Category Archives: Immigration

Don’t Curse, Organize

Source: Michael Kazin, Dissent, Winter 2017

A cruel irony lurks beneath the debacle of the 2016 election: Donald Trump may have won the roughly 80,000 voters he needed in the Rust Belt at least in part because he vowed to fix a massive problem of twenty-first-century capitalism that the left had propelled into national prominence: economic inequality. The insurgents of Occupy, the fighters for $15, and Bernie Sanders and his young apostles had all drawn the media’s attention to the nagging wage gap, bad trade deals, and lousy, non-union jobs. Barack Obama won reelection in 2012 partly because he stoked this discontent when he ran against a businessman who wrote off nearly half the population of his own country. But last fall, it was Trump, not the uninspiring Democratic nominee, who made an effective, albeit classically demagogic, appeal to white working people to change a system “rigged” against them. “He stoked his base’s fears,” observed Gary Younge in the Guardian; “she failed to give her base hope.”

So how should radicals and liberals resist and help defeat an administration hostile to every principle and policy that makes a decent society possible? Several contributors to this issue offer sharp, sensible views about those burning questions. …. Leftists, in and out of social movements, should instead seize the opportunity that Hillary Clinton’s defeat has given them—by transforming the Democratic Party from inside.

Articles include:
The Fight Ahead:

Tomorrow’s Fight
Jedediah Purdy
Trump has put us where he put his followers all year: frightened, in a besieged place, a country we do not feel we recognize, in need of a champion. Now we all have to be one another’s champions.

Left Foot Forward
Sarah Leonard
….Now that our enemies are in power, what comes next? For starters, if the Democrats stand a chance in the near future, Republicans have conveniently demonstrated for them what they did not believe coming from the left: economic populism works….

The Next Democratic Party
Timothy Shenk
Parties recover from defeat in two ways. They can try to beat the opposition at their own game, or they can try to change the rules of the game. Donald Trump did the latter. Now it’s the Democrats’ turn.

A Call for Sanctuary
Mae Ngai
The American public does not support mass removal of immigrants. And by turning cities and campuses into sanctuaries against raids and deportations, we have the power to stop it.

Prepare For Regime Change, Not Policy Change
N. Turkuler Isiksel
Lessons from the autocrats’ toolkit. …. Confidence in the exceptional resilience of American democracy is particularly misplaced in the face of today’s illiberal populist movements, whose leaders are constantly learning from each other. Trump has a wide variety of tried and tested techniques on which to draw; already, he has vowed to take pages out of Putin’s playbook. Defenders of liberal democracy, too, must learn from each other’s victories and defeats. Below are some hard-earned lessons from countries that have been overrun by the contemporary wave of illiberal democracy. They could be essential for preserving the American republic in the dark years to come…..

A Devil We Know
Robert Greene
Frightening as it is, Trumpism has many precedents in U.S. history—and the social movements of the last century, from the Southern Tenant Farmers Union to ACT UP, offer important lessons for how to fight it.

Texas’s New Ground Game
Michelle Chen
….The Texas Organizing Project (TOP), a gritty grassroots network linking three rapidly browning cities—San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston—has fought and won enough local battles to demonstrate the value of seeding incremental progressive wins on the neighborhood level in order to build a grassroots people’s movement. And they know better than to take anything about Texas for granted. For TOP’s communications director Mary Moreno, giving people a reason to believe voting still makes a difference in a politically predictable state starts with talking about them, not their vote…..

The Future of Work:

Introduction: No Retreat
Sarah Jaffe and Natasha Lewis
….When we sat down to consider the future of work, then, we decided to set aside the debate over whether, how many, and how fast the robots are coming and concentrate on these questions of politics, of power. Which workers have it, and how do they wield it? Whose work is valued, and how much? Who is a member of the working class these days, and how is that likely to change?

And we decided to think big. Though it might be hard to imagine a more dire political reality than the one we currently face, the shock of the recent election shows there is space for new political ideas. The authors in the following pages set out provocations and strategies to win the future we want, and warn of the futures we might get if we lose these fights…..

Thank God It’s Monday
Kate Aronoff
….Reverence for hard work is not simply a decorative gimmick, but core to the WeWork philosophy. The imperative to hustle reflects the way the founders see (and wish to shape) the future of work. Meanwhile, WeWork’s popularity is driven—in part—by the increasing atomization of labor, across income brackets. By offering workers an alternative to days spent alone behind a computer, Neumann and McKelvey discovered they could turn a profit by exploiting one of the defining features of work’s so-called future: isolation….

A Strike Against the New Jim Crow
Janaé Bonsu
(subscription required)
….Last September, inmates around the nation boldly resisted as exploited workers have often done in the past. They staged the largest prison strike in U.S. history. It was organized by the Free Alabama Movement, a group of prisoners and allies, and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a segment of the Industrial Workers of the World…..

Love’s Labor Earned
J.C. Pan
(subscription required)
….To most women today who find themselves exhausted by unwaged, unappreciated emotion work, receiving payment for it probably seems like a pretty delightful idea. Why continue to coddle and counsel men without getting something in return? Why work as therapists without charging therapist rates?….

Learning from the Rank and File: An Interview with Barbara Madeloni
Sarah Jaffe and Barbara Madeloni
On November 8, as the electoral map turned redder and redder, Massachusetts and the surrounding northeastern states began to look like a little blue island. Reliably Democratic in presidential elections even after a Republican took the governor’s office in the state two years ago, Massachusetts was still the site of significant election-night drama, as an initiative that would have drastically expanded the reach of charter schools was on the ballot—and went down, sixty-two to thirty-eight. Barbara Madeloni is the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and helped build the No on Two coalition that defeated the initiative. She spoke with Dissent about the lessons from that fight for the future of the labor movement as it prepares for the attacks that will likely come from a Trump administration.

An Economist’s Case for Open Borders
Atossa Araxia Abrahamian
…..Last April, an economist named Branko Milanovic published a proposal to reduce global economic inequality in the Financial Times. The best way to help the world’s poor, he wrote, is to encourage movement of labor and get countries to open up their borders. But of course, that’s easier said than done: many citizens of rich host countries balk at the idea of increased migration. When they imagine foreigners settling down within their borders, they fear that their jobs, their benefits, and their idea of national (and, let’s face it, ethnic) unity will be threatened. The campaigning around the British initiative to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election will endure as the consequences of this talk in action. Milanovic’s suggestion is as follows: what if we make some concessions to these concerns and fears, and formally reduce the rights and benefits foreigners are entitled to, so long as they are welcome to come, work, and get a shot at improving their economic situation, at least for a limited time?….

Bargaining with Silicon Valley
Rebecca Burns
(subscription required)
…..At this rate, it’s unlikely that all of us will be working on online platforms anytime soon. But the defining feature of the gig economy isn’t really that workers accept jobs through an app on their phone: it’s that they work with no benefits, no job security, and no unions. And it’s this model of the future, in which workers are fully fungible, that is being embraced not only by tech acolytes, but also by traditional employers and the broader right. Under the guise of inevitability, a host of tech, business, and anti-union groups appear eager to use the gig economy as a Trojan horse for changes that affect far more workers: privatizing what remains of the social safety net, “modernizing” (read: gutting) key labor laws, and further hobbling unions…..

A Left Vision for Trade
Erik Loomis
(subscription required)
….Both Trump and Clinton explained their objection to the TPP in terms of the very real threat it posed to American jobs. But globalization is not going away, with or without the TPP. So how can we make it fairer?….

New Research Finds Surprising Results When it Comes to Latino Participation in Early Care and Education: Public Policy Changes Appear to Pay Off, Attracting Hard to Reach Latino Groups

Source: National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, Press Release, November 17, 2016

Three new reports from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families offer a fresh snapshot of early care and education (ECE) program use among Hispanic families across the United States. They suggest that Latino families are more willing to enroll their children in ECE programs than ever before. Such programs can help prepare low-income children for kindergarten and future academic success. The briefs in the series include:
Hispanic Children’s Participation in Early Care and Education: Type of Care by Household Nativity Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Child Age
Hispanic Children’s Participation in Early Care and Education: Amount and Timing of Hours by Household Nativity Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Child Age
Hispanic Children’s Participation in Early Care and Education: Parents’ Perceptions of Care Arrangements, and Relatives’ Availability to Provide Care

H-1B Employer Maps: Dependent, Willful Violator, and Debarred

Source: Bryan Griffith, David North, Center for Immigration Studies, November 2016

Thousands Prefer Alien Workers to Americans

The Center for Immigration Studies has produced two maps using publicly available Department of Labor (DOL) data. The first map points out the employer addresses that have identified their use of H-1B as above average. The second map deals with a smaller group of employers who have been identified by the Department as abusing the program.

The H-1B program allows employers to bring skilled workers (usually with college degrees) to the United States on nonimmigrant visas. The three-year visas can be renewed for another three years, and the visas can be kept alive, virtually forever, if the employer has applied for a permanent immigrant visa for the worker in question. There are some minimal and ineffective labor market protections for these workers. Under all circumstances they can bring their spouses and children (under H-4 visas) with them to the United States – and under some circumstances these aliens can work legally; there are no wage protections for the H-4s.

On the first map, there are over 2,000 employers identified who, actively and publicly, prefer alien workers for at least some jobs to U.S. ones. The formal name for this group of employers sounds like it comes from the field of abnormal psychology: they are “H-1B dependent.” This is the definition of the term: an employer with 25 full-time workers or fewer, with eight or more of them H-1Bs; with 26-50 workers, there are 13 or more H-1Bs; and with 51 or more there are 15 percent or more H-1Bs. Most users of the H-1B visa, in general, are not H-1B dependent.

Organizing Temporary, Subcontracted, and Immigrant Workers: Lessons from Change to Win’s Warehouse Workers United Campaign

Source: Juan D. De Lara, Ellen R. Reese, Jason Struna, Labor Studies Journal, Labor Studies Journal, OnlineFirst, August 25, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Since 2008, Warehouse Workers United (WWU) has organized thousands of low-wage warehouse workers in Southern California’s Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, many of whom are temporary, subcontracted, and immigrant workers. Warehouse Workers Resource Center (WWRC), formed in 2011, has provided additional legal services and other resources to warehouse workers. Combining protest tactics, a legal and media strategy, and a commodity chain organizing strategy, WWU and WWRC helped warehouse workers to win back millions of dollars of stolen wages and to pass new regulatory legislation for employers of warehouse workers. In coalition with other labor organizations, they also obtained an agreement by Walmart to improve its workplace safety standards. This case study, based on field research and interviews with key informants, provides important lessons for those seeking to organize marginalized workers in other industries and regions.

Overall Number of U.S. Unauthorized Immigrants Holds Steady Since 2009: Decline in share from Mexico mostly offset by growth from Asia, Central America and sub-Saharan Africa

Source: Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, Pew Research Center, September 20, 2016

from the summary:
The U.S. unauthorized immigrant population – 11.1 million in 2014 – has stabilized since the end of the Great Recession, as the number from Mexico declined but the total from other regions of the world increased, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on government data.

Among world regions, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Asia, Central America and sub-Saharan Africa rose between 2009 and 2014. The number from Mexico has steadily declined since 2007, the first year of the Great Recession, but Mexicans remain more than half (52%) of U.S. unauthorized immigrants.
Across the United States, most states saw no statistically significant change in the size of their unauthorized immigrant populations from 2009 to 2014. In the seven states where the unauthorized immigrant population declined, falling numbers of unauthorized Mexican immigrants were the key factor.

Meanwhile, among the six states that had increases in their unauthorized immigrant populations, only one – Louisiana – could trace this to a rise in the number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico.

The Economic Impacts of Removing Unauthorized Immigrant Workers: An Industry- and State-Level Analysis

Source: Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega, Center for American Progress, September 2016

From the summary:
In every state and in every industry across the United States, immigrants—authorized and unauthorized—are contributing to the U.S. economy. Immigrant labor and entrepreneurship are believed to be powerful forces of economic revitalization for communities struggling with population decline. Estimates suggest that the total number of unauthorized immigrants currently residing in the United States is approximately 11.3 million, or about 3.5 percent of the total 2015 resident population of 324.4 million. Of those 11.3 million, we estimate that 7 million are workers. What is the economic contribution of these unauthorized workers? What would the nation stand to lose in terms of production and income if these workers were removed and returned to their home countries?
The main findings of this report are as follows:
• A policy of mass deportation would immediately reduce the nation’s GDP by 1.4 percent, and ultimately by 2.6 percent, and reduce cumulative GDP over 10 years by $4.7 trillion. …..
• Mass deportation would cost the federal government nearly $900 billion in lost revenue over 10 years. …..
• Hard-hit industries would see double-digit reductions in their workforces. …..
• The largest declines in GDP would occur in the largest industries, not in immigrant-heavy industries. …..
• States with the most unauthorized workers will experience the largest declines in state GDP. …..
Related:
Interactive: Removing Unauthorized Workers Harms States and Industries Across the Country

The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration

Source: Francine D. Blau and Christopher Mackie – Editors, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016

From the press release:
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provides a comprehensive assessment of economic and demographic trends of U.S. immigration over the past 20 years, its impact on the labor market and wages of native-born workers, and its fiscal impact at the national, state, and local levels.
 
Among the report’s key findings and conclusions:

When measured over a period of 10 years or more, the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born workers overall is very small. To the extent that negative impacts occur, they are most likely to be found for prior immigrants or native-born workers who have not completed high school—who are often the closest substitutes for immigrant workers with low skills.

There is little evidence that immigration significantly affects the overall employment levels of native-born workers. As with wage impacts, there is some evidence that recent immigrants reduce the employment rate of prior immigrants. In addition, recent research finds that immigration reduces the number of hours worked by native teens (but not their employment levels).
 
Some evidence on inflow of skilled immigrants suggests that there may be positive wage effects for some subgroups of native-born workers, and other benefits to the economy more broadly.

Immigration has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth in the U.S.

In terms of fiscal impacts, first-generation immigrants are more costly to governments, mainly at the state and local levels, than are the native-born, in large part due to the costs of educating their children. However, as adults, the children of immigrants (the second generation) are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the U.S. population, contributing more in taxes than either their parents or the rest of the native-born population.

Over the long term, the impacts of immigrants on government budgets are generally positive at the federal level but remain negative at the state and local level — but these generalizations are subject to a number of important assumptions. Immigration’s fiscal effects vary tremendously across states.

Trump: the global fallout

Source: Oxford Economics, September 12, 2016
(subscription required)

From the summary:
We assess the potential fall-out from a Donald Trump presidential election victory. Our scenario analysis suggests that the economic and market impact is most likely to be relatively muted. But, should Mr. Trump prove more successful in achieving adoption of his policies, the consequences could be far-reaching – knocking 5% off the level of US GDP relative to baseline and undermining the anticipated recovery in global growth.

In this, the latest in a series of US election briefings, we explore the combined weight of key Trump policy proposals, building on earlier research on individual policies.

Our central expectation is that the plans would be significantly diluted, with Mr. Trump forced to negotiate with Congress. The US economy would slow in the near-term amid increased uncertainty, with GDP easing to a level around ½% below baseline during 2017.

But the impact would be more severe if Mr. Trump were able to implement more substantively some of his stated policy proposals. In our adverse scenario, the US economy not only slows in the near term, it also remains subdued over the longer term, in part reflecting the impact of trade and immigration policies on potential supply.

The global impact also diverges markedly across the two scenarios. In the central Trump scenario, global growth edges down modestly relative to baseline – by up to a ¼ percentage point during the course of 2017. In the adverse scenario, however, the global economy is more badly shaken and growth remains subdued throughout much of the five-year forecast….
Related:
‘President Trump’ would cost U.S. economy $1 trillion
Source: Patrick Gillespie, CNNMoney, September 15, 2016

Trump presidency could cost U.S. economy $1 trillion: Oxford Economics
Source: Reuters, September 13, 2016

The U.S. economy could be $1 trillion smaller than otherwise expected in 2021 if Republican candidate Donald Trump wins the presidential election in November, economics research firm Oxford Economics said on Tuesday. While the firm said Trump’s policies – including more protectionist trade measures, tax cuts and mass deportation of illegal immigrants – may be watered down in negotiations with Congress, they could have “adverse” consequences….

Donald Trump’s economic policies aren’t getting good grades. His presidency would cost the U.S. economy $1 trillion over the next five years, according to Oxford Economics, a British forecasting firm with offices in the United States.

Trump’s old school: His immigration plan would kill 4 million jobs
Source: Patrick Gillespie, CNNMoney, August 16, 2016

The Macroeconomic Consequences of Mr. Trump’s Economic Policies
Source: Mark Zandi, Chris Lafakis, Dan White, Adam Ozimek, Moody’s Analytics, June 2016

Testing Attestations: U.S. Unemployment and Immigrant Work Authorizations

Source: Ben A. Rissing and Emilio J. Castilla, ILR Review, Vol 69 no. 5, October 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Each year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants seek legal employment in the United States. Similar to many developed countries, the United States has established immigration policies to protect its citizens’ employment. This study empirically assesses, for the first time, the relationship between U.S. workers’ unemployment rates and immigrant work authorization outcomes, as determined by one key U.S. immigration program—the labor certification process. This program explicitly requires that no willing and qualified U.S. worker be available for the job position offered to a foreign worker. Through the analysis of 40 months of labor certification requests evaluated by U.S. Department of Labor agents, the authors find that, ironically, immigrant labor certification approvals are more likely when the quantity of unemployed U.S. workers within an occupation is high, ceteris paribus. Further, because of the U.S. government’s procedure of auditing applications, the authors are able to assess approval differences when government agents reach similar labor certification decisions using 1) employers’ accounts of their own compliance (e.g., “attestations”) or 2) supporting documentation collected when employers are audited. Only for evaluations of audited applications, in support of the literature on accounts and regulation, are approvals less likely when unemployment is high. The authors conclude by discussing the implications of their findings for theories and policies concerning labor market regulation, immigration, and employment.

Temporary Professional, Managerial, and Skilled Foreign Workers: Policy and Trends

Source: Ruth Ellen Wasem, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R43735, January 13, 2016

Temporary visas for professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers have become an important gateway for high-skilled immigration to the United States. Over the past two decades, the number of visas issued for temporary employment-based admission has more than doubled from just over 400,000 in FY1994 to over 1 million in FY2014. While these visa numbers include some unskilled and low-skilled workers as well as accompanying family members, the visas for managerial, skilled, and professional workers dominate the trends. ……. Policy makers and advocates have focused on two visa categories in particular: H-1B visas for professional specialty workers, and L visas for intra-company transferees. These two nonimmigrant visas epitomize the tensions between the global competition for talent and potential adverse effects on the U.S. workforce. The employers of H-1B workers are the only ones required to meet labor market tests in order to hire professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers. ….

…..This report opens with an overview of the policy issues. It follows with a summary of each of the various visa categories available for temporary professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers as well as an analysis of the trends in the use of these various visas over the past two decades. The policy of authorizing foreign students to work in the United States for at least a year following graduation is discussed next. The labor market tests for employers hiring temporary foreign workers are also summarized. The rules regarding federal taxation of professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers are explained. The report concludes with a discussion of the avenues for professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers to become legal permanent residents (LPRs) in the United States…..