records, but so far only Nebraska has agreed to cooperate.

Gathering the citizenship data would give the states the option to design state and legislative districts using voter-age citizen numbers instead of the total population, Trump said in the order. The U.S. Constitution specifies that congressional districts should be based on how many people — not citizens — live there. But it’s murkier for many state legislative districts. Opponents fear that using just citizen figures would make legislative districts more Republican-leaning and less diverse.

“Whether that approach is permissible will be resolved when a state actually proposes a districting plan based on the voter-eligible population,” Trump’s order said. “But because eligibility to vote depends in part on citizenship, states could more effectively exercise this option with a more accurate and complete count of the citizen population.”

Source: Homeland Security to share citizenship data with Census Bureau

The 2010s’ grim legacy: the decade of the far right

Of note, and Canada to date remains an exception:

The past decade was the decade of the far right.

In January 2010, leftist and centrist politicians led three of the largest democracies in the world: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil), Manmohan Singh (India) and Barack Obama (US). In December 2019, all three countries have far-right leaders: Jair Bolsonaro, Narendra Modi and Donald Trump. In Europe, center-left parties have been decimated, while mainstream right parties mainly survive by adopting frames and policies from the radical right. Only Germany still has the same center-right leader, Angela Merkel, but that will probably change in the next year, too.

This political sea change is in large part the (delayed) consequence of demographic, economic and social shifts. After 9/11, the political debate in many countries shifted from socio-economic to socio-cultural issues. Even the Great Recession only changed this temporarily; once the dust over the bailouts had settled, immigration and security quickly replaced austerity and economic inequality as defining issues once again.

Source: The 2010s’ grim legacy: the decade of the far right

Our Reaction to Anti-Semitism Is Both Overblown and Underdeveloped

A different perspective than that of Deborah Lipstadt (Jews Are Going Underground: Lipstadt) and the contrast between the USA and Europe, along with the need for all sides of the political spectrum to take antisemitism seriously.

Canada more like the USA but welcome comments and view:

We American Jews enter a new decade that feels like a much older one. Fresh off murderous and violent attacks on Jews in Jersey City, Monsey, and across Brooklyn, resurgent anti-Semitism and the resulting fear for our physical safety is for many American Jews a new phenomenon and one we never thought we would experience. Uncertainty is gripping the Jewish community and the new decade feels as if it will be a pivotal one for the quality and sustainability of American Jewish life as we know it. It strikes me that we are both overreacting and underreacting at the same time and need to recalibrate our approach.

What we have seen on the streets of the New York metropolitan area, and the fear that it has engendered, seems out of place here. It is reminiscent of scenes from European cities, where Jews are attacked for displaying outward signs of Judaism, or attacked for the offense of speaking Hebrew in public, or attacked in their homes for nothing beyond the crime of being Jewish. Orthodox residents of Crown Heights and Williamsburg are afraid to walk the streets or send their children to school. None of this is normal, none of this is acceptable, and it should not be treated as either. And it is not incumbent upon American Jews to find a solution; it is incumbent upon our elected political leaders and American society writ large to find a solution. When Jews are afraid to be Jewish, it says absolutely nothing about the victims and everything about the perpetrators and anyone or anything that abets them.

Yet while making sure that this problem is dealt with swiftly and comprehensively, it is also important to diagnose the breadth of the problem accurately. Deborah Lipstadt has forgotten more about anti-Semitism than I will ever know, but her speculation that American Jews may end up imitating medieval Spanish Marranos – hidden Jews who privately maintained their Judaism while outwardly appearing as Christian converts – by going underground strikes me as inapt. Spain’s Jews faced a choice at the end of the fifteenth century of expulsion, conversion, or death. The entire force of the Spanish state, intertwined as it was with the Catholic church, was brought to bear against the country’s Jews. Hiding one’s Judaism was not about avoiding potential danger, but in response to a fatal decree from absolutist monarchs. While a step down from the Inquisition and Torquemada, the environments created by the ruling class of Tsarist Russia that fomented pogroms or by Soviet leaders that sanctioned anti-Jewish discrimination were also the result of official state policies, of governments giving the green light to or directly leading anti-Semitic mobs.

Contrast that to the reaction of federal, state, and municipal governments to the anti-Semitic incidents in New York and New Jersey. They have been denounced by the president, governors, mayors, and members of Congress. Elected leaders have promised to devote resources toward combatting anti-Semitic attitudes and protecting Jewish institutions and have rushed to demonstrate solidarity with the Jewish community. Until words are turned into actions, we should withhold judgment on the seriousness and efficacy of these promises. But that the wall to wall reaction is to condemn anti-Semitism and evince a desire to remove its scourge demonstrates why the situation in the U.S. is a universe away from the ones that previous generations of Jews fled from in Europe.

As for Jews going underground in Europe today, it is indeed frightening and saddening. But it is unfortunately not a recent occurrence. It is the norm in Europe, whereas in the U.S. it remains the exception. I do not dismiss or make light of college students who feel compelled to downplay their Judaism or their Zionism. If it happens to even one person, that is one person too many. But we are not at the point in the U.S. where we have blast walls and machine gun-toting guards outside of our synagogues, where we have to ask a local for the address of a kosher restaurant that has no visible markings or identification as such, or where government officials issue warnings against wearing kippot in public, nor do I think we ever will be. Not for nothing is anti-Semitism described as the world’s oldest and most persistent hatred, and it should be clear to all American Jews that we will never be free of it entirely. Jews will be killed for being Jews, and it is small comfort to point out that such incidents remain exceptional. But it is premature to declare that it is open season on American Jews, that American Jewish life is fated to retreat behind high walls and closed doors, and that past is prologue.

All that said, there have been too many recent instances of American Jews not taking the current moment seriously enough, and nearly all of them revolve around some form of excusing inconvenient anti-Semitism away. We have all seen this in doses over the past few years, with a camp that kicks into high gear over right-wing white nationalist anti-Semitism but is blind and deaf to the far left variety that inherently views Jews as oppressors, and a camp that has a hair trigger for the anti-Semitism of progressive intersectionality but is blinded to right-wing classically anti-Semitic stereotypes by the glow of the Jerusalem embassy. On both sides, this has to end. It cannot be that the far right and the far left, despite the chasm that separates their worldviews, can manage to be united in their sneering hatred of Jews while we Jews ourselves cannot manage to be united in combatting that hatred.

If your response to the Jersey City or Monsey attacks was that it is a complicated situation, you are not serious about anti-Semitism. If your response to any display of anti-Semitism is some form of whataboutism in insisting that the other side’s is worse or more dangerous, you are not serious about anti-Semitism. If you think that it is okay to rail about globalist Jews as long as you support Iron Dome or West Bank settlements, or that it is okay to rail against evil Zionists so long as you display phantom nuance by separating them from good non-Zionist Jews, you are not serious about anti-Semitism. And if your reaction to a politician who proudly stands next to Robert “Judaism leads people to an eternity of separation from God in Hell” Jeffress differs at all from your reaction to a politician who proudly stands next to Louis “Jews are the mother and father of apartheid” Farrakhan, you should think about whether you are more interested in combatting anti-Semitism or more interested in weaponizing it. If we want to make sure that anti-Semitism remains unacceptable, then we have to treat it as such no matter the source, the target, or the ostensible motivation.

Source: Our Reaction to Anti-Semitism Is Both Overblown and Underdeveloped