NYT SATIRE: Bret Stephens Says Only Mass Deportation (Of “So-Called ‘Real Americans'”) Can Make America Really Great!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/opinion/only-mass-deportation-can-save-america.html

Bret Stephens writes:

“In the matter of immigration, mark this conservative columnist down as strongly pro-deportation. The United States has too many people who don’t work hard, don’t believe in God, don’t contribute much to society and don’t appreciate the greatness of the American system.

They need to return whence they came.

I speak of Americans whose families have been in this country for a few generations. Complacent, entitled and often shockingly ignorant on basic points of American law and history, they are the stagnant pool in which our national prospects risk drowning.

On point after point, America’s nonimmigrants are failing our country. Crime? A study by the Cato Institute notes that nonimmigrants are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of illegal immigrants, and at more than three times the rate of legal ones.

Educational achievement? Just 17 percent of the finalists in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search — often called the “Junior Nobel Prize” — were the children of United States-born parents. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, just 9.5 percent of graduate students in electrical engineering were nonimmigrants.

Religious piety — especially of the Christian variety? More illegal immigrants identify as Christian (83 percent) than do Americans (70.6 percent), a fact right-wing immigration restrictionists might ponder as they bemoan declines in church attendance.

Business creation? Nonimmigrants start businesses at half the rate of immigrants, and accounted for fewer than half the companies started in Silicon Valley between 1995 and 2005. Overall, the share of nonimmigrant entrepreneurs fell by more than 10 percentage points between 1995 and 2008, according to a Harvard Business Review study.

Nor does the case against nonimmigrants end there. The rate of out-of-wedlock births for United States-born mothers exceeds the rate for foreign-born moms, 42 percent to 33 percent. The rate of delinquency and criminality among nonimmigrant teens considerably exceeds that of their immigrant peers. A recent report by the Sentencing Project also finds evidence that the fewer immigrants there are in a neighborhood, the likelier it is to be unsafe.

Photo

Immigrants cheering at the start of a naturalization ceremony in Atlanta last fall. CreditDavid Goldman/Associated Press

And then there’s the all-important issue of demographics. The race for the future is ultimately a race for people — healthy, working-age, fertile people — and our nonimmigrants fail us here, too. “The increase in the overall number of U.S. births, from 3.74 million in 1970 to 4.0 million in 2014, is due entirely to births to foreign-born mothers,” reports the Pew Research Center. Without these immigrant moms, the United States would be faced with the same demographic death spiral that now confronts Japan.

Bottom line: So-called real Americans are screwing up America. Maybe they should leave, so that we can replace them with new and better ones: newcomers who are more appreciative of what the United States has to offer, more ambitious for themselves and their children, and more willing to sacrifice for the future. In other words, just the kind of people we used to be — when “we” had just come off the boat.”

. . . .

Beyond the inhumanity of toying with people’s lives this way, there’s also the shortsightedness of it. We do not usually find happiness by driving away those who would love us. Businesses do not often prosper by firing their better employees and discouraging job applications. So how does America become great again by berating and evicting its most energetic, enterprising, law-abiding, job-creating, idea-generating, self-multiplying and God-fearing people?

Because I’m the child of immigrants and grew up abroad, I have always thought of the United States as a country that belongs first to its newcomers — the people who strain hardest to become a part of it because they realize that it’s precious; and who do the most to remake it so that our ideas, and our appeal, may stay fresh.

That used to be a cliché, but in the Age of Trump it needs to be explained all over again. We’re a country of immigrants — by and for them, too. Americans who don’t get it should get out.”

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Read the rest of Stephens’s op-ed at the link.

As I often say, only naturalized citizens had to go through a merit-based process to obtain their U.S. citizenship. For the rest of us, it was just an accident of birth that we personally did nothing to deserve or merit.

PWS

06–18-17

THE ATLANTIC: Priscilla Alvarez Analyzes The Trump/GOP Push For “Merit-Based” Immigration!

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/trump-cotton-perdue-merit-based-immigration-system/518985/

Alvarez writes:

“President Trump’s proposal to shift towards a “merit-based” immigration system would upend an approach that has existed for half a century.

Since the 1960s, the United States’ immigration system has largely based entry on family ties, giving preference to those with relatives who are citizens. But in his first address to a joint session of Congress in February, Donald Trump proposed moving away from that policy, focusing instead on an immigration system that would prioritize high-skilled immigrants.

Trump and his advisors have argued that the current levels of immigration harm American workers by lowering wages and preventing assimilation. A merit-based system, restrictionist advocates believe, would help lower immigration rates and ensure that the immigrants who do come are high-skilled workers who never need public assistance. “The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers,” Trump said in his speech to Congress.

While the president has yet to offer details, a merit-based system would pose its own challenges to economic prosperity. Critics believe that  a merit-based system that prioritizes high-skilled workers could hurt the economy by harming industries that rely on low-skill immigrant labor, and that fears that immigrants are not assimilating or are overly reliant on the social safety net are overblown.

The first example of the U.S. establishing qualifications for new immigrants was in 1917, when the government imposed a literacy test on those seeking to enter the country. In the 1960s, Congress lifted restrictions that heavily curtailed immigration from non-European nations, and reshaped the immigration system toward prioritizing admission of close relatives of immigrants already living in the United States. The overwhelming majority of immigrants are now admitted through that family-preference system, which significantly changed the ethnic composition of U.S. immigrant population by admitting more Latin American and Asian immigrants.

In 2015, for example, of the more than one million legal permanent residents admitted, “44 percent were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, [and] 20 percent entered through a family-sponsored preference,” according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Only 14 percent of those admitted came through a job-based preference. The “merit-based” immigration system, in theory, would increase the latter figure, as it would prioritize those who are highly educated and therefore considered more employable.

Such a policy would likely limit the supply of low-skilled workers, and might allow the administration to filter which immigrants it chooses to admit. And a merit-based immigration system could also help realize a longtime conservative policy goal—a reduction in the number of immigrants admitted overall.

Some Republican lawmakers have already pushed for legislation that would limit legal immigration. Last month, Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue introduced legislation that would cut the number of immigrants legally admitted to the United States in half. It would do so in part by limiting the number of family members immigrants can sponsor for citizenship, a policy long sought by immigration restrictionist groups.

Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports curtailing immigration, said a merit-based approach could reduce the flow of immigrants coming into the United States. “The merit-system is also a surrogate for moving away from a system that the country doesn’t really get to control and regulate how many come in every year and who they are because of chain migration, the family-preference system,” Stein said, adding that a points system would be one part of the whole.

Nevertheless, assessing “merit” is difficult. A system that deliberately excluded low-skilled workers might raise labor costs in industries that rely on those workers, increasing prices for consumers but boosting wages for workers.”

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Read the full article at the link.

Third-year law student Saurabh Gupta introduced this article as part of our class discussion of “Family-Based Immigration” during my Immigration Law and Policy class at Georgetown Law last week. Needless to say, it provoked a lively and informative discussion, with students exploring the arguments on both sides as well of the practicalities of running such a system on a larger scale.

PWS

06-10-17

WANTED: MORE IMMIGRANTS TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT! — Trump Administration’s “White Nationalism” Likely Road To National Disaster!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/opinion/sunday/to-be-great-again-america-needs-immigrants.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

Rushir Sharma writes in the NY Times Sunday Review:

“In short, the standard innovation theory of American exceptionalism is all about qualities that make each worker more productive. Today, nearly all the economic discussion about how to make America great again focuses on ways — like cutting red tape and taxes — to revive flagging productivity growth.

Though this discussion remains critically important, it plays down a big shift in the story. The underlying growth potential of any economy is shaped not only by productivity, or output per worker, but also by the number of workers entering the labor force. The growth of the labor force is in turn determined mainly by the number of native-born and immigrant working-age people. Over the last two decades, the United States’ advantage in productivity growth has narrowed sharply, while its population advantages, compared with both Europe and Japan, have essentially held steady.

What makes America great is, therefore, less about productivity than about population, less about Google and Stanford than about babies and immigrants.

The growing importance of the population race will be very hard for any political leader to fully digest. Every nation prefers to think of itself as productive in the sense of hard-working and smart, not just fertile. But population is where the real action is.

Comparing six of the leading developed countries — the United States, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia and Britain — I found that not only has productivity growth been slowing across the board in recent decades, but also that the gaps in productivity growth among these rich nations are narrowing sharply. For example, in the 1990s and 2000s, productivity was growing much faster in the United States than in Germany or Japan, but that advantage has largely disappeared in this decade.

The reasons for this convergence are complex, possibly having to do with the way production technology now spreads quickly across borders. But this trend spans the developed world, and it basically holds regardless of which two countries you compare, which should raise doubts about how any one country, including the United States, can regain a distinct economic advantage by focusing only on reviving productivity.

Which brings us back to babies and immigrants. Like productivity, population growth has been slowing worldwide in recent decades, the big difference being that the gaps among the rich nations are increasingly significant. In the 1960s the United States population growth rate averaged 1.2 percent, or 50 percent higher than Europe’s and about the same as Japan’s. By the late 1960s, population growth peaked worldwide because of the spread of birth control and other cultural shifts, but it has slowed much more gradually in the United States than in its rivals.

Since 2005, per capita gross domestic product has grown on average by 0.6 percent a year in the United States, exactly the same rate as in Japan and virtually the same rate as in the 19 nations of the eurozone. In other words, if it weren’t for the boost from babies and immigrants, the United States economy would look much like those supposed laggards, Europe and Japan.

Indeed, if the United States population had been growing as slowly as Japan’s over the last two decades, its share of the global economy would be just 15 percent, not the 25 percent it holds today.

Moreover, immigrants make a surprisingly big contribution to population growth. In the United States, immigrants have accounted for a third to nearly a half of population growth for decades. In other countries with Anglo-Saxon roots — Canada, Australia and Britain — immigrants have accounted for more than half of population growth over the past decade. Those economies have also been growing faster than their counterparts in the rest of Europe or Japan. But much of that advantage would have disappeared without their population advantage.

Politically, the irony of this moment is stark. Population growth is increasingly important as an economic force and is increasingly driven by immigration. Yet now along comes a new breed of nationalists, rising on the strength of their promises to limit immigration. And they have been especially successful in countries where anti-immigrant sentiment has run strong, including the United States and Britain.

. . . .

It would be unrealistic to imagine that hard economic logic will turn the anti-global, anti-foreign tide any time soon. So the likely result is that the United States and Britain will go ahead and limit immigration. To the extent they do — and their rivals do not — they will undermine their key economic edge, and cede much of the growth advantage they have enjoyed over Europe and Japan.”

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The “other people’s babies” crowd is driven by xenophobia and racism, not by any real desire for a great future for all Americans.

Meanwhile, tone-deaf Republicans, including Jeff Sessions, are calling for limits on legal immigration, without any credible factual or statistical basis to support their restrictionist agenda. Same goes for those who would limit family-based immigration in favor of some type of “point system” favoring highly skilled migrants.

The U.S. needs (and uses) migrant labor in all parts of the economy. If anything, migration, both legal and undocumented, at the “worker bee level” — farmworkers, construction  workers, food processors, child care workers, hospitality industry workers, janitors, and other service occupations — has been just as important to our growth and prosperity as a nation as have been scientists, researchers, professors, executives, star athletes, entertainers, and capitalists.

We need a comprehensive immigration reform package that not only legalizes those law-abiding immigrants already in  the workforce, but provides opportunities for significantly expanded legal immigration. Not only would this more realistic approach address our economic needs, but it also would be a better way to solve immigration enforcement issues than money spent on walls, detention, and more enforcement bureaucracy.

As the system more reasonably matches supply and demand, the pressure for migration outside the system decreases and the incentive for “getting in line” increases. Just good old capitalist theory applied to the oldest human phenomenon: migration.

PWS

05-07-17

THE PRESIDENCY: Draining The Swamp? — Hardly! — Now “it looks like we’ve got the Creature from the Black Lagoon in the White House.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-no-populist-hes-a-swamp-monster/2017/04/17/7029a4e0-23a2-11e7-b503-9d616bd5a305_story.html

Dana Milbank writes in an op-ed in today’s WashPost:

“Last year, Mark Meckler, one of the founders of the tea party movement, had concerns about Donald Trump but gave the Republican nominee the benefit of the doubt, because Trump “at least says he’s going to attack” the crony-capitalist system.

Now the conservative activist has revised his opinion. Trump “said he was going to D.C. to drain the swamp,” Meckler said in a recent Fox Business interview, but “now it looks like we’ve got the Creature from the Black Lagoon in the White House.”

For everybody else who believed Trump’s populist talk about tackling a rigged system, it’s time to recognize you’ve been had. The president of the United States is a swamp monster.

The billionaire has embraced a level of corporate control of the government that makes previous controversies involving corporate influence — Vice President Dick Cheney’s attempt in 2001 to keep secret the names of industry officials who participated in his energy task force, for example — seem quaint by comparison.

. . . .

Steven Aftergood, who runs the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, said Trump’s actions are testing “the character of the U.S. government” and raise the possibility of the government “devolving into some kind of corporate mutation where the wealthy and well-connected rule.”

Trump has made a series of policy reversals in recent days from his populist campaign positions — on Chinese currency, trade, the Export-Import Bank and more — as the nationalist influence of Steve Bannon fades. This isn’t solely because Trump has stocked his administration at the highest levels with fellow billionaires, corporate types such as son-in-law Jared Kushner and veterans of Goldman Sachs.

ProPublica and the New York Times reported over the weekend that the Trump administration is being populated with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who are making policy for the industries that had been paying them. The arrangement has violated Trump’s (already weakened) ethics rules, and the administration is secretly issuing waivers exempting the former lobbyists from rules blocking them from working on issues that would benefit their former clients. Trump White House officials had more than 300 recent corporate clients and employers, the Times reported, and more than 40 former lobbyists are now in the White House and federal government. The director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics says even he has “no idea how many waivers have been issued.”

And these corporations are set to get what they paid for.

My Post colleague Juliet Eilperin reported Sunday on some of the 168 requests corporate interests have made, and are likely to be given, for regulatory relief, many of them seeking reduced environmental protections and worker rights. BP wants to make it easier to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. The pavement industry wants a halt to research on the environmental impact of coal tar. And my favorite: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s request that employers no longer be required to report their injury and illness records electronically to the Labor Department.

This should give the lie to Trump’s claims that deregulation is about creating jobs. The Chamber is upset that the government “intends to post the injury and illness records on the internet for anyone to see,” because this “will provide unions and trial attorneys with information that can be taken out of context.” As The Post’s James Hohmann noted, Trump already signed legislation removing a rule requiring businesses seeking large federal contracts to disclose serious safety and labor-law violations.

Trump has a simple answer to those who question his attempts to conceal the corporate influence in his administration. As he tweeted Sunday in response to protests about his failure to release his tax returns: “The election is over!”

Can Trump marginalize those who question his plutocracy? Eric Liu, an expert on mobilization and author of the new book “You’re More Powerful Than You Think,” sees Trump’s abandonment of the little guy as an opening for a “nascent progressive populism.”

But be careful: You don’t have to have seen “Creature from the Black Lagoon” to know that, in the swamp-monster genre, the beast seldom goes quietly.”

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When the most “popular” things our President has done since taking office are to shoot missiles, drop a big bomb, and threaten a “rogue nation” with an unstable leader and lots of weapons, without the semblance of an achievable “end game,” you know our country is in big trouble. Big time!

PWS

04-18-17

WashPost: H-1B Review Part Of EO On Jobs To Be Signed In Badgerland On Tuesday!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/04/17/after-a-series-of-flip-flops-trump-prepares-to-deliver-on-a-key-campaign-pledge/?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.505868d54ef2

Tracy Jan and Max Ehrenfreund report:

“President Trump plans to sign an executive order in Wisconsin on Tuesday that the White House says will make it harder for tech companies to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor, and will strengthen rules barring foreign contractors from bidding on government projects, according to senior administration officials.

The officials, in a background call with reporters, said Trump will direct the Departments of Labor, Justice, State and Homeland Security to crack down on fraud and abuse in guest-worker programs by issuing new immigration rules.

The president will also direct the Department of Commerce to review federal procurement rules and trade agreements with a view to putting American firms at an advantage when it comes to winning contracts.

The officials pitched the twin directives as benefiting working- and middle-class Americans who have suffered for too long under unfair trade and immigration rules.

“This is the policy that ensures no one gets left behind in America anymore — that we protect our industry from unfair competition, favor the products produced by our fellow citizens and make certain that when jobs open those jobs are given to American workers first,” the White House said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear how much the administration could accomplish without cooperation from Congress.

“Sweeping changes are going to require congressional action,” said Lynden Melmed, an immigration attorney who had served as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief counsel within the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.

However, industry experts said Trump’s executive order was a good first step to protecting the U.S. defense industrial base, and U.S. firms that do business with the federal government.

“It’s one of the few presidential exertions in recent time, that holds out the hope of saving U.S. industrial jobs,” said Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant and the chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute in Arlington.”

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PWS

04-18-17

WashPost: Administration Warns Employers Not To Use H-1B Program To “Dis” U.S. Workers!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-tells-companies-not-to-overlook-qualified-americans/2017/04/04/87fa4e06-1909-11e7-8598-9a99da559f9e_story.html?utm_term=.fe6b3da5783c

Sadie Gurman reports for the AP:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has issued a stern warning to U.S. companies as they begin applying for coveted skilled-worker visas, cautioning that it would investigate and prosecute those who overlook qualified American workers for jobs.

The message came on the opening day of applications for American employers seeking visas known as H-1B, which are used mostly by technology companies to bring in programmers and other specialized workers from other countries.

“U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims,” Tom Wheeler, acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

The Obama administration sued companies for violating the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provisions, including businesses that favored foreigners over U.S. workers. But Monday’s warning in a news release at the start of the visa process appeared to be a first-of-its kind signal to employers not to put American workers at a disadvantage.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also announced that it would step up its reviews of employers that use H-1B visas, saying “too many American workers who are qualified, willing and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.”

The statements were the latest indication that even legal immigration will be scrutinized under the Trump administration.”

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Interesting that Jeff Sessions and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are getting so involved in the H-1B program. Normally, H-1B enforcement would be a matter for the DHS, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices at the DOJ. But, I suppose without any voting rights or police abuse cases to investigate, the Civil Rights Division will have some time on its hands for taking on some new immigration enforcement responsibilities.

Another thought.  Rather than battling the Administration over the H-1B program and threatening to move tech operations to Canada and elsewhere if their demands are not met, why don’t U.S. tech companies and Democrats “think outside the box.”

Why not make areas of the “Rust Belt” with willing workers and high unemployment the new “Silicon Valley East?” Use H-1Bs to re-train U.S. workers for permanent jobs in technology. Build new offices or refurbish abandoned plants. Establish training programs with local community colleges and technical colleges. Fund some opioid addiction treatment programs to get capable workers off of drugs and into jobs where they have some future. Support regional airports in “the hinterlands” that Trump is trying to shut down.

Trump seems only vaguely interested in addressing the real problems of unemployed and underemployed workers. If he actually does succeed in so-called “health care reform,” (that is transferring money from the needy to the rich) their situation will become immeasurably worse. Futile grandstanding like relaxing environmental controls for an “ain’t gonna happen” revival of the coal industry, appointing Gov. Chris “The Bridge” Christie to a form a new governmental committee on opioid addiction, or having Jeff Sessions divert the Civil Rights Division into H-1B investigations aren’t serious attempts to address the issues.

But, so far, the Dems and the leaders of the tech industry have been largely MIA on practical solutions to these problems that Trump seems unlikely to address in any realistic manner. So, while the Dems are tilting at the “Gorsuch Windmill,” which I can guarantee you isn’t a concern for most “Dems turned Trump voters” in the Rust Belt, the opportunity for real leadership, genuine concern for U.S. workers, and demonstrated problem solving is going by the boards. Maybe that’s how Donald Trump became President with 46.4% of the vote.

Just proving once again the Trump might not have to act presidential or accomplish much of positive value to be a two-term President. And, as he has already shown, he can do that relatively easily even if he never attains the approval of the majority of Americans.

PWS

04/04/17

 

HISTORY: Matthew Yglesias In VOX Shows How Immigration Made America Great, Right From Our Beginning — It Wasn’t Always About Generosity To Others; It Was Mostly About What Made Us More Successful & Prosperous!

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/3/14624918/the-case-for-immigration

“George Washington set in motion a strategy so radical that it made this country the wealthiest and strongest on Earth — it made America great.

Immigration.

He embraced a vision for an open America that could almost be read today as a form of deep idealism or altruism. “America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions,” he told newly arrived Irishmen in 1783. He assured them they’d be “welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”

But Washington’s vision wasn’t primarily about charity or helping others. It was about building the kind of country that he wanted the United States to become. Greatness would require great people. America would need more than it had.

The contemporary debate around immigration is often framed around an axis of selfishness versus generosity, with Donald Trump talking about the need to put “America first” while opponents tell heartbreaking stories of deportations and communities torn apart. A debate about how to enforce the existing law tends to supersede discussion of what the law ought to say.

All of this misses the core point. Immigration to the United States has not, historically, been an act of kindness toward strangers. It’s been a strategy for national growth and national greatness.

. . . .

Last but by no means least, while it’s certainly true that Americans care about the average well-being of American citizens, we also care about something else — greatness, for lack of a better word.

In per capita income terms, the United States has, by most measures, been overtaken by Switzerland. The Netherlands is relatively close behind, and when you consider inequality and quality of public services, the typical Dutch person may well enjoy a higher standard of living than the typical American. This kind of thing matters. But at the same time, there is a reason that when Americans feel anxiety about national decline, they tend to think of China and not Switzerland. The Netherlands is a great place to live, but it hasn’t been a great nation since the early 17th century.

Aggregates matter, in other words.

If Americans had listened to the counsel of the Know-Nothing movement in the 1850s and drastically curtailed immigration from outside of Protestant Europe, it would probably still be a rich country today. But it would be a very different kind of rich country from the one we know — one with fewer, smaller cities mainly focused on exporting agricultural goods and other natural resources to the wider world. A place more like Canada or a supersize version of New Zealand, rather than an industrial and technological powerhouse that intervened decisively in two world wars and anchored a coalition of liberal states to defeat communism.

Going forward, demographers forecast that immigration — both the people it provides directly and the children that immigrants bear and raise — is the only reason America’s working-age population isn’t declining. This is doubly true when you consider that immigrants’ work in the household and child care sectors likely serves to increase native-born Americans’ childbearing as well.
A declining working-age population, seen already in Japan and some southern European countries, poses some serious challenges to a national economy. It tends to push interest rates down to an incredibly low level, making it difficult for central banks to respond to a recession. It also makes it more difficult to sustain public sector retirement programs and elder care more generally.

There are some offsetting upsides (less strain on transportation infrastructure, for example), and, like anything else, the problems are solvable. Fundamentally, however, an America that is shrinking is a country that is going to be a lesser force in the world than an America that is growing. It’s true, of course, that an America that continues to be open to immigrants will be a progressively less white and less Christian country over time. That’s a threatening prospect to many white Christian Americans, who implicitly identify the country in ethnic and sectarian terms. But America’s formal self-definition has never been in those terms.

And for those who believe in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the value of America’s ideals, accepting a future of decline and retreat in the name of ethnic purity should be unacceptable. That the more homogeneous America will be not just smaller and weaker but also poorer on a per capita basis only underscores what folly it would be to embrace the narrow vision. That hundreds of millions of people around the world would like to move to our shores — and that America has a long tradition of assimilating foreigners and a political mythos and civil culture that is conducive to doing so — is an enormous source of national strength.

It’s time we started to see it that way.”

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I had these same feelings about many of the “happy cases” that came through my courtroom in Arlington over the years. I was constantly impressed with the courage, dedication, determination, and under-appreciated skills of the folks who came before me. And, I felt inspired and optimistic that they had chosen, notwithstanding hardship and obstacles, to join our national community and help make America even greater. Building America, one case at a time.

PWS

04//03/17

WSJ: Needed: More Legal Immigration — Sorry DT, You, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, And Your Nationalistic Xenophobia Are Weighing Down The U.S. Economy And Costing Jobs!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/americas-growing-labor-shortage-1490829265

“President Trump approved the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, and good for him, but will there be enough workers to build it? That’s a serious question. Many American employers, especially in construction and agriculture, are facing labor shortages that would be exacerbated by restrictionist immigration policies.

Demographic trends coupled with a skills mismatch have resulted in a frustrating economic paradox: Millions of workers are underemployed even as millions of jobs go unfilled. The U.S. workforce is also graying, presenting a challenge for industries that entail manual labor.

Construction is ground zero in the worker shortage. Many hard-hats who lost their jobs during the recession left the labor force. Some found high-paying work in fossil fuels during the fracking boom and then migrated to renewables when oil prices tumbled. While construction has rebounded, many employed in the industry a decade ago are no longer there.

. . . .

Some restrictionists claim that cheap foreign labor is hurting low-skilled U.S. workers, but there’s little evidence for that. One Napa grower recently told the Los Angeles Times that paying even $20 an hour wasn’t enough to keep native workers on the farm.

. . . .

President Trump would compound the problem by reducing legal immigration or deporting unauthorized immigrants whose only crime is working without legal documentation. Low-skilled immigrants (those with 12 years of education or less) are estimated to account for nearly a third of the hours worked in agriculture and 20% in construction.

If President Trump wants employers to produce and build more in America, the U.S. will need to improve education and skills in manufacturing and IT. But the economy will also need more foreign workers, and better guest worker programs to bring them in legally.”

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Gee whiz, Donald, I’ll freely admit to not knowing much more about labor economics that you and your advisors do. But when the WSJ, the organ of GOP corporate America, says you’re barking up the wrong tree, perhaps you should listen, before it’s too late. Just a thought.

PWS

03/30/17

 

NYT EDITORIAL: Like Preceding Administrations, Trump Happy To Punish Workers, But Not So Much Employers Who Violate The Laws — Why We Need Sensible Immigration Reform Including Legalization Now!

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/opinion/no-crackdown-on-illegal-employers.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170320&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0&referer=

“President Trump began his campaign assailing immigrants as ruthless lawbreakers who steal American jobs with impunity. To halt them, he has vowed to build a wall along the border with Mexico, hire thousands of new immigration agents, ramp up immigrant detention and subject visa applicants to even more rigorous vetting. His administration has been largely silent, however, about the strongest magnet that has drawn millions of immigrants, legal and not, to the United States for generations: jobs.

American employers continue to assume relatively little risk by hiring undocumented immigrants to perform menial, backbreaking work, often for little pay. Meanwhile, as Mr. Trump’s deportation crackdown accelerates, families are being ripped apart, and communities of hard-working immigrants with deep roots in this country are gripped by fear and uncertainty. As long as employers remain off the hook, a border wall and an expanded dragnet can only make temporary dents in the flows of undocumented immigrants.”

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The truth is pretty obvious. Employers and businesspersons vote and contribute to both parties. And, as we know, “money talks.” It’s also very clear that these workers are fulfilling a continuing need in our economy. So, why not get everyone “on the books,” have taxes withheld, and document them?

While I don’t  believe the Administration’s hype about undocumented migrants threatening our national security, I do think that it is a good idea to find our exactly who we have here, get them their own working Social Security numbers, withhold Federal and State taxes, Social Security, and Medicare as appropriate, and run fingerprint and background screening to weed out any serious criminals or genuine security risks.

It’s long past time to ditch the xenophobia campaign and have the parties work together for meaningful immigration reform, including some type of legalization, reasonable and effective enforcement, and an independent U.S. Immigration Court.

PWS

03/20/17

THE ATLANTIC: Our Unhappy Immigration History — President Herbert Hoover’s Anti-Immigrant Policies Resulted In The “Mexican Repatriation” — U.S. Citizens Were The Majority Of Those Illegally Removed!

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/americas-brutal-forgotten-history-of-illegal-deportations/517971/

Alex Wagner writes:

“Back in Hoover’s era, as America hung on the precipice of economic calamity—the Great Depression—the president was under enormous pressure to offer a solution for increasing unemployment, and to devise an emergency plan for the strained social safety net. Though he understood the pressing need to aid a crashing economy, Hoover resisted federal intervention, instead preferring a patchwork of piecemeal solutions, including the targeting of outsiders.
According to former California State Senator Joseph Dunn, who in 2004 began an investigation into the Hoover-era deportations, “the Republicans decided the way they were going to create jobs was by getting rid of anyone with a Mexican-sounding name.”

“Getting rid of” America’s Mexican population was a random, brutal effort. “For participating cities and counties, they would go through public employee rolls and look for Mexican-sounding names and then go and arrest and deport those people,” said Dunn. “And then there was a job opening!”

“We weren’t rounding up people who were Canadian,” he added. “It was an absolutely racially-motivated program to create jobs by getting rid of people.”

Why, specifically, men and women of Mexican heritage? Professor Francisco Balderrama, whose book, A Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s is the most definitive chronicle of the period (and, not coincidentally, one of the only ones), explained: “Mexican immigration was very recent. It goes back to that saying: Last hired, first fired. The attitude of many industrialists and agriculturalists was reflected in larger cities: A Mexican is a Mexican.” And that included even those citizens of Mexicans descent who were born in the U.S. “That is sort of key in understanding the psychic of the nation,” said Balderrama.

The so-called repatriation effort was, in large part, a misnomer, given the fact that as many as sixty percent of those sent to “home” Mexico were U.S. citizens: American-born children of Mexican-descent who had never before traveled south of the border. (Dunn noted, “I don’t know how you can repatriate someone to a country they’ve not been born or raised in.”)

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Pretty grotesque.  Where’s the apology? Where is the circumspection? Where its the humanity in the Administration’s new “immigrant scapegoating” program?

Thanks much to Nolan Rappaport for bringing this interesting, if disturbing, piece of immigration history to my attention.

PWS

03/06/17

“Duh” ARTICLE OF THE WEEK: Guess What? Immigration Policy Is Complex And Difficult — The President Should Seek Some Decent Advice!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-hardline-immigration-rhetoric-runs-into-obstacles–including-trump/2017/02/17/37ba2218-f537-11e6-b9c9-e83fce42fb61_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_trumpimmigration-8pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.f7b4a8ac9f52

David Nakamura reports in the Washington Post:

“The Trump administration’s attempts to translate the president’s hard-line campaign rhetoric on immigration into reality have run into two major roadblocks: the complexity of reshaping a sprawling immigration system and a president who has not been clear about how he wants to change it.

In his first four weeks in office, President Trump has sought to use his executive powers to punch through Washington’s legislative and bureaucratic hurdles and make quick progress on pledges to crack down on illegal immigrants and tighten border control.

But Trump has been vague about his goals and how to achieve them and his aides have struggled to interpret his orders.

The resulting turmoil has included a successful legal challenge halting his immigration travel ban, fears among congressional Republicans over the White House’s more extreme measures and widespread anxiety among immigrant communities across the country.

The latest flash point erupted Friday over reports that the Department of Homeland Security was considering mobilizing 100,000 National Guard troops to help round up millions of unauthorized immigrants in 11 states, including some such as Colorado and Oregon far from the southern border.

President Trump said at a press conference Thursday that deciding the fate of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children is “one of the most difficult subjects I have.” (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)”

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It’s not difficult for anyone who understands the complex field of immigration to see that when you surround yourself with tone-deaf advisors like Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Kris Kobach, and Rep. Steve King your immigration policies are headed straight onto the rocks, where they likely will remain aground for the rest of the Administration.

So, you’re President Donald Trump. You want to make an impact in immigration, and also have everybody love what you’re doing to “make America great.”

Then, why not sit down with some Republicans who have thought carefully about the issue, like, for example: House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Jeff Flake, Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, Senator Marco Rubio, the Koch Brothers, former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, and Ohio Governor John Kasich? Also, it would be a good idea to reach across the aisle and speak with folks like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Dick Durban, Senator Bernie Sanders, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Representative Henry Cuellar who have worked thoughtfully on immigration issues. And, why not invite DHS Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta (assuming confirmation), and, of course, Vice President Mike Pence to the table too?

Think about how refugees, legal immigrants, and those who are already here and in our workforce can be melded in the best way possible to tap America’s full potential, create meaningful opportunities for all Americans, increase productivity and innovation, and combat the looming problem of future labor shortages. Also, consider how a more realistic, expanded legal immigration system could be a critical tool for discouraging illegal migration, maintaining control of our borders, and insuring national security without over-investing in the (usually ineffective and always expensive) quasi-militarization of our borders.

As one of my colleagues used to tell me when I got going too fast, “Relax, it’s a marathon not a sprint.” There is still plenty of time for President Trump to get the immigration issue right for America. But, it’s not going to happen unless he expands his circle of advisers to include those with a more positive and realistic view of  immigration’s essential role in making America great.

PWS

02/17/17

 

BREAKING: Politico: Alexander Acosta (Dean @FIU Law) To Be Pres’s New Labor Nominee

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-to-announce-alexander-acosta-as-labor-secretary-nominee-235089

Josh Dawsey and Marianne LeVine report:

“President Donald Trump plans to announce on Thursday that Alexander Acosta, a former Justice Department official and current dean of Florida International University College of Law, is his new pick for labor secretary, according to a senior administration official.

. . . .

Acosta, if confirmed, would become the first Hispanic member of Trump’s cabinet. He has been confirmed by the Senate for three prior positions, which could help smooth his path to the Labor Department.”

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PWS

02/16/17

 

Time Maggie: “Day Without Immigrants”

http://fortune.com/2017/02/16/day-without-immigrants-strike/

Madeline Farber reports:

“Businesses across the United States are preparing to close as immigrants plan to partake in the “Day Without Immigrants” protests.
Immigrants—namely in Washington, Austin, and Philadelphia, among others—are planning to stay home Thursday, boycotting their jobs, businesses, and even refusing to send their children to school, the Washington Post reports. The strike is in response to President Trump’s promise to crack down on those living in the country illegally, primarily through “extreme vetting.” The immigrants will also be protesting Trump’s mission to build a wall along the Mexican border.”

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According to local news, “Busboys and Poets” and several other DC area restaurants will be closed today, and some others will open but with limited staff providing service.

PWS

02/16/17

BREAKING: Labor Pick Puzder Flames Out!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/andy-puzder-goes-down_us_58a4a8bce4b094a129f176f4?

HuffPost reports:

“The White House is expected to withdraw Andy Puzder’s nomination as labor secretary on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. He is the first of President Donald Trump’s nominees to not make it through the confirmation process.

The move came as support evaporated among Republicans for the former fast-food executive. At least seven Republican senators refused to publicly back the former chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns the burger chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, as criticism mounted over his hefty stack of labor violations and long-standing support for increased immigration.”

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PWS

02/15/17

Getting It Right: How a Small Town In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley Makes Migration Work — For Everyone In The Community!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-one-small-virginia-town-embraces-immigration–and-is-better-off-for-it/2017/02/10/4c3ff190-ecbd-11e6-9662-6eedf1627882_story.html?utm_term=.99ac31cc3a66

Andrew D. Perrine writes in the Local Opinions section of today’s Washington Post:

“Who would guess that a city tucked in the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia, with a population of 53,000 and a hard-working rural history, is a model of international coexistence?

Yet, only 55 percent of the students attending Harrisonburg City Public Schools were born in the United States. The second-largest segment of the population by country of origin is Iraqi. Then there are the Hondurans, Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans and Mexicans. The Congolese, Ethiopians, Jordanians, Ukrainians and Syrians are representd, too. As of January 2016, Harrisonburg City Public Schools are attended by students from 46 countries.

One might guess that so many people from so many places around the world never could get along in such a small town given the unnerving level of social discord represented in the media regarding immigration and the fear of terrorism. Yet they do. Crime is mostly petty. Only four police officers have died in the line of duty since the first in 1959. What on earth is happening in Harrisonburg?

Known since the 1930s as “The Friendly City,” Harrisonburg is an official Church World Service refugee resettlement community. It’s home to James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University, which brings a lot of foreign nationals to town through its missionary work around the world. And the city lies in the path of Interstate 81. So, even though Harrisonburg is no bustling port city or cosmopolitan metropolis, its high level of diversity is not so hard to believe.

But what is so hard to believe is the level of concord among all the various walks of life. Listening to the current American national dialogue, or observing the rise of nationalist political candidates around the world, one would assume that mixing nationalities, religions and ethnic groups in such close quarters would produce enough emotional tinder to fuel a blaze of angry divisions and open fighting in the streets. Yet it does not.

In fact, less than a week after the White House issued an executive order banning refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries, 30 volunteers from churches of various faiths in Harrisonburg and the surrounding Rockingham County collected food donated to the Islamic Center of the Shenandoah Valley. According to the Daily News-Record, the food was set out after the Islamic Center’s 1 p.m. service, and 300 attendees grabbed lunch to go or sat down to a meal. One attendee reportedly said, “This support shows us the community is standing with us. This makes us feel like we are all Americans.”

Maybe everyone gets along well in Harrisonburg because the town is small and the community actively interacts. It is a lot easier to think badly of some group — or even hate them — if its members are an abstraction to you. If you don’t know or see the people you’re told to fear, it’s much easier to fear them. In Harrisonburg, we plainly see that our Mexican and Muslim neighbors are not as they are portrayed by some in elected office or in the media.

Maybe the answer is not a wall or a moratorium on immigration. Maybe the answer is exactly the opposite. Just ask the good people in the Friendly City of Harrisonburg.”

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Maybe guys like Stephen Miller, Jeff Sessions, and even President Trump need to spend a little less time in “the swamp” of Washington, D.C., and a little more time breathing the fresh air out in the Valley.

PWS

02/11/17