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Arranged in order of publication date with the most recent on top. Scroll down for all entries. Selection does not necessarily imply endorsement of findings or research methodology by Diversity Dynamics and its partner organizations. We regret that we may not be able to repair broken links promptly.

This collection of over 100 studies examines the American track record in immigrant workforce integration and identifies promising practices designed to maximize the economic contributions of immigrants. Some specific topics include: immigrant occupational distribution; poverty rates within immigrant communities; occupational health hazards faced by immigrants; strategies to prevent labor law violations; efforts to combat human trafficking; the plight of foreign-educated immigrant professionals and programs to address their need, including relicensing initiatives, portability of credentials, and mentoring programs; programs to promote immigrant entrepreneurship; the impact of worksite immigrant enforcement campaigns, including E-Verify; and the impact of various guest worker and temporary visa programs, including H-1B.


A New Way Forward for Employment-Based Immigration: The Bridge Visa
Migration Policy Institute, February 2024, 22 pp.
Authors: Julia Gelatt & Muzaffar Chishti

This policy brief proposes a temporary-to-permanent, employment-based visa to help the U.S. meet both short-term and longer-term labor needs, which are likely to intensify in the future. The authors describe the shortcomings of the current immigration system, last adjusted in 1990 and primarily accessible to workers with college degrees. The authors then describe their proposal — how the “bridge visa” would work, how it would fit within the current employment-based immigration system, and how it would protect American workers. The visa would be available to workers at all education and skill levels, and would expire after three years. The visa may be renewed for an additional three years, and subsequently the worker could self-sponsor for a permanent immigration visa. Those who choose not to renew after three or six years could leave the country and re-apply in the future if they wished. The visa would replace many of the current temporary non-seasonal work visas, as well as most migration coming through the employment-based green card system. Most permanent visas would be awarded to workers transitioning from the bridge visa. The authors describe a number of methods to protect U.S. workers under their proposal, including having a cap that adjusts up or down depending on U.S. labor needs as determined by an independent commission. In the end, a bridge visa as described by the authors would make the immigration system responsive to U.S. needs, unlike the current system.
(Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)


Meeting National Security Interests Requires Workers

Council on National Security and Immigration, November 1, 2023, 5 pp.
Authors: Margaret Stock & Theresa Cardinal Brown

The United States is currently facing a labor shortage and demographic crisis, which is impacting the nation's economic health and national security. According to the authors of this report, the root cause of these issues is declining fertility rates and an aging population. This trend is reflected in every aspect of society, including the workforce in industries like the military and security services. Despite offering high enlistment bonuses, these sectors are experiencing historic recruitment shortfalls. To address these challenges, the U.S. government has passed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 to enhance the country's competitive capabilities in key technologies like semiconductors. However, the U.S. lacks the workforce needed to fully implement this law. To overcome this shortfall, the U.S. must strategically attract and retain skilled workers through immigration. The aging population in the U.S. is expected to grow rapidly, while the working-age population will grow slowly. This demographic shift is already impacting industries like healthcare and aviation, leading to workforce shortages. Recent cuts to legal immigration during the Trump administration have exacerbated the demographic crisis. To address these challenges, policymakers should consider expanding avenues for skilled immigrants to live and work in the U.S. The authors recommend reforms, such as increasing the number of H-1B visas, allowing foreign students to remain in the country after graduation, and reinstating programs like MAVNI for military recruitment. By leveraging immigration as a tool to attract talent, the U.S. can strengthen its economy and national security in the face of increasing global competition.


Strengthening Protections for H-2B Temporary Workers,
H-2B Worker Protection TaskForce, October 2023, 12 pp.

This article discusses the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to enhancing protections for H-2B program workers. The authors review their vulnerabilities and outlines steps taken to improve their rights and working conditions. The H-2B program permits employers to hire noncitizens for temporary nonagricultural work in the U.S. These workers often face obstacles in reporting abuses and asserting their rights, resulting in exploitative conditions. This situation harms not only H-2B workers but also impacts the wages and conditions of all workers. In search for a solution to this problem, the White House established the H-2B Worker Protection Taskforce in October 2022, bringing together key agencies such as the Departments of Labor, Homeland Security, and State. The taskforce targets three core challenges: maintaining program integrity, addressing worker vulnerabilities, and preventing misuse of the program. This report outlines actions taken by the administration and taskforce agencies to address these challenges, bolstering protections for H-2B workers and improving conditions for all workers. Despite regulations, H-2B workers encounter difficulties in reporting abuses and exercising their rights. To address these challenges, the Biden-Harris Administration issued guidance on fair recruitment practices, streamlined deferred action requests for labor violations, and proposed rules to strengthen worker protections. The taskforce's objectives include protecting workers in labor disputes, enhancing transparency with program data, reducing vulnerability to exploitation, improving information access, and establishing an interagency working group to promote worker protections.
(The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Immigrant Workers in the United States: A Closer Look at the H-1B Visa Program,
Boundless, September 2023, 19 pp.

In July 2023, there were an estimated 9.8 million job vacancies in the United States, far exceeding the 5.8 million people looking for work. Could foreign workers help reduce that gap? Immigrant Workers in the United States: A Closer Look at the H-1B Visa Program examines the largest guest worker visa program in the United States, created in 1990 to tackle a shortage of workers in specialty occupations. The H-1B program enables businesses to hire high-skilled, temporary foreign workers by submitting applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Employers must invest significant resources into the application process, potentially between $3,900 to $18,150 for government and attorney fees. The program mandates employer compliance with requirements intended to prevent displacement of domestic workers, undercutting local wages, and visa fraud. In spite of these hurdles, the cap on the number of certain H-1B visas that can be issued each fiscal year (85,000) is frequently exceeded by the number of applications. During 2023, for example, USCIS received 780,884 applications for these capped visas -- a 61% increase from the previous year. In 2022, the majority of approved applications were for computer-related positions (66%). Demographically, the largest share of approved applicants was from India (almost 73%) and was male (70.8%). Despite the growing demand for such visas, the Trump administration’s attempts to effectively terminate the program and President Biden’s support for increasing the number of visas and allowing more visa holders to transition to permanent residence demonstrate that the ability of the program to further United States’ economic prosperity and technological progress will depend on the political actors in power.


“Let Us Work”: The Wage Gain When Asylum Seekers Gain Work Authorization,
Immigration Research Initiative, September 7, 2023, 5 pp.
Author: David Dyssegaard Kallick

At a time with the Biden administration is looking to speed up and expand work authorizations, this brief looks at the potential economic benefits of gaining work authorization for the current wave of asylum seekers. Drawing on previous studies, the Immigration Research Initiative estimates that work authorization results in a wage gain of roughly ten percent for previously unauthorized workers. In New York City, where the research indicates that full-time employed undocumented workers earn a median annual wage of $32,000, this would mean an increase in income from either zero (if they are not working) or $32,000 (if they are) to $35,200.  Nationally, where the estimated annual wage for undocumented workers is just $30,000, this would mean an increase of earnings to $33,000. The brief points to several factors explaining the growth in income from work authorization, including asylum seekers being able to seek better jobs, rather than being limited to employers willing to hire undocumented workers; a bigger payoff for taking job training or English language classes; and being able to start a business, especially in the case of asylum seekers who were relatively well off in their countries of origin. An even bigger than ten percent gain in wages, the writer suggests, might be expected in the case of immigrant professionals, such as doctors or engineers, who are working in low wage jobs but could do much better over the long term once they gained work authorization. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)


What Role Can Immigration Play in Addressing Current and Future Labor Shortages,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), April 2023, 12 pp.
Author: Kate Hooper

This brief from MPI’s Global Skills and Talent Initiative looks at the rising demand for immigrant labor in the wake of pandemic disruptions to economies and supply chains, both in high-skilled job sectors and in those needing fewer formal qualifications and with poorer working conditions. Given the fast-changing and unpredictable nature of labor markets, the brief argues, policymakers will need to be better informed and more strategic in balancing solutions, considering where immigration should play a role in meeting shortages and where to prioritize other, longer-term policy responses such as investments in workforce development, higher wages, and productivity improvements that help all workers. Key questions to be considered include what constitutes a genuine labor shortage, how shortages change over time, and the pros and cons of using immigrants to address such shortages. In addition to employer-sponsored immigration pathways, policymakers should consider more flexible non-employer-sponsored policies to admit immigrants with in-demand skills in certain occupations or sectors, as well as looking at what skillsets will be most valuable across jobs and providing integration supports to help immigrants thrive economically. The need to improve labor shortage data collection and analysis should also trigger better coordination among immigration, education, labor, and other policy stakeholders, paving the way for a more encompassing talent strategy. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)


Tech and outsourcing companies continue to exploit the H1-B visa program at a time of mass layoffs,
Economic Policy Institute, April 11, 2023, 9 pp.
Authors: Daniel Costa & Ron Hira

While the H-1B visa program has served as an important pathway for attracting skilled migrants to the U.S. labor market, the program has been rife with abuses that, according to the authors of this report, need to be corrected to eliminate the exploitation of workers, both domestic and foreign. The program was created with the intent to attract skilled and talented workers to the U.S. to fill labor shortages in professional fields. Although 48,000 employers registered with USCIS in 2022 in hopes of hiring at least one H-1B worker, the top 30 H-1B employers hired more than 34,000 new H-1B workers, accounting for 40% of the annual cap of 85,000 visas. Rather strangely, these 30 companies also laid off at least 85,000 workers in 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, leading the authors to question whether they were truly motivated to fill a labor shortage by hiring an H-1B worker. The authors urge the Biden administration to issue new regulations, policy guidance, and other rules that would restore the program to its original congressional intent. Among the proposed reforms would be for the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor to enforce the requirement that employers pay the “actual wage” rate of similar employees.


Workplace Immigration: Employers See It as Key to Growth and U.S. Competitiveness,
Society for Human Resource Management, 2023, 14 pp.

This report summarizes the results of a January 2023 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) of its members. The survey sample consisted of more than 2,500 companies of varying size and from different sectors and geographic locations. The survey tried to gauge employers’ experience with immigrant employees and with the immigration system as a whole, and to learn what changes employers would like to see in the immigration system. The survey found that nearly half of employers were experiencing workforce disruptions due to a shortage of workers, and about 10 percent of these say they will have to reduce or shut down production. Nearly all of the employers that have foreign-born employees report positive experiences with these employees, but only about half say their experience with the U.S. immigration system has been positive. The report lists the top suggestions made by employers to improve the overall employment-based immigration system, and a number of more specific suggestions for improving various temporary worker and student worker visa processes. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)


A Roadmap for Immigration Reform: Identifying Weak Links in the labor Supply Chain,
Brookings, March 2023, 30 pp.
Authors:  Dany Bahar & Greg Wright

In this report, the authors begin by noting recent trends in the U.S. labor market—reduced labor market participation after the pandemic, and a decline in immigration resulting in labor shortages that show no sign of abating. The tight labor market has provided opportunities for many workers to shift to higher-paying jobs, exacerbating labor shortages at the low end of the labor market. In this paper, the authors analyze the labor market to identify occupations that are central to the U.S. economy; that will experience high demand over the next decade; that have traditionally been filled by immigrants; and that require little or no specialized training. Food preparation and serving occupations, construction workers, and motor vehicle operators are examples of occupations that fit the authors’ criteria. The authors also identify occupations that similarly are central to the economy and have a high percentage of foreign-born workers, but that require prior substantive training—occupations such as home health aids, nursing assistants, and other health care workers -- demand for which will be growing substantially in the coming years. The authors suggest their analysis of the labor market could be a useful tool for policymakers seeking to fill growing labor shortages. Without an increase in immigration, labor shortages in these essential occupations will worsen and, the authors argue, Americans’ standard of living will fall. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

Unblocking the U.S. Immigration System: Executive Actions to Facilitate the Migration of Needed Workers,
Migration Policy Institute, February 2023, 19 pp.
Author: Julie Gelatt

U.S. employers need workers. As of December 2022, there were 11 million job openings but fewer than six million people looking for work. And while employers “are looking anywhere they can for suitable workers, including abroad,” the restrictive immigration policies of the COVID-19 pandemic and an immigration system that is “misaligned with economic imperatives and national interests” have prevented foreign-born individuals who want to work from filling these vacancies. In a policy brief titled “Unblocking U.S. Immigration System: Executive Actions to Facilitate the Migration of Needed Workers,” the Migration Policy Institute proposes a series of executive actions that could be taken to ease this problem because the legislative branch is at a stalemate. The 21 actions proposed are grouped under seven categories: Efficiency Improvements at USCIS; Helping Work Authorized Immigrants Remain Able to Work; Helping U.S.-Based Migrants Maintain their Legal Status; Ensuring Smooth Consular Processing; More and Better Communication; and Broadening Pathways to the U.S. Labor Force. They also include improving online systems and customer service, implementing small-bore and regulatory changes, expanding visa renewal options, and updating the Green Card system. The author posits that if these actions are implemented, immigrants, employers and the U.S. economy generally would greatly benefit from a larger number of qualified and available workers.

Hybrid Status Immigrant Workers,
Cornell Law School, January 17, 2023, 51 pp.
Author: Jacob Hamburger

Immigrant workers often depend on independent contractor status to work legally in the U.S. Federal immigration law requires employers to verify that all employees are permitted to work in the United States, but does not require such verification for independent contractors. As a result, immigrants can work as independent contractors without having to fraudulently claim work authorization. However, efforts are underway on the state level to prevent the misclassification of workers as independent contractors so that they – whether foreign-born or U.S.-born -- can claim all the rights of workers. However, such efforts, while generally good-intentioned, could jeopardize the ability of undocumented immigrants to continue working in the U.S. This paper argues that immigrant workers can hold a hybrid status: defined as “employees” under new and improved labor law definitions, while remaining “independent contractors” for immigration purposes. This “hybrid status,” however, will likely require action on the part of both state legislatures and federal agencies to be implemented. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Threatening Migrants and Shortchanging Workers,
Economic Policy Institute, December 14, 2022, 15 pp.
Author: Daniel Costa

This paper calls attention to the shortage of funding available to federal agencies responsible for enforcing worker rights in the U.S.—a situation that is especially harmful to migrant workers, especially those in temporary or undocumented status. The author’s analysis of federal budget data shows that government spending on immigration enforcement in 2021 was nearly 12 times the spending on labor standards enforcement – despite the mandate of labor agencies to protect the 144 million workers employed at nearly 11 million workplaces. Indeed, money allocated to immigration enforcement exceeded the money allocated for all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined.  What is even more disturbing, according to the author, is that the spending trend is moving in the wrong direction. The year 2012 was the peak year for labor standards enforcement. Since then, spending for this purpose has declined by $300 million. In 2021, Congress gave the 10 federal labor standards enforcement agencies enough money to hire 9,400 personnel, whereas immigration enforcement agencies were able to hire almost 79,000 personnel. In fact, the main agency in charge of protecting wages and working conditions of U.S. workers, the Wage and hour Division of the Department of Labor, employed only 782 investigators to police a labor market of 144 million. Each investigator there is now responsible for more than twice the workers as 40 years ago. The paper concludes with a number of policy recommendations to address this problem, including action by Congress to narrow the funding disparity between immigration enforcement and labor standards enforcement and passage of the POWER Act which expands access to U visas for migrant workers who report workplace violations and strengthens the investigative powers of labor standards enforcement agencies.


New Massachusetts Report Promotes Inclusion of Internationally Trained Health Workers,
World Education Services, November 30, 2022, Practice Blog
Author: Natalie Torres

Due to their immigrant status, qualified and experienced health professionals are often unable to practice medicine in the U.S., as their credentials and international experience are not recognized. The State of Massachusetts, however, has taken steps to include these workers and address health care provider shortages. The state’s efforts are detailed in a new 
report, and summarized in this blog post by World Education Services entitled New Massachusetts Report Promotes Inclusion of Internationally Trained Health Workers. The report by the Foreign-Trained Medical Professionals Commission makes a number of recommendations, including establishing alternative pathways to full state licensure through two year mentorships, facilitating the residency process for international medical graduates, expanding English proficiency testing options for internationally trained nurses, and easing licensure requirements for internationally trained nurses already licensed in other states. Together, these recommendations represent an opportunity to meet the needs of both the healthcare system and immigrants in Massachusetts. The report has quickly translated into policy action from the Massachusetts Board of Nursing. Massachusetts thus offers a roadmap for other states facing healthcare professional shortages and lacking resources in underserved areas. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Reassessing Recruitment Costs in a Changing World of Labor Migration
Migration Policy Institute, November 2022, 19 pp.
Author: Kate Hooper

Migrant laborers must absorb costs that often threaten their well-being – a problem that has intensified since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These costs are not simply recruitment and travel fees but also include medical expenses, quarantine costs, increases in wage theft, and debt incurred by lost hours or lost jobs. A Migration Policy Institute policy brief by Kate Hooper entitled “Reassessing Recruitment Costs in a Changing World of Labor Migration” shows how the financial burden can come in many forms, despite government and private-sector efforts to minimize these costs. By conducting interviews and reviewing the existing literature, Hooper finds that the range of expenses immigrant workers can end up paying when they are recruited for jobs abroad has only increased throughout the pandemic. In addition to recruitment fees, documentation, travel, medical expenses and loss of earnings, immigrants now have to face costs for COVID-19 testing, quarantine, border closures and travel restrictions. This burden is especially great for those in low- and middle-skilled sectors and more informal employment; these workers often find themselves contending with job losses, pay cuts and wage theft after they arrive at their destination. Hooper therefore argues that governments need to broaden the definition of “recruitment costs” and make efforts to lessen their impact. She argues that not only should there be improved information on recruitment costs in the data, but also that stakeholders must address the lack of protections for migrant workers. In addition, policymakers should consider access to contingency funds should crises like the pandemic arise again in the future. 
(The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

The Effect of Low-Skill Immigration Restrictions on US Firms and Workers: Evidence from a Randomized Lottery,
National Bureau of Economic Research, October 2022, 63 pp.
Authors: Michael A. Clemens & Ethan G. Lewis

The randomized allocation of H-2B visas to low-income immigrant workers via lottery provides an opportunity to measure the effects of these workers on the employment of U.S.-born workers. This novel survey of a sample of the firms who participated in the 2021 lottery reveals little benefit, and substantial costs, when firms are denied the opportunity to hire immigrant workers. Comparing firms that were able to hire more workers on these visas to those that were not, the authors found that gaining access to immigrant hires raises firm revenues (elasticity with respect to immigrant hires of +0.16) and also modestly raises, rather than lowers, their employment of U.S. workers (elasticity +0.10). This is a “robust result” that holds in several pre-registered subsamples. It is larger at both rural firms (consistent with native labor supply being elastic in such markets) and at firms facing more competition (consistent with research findings that the labor market impact of U.S. immigration is more positive for firms facing more price-elastic output demand). Why are the effects so uniformly positive despite widespread assumptions of harm to natives? The authors suggest that their model and additional evidence suggest that it is because there are simply few substitutes for the labor provided by legally authorized low-skill workers. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Protecting U.S. Technological Advantage,
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2022, 156 pp.

According to the Committee on Protecting Critical Technologies for National Security in an Era of Openness and Competition – one of several groups responsible for the production of this “consensus study report,” U.S. leadership in technology innovation is central to the nation’s interests, including its security, economic prosperity, and quality of life. The U.S. has created a science and technology ecosystem that fosters innovation, risk taking, and the discovery of new ideas that lead to new technologies and new industries. Immigration has played a crucial role in sustaining this ecosystem, and a substantial portion of this publication examines the important interconnections between immigration policy and continued technological leadership.  The main thrust of the book, however, is to examine how U.S. technological leadership can be protected and enhanced, while also successfully adapting to a new world of “highly integrated and globally shared platforms that power and enable most modern technology applications.” The authors argue that “U.S. policies, programs, and procedures designed to protect U.S. technology advantages have been proving less effective as the nation’s competitive leadership in related areas of science and technology has narrowed.”  In the area of immigration, the report points out that high skilled immigration to other OECD countries has been growing more rapidly than to the U.S. At the same time, the U.S. share of international students – a pipeline for STEM graduates and entrepreneurs – has been declining.  Many countries have adopted the “American model” of attracting talent from abroad, and unless the U.S. revisits and refines that model, it may continue to lose ground in the race for technological leadership.


As the H-2B visa program grows, the need for reforms that protect workers is greater than ever,
Economic Policy Institute, August 18, 2022, 25 pp.
Author: Daniel Costa

This report reviews the legislative history of the H-2B temporary seasonal worker program and sees a pattern of labor law violations that need to be remedied through congressional and regulatory action. One recommendation is that employers with a track record of violating wage and labor laws should be barred from recruiting seasonal workers in the future. Investigations by the Wage and Hours Division of the Department of Labor found that nearly $1.8 billion in back wages was stolen from workers from 2000 to 2021 in industries that employ H-2B workers. This total was from all workers, not just H-2B workers. The author also questions why family members of H-2B workers are not able to join workers in the U.S. and why there is no pathway to permanent residence for these workers.  Other recommendations concern more reliable methods for setting wage rates and greater visa portability so that visa holders can change jobs and employers.

Immigration and the Economic Freedom of Natives,
Public Affairs Quarterly (Forthcoming), July 2022, 34 pp.
Author: Ilya Somin

Much of the debate over the justice of immigration restrictions focuses on their impact on would-be migrants. For their part, restrictionists often focus on the potentially harmful effects of immigration on residents of receiving countries. This article cuts across this longstanding debate by focusing on ways in which immigration restrictions inflict harm on native-born Americans, specifically by undermining their economic liberty. The author looks at this impact from both a right-wing libertarian perspective and a left-liberal point of view. She cites estimates from mainstream economists that the lifting of all global mobility restrictions would double the world’s gross domestic product. Working against this outcome, current restrictions block a  “truly enormous number of beneficial economic transactions between immigrants and natives,” effectively constraining economic liberty “on an almost unimaginably vast scale.”  The negative impact is probably greater in the U.S. than in other immigrant-receiving countries, because the education and skill levels of immigrants to the U.S. tend to be higher than elsewhere in the world. “Many thousands, perhaps even millions, of natives are cut off from careers that might otherwise open up to them, thanks to immigrant entrepreneurs. Others are barred from opportunities that would be created by scientific and technological innovations.” Looking at the issue from the standpoint of disadvantaged Americans who might be negatively impacted by more open migration, the author argues that the benefits to the poor far outweigh any negative affects. She examines many different scenarios, including worries over the cultural backgrounds of immigrants, and suggests ways to minimize any real threats to the American free enterprise system.


The Future of Remote Work: Digital Nomads and the Implications for Immigration Systems,
Migration Policy Institute and Fragoman, June 2022, 33 pp.
Authors: Kate Hooper & Meghan Benton

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated an ongoing shift toward remote work, with some “digital nomads” moving to work remotely in another country. But most immigration systems, this report finds, are poorly equipped to deal with such arrangements. Unclear rules around taxation, benefits and employment law pose hurdles for digital nomads and employers alike. The report examines the implications of remote work for immigration systems, workers and employers, exploring how governments can develop robust remote work strategies. Repositioning immigration systems to introduce greater flexibility for non-traditional work arrangements could bring significant benefits, including economic development, letting employers tap new talent pools, and allowing people displaced by conflict or environmental disaster to earn incomes. More than 25 countries and territories have launched digital nomad visas admitting foreign nationals who work for an employer outside the country or in some cases are self-employed. Other countries have adjusted existing employer-sponsored visa pathways, expanding flexibility on residency tests, while others allow some remote work while holding a visitor visa. The report’s analysis suggests that policymakers should consider a range of options, including creating flexible immigration policies that allow a greater degree of remote work; coordinating across portfolios to develop a remote work strategy integrating immigration priorities with economic development and inclusive growth objectives; working with other countries to streamline immigration, employment, social security and tax requirements; exploring how less developed regions can capture the benefits of remote work; and creating temporary-to-permanent pathways so that some remote workers on visitor and nomad visas can transition to permanent residence. In doing so, governments can create a more attractive environment for employers, workers, and visitors as remote work becomes more mainstreamed. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)


Immigrant Entrepreneurship: Economic Potential and Obstacles to Success,
Bipartisan Policy Center, June 13, 2022, 66 pp.

This report summarizes available research on immigrant entrepreneurship in the U.S., supplemented by interviews with key experts in the field. The authors discuss the factors that spur the formation of immigrant businesses at a rate well in excess of that of U.S. natives, as well as some of the barriers that immigrants must overcome in order to achieve business success. The report laments the fact that the federal government and nongovernmental entities do not collect sufficient data on foreign-born entrepreneurs. Using available data sources, including the 2007 and 2012 Surveys of Small Business Owners, the authors find that immigrant-owned business are concentrated in three sectors: retail; accommodation and food services; and professional and technical services. Two reasons why immigrants gravitate to entrepreneurial work are their tolerance for risk, reflected in their decision to migrate, and difficulties in finding work that aligns with their prior professional training. In addition, the existence of ethnic networks built around shared values and relationships also helps to spur the formation of immigrant-led businesses. The report describes in detail some of the “hurdles” that immigrants must overcome in order to achieve business success, including the lack of a special visa category for entrepreneurial work and difficulties in accessing capital. The report gives examples of how some municipalities are recognizing the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs and developing new approaches and programs to help them overcome these hurdles.


Climbing the Ladder: Roadblocks Faced by Immigrants in the New York City Construction Industry,
Center for Migration Studies, May 2022, 59 pp.
Authors: Jacquelyn Pavilon & Vicky Virgin

As of 2021, immigrants comprised a larger share of the construction workforce than of any other occupational sector in New York City. Although just 37 percent of the total New York City population, immigrants were 44 percent of the city’s labor force and 63 percent of all its construction workers. Roughly 41 percent of the immigrant construction workforce was undocumented. Despite the essential role that immigrants play in the construction industry, this report finds that immigrant construction workers are especially vulnerable to exploitation and dangerous conditions. Lack of employment authorization, social safety nets, English proficiency, credentials recognition, and training opportunities, as well as discrimination, place immigrants at a stark disadvantage as they try to enter, negotiate, and advance in this industry. The report finds that wage theft, especially for overtime, is especially rampant for undocumented workers. Racial discrimination, both for documented and undocumented workers, results in people of color working lower, more physically intense, jobs than whites.  Undocumented workers and foreign workers with limited English proficiency are also more likely to work in construction occupations with higher fatality rates. The report also underscores the differences in working conditions and compensation between unionized and non-unionized workers. In order to improve the working conditions of immigrant construction workers, the report offers a series of policy recommendations directed at public officials, policymakers, government agencies, and trade unions. Among these are strengthening state scaffolding legislation to prevent falls, increasing employer liability for safety violations, and updating the federal registry date to permit more undocumented workers to acquire legal status.


Amid Rising Inflation, Immigrant Workers Help Ease Labor Shortages,
American Immigration Council, Data Interactive, May 4, 2022, 11 pp.

Using employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, data on job openings from Burning Glass, and data from the American Community Survey, this study explores how immigration can help meet labor demands, reduce inflation, and steer the American economy back to a sustainable growth path. Relying on data visualization approaches, the study examines job openings in major industries in the U.S., along with the immigrant share of workers in those industries. Occupations that grew the most between 2019 and 2021 were those with large shares of immigrants, including healthcare, transportation, food preparation, construction, and manufacturing and production.  Future job growth patterns, however, may be quite different than those in the recent past. For example, demand for healthcare support workers is projected to rise substantially as baby boomers age. The study suggests that rising wage rates in industries with worker shortages will likely worsen inflation rates in the U.S.  The study concludes with an interactive tool that provides information for each occupational grouping, showing how the pandemic, the aging of the existing workforce, and other projected labor exits are expected to impact the U.S. labor force, as well as the projected role of immigrants in plugging gaps in the U.S. workforce.

International Students and Post-study Work Opportunities in the U.S.: Necessary but Vulnerable,
Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, April 2022, 5 pp.
Author: Rajika Bhandari

This report reviews policies governing post-study work opportunities for international students in the U.S.  These opportunities are “critical” not only for attracting such students to the U.S., but also for gaining practical experience in their fields of study and for enabling the “best and the brightest” of these students to pursue “the rocky path” to permanent residence in the U.S.  According to a recent report, there were 203,885 international students, or 22.3% of the total international student population, pursuing such training, referred to as Optional Practical Training or OPT. The author examines some of the obstacles these students face in pursuing such training, including delays in the processing of applications, fee increases that discourage some students from applying, and more attractive opportunities in other countries, like Canada, that are drawing some of these students away from the U.S.  The report contains links to other studies examining this topic.


Closing the Skills Gap: The Data Behind Talent Shortages, High-Skilled Immigration, and Economic Impact,
Technet, December 3, 2021, 78 pp.

This report examines the severity of the current skills gap in the U.S., the implications it has for the economy, and the role that high-skilled immigration can play in closing the gap. If left unaddressed, according to the authors, the talent shortage of workers with post-secondary degrees will result in more than 9 million job vacancies and $1.2 trillion in lost production over the next decade. While education reform is critical for narrowing the skills gap, the report argues that education is a two-decade investment that will not solve the current skilled labor shortage. With the U.S. not producing enough skilled degree holders to fill demand, expanding high-skilled immigration, the authors suggest, is the best solution to shrink the current skills gap and stimulate new business development and economic growth. The report further argues that this type of immigration expands the country’s tax base, increases entrepreneurial activity and innovation, creates more jobs and opportunities for Americans, and strengthens America’s position as a global leader. The authors recommend that Congress update H-1B visa guidelines to increase the number of high-skilled immigrants allowed into the country. The report concludes with tech sector reports on all 50 states analyzing the role of immigration in sustaining the state tech sector.


Immigrant Essential Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic,
Immigrant Learning Center, December 2021, 36 pp.
Authors: Anuradha Sajjanhar & Denzil Mohammed

This report explores the contributions of immigrant essential workers and how they were affected by the pandemic, public sentiment, and government policies. Part I of the report provides a detailed demographic picture of foreign-born workers in key industries, based on American Community Survey (ACS) data. The authors note that immigrant workers, while 17.4% of the labor force, make up 18.3% of essential workers, often working in hazardous conditions without adequate labor protections or access to healthcare. Their numbers are even larger in certain occupations, e.g., 36.3% of home health aides and 28.8% of physicians, as well as 22% of agricultural workers, 20.3% of service workers, and 20% of construction and manufacturing workers. Part I also provides a detailed narrative of the challenges many immigrant workers face and their contributions during the pandemic, based on interviews with immigrant essential workers in California, Minnesota and Texas, and policy experts and community organizers from across the country. Part II of the report examines how, despite public and political recognition of the value of essential workers, federal and state policies often failed to address the needs of immigrants and their families. Immigrant workers were concentrated in sectors most prone to layoffs such as service, hospitality, construction, transportation and manufacturing. Many, especially undocumented workers, were ineligible for federal COVID relief programs, while language barriers, mistrust, and fear of the public charge rule kept many immigrants from accessing health or non-cash benefits they were eligible for. The report also offers examples of local and state initiatives that helped remedy this situation, noting the work of grassroots movements and community organizations in pushing for policy changes. These included emergency economic relief and access to healthcare for immigrants unable to access federal programs, and the easing of licensing and credentialing requirements in response healthcare worker shortages. Moving forward, the report notes how better protections for immigrant essential workers, including improved access to workface benefits and healthcare, would benefit all Americans.
(Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)


Deterring Worker Complaints Worsens Workplace Safety: Evidence from Immigration Enforcement,
Social Science Research Network, October 12, 2021, 65 pp.
Authors: Amanda M. Grittner & Matthew S. Johnson

Regulatory agencies overseeing the labor market often rely on worker complaints to guide their enforcement work. However, as the authors of this paper point out, if certain workers face barriers to complain, this system could result in misplaced and ineffective enforcement efforts and create disparities in working conditions. To investigate these connections, the authors examine how the introduction of the Secure Communities program—a localized immigration enforcement program—affected occupational safety and health. They found that the participation of counties in Secure Communities substantially reduced complaints to government safety regulators, resulting in a rise of injuries at workplaces with Hispanic workers.  In response to worker fear and reluctance to complain, employers disregarded worker safety regulations leading to a deterioration in workplace safety. The authors recommend that agencies develop ways to enable workers to make complaints in a way that is truly anonymous and hidden from their employers. Additionally, agencies could provide formal guarantees for immigrant workers that filing a complaint will not trigger an investigation into their immigration status.


Opening Pathways to Practice for Internationally Trained Physicians: State Policy Options,
WES Global Talent Bridge, October 8, 2021 Update, 7 pp.

This brief report reviews examples of policy options that states are employing to assist international medical graduates (IMGs) who face significant challenges in re-entering the health care workforce in the United States.  These challenges often include having to repeat years of post-graduate clinical training (residency) and limited access to residency training positions. In order to facilitate physician licensure, states have pursued strategies such as state-funded residencies and residency preparation programs, faculty licensing, exceptional qualification waivers, and restricted physician licensure.  The report gives examples from the following states:  1) Minnesota (“expanding the number of residency slots available to IMGs” and developing an IMG Assistance Program); 2) Arkansas and Virginia (“IMGs are permitted to practice clinically in a medical school setting for a limited term under an ‘academic,’ ‘professorial,’ or ‘fellow’ license, thus satisfying clinical experience requirements and eliminating the need for a U.S. residency for IMGs seeking full licensure”); 3) Washington (“waiving residency training requirements“ for IMGs with ‘exceptional ability,’ including ‘extensive work related to ‘research, medical excellence, or employment’”); 4) West Virginia, Washington, and Minnesota (“creating a category of ‘restricted’ or ‘limited’ physician licensure that allows IMGs with exceptional professional credentials to practice under limitations or conditions defined by the state’s Board of Medicine”); and 5) Missouri (“issuing licenses for assistant or associate physicians” who meet appropriate criteria to “practice in underserved areas under a supervising physician”). Additionally, state-funded clinical readiness programs for IMGs have been funded in California, Minnesota, and Washington; and inter-governmental and cross-sector work groups or commissions have been created to explore ways to reduce barriers to licensure in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington. (Robert Like, MD, MS)

Recognizing the Role of Internationally Trained Health Workers Beyond COVID-19,
WES Global Talent Bridge, 2021, 5 pp.
Authors: Fatima Sanz & Victoria Francis

This short paper discusses the potential role that internationally trained health care workers could play in easing labor shortages in the health care industry. Already residing in the U.S., many are underemployed, unemployed, or working outside their field of training because of state licensing “requirements that are onerous, time-consuming, expensive, and in some cases unrelated to their area of specialty and competency.” The paper provides a summary of efforts undertaken by six states during the COVID-19 pandemic to relax these requirements. The authors argue that state officials should build on these short-term initiatives by “consider(ing) the unique circumstances of immigrants and refugees.” For example, requiring clinical experience within the last five years for licensure would not work for refugees, who on average spend ten years in displacement before admission to the U.S.  The authors believe it would be wise for state officials to secure advice from leaders of immigrant communities on how to open up licensing opportunities for foreign-trained health care professionals.


New evidence of widespread wage theft in H-1B visa program,
Economic Policy Institute, December 9, 2021, 34 pp.
Authors: Ron Hira & Daniel Costa

This paper focuses on a loophole in the enforcement of labor standards in the H-1B visa program, which brings foreign-trained, college-educated, skilled workers to the United States to ease labor shortages in information technology companies. The law specifies that these workers cannot be paid less than the prevailing wage in the industry, so as not to jeopardize the jobs and working conditions of U.S. workers. However, some companies appear to be dodging this requirement by using outsourcing companies, which currently receive the bulk of H-1B visas. The Department of Labor (DOL) only enforces the prevailing wage rule when companies directly hire H-1B visa holders, not when H-1B visa holder works for outsourcing companies. According to the authors, “this DOL interpretation appears to be irrational and unjustified, and is the main reason why the dozens of news reports chronicling thousands of U.S. workers training their H-1B replacements – at Disney, the University of California, New York Life, Mass Mutual, Southern California Ediston, etc – have never resulted in a single penalty or any change in business behavior.” The paper relies on information obtained in a whistleblower case filed by former employees of HCL Technologies, an India-based IT staffing firm that earned $11 billion in revenue last year. The firm has received more than 31,000 H-1B visas since 2009.

Immigrants’ U.S. Labor Market Disadvantage in the COVID-19 Economy: The Role of Geography and Industries of Employment,
Migration Policy Institute, Policy Brief, September 2021, 16 pp.
Authors: Randy Capps et al

This brief uses data from the U.S. Census Current Population Survey to examine employment patterns among immigrant and U.S.-born workers from mid-2019 to mid-2021. Data show that lockdowns during the initial COVID-19 wave affected the employment of immigrants more than U.S.-born workers. Over that period, immigrants accounted for almost 28 percent of the 5.2 million decline in employment, though they comprised 17 percent of the workforce in 2019, with the sharpest drop among immigrant women. But by July 2021, with the economy in recovery mode, the unemployment rates for immigrants dropped below those of U.S.-born workers. Employment fell the most in the first phase of the pandemic in the Census subregions of New England, the Middle Atlantic, the East North Central, and the Pacific, home to urban areas with the highest share of foreign-born workers. Economies in these regions, which depend heavily on leisure and hospitality, construction, and personal services, have also recovered more slowly. Immigrant employment rose by contrast in May–July 2021 in the “East South Central” and “West South Central” subregions, areas that include food supply chain industries that have remained essential during the pandemic. These findings suggest that, as the country recovers, immigrants are at a labor market disadvantage relative to the U.S.-born population in terms of the regions where they live and the industries where they work. If these trends continue, they are likely to lead to geographic dispersal of the immigrant population—away from the traditional gateway cities with high unemployment rates and uncertain prospects in central business districts, and towards smaller cities and rural areas, particularly in the Midwest and South, that appear to be re-bounding more quickly. U.S. workers including immigrants, the brief concludes, could also benefit from upskilling opportunities to help them find jobs in industries that have recently fared better, including finance, health care, education, social services, and public administration. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)


H-1B Denial Rates Through the Second Quarter of FY 2021,
National Foundation for American Policy, August 2021, 10 pp.
Author: Stuart Anderson

This paper notes that denial rates for first-time H-1B petitions were much lower during the first two quarters of FY 2021 (most of which took place during the Trump administration) than during the same period in FY 2020 largely because of Trump administration losses in federal courts. The rate was 7.1% in 2021, compared to 28.6% in 2020. The Trump administration tried to make its H-1B policies lawful through an interim final rule issued in October 2020, but that rule was vacated for violating the Administrative Procedures Act. The denial rate for “continuing” employment petitions was 3% in FY2021 compared to 7% in FY 2020 and as high as 12% in FY 2018 and FY 2019.  These rates do not include the 223,613 registrations in 2021 that were in excess of the 85,000 annual limit (More than 70% of H-1B petitions are rejected without adjudication). A separate NFAP analysis found that Trump administration policies have cost employers roughly $600 million a year, or more than $3 billion, in legal and filing fees since 2015. The author points out that H-1B visas are a crucial pathway for high-skilled foreign nationals, including international students, to work long-term in the U.S. and avail themselves of opportunities to eventually become permanent residents and U.S. citizens.

The H-1B visa program remains the “outsourcing visa,”
Economic Policy Institute, March 31, 2021, 6 pp.
Authors: Ron Hire & Daniel Costa

This paper calls attention to weaknesses in the H-1B visa program, which permit outsourcing companies to hire foreign-born workers, sometimes leading to the displacement of U.S. workers. Nearly one-quarter or 20,000 of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued in FY 2020 went to 17 outsourcing firms, the three largest of which were Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, and Cognizant Technology.  Recognizing the importance of the H-1B program as a source of skilled labor to fill labor shortages in the American economy, the authors call for reform of the program, not its abolition. Despite promises by the Trump administration to fix these problems, no real reforms were enacted.  According to the authors, “members of Congress and Presidents from both parties over the past 14 years… have turned a blind eye to fixing it.”  The paper concludes with a series of recommendations to reform the program, including implementation of the Labor Department’s prevailing wage methodology rule, distributing H-1B visas by wage rate rather than by random lottery, and requiring employers who outsource their IT and other functions to file labor condition applications attesting to the Labor Department that they are not adversely impacting their U.S. workforce by using the H-1B program.


Fading Beacon: American May Never Regain its Dominance as a Destination for Foreign Students. Here’s Why that Matters,

American Public Media & The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 3, 2021, 6 pp.
Authors: Karen Fischer & Sasha Aslanian

This article explores the history of international education in the US and its potential future prospects here and globally. Colleges and universities in the United States typically attract more than a million international students annually, with Asian countries sending the most students. A strategy that began in the nineteenth century with missionary goals and evolved into a tool of Cold War diplomacy morphed in the 2000s into a critical part of higher education’s business model, generating $44 billion in annual revenue. More flexible visa policies towards international students coupled with the impact of the Great Recession drove an expansion of recruitment efforts, with international students helping hold down tuition for US residents and make up for lost state support. Colleges and universities’ growing financial reliance on international students, particularly from China, made them vulnerable in the face of the Trump administration’s anti-China politics and travel bans. The COVID-19 pandemic in turn triggered institutional shutdowns, travel restrictions and consular closures, along with fears of growing anti-Asian racism. Longer-term concerns with the costs and uncertain return on investment of a US degree and immigration policies that limit students’ opportunities to remain and work in the US have also eroded the appeal of an American education. International student enrollment in the US dropped 72 percent in 2020, even as international students have been increasingly looking to institutions in other receiving countries such as Britain, Canada and Australia. A pandemic-driven shift to online learning and the creation of satellite international campuses have helped US institutions weather these challenges, and demand for student visas to the US rebounded in May and June to 93 percent of 2019 levels. The long-term picture remains uncertain, however, as international students explore a wider range of options and new regional clusters of sending countries and culturally or linguistically linked institutions grow across the globe. At the same time, the absence of clear pathways to employment and permanent residence erodes the appeal of the U.S. as a preferred destination for many international students. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)


Career Pathways for International Students,
American Council on Education, 2021, 22 pp.
Author: Anna Esaki-Smith

According to a 2017 survey of 100 postsecondary institutions, 65 percent of respondents stated that they did not track international alumni, despite the increasingly important connection between overseas study and work in today’s global economy. Career Pathways for International Students examines how the study-abroad experience impacts the career paths of international graduates from U.S. universities.  Using data drawn from various surveys, reports, and research, including Optional Practical Training (OPT) and H1-B data, the report calls attention to the declining enrollment rates of international students at American colleges and universities, as well as the success of U.S. competitors, including the U.K., Canada, India and China, in attracting these students. Among the contributing factors are barriers to obtaining work visas and the insular policies of the Trump administration, which scared away many students.  The report further highlights the lack of consistent data across graduate levels and subject fields in tracking international graduates, which has impeded the U.S.’s ability to increase recruitment and enrollment. The report concludes with several proposed research questions and suggests that a U.S.-specific study should be completed to gather stronger data showing the connection between international study and employability. (Stephanie Depauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Immigrant and Other U.S. Workers a Year into the Pandemic: A Focus on Top Immigrant States,
Migration Policy Institute, June 2021, 22 pp.
Authors: Julia Gelatt et al

This brief explores data on employment trends for U.S.- and foreign-born workers nationally and in the ten states with the largest immigrant populations, with a focus on three key industries: health care, construction, and leisure and hospitality. At the peak of the recession in Q2 of 2020, immigrants experienced steeper unemployment levels than U.S.-born workers, both at the national level and in nearly all top immigrant destination states, with immigrant women being hit the hardest. Much of this trend is due to the higher concentrations of immigrants in industries and occupations where layoffs were more widespread. And while immigrants saw their employment rates recover more quickly than those of U.S.-born workers in Q1 of 2021, immigrants’ employment rates remained below pre-pandemic levels relative to those of the U.S. born both nationally and in half of the top immigrant destination states. The study notes multiple factors shaping the state trajectory of immigrant employment during the pandemic, reflecting states’ different approaches to balancing public health and economic goals. These factors included the timing and length of state lockdowns, varied definitions of “essential workers” (which allowed some workers to remain in their jobs during lockdowns, especially in health care); and the pandemic’s varying impact on different industries (with job losses in leisure and hospitality being particularly sharp). Contextual factors such as states’ different experience with the pandemic and their mix of industries also affected rates of unemployment among all populations. As of June 2021, the study concludes, prospects for immigrant employment in the U.S. looked good, but the strength and speed of the recovery is still to be seen, as well as how much the nature of work has shifted due to factors such as changing consumer preferences and accelerated automation. What opportunities lie ahead for immigrant workers will likely continue to vary strongly, however, depending on where they live and their industries of employment. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)


Leaving Money on the Table: The Persistence of Brain Waste among College-Educated Immigrants,
Migration Policy Institute, June 2021, 23 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix

This paper takes a look at the characteristics of college-educated immigrants, and highlights those characteristics that correlate with a high level of underemployment or unemployment. The authors note that nearly half of recent immigrants (those who have arrived in the past five years) have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Twenty-one percent of college-educated immigrants are either unemployed or working in jobs that require no more than a high school diploma (compared to 16 percent of native-born college graduates). The authors note that this “brain waste” is strongly related to lack of English proficiency (with 55 percent of those who don’t speak English, or who don’t speak it “well” being unemployed or underemployed.) Other factors include race and ethnicity, gender, whether the immigrant’s education took place within or outside the U.S., and legal status. The authors suggest a number of policy reforms and practice interventions that could help college-educated immigrants find employment in jobs appropriate to their skill level—for example, programs aimed at improving the English proficiency of immigrant professionals, and licensing and regulatory reforms that do a better job of taking into account education attained abroad. The paper includes some state-level statistics on college-educated immigrants and brain waste, and mentions some experiments taking place in states to remedy the problem. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

Decoding Global Talent: Onsite and Virtual: A study of 209,000 people in 190 countries shows big shifts in the map of global mobility,
Boston Consulting Group and The Network, March 2021
Authors: Orsolya Kovacs-Ondrejkovic et al

For decades, the United States was the top destination for many foreign workers, and millions of people around the world were willing to relocate to another country for work. The authors of this report, who have studied global public opinion on these matters since 2014, found for the first time that Canada has replaced the U.S. as the top foreign employment destination, and fewer people, in general, want to move abroad for work. To arrive at these findings, 209,000 people in 190 countries were surveyed. And while the findings contradict previous narratives about the fluidity of talent in a global economy, they also demonstrate a growing flexibility towards remote work. For instance, despite the drop in the number of people wanting to relocate to the U.S. to find work, the U.S. remained the top choice for international remote employment. Additionally, more than half of respondents said that they would work remotely for an employer with no physical presence in their home country. According to the report, these findings are reflections of changes in the workplace and global consciousness as a result of the pandemic, shifting immigration policies and a rise in nationalism. The report suggests that businesses and governments must understand and respond to these evolving attitudes to ensure that workplace demand is met. (Georgia Whitaker for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Being Their Own Boss: A Review of American Demography and Entrepreneurship,
American Enterprise Institute, February 2020, 14 pp.
Author: Lyman Stone

In 1910, more than one-third of American workers were self-employed. In 2020, this figure was just nine percent. This report from the American Enterprise Institute finds that although the desire to be an entrepreneur still exists, economically beneficial entrepreneurship has declined in the United States. Data suggests, on both the supply and demand side, that aspiring entrepreneurs are facing many challenges in achieving success. Despite the fact that large numbers of Americans were engaged in freelance or entrepreneurial work, much of this work was not full-time in nature; nor did it provide a primary income. The report documents that most of the growth in freelancing occurred in fields with little chance of evolving into larger business or entrepreneurial endeavors. Demographic factors are also working against entrepreneurs today, including low birth rates and an aging population resulting in diminished labor force growth. For example, an older population leads to “consumer inertia,” or a loyalty to existing companies and products. Although policymakers at local, state and federal levels have some tools to counter these larger demographic trends, the author concludes that the most promising solution is to “encourage more immigration.” (Georgia Whitaker for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Are College Graduate Immigrants on Work Visas Cheaper than Natives?
The Center for Growth and Opportunity, Utah State University, March 30, 2021, 22 pp.
Author: Omid Bagheri

Between 2007 and 2017, the U.S. issued an average of 240,000 H-1B temporary work visas per year to highly-skilled immigrant college graduates. Drawing on the 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2017 cycles of the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), the Center for Growth and Opportunity analyzed the wage gap between immigrant college graduates working in the U.S. on a work visa and their U.S.-born counterparts. The NSCG provides a variety of socio-economic and demographic data, including detailed information on education and residential status. “Are College Graduate Immigrants on Work Visas Cheaper than Natives?” found that highly educated foreign workers holding temporary work visas have a wage premium of 29.5 percent over U.S. natives. These workers are, in short, not a cheap source of labor. The study also found that this wage premium decreased from 2010 to 2017, possibly due to an increase in the supply of highly educated workers. Across the period of observation, the study also found the wage premium varied based on country of origin, occupation, and field of education. From a policy perspective, the study suggests that an increase in the supply of highly skilled immigrant workers could help the U.S. economy and prevent jobs from moving overseas. (Georgia Whitaker for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

How Internationally Trained Immigrants and Refugees Can Fight COVID-19, Re-open our Economy, and Advance Equity & Opportunity: Recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration,
Upwardly Global, March 2021, 26 pp.
Author: Maurice Belanger

This report from Upwardly Global looks at the employment barriers facing internationally trained immigrants in the U.S., their potential economic impact, and opportunities for federal policy changes to support this population. Reviewing the current policy and research literature, including on the impact of the pandemic, this wide-ranging report notes that some 25 percent of the two million immigrants with college degrees are underemployed or unemployed due to a range of factors ranging from lack of English proficiency to limited professional networks to licensing and credential recognition barriers. The result is not just lost earnings and tax revenues but lost opportunity in filling urgent current and future hiring gaps in skilled manufacturing, finance, IT, STEM fields, and especially in health care. Noting Upwardly Global’s success over two decades in providing coaching, training, and resources to support 18,000 immigrant job seekers, the report closes with fifteen detailed legislative and administrative policy recommendations, including: coordination of federal initiatives and support of state immigrant inclusion efforts through an executive-level Office of New Americans; engaging employers through tax incentives promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring; review and reform of state occupational licensing processes, particularly in the healthcare field; support for existing legislation addressing barriers faced by internationally trained professionals, including the US Citizenship Act of 2021, the New Deal for New Americans Act, and the Professional’s Access to Health Workforce Integration Act; increased funding for workforce development programs that can help internationally trained professionals succeed in the U.S. job market, including WIOA and programs at community colleges; reversing the barriers to immigrant and refugee economic inclusion imposed by the previous administration; and bolstering the U.S. refugee resettlement program with funding to support refugees in fully leveraging their education and skills in U.S. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)

Claims of Labor Shortages in H-2B Industries Don’t Hold Up to Scrutiny,
Economic Policy Institute, March 7, 2021, 11 pp.
Author: Daniel Costa

While some business executives cite labor shortages to justify their push for the Biden administration to double the H2-B temporary work visa quota, the author of this article cites data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources to refute that claim. In his article “Claims of labor shortages in H-2B industries don’t hold up to scrutiny,” published by the Economic Policy Institute, Daniel Costa argues that the 2021 economy shows no evidence of labor shortages in the jobs usually filled by H2-B visa holders; in fact, domestic unemployment in these sectors remains high with nearly five million people out of work in the top six H2-B occupations, and 1.7 million more people in the top 10 industries looking for work than a year earlier. The author sees other motivations behind efforts to expand the H2-B visa system, such as an opportunity to underpay and exploit temporary migrant workers. Regulation of the system is not adequate to prevent this abuse or to incentivize recruitment of domestic workers. Other labor abuses by employers have included debt bondage, controlling the worker’s documents, and leveraging the employer-sponsored visa status to hush workers in cases of underpayment or unsafe conditions. The author argues that increasing numbers will both expand the scale of labor abuse and entrench domestic unemployment in some of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. The author argues that the Biden administration should refuse to expand the number of H2-B visas available until the program is reformed and focus instead on improving recruitment among the unemployed in-country and ensuring migrant workers be treated and paid fairly and have a path to citizenship. 
(Katelin Reger for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute) 

Primer: H-2B Visas Are Vital to Meet Workforce Needs, but Reforms are Necessary,
Bipartisan Policy Center, February 8, 2021, 18 pp.
Author:  Sadikshya Nepal

This brief gives a history of the H-2B visa program, available to workers coming to perform seasonal, non-agricultural work. Over the years, there have been a number of efforts to reform the program, as well as to raise the cap — currently set at 66,000 per year. The article also reviews the rules governing the application for and use of H-2B visas, designed to protect American workers and to ensure foreign workers receive the pay and hours promised by the employer. Currently, demand for these visas far outstrips supply. Employers have argued that the rules are overly burdensome. Others argue that the rules do not sufficiently protect American workers and that foreign workers are routinely exposed to abuse. The author concludes by suggesting that, while the economy and demand for labor have greatly increased since the visa cap was set more than three decades ago, the program must be changed in a way that balances the needs of employers, foreign and domestic workers. While the author suggests the program is in need of "major reform," no recommendations are included in the paper. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)

H-2B Visas:  The Complex Process for Nonagricultural Employers to Hire Guest Workers,
CATO Institute, February 16, 2021, 41 pp.
Author:  David J. Bier

This paper discuses the H-2B visa program — for temporary workers coming to perform seasonal, non-agricultural work. It explains in detail the complex rules employers must navigate when applying for H-2B workers. The author provides various statistics on the H-2B program, including top sending countries, job categories for which the greatest number of H-2B workers are employed and states receiving the greatest number of H-2B workers. The author discusses abuse in the H-2B program, and notes that most violations found by the Department of Labor are minor and, according to the author, the complexity of the rules make it likely some employers will be tripped up. The author also discusses trends in the U.S. workforce that have led to decreased availability of U.S. workers and increased demand for H-2B workers. He also shows that the hiring of H-2B workers by a company leads to the hiring of U.S. workers at higher levels in the company (supervisors, accountants, etc., to support a larger business made possible by having the necessary workers at lower levels). In the author’s view, “[m]any employers cannot use the program for three reasons: the cap is too low, the costs are too high, and the process is too long and complex.” He makes a number of recommendations for expanding the program and making the rules less burdensome for employers.
(Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)

Federal labor standards enforcement in agriculture,
Economic Policy Institute, December 15, 2020, 72 pp.
Authors: Daniel Costa et al

Farmworkers in the U.S. earn among the lowest wages of any occupational group and are more likely to experience workplace injuries, yet they are vital to maintaining the food supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, unauthorized and H-2A “guest” workers – together making up approximately 60 percent of U.S. farmworkers – have limited labor rights and are susceptible to wage theft and other abuses because of their immigration status. Federal Labor Standards Enforcement in Agriculture, a report from the Economic Policy Institute, seeks to help stakeholders understand the enforcement record of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) over the last two decades, in particular where violations occurred, which laws were violated and what penalties were imposed. Drawing on WHD databases on labor violations, the study found that employers were ordered to pay $76 million in back wages to 154,000 farmworkers and $63 million in civil monetary penalties for violations between 2000 and 2019. However, the study goes on to say, underfunding and understaffing at the WHD means that back wages recovered for farmworkers “may just be the tip of the iceberg.” The probability of any single farm being investigated for federal employment law violations in a given year is only around one percent. In order to more effectively protect farmworkers, the authors recommend that policymakers provide adequate resources to fund wage and hour staffing and enforcement. The report also calls for enforcement efforts to target the most significant violators – farm labor contractors – as well as repeat violators, and to consider harsher penalties to deter future violations. (Georgia Whitaker for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Do Employer-Sponsored Immigrants Fare Better in Labor Markets than Family-Sponsored Immigrants,
Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, November 2020, 23 pp.
Author: Julia Gelatt

It is often assumed that immigrants sponsored by family members or who enter through humanitarian channels contribute less to the economy than those sponsored by employers. This assumption has led to proposals to scale back family-sponsored immigration, reduce refugee admissions and/or eliminate the diversity visa program in order to make more green cards available for high-skilled workers. Exploring this question of whether employer-sponsored immigrants or family-sponsored immigrants fare better in the U.S. labor market, Julia Gelatt consults data gathered from the New Immigrant Survey, which tracked a group of new lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who obtained green cards in 2003 and followed up with them in 2007-2009. Gelatt found that, while employer-sponsored immigrants showed the highest levels of “human capital and employment,” nearly all LPRs have higher employment rates than U.S. workers generally. In addition, refugees and asylees had the highest rates of self-employment (nine percent in the first survey, 12 percent in the second) compared to other LPR groups (three percent in the first survey, seven percent in the second), and these LPRs overall were well-educated (46 percent of the LPRs considered in the report had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2003, compared to 27 percent of all Americans aged 25 years and older). Gelatt acknowledges employer-sponsored immigrants have higher employment rates and work in higher-skilled occupations than those not sponsored by employers. However, by the time of the follow-up survey, respondents had “employment-to-population ratios that exceeded those of U.S. male and female workers overall,” and refugees, asylees and diversity visa holders showed the fastest growth in skill level at their jobs. Gelatt concludes by suggesting that, if the U.S. is looking for immigrants with the greatest “labor-market success,” then such success is indeed found in employer-sponsored immigration. However, she argues that policymakers need to consider objectives beyond success in the labor market, such as how LPRs contribute to the overall economy through lower-skilled labor and which immigrants could best complement U.S. workers. Additionally, when immigrants live within family units and share domestic duties, this mutual support might facilitate higher employment rates for other family members. Furthermore, the objectives of immigration policy go beyond economic benefit to the U.S.: family unity has historically been an important goal of U.S. immigration policy, and humanitarian immigration programs were started to support U.S. foreign policy and global human rights, not for the economic benefit of the U.S. (Samantha Jones for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Temporary Migrant Workers or Immigrants: The Question for U.S. Labor Migration,

Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, November 2020, 26 pp.
Author: Daniel Costa

The U.S. labor migration system currently has more temporary workers than permanent immigrants. Employment-based visa data from 1987 to 2017 show that while the number of permanent immigrant workers remained steady, the number of temporary migrant workers increased dramatically, from more than 300,000 in 1990 to more than 1.4 million in 2017, a shift with potentially far-reaching implications for immigrant integration. “Temporary Migrant Workers or Immigrants: The Question for U.S. Labor Migration” analyzes how the U.S. labor migration system has changed since the enactment of the Immigration Act of 1990, the last major legislative overhaul of the immigration system. The article considers the implications of the shift towards more temporary workers, especially the legal roadblock they face to long-term integration and their lack of political participation. This huge population of temporary workers has few options to remain permanently in the country, a situation that affects their ability to integrate and prevents many from earning higher wages. Many are legally underpaid and “indentured” to their employers, but are not empowered to change their situations as complaining could result in the loss of their immigration status and lead to removal from the country. Immigrants with lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, in contrast, are not tied to a particular employer, are entitled to the same labor standards as U.S. citizens, and earn higher wages. The author argues that Congress should reform the immigration system to give more migrants permanent status, with full labor and employment rights and a pathway to naturalization. As the author suggests, an easier transition to LPR status would allow migrants to make long-term investments and benefit from full participation in American society. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Navigating the Future of Work: The role of Immigrant-Origin Workers in the Changing U.S. Economy,
Migration Policy Institute, October 2020, 41 pp.
Authors: Julia Gelatt et al

Drawing on data from the U.S. Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the work of economists, this far-reaching report explores projections on the future of work in the U.S., with special attention to immigrant populations. Immigrant workers were the main source of U.S. labor market growth through 2018 and will likely represent all growth through 2035, but are often not addressed in such projections. Looking over the next ten years at both “jobs of the future” – those projected to grow with low risk of automation or offshoring – and “declining jobs” – those projected to shrink or grow slowly with higher risk of automation or offshoring – the authors examine how first and second generation immigrant-origin fit into each group compared to U.S.-born workers. High-skilled jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or middle-skilled jobs requiring an associate’s degree or vocational training will grow most, especially in health care, education, management and social services, though low-skilled jobs such as home health aide and food service worker are also projected to increase. Immigrant workers face similar prospects as U.S. workers, with 22 percent and 24 percent respectively in growth sector jobs and 26 percent and 29 percent respectively in declining occupations. Both immigrant and U.S.-born Latinos are less likely though than other workers to hold “jobs of the future” and more likely to hold declining jobs. Immigrant-origin workers overall also face disadvantages in being more likely than U.S.-born workers to lack high school degrees and one-third being limited English proficient; many foreign-educated immigrants moreover may need training and credentialing support to meet employer requirements. The uncertain pace of technological change and labor market adaptations further complicate future projections. Workforce development systems, the report concludes, will need to adapt to help both U.S.-born and immigrant workers gain relevant work-related skills and develop career resilience. The report also proposes that policymakers charged with setting immigration levels carefully monitor labor market trends to match supply to demand. The authors also suggest a new temporary-to-permanent “bridge” visa pathway to allow for employer-sponsored immigration across skill levels and better align this process with U.S. workforce needs. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)


Immigrant Essential Workers are Crucial to America’s COVID-19 Recovery, December 6, 2020, 48 pp.

There are almost 23 million immigrant essential workers in the U.S., making up nearly one in five workers in the total U.S. essential workforce. This paper explores the critical role immigrants play in occupations essential to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. As the report outlines, despite the risks these immigrants face providing essential services to Americans throughout the pandemic, nearly six million essential immigrant workers (including those on temporary non-immigrant visas, seasonal non-immigrants, Dreamers, and those without documentation) lack clear pathways to citizenship. In fact, undocumented immigrants constitute one of the largest groups of immigrant essential workers (5.2 million) and most of them are well established in their communities (71 percent have lived in the U.S. for ten or more years). The report argues Congress should include all essential workers, regardless of immigration status, in COVID-19 relief legislation. Given the outsized contributions of undocumented people, Dreamers, temporary workers, and seasonal agricultural workers to both frontline occupations and long-term recovery, a key part of this relief should include the creation of pathways to lawful permanent residence for all immigrant essential workers. As the report argues, this action would recognize that immigrant essential workers are “vital to the COVID 19 recovery effort” and “an integral part of the U.S. economy.” (Jillian DiPersio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Protecting Undocumented Workers on the Pandemic’s Front Lines,
Center for American Progress, December 2, 2020, 34 pp.
Author: Nicole Prchal Svajlenka

 The U.S.’s 10.4 million undocumented immigrants have an outsized impact on the economy and have been instrumental in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as essential workers, yet are the most vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the crisis and have no clear pathway to legal status. Protecting Undocumented Workers on the Pandemic’s Front Lines, published by the Center for American Progress, investigates the fiscal and economic impacts of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., particularly their overrepresentation in industries essential to fighting the pandemic. Undocumented immigrant workers and their households have $314.9 billion in spending power, contribute about $79.7 billion in federal taxes and $41 billion in local and state taxes. They also pay $17 billion towards Social Security and $4 billion towards Medicare. Undocumented immigrants account for about 3.2 percent of the U.S. population, yet constitute about 4.4 percent of the workforce, including an estimated five million employed in essential industries (nearly three in four undocumented immigrants in the workforce). These undocumented essential workers have been instrumental in fighting the pandemic; about 1.7 million work in the food supply chain, 236,000 in healthcare provision and 188,000 as food servers, administrative workers, custodians and in other occupations that make it possible for labs, nursing homes, and hospitals to function. Given undocumented workers’ significant economic contributions and their critical roles on the front lines of the pandemic, the report argues the Biden administration and Congress should include undocumented immigrants in COVID-19 recovery efforts and create a pathway to legal status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants. These steps would help both protect undocumented immigrants and hasten the U.S. recovery from the pandemic. (Jillian DiPersio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

The Fragile Financial Stability of Immigrant Households in Light of COVID-19,
Prosperity Now (Formerly Corporation for Enterprise Development), July 2020, 12 pp.
Authors: Guillermo Cantor et al

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.’s seven million low- and moderate-income (LMI) immigrant households and over eight million LMI immigrant workers were disproportionately impacted by the resulting financial shock, many suffering job or income loss, food insecurity, missed rent or mortgage payments and avoidance of medical expenses. “The Fragile Financial Stability of Immigrant Households in Light of COVID-19," published by Prosperity Now, uncovers the structural barriers in the U.S. economic and social system that have made immigrant households especially vulnerable to financial instability during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing recession. The brief lists the following reasons why LMI immigrant households were more likely to suffer from financial instability during the pandemic: foreign-born workers tend to be concentrated in industries that pay lower wages and were harder-hit by the pandemic and economic crisis; immigrants have limited access to social safety nets; non-citizen households are less likely to have sufficient savings; immigrants have limited access to high-quality credit; and immigrants tend to live in economically- and racially-segregated neighborhoods, preventing them from accessing high quality and diverse social networks. The federal government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, notably the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, excluded a large portion of the immigrant population, forcing LMI immigrants to either protect their families from COVID-19 by staying home and risking loss of their jobs, or going to work and putting themselves, their families and their communities at risk of infection. The authors argue the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the U.S.’s exclusion of many immigrants from accessing financial and social safety nets is unethical and unsustainable. To maintain and strengthen the economy, and to protect the health of the entire population, the government must regularize the status of immigrants and grant them access to social safety nets. (Jillian DiPersio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


An Early Readout on the Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Crisis: Immigrant Women Have the Highest Unemployment,
Migration Policy Institute, November 2020, 13 pp.
Authors:  Julia Gelatt et al

Immigrant women in the U.S. have been most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of job loss. As noted in this report, the unemployment rate among immigrant women in May 2020 hit its peak at 18.5 percent, declining to 11.2 percent by September. These rates are high compared to other groups (immigrant men, U.S.-born women and U.S.-born men), all of whom sustained unemployment rates below 16 percent in the Spring, falling to under eight percent in September. As the authors argue, this divergence can be partially explained by the fact that immigrant women often perform two roles: worker and mother. In part due to the shift to remote schooling, women with children in school (children between the ages of five and 17) sustained a larger drop in labor force participation than did women without school-age children. Immigrant women, meanwhile, are more likely than U.S.-born women to have children in school (26 percent of immigrant women versus 17 percent of U.S.-born women). Immigrant women workers are also concentrated in certain hard-hit sectors of the economy, particularly leisure and hospitality. Still, immigrant women experienced higher rates of job loss than others with the same occupations, suggesting additional factors, like low educational attainment and lack of social capital, also contribute to their economic vulnerability and high unemployment rates. As the report concludes, addressing the needs of immigrant women workers, e.g. by providing greater access to childcare, is a prerequisite for economic recovery. Prior to the recession, immigrant women made up seven percent of the labor force, with higher percentages in urban areas. Bringing immigrant women and other severely impacted groups back into the labor market, the authors argue, is vital to the U.S. economic recovery.  (Jillian DiPersio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

H-1B visas and prevailing wage levels
Economic Policy Institute, May 4, 2020, 23 pp.
Authors: Daniel Costa & Ron Hira

Sixty percent of H1-B positions in the United States are assigned wage levels significantly below the occupation’s median wage. This report from the Economic Policy Institute examines defects in the current H1-B program, chief among them the underpayment of H1-B workers relative to U.S. workers in similar occupations and regions. The authors use Department of Labor Condition Application data, as well as visa petition data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to show the frequency of underpayment among foreign-born workers in the U.S. workforce, as well as the significant role that outsourcing plays in undercutting prevailing wage levels. For instance, the report finds that the two lowest permissible H-1B prevailing wage levels are significantly lower than the local median salaries surveyed for those occupations, that the 30 largest H-1B employers accounted for more than one-quarter of H-1B visa petitions among the more than 53,000 H-1B employers, and that half of these top 30 companies use an outsourcing hiring model. The article further explores the program’s problematic relation to U.S. workers as the program is currently being used to fill positions that should be prioritized for recent U.S. college graduates. The authors make recommendations to move the H1-B program back to its intended purpose of bringing in workers who have special skills in short supply in the U.S., such as eliminating the two lowest possible wage levels. The authors finally look toward the passage of Senators Durbin and Grassley’s H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act as the simplest solution to ensure H-1B wages are fair while ensuring that college-educated U.S. workers are not undermined in the workforce.
(Stephanie DePauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

The Immigrant Income Gap,
Harvard Business Review, May 7, 2020, 11 pp.
Authors: Stacey Fitzsimmons et al

Many economic models see first-generation immigrants at an economic disadvantage compared to their second-generation offspring. This study from researchers in Canada and the U.S. looks beyond immigrant generation to explore how gender, race, and mother tongue also shape the economic advancement of immigrants in Canada, drawing on a sample of 20,000 employees from 6,000 Canadian firms. As an immigrant-heavy country with dual language policies, a relatively welcoming political environment, and a merit-based immigration system, Canada represents an interesting test case for the impact of such factors, hypothesized as representing economic barriers. Taking an “intersectional” approach the study looked at 24 combinations of these four factors that might affect pay or promotions, controlling for individual characteristics (age, experience, education, occupation, and unionization) and firm characteristics (size, industry, performance, and international competition). Overall, the researchers found that relative levels of pay and promotion are loosely predicted by how many “barriers” (gender, race, immigrant generation, and mother tongue) a group experiences. Both non-immigrant women of color and first-generation immigrant men of color, both experiencing two barriers, receive higher pay than most groups experiencing three barriers, such as first-generation Anglophone women of color. Some groups though received even less than predicted based on demographics (e.g., Anglophone daughters of immigrants who are people of color—with two barriers, gender and race—receive far lower than the predicted pay); other groups received far more than predicted (e.g., first-generation Anglophone white men, with a single barrier as first-generation immigrants). The most surprising finding was that top and bottom earners were both first-generation immigrants, white Anglophone/Francophone men at the top, women of color working in a non-native language at the bottom, with white Anglophone/Francophone men in fact out-earning white non-immigrant men. While more work is needed, the researchers conclude, to understand why some results are so far away from the overall pattern, any analysis of immigrants’ outcomes should consider race, gender, and language alongside generation to get the full picture. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)

International Migration and Work: Charting an Ethical Approach to the Future,
Center for Migration Studies, March 16, 2020, 45 pp.
Author: Donald Kerwin

This paper explores the future of work, international migration, and the intersection of the two at a time of rapid change, uncertainty and disruption for migrants, laborers, their families and communities.  It draws on human rights principles, international law and religious values, particularly from the Catholic tradition, to chart an ethical approach to the governance of these timeless phenomena. The author puts forward 12 policy recommendations to ensure worker and migrant rights are protected and that societies as a whole prepare for the disruptive changes in the labor market. Among the recommendations:  as economies are transformed by automation, artificial intelligence, and robotization, governments should “not privatize work-related decisions or cede them to market forces;” the social safety net should be extended to all migrants and benefits should be made portable from country to country; lifelong learning opportunities should be extended to all workers to allow them to adapt to rapid change; societies should remove antiquated credentialing and hiring policies that discriminate against migrants; and governments should commit to inclusive and enforced labor standards that cover all workers, including those in the informal economy. This paper was written for the International Catholic Migration Commission as part of a two-year initiative entitled “The Future of Work, Labour after Laudato Sì.”

Global Demand for Medical Professionals Drives Indians Abroad Despite Acute Domestic Health-Care Worker Shortages,
Migration Policy Institute, January 23, 2020, 8 pp.
Authors: Margaret Walton-Roberts & S. Irudaya Rajan

As the second most populous country in the world (with more than 1.35 billion people), and one that educates growing numbers of medical professionals, India has exported these workers to other countries in large numbers.  India, for example, has been the world’s largest source of immigrant physicians since its emergence as an independent nation in 1947 -- with the U.S., UK, and Australia being the top three destination countries.  In recent years, as the country has expanded nursing education, large numbers have gone overseas, particularly from the State of Kerala, and with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries as the main destinations. This report examines some of the interconnections between medical education and practice in India and the world market for health care professionals. The authors mention the role of private health corporations in India which have dominated the expansion of medical education in India and which put a premium on international training and experience. They also discuss efforts by the Indian government to slow the emigration of health care workers in order to bolster the number of such workers practicing in India. Paradoxically, the government also promotes medical tourism by touting the large number of Indian medical professionals who have been trained and/or worked overseas. In recent years, there has been a trend to offshore medical education, with approximately 18,000 Indian medical students enrolled in Chinese universities and around 11,000 in Russian universities. The authors conclude that “policies need to be developed in India and destination countries that will protect the rights of professionals during recruitment and in the workplace, and allow them to fully utilize their skills.” At the same time, the Indian government should regulate recruitment intermediaries that are “the main source of exploitation for prospective nurse migrants.”

Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Economy and Democracy,
Labor and Workforce Life Program, Harvard Law School, 2019, 125 pp.
Authors: Sharon Block & Benjamin Sachs

The 20 wealthiest people in the United States own more wealth (about half the nation’s assets) than 152 million others. Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Economy and Democracy argues that a fundamental redesign of federal labor laws is necessary to ensure that the American economy and democracy are equitable for all. At the heart of this redesign is the concept of countervailing power – a critical tool that working people can utilize in order to achieve a truly equitable nation. In designing its recommendations, the project engaged more than 70 advocates, activists, union leaders, labor law professors, economists, sociologists, technologists, futurists, practitioners, workers, and students from around the world. Eight working groups met over a nearly two-year period. The report discusses various recommendations that provide a roadmap to construct this new law. One of the most important recommendations is that the nation’s labor law should be inclusive of all workers including domestic, agricultural, and undocumented workers, and that a stricter test should be used for determining independent contractor status. Another recommendation calls for sectoral bargaining when a certain threshold of union representation is met, as well as fines for employers who penalize workers for organizing efforts. The authors further propose several additional policy initiatives, including creation of labor courts, a reform of the campaign finance system, and promotion of competition in the labor market. The authors specifically note the lack of advocacy pathways for immigrant and undocumented workers, and suggest that all laws protecting workers rights should be extend to non-citizens employed in the U.S. Although a federal redesign is highly recommended, the authors also point to the critical role of supporting worker innovations at the local and state level, as these innovations can create a solid infrastructure that paves the way for federal reform. (
Stephanie DePauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Reframing Taxigration
Tennessee Law Review, 87:3 (2020), 61 pp.
Author: Jacqueline Lainez Flanagan

“Taxigration,” the intersection between immigration and tax law, is a policy area that needs to be reexamined and reformed in order to ensure that immigrant workers are both paying taxes and receiving some benefits for doing so.  “Reforming Taxigration,” from the Tennessee Law Review, notes that the term emerged to describe a situation where immigrants filed tax returns as part of a path to legalization. Unauthorized immigrants can pay taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) while remaining ineligible for many taxpayer benefits such as social security. Author Jacqueline Lainez Flanagan notes that this phenomenon has given the Social Security Administration a net surplus of more than a trillion dollars between 1937 and 2012. The article notes that because of the chilling effect of the Trump presidency, as well as new legislation since the early 2000s, immigrants are becoming less likely to apply for ITINs. The author suggests that unauthorized immigrant taxpayers deserve increased legal protections, and suggests reforms that would tie immigration benefits to paying taxes, which would in turn expand the U.S. tax base: “The modest proposal central to this work is that if additional protections are granted to undocumented workers who file income taxes, the surge in tax returns filed would benefit both national and state tax revenues and our national immigration system.” (Clare Maxwell for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Trump’s ‘Immployment’ Law Agenda: Intensifying Employment-Based Enforcement and Un-Authorizing the Authorized,
School of Industrial Relations, Cornell University, November 11, 2019, 27 pp.
Authors: Kati L. Griffin & Shannon Gleeson

This article considers President Trump’s immigration efforts through an “immployment” law lens. “Immployment” is a conceptual frame that reminds us to consider (1) immigration policy’s impacts on employers and the employment-based rights of workers, and (2) employment and labor law’s impacts on immigration policy. It draws from available enforcement data to argue that Trump’s regime is intensifying the use of workplace-based immigration enforcement tools such as audits of employer records and arrests of workers at their place of work. While his predecessors used these tools, too, Trump is simultaneously pursuing both high profile worker arrests and bureaucratic audits as key tools of a more aggressive immigration enforcement strategy. The Trump administration is also deviating from his predecessors by un-authorizing large groups of authorized workers. The article focuses its attention primarily on one such targeted group, workers with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), who may soon lose their authorization. It also uses interviews with two dozen immigrant worker advocates in the New York City metropolitan area to convey the ways that the threat of workplace-based immigration enforcement and un- authorization efforts are consequential for workers and the government compliance and benefits regimes that rely on voluntary participation of immigrant workers. 

Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants in the US over Two Centuries (Research Summary),
National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper, October 2019, 36 pp. + appendices
Author: Ran Abramitzky et al

Is the “American Dream” alive and well for immigrant families in the United States? In “Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants in the U.S. Over Two Centuries," researchers from the University of California-Davis, Stanford and Princeton examined the upward mobility of U.S.-born children relative to immigrants from virtually all possible sending countries.  Upon reviewing census records of several million father-son generational pairs over roughly 100 years, the researchers found that, contrary to prevailing media narratives, immigrant children have higher rates of upward mobility relative to U.S-born children. While immigrants have faced obstacles to upward mobility over the past century, the children of immigrants today perform statistically as well as they have always done, regardless of socioeconomic status upon arrival. This pattern may be due to the fact that immigrants tend to move to areas with growing economies, as well as to the linguistic and educational advantages children of immigrants often have over their parents The researchers urge policymakers to take a more long-term mindset in judging the assimilation of immigrant populations, as the dream of building prosperity is often realized in the second generation of immigrant families. (Patrick Bloniasz for The ILC Public Education Institute)

Expanding Eligibility for Professional and Occupational Licensing for Immigrants
Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration et al, September 2019, 10 pp.
This report from the President’s Alliance for Higher Education makes the case for easing federal and state barriers to occupational licensing for all work-authorized immigrants, including DACA recipients, TPS holders and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients. As the report notes, nationally one in four jobs require some sort of license to practice, with the vast majority of licenses issued at the state level. Under federal law, only “qualified” immigrants (including LPR holders, asylees, refugees, and certain other categories) are eligible for a range of federal and state public benefits, including professional licenses. In addition to widely varying state requirements for specific professions, hundreds of thousands of non-qualified but work-authorized immigrants also face a daunting patchwork of state-level requirements and barriers based on individual immigration status as well as foreign education and training. At least twelve states have enacted legislation to reduce licensing barriers for immigrants, especially DACA recipients, and other states have pursued administrative or regulatory actions to facilitate licensing. The potential benefits of these changes include boosting states’ economies by filling in-demand jobs and promoting economic self-sufficiency. The report offers a number of recommendations to address licensing barriers facing work-authorized immigrants, including calling on Congress to enact legislation rescinding the federal and states prohibition of licenses for non-qualified immigrants, and prohibiting the federal government and states from denying licensure based solely on immigration status. The report also recommends that states – many of which are already exploring ways to reduce or streamline licensing requirements for all workers, including immigrants – should re-examine and update licensing regulations that unfairly exclude immigrants and refugees.  

How Do Restrictions on High-Skilled Immigration Affect Offshoring? Evidence from the H-1B Program
Working Paper, May 2019, 33 pp. + appendices
Author:  Britta Glennon

The H-1B program acts as a pathway for high-skilled immigrants, including those trained at U.S. universities, to enter the U.S. labor market. Critics of the program complain that it displaces U.S. workers; supporters argue that it spurs innovation and job creation. In this essay, Britta Glennon explores a different angle, i.e. the extent to which restrictions on the H-1B program encourage employers to hire foreign labor through their foreign affiliates. She examined the hiring practices of employers after passage of the H-1B Reform Act of 2004, which greatly restricted the number of visas available in this category and forced many employers to reconsider their plans to hire workers domestically. She found a “huge growth” in foreign affiliate employment, especially in R&D intensive software IT firms. The three countries with the biggest increases were Canada, India and China. Moreover, there was a substantial increase in foreign affiliate patenting in response to these restrictions on skilled immigrants, which she suggests has obvious policy implications. She suggests that firms are “really creative” in getting around “artificial constraints” and that those people arguing for curtailment of the H-1B program may actually be spurring economic activity elsewhere in the world. An interview with the author about this research may be found at this link.

Immigration and the US Labor Market: A Look Ahead,
Migration Policy Institute Issue Brief, August 2019, 21 pp.
Author: Harry J. Holzer

This issue brief outlines trends in the U.S. labor market that will likely impact future supply and demand for workers—among them, an aging workforce, a greater need for skilled workers, a greater reliance on contract workers, and rising inequality in income that makes work relatively less attractive to lower-skilled workers, making them more likely to drop out of the labor force. The author examines the literature on the impacts of immigration on native workers and concludes, as other studies have, that there is little evidence showing immigrants negatively impact native workers (with some exceptions). The author examines the role immigration should play in the future U.S. labor market. He advocates for moderately increased levels of immigration, with a shift toward immigrants selected on the basis of national economic need, while acknowledging that lower-skilled immigrants also make valuable economic contributions. The author makes a set of recommendations for policies and programs meant to help all American workers—immigrants and natives—who will be buffeted by future technical and demographic shifts. He concludes by noting that the basic goals of comprehensive immigration reform introduced in previous congresses—including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, enhanced legal immigration channels and enhanced immigration enforcement—remain relevant today. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

How Does Immigration Fit into the Future of the US Labor Market,
Migration Policy Institute Policy Brief, August 2019, 21 pp.
Authors: Pia M. Orrenius et al

This issue brief looks at economic trends in the U.S. and considers whether and how immigration fits into the country’s economic future. The essay begins with an examination of demographic trends affecting the workforce, and the impact of those trends on the economy. Baby Boomers are moving into retirement, and workforce participation by natives has been declining beyond what can be explained by retirements. Productivity growth has slowed. Internal migration rates have fallen as has the rate of business creation. There is a growing skills mismatch between employer needs and workforce skills. The authors explain how immigrants can mitigate these trends—by rounding out the workforce skills distribution, participating in the workforce at higher rates than natives, being more likely than natives to start new businesses, and having more geographic mobility, among other characteristics. The authors also examine other trends that might preclude the need for more immigrants—automation and outsourcing—and conclude that these forces will not significantly reduce the need for labor in the long run. The authors also suggest ways to reduce adverse impacts that might result from increased immigration. The authors conclude that a future with less immigration is a future with less economic growth. Americans may be able to live with that outcome, but such a tradeoff should first be carefully examined
(Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

Estimating the Prevalence of Human Trafficking in the United States: Considerations and Complexities,
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Proceedings of a Workshop, September 2019, 12 pp.
Rapporteur: Jordyn White

While many people in the United States understand that human trafficking presents a serious human rights violation, there is significant confusion as to the scale of the problem and the best strategies to address it. ”Estimating the Prevalence of Human Trafficking in the United States: Considerations and Complexities” provides a summary of presentations given during a two day workshop on estimating the prevalence of human trafficking. One challenge lies in the fact that the meaning of the term “human trafficking” can vary across cultures and among researchers and organizations. The way in which human trafficking is defined will determine how incidents are counted, and thus will have a direct bearing on prevalence estimations. There are also methodological challenges involved in collecting data on human trafficking. A lack of visibility for trafficking can make it difficult to identify victims and estimate the prevalence of trafficking in vulnerable populations. Much of the workshop consisted of reports from organizations in the forefront of improving metrics for human trafficking, including the International Conference of Labor Statisticians, the International Labor Organization, the “Research to Action” Project of the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative of the International Organization for Migration. The workshop, which was sponsored by the Office on Women’s Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, underscored the link between prevalence estimation and effective public policy: a clear picture of the size and scope of the problem can help researchers to inform and gain support from policy makers.
(Courtney Grant for the Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Hurting Americans in Order to Hurt Foreigners: Benefit-cost analysis challenges the Trump administration’s effort to end the H-4 EAD program,
Regulation, Spring 2019, 3 pp.
Authors: Ike Brannon & Kevin McGee

The Cato Institute asserts that work authorization for the spouses of high-skilled (H-1B) immigrant workers is a benefit to the U.S. economy and its taxpayers. The Trump administration seeks to end this practice, introduced by the Obama administration in 2015, on the basis that doing so would create more jobs for Americans. In “Hurting Americans in Order to Hurt Foreign Workers,” researchers from the Cato Institute undertook a cost-benefit analysis and survey to show that “ending the ability of these workers …to hold jobs in the United States would at best have no net effect on Americans’ employment and likely would reduce Americans’ employment and wages.” Between 2015 and 2017, more than 90,000 spouses of H-1B foreign-born workers were granted H-4 visas and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). Using demographic data from more than 4,000 of these visa holders, the authors point out that this population is highly educated and high-skilled and that approximately three-fourths are already employed in the U.S. with a majority working in science, technology, engineering and math careers. Owing to their high levels of education and career experience, the authors estimate that H-4 visa holders contribute $5.5 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product every year. Additionally, the researchers estimate that repealing EADs would result in a loss of $1.9 billion in federal tax revenue annually. These factors, coupled with the loss of the economic activity that H-4 visa holders generate and the loss of jobs created from businesses owned by these immigrants would negatively affect U.S. employment and wages. The authors recommend that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs perform a thorough cost-benefit analysis of this proposal before any changes to the visa program are enacted.  (Deb D’Anastasio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Career Pathways in Accounting: Using your Foreign Education in the U.S.,
World Education Services, Global Talent Bridge, 2019, 30 pp.

Gaining entry into U.S. professional fields can be challenging for many immigrants. However, it can also be an opportunity to pursue a new career that builds on past education and experience. This guide published by World Education Services covers resources and strategies to help immigrants build on their foreign education to gain entry into accounting and related career fields in America. The guide describes the accounting profession in the U.S., strategies for getting foreign credentials recognized, educational options, and licensing and certification requirements. Various initiatives are highlighted, such as the SMART goal template, to assist foreign-educated workers in creating clear, goal-oriented plans. As some immigrants may have difficulty completing the lengthy and costly licensing process for regulated professions, the guide suggests building on transferrable skills to pursue alternative career paths, such as accounting software consultant, credit analyst and insurance underwriter. The guide also includes a list of resources related to education, employment, licensing, and financial assistance to help immigrants in their pursuit of an accounting or related career in the U.S. (Stephanie DePauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

The Economic Value of Work Permits for H-4 Visa Holders,
American Action Forum, March 20, 2019, 10 pp.
Author:  Jacqueline Varas

In 2015, the Obama administration gave some spouses of high-skilled, foreign-born workers permission to work while they reside in the U.S. The Trump administration’s 2019 proposal to withdraw this permission could negatively affect the economy, according to this paper from the American Action Forum. The author explains the conditions for granting an H4 visa, which allows the spouses and minor children of H-1B visa holders to live in the U.S. for the duration of the H-1B visa holder’s stay. The study uses American Community Survey (ACS) data to demonstrate the impact such a move would have on the economy. While it is difficult to provide an exact count of H-4 workers in the United States, the authors define such a worker as an employed spouse of an H-1B recipient, who is pursuing permanent residency in the U.S. The findings demonstrate that H-4 workers, the majority of whom were female, with nearly half holding a bachelor’s degree, are more highly educated than the overall U.S. working population, and tend to work in professional, scientific and technical services industries. Between 2015 and 2017, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services approved 90,946 applications for H-4 work authorization. As of 2019, these visa holders contributed an estimated $12.9 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year.  The article concludes that removing H-4 visa workers from the U.S. labor market could reduce the current GDP by up to $13 billion and potential GDP by up to $41 billion per year. 
 (Samantha Jones for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) and International Students After Graduation: Human Capital, Innovation, and the Labor Market,
Niskanen Center, March 2019, 8 pp.
Author:  Jeremy I. Neufeld

The OPT program allows international students to work in the U.S. for a limited period of time after graduation to get experience in their chosen fields of study. The regular extension is one year, but a new rule in 2016 allowed STEM majors to apply for an additional two years, for a total of three years. This report looks at the impact of the OPT program on local economies and recommends reforms to allow the U.S. to draw on this talent pool for regular immigration purposes. The report finds that higher levels of OPT participants in a particular region is associated with increased innovation, as measured by the number of patents, as well as higher average earnings in that region.  However, the ability of the OPT program to function as an on-ramp to the H-1B program and eventual permanent residence is limited by the numerical cap imposed on the H-1B program. Moreover, an administration unfriendly to the program could roll back rules allowing these students to remain in the U.S. for a full three years. Because of the skill levels (59 percent had master’s degrees and 13 percent had doctorates) and specializations of the international student population (majority STEM), the authors urge adoption of a number of changes to the program, including codification of existing regulations to guard against future roll-backs, and allowing OPT participants who meet basic requirements exemption from the H-1B numerical limitations, just as employees of universities are now exempted.

International Students, STEM OPT and the U.S. STEM Workforce,
National Foundation for American Policy, March 2019, 20 pp.
Author: Madeline Zavodny

The Trump administration plans to impose new restrictions on the ability of foreign students to work temporarily in the United States through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows foreign students to gain work experience in the U.S. for as long as three years, during or after completing their studies at a U.S. college or university. The purpose of these restrictions would be to “improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by” the program.  This study done by the National Foundation for American Policy analyzes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data from 2008 to 2016 on foreign-born science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors in the OPT program and their impact on competing U.S. workers. Findings indicate that even though the number and share of foreign students approved for OPT has risen over time, the program does not reduce job opportunities for U.S. workers. Instead, it acts as a safety valve for a tight labor market, allowing employers to hire foreign student workers when U.S. workers are scarce. Moreover, the data show that unemployment rates are lower in areas with larger numbers of foreign students on OPT as a share of worker in STEM occupations. In fact, the OPT program may contribute to economic growth as STEM workers, many of whom are foreign-born, are vital to the U.S. economy. As the report shows, areas with more foreign-born STEM workers have higher patenting rates, faster productivity growth and higher earnings among U.S. natives. As such, the report concludes that “the OPT program is an important way  [for the U.S.] to attract and retain foreign-born talent.”

Can Immigrant Professionals Help Reduce Teacher Shortages in the U.S.?
WES Global Talent Bridge, November 2018, 31 pp.
Author: Jeff Gross

This report’s central concern is how foreign-trained immigrant professionals who are unemployed, underemployed or working in low-skill jobs can help fill persistent teaching shortages in various parts of the United States, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Career and Technical Education (CTE), bilingual and special education. The author presents models for making traditional teacher education structures more responsive to the strengths and needs of immigrant professionals, both those with backgrounds in education and those looking for a career change. The author also argues that alternate certification routes, although not necessarily designed with immigrant professionals in mind, may be a means to diversify the teaching field. A key concept that runs throughout the report is the idea that school districts can develop their own pipelines of teachers of color, as part of what is referred to as a “Grow Your Own” philosophy. Model programs in Washington state, California, Oregon, New York City and Seattle are described, along with federal initiatives that have helped develop new models of collaboration between local school districts, teacher education programs and immigrant community-based organizations. Common activities include the opening of career centers that provide help dealing with the complexities of certification and creating opportunities for prospective teachers to work in schools alongside licensed mentors. The report also highlights the work of community-based organizations that have taken the lead in helping immigrant professionals better understand the certification process (e.g., Upwardly Global). (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)

Career Pathways in Education: Using your Foreign Education in the United States,
WES Global Talent Bridge, 2018, 32 pp.

Career Pathways in Education: Using Your Foreign Education in the United States is a practical guide for internationally trained immigrant educators who are interested in pursuing a career in education or related fields in the United States. Published by World Education Services, the guide acknowledges the challenging circumstances that these educators often face as they try to rebuild their careers in the U.S. The publication includes information about different career pathways, certification requirements for each, and the different types of schools in the United States. The guide details the process of acquiring U.S. recognition for an international degree or certification as well as information regarding the time and cost involved in acquiring a teaching certificate. In addition, the publication provides helpful suggestions for skills that can be transferred to related careers with less onerous entry requirements. Along with resources about careers in education, this guide encourages all immigrants to be flexible, remain persistent and take initiative as they embark on their professional journey in the United States. (Deb D'Anastasio for The Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute)

Strategic Leverage:  Use of State and Local Laws to Enforce Labor Standards in Immigrant-Dense Occupations,
Migration Policy Institute, March 2018
Authors:  Andrew Elmore & Muzaffar Chishti

In this study, the authors focus on how to strengthen the regulation of immigrant dense and low-wage industries by examining innovative strategies used by different states and localities. The report identifies misclassification, outsourcing and deregulatory shifts in federal policies as factors depriving both U.S.-born and immigrant workers of their basic labor rights. The authors argue that strengthening private and federal enforcement alone is not sufficient to tackle the deteriorating labor standards in the informal job market. Rather, creative municipal and state level measures offer greater promise of success. The report presents several case studies illustrating use of these approaches, including targeted enforcement efforts, data-driven investigations, criminal prosecutions of employers that engage in violations of labor laws, and partnerships with private stakeholders. In California and New York, for example, targeted enforcement of civil law was used to prevent wage theft and the mistreatment of employees in the fast-food industry, while also enabling the state to gain millions of dollars through settlements. Likewise, by using its authority to launch criminal prosecutions, Florida was successful in reducing payroll fraud within the construction industry. The report offers several recommendations to improve labor standard enforcement, including maximizing the use of local powers, utilizing data to target fraud investigations, and strengthening stakeholder engagement. (Ayse Alkilic for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Tapping the Talents of Highly Skilled Immigrants in the United States:  Takeaways from Experts Summit,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), August 2018, 29 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix

In June of 2017, MPI assembled a group of some 30 U.S. and international experts to discuss the challenges faced by highly skilled immigrants. The primary purpose of the gathering was to explore the possibility of convening a high-level national task force to drive attention, and develop solutions, to the problem of skill underutilization among college-educated immigrants. Even if the rate of underemployment among the college-educated foreign-born (25 percent) could be reduced only to the level of the native-born (18 percent), it would produce as many as 500,000 additional candidates for high-demand jobs that employers now find hard to fill. The challenges, however, in implementing a task force strategy are many, including a lack of resources to fully fund such an initiative and a shortage of institutional champions. At the same time, the policy environment is in a state of flux. Factors likely to impact the scope and severity of the skilled immigrant problem are:  the possible reform of the nation’s immigration system leading to a greater emphasis on employment-based immigration, continued reductions in support and funding for the refugee program, and “mainstream” efforts to revamp credentialing procedures to benefit other groups, such as veterans and their family members and ex-offenders. In addition to these “state of the field” observations, the report also gives examples of successful initiatives to address the “brain waste” problem among immigrants.

Welcoming Economies Playbook:  Strategies for Building an Inclusive Local Economy,
Welcoming America & Global Detroit, 2018, 16 pp.

Immigrants and refugees are helping to spur local economic growth as workers, homebuyers and entrepreneurs. But while they bring many assets to their new communities, they face numerous challenges when trying to integrate economically. This jointly produced publication from Welcoming America and Global Detroit looks at examples from across the country of promising projects designed to unlock the local economic potential of immigrants in various industries. The Guide urges organizations to develop an inclusive and welcoming approach by:  partnering with trusted organizations within the immigrant community, providing relevant content in multiple languages, and including all local residents who face obstacles similar to those faced by immigrants and refugees. The authors highlight programs designed to address the following five economic development areas: working-class newcomers, foreign-born professionals, entrepreneurship, homeownership and agriculture. For example, the guide notes how supporting high-skilled foreign-born talent can be a catalyst for economic development, creating opportunities for all Americans. To better address the needs of high-skilled immigrants, the guide recommends several programs like the Halifax Connector Program, which helps to build stronger networks for immigrants by linking them with volunteer mentors within their respective fields.  Replicable models like these can be a great benefit to employers and municipalities looking to expand their reach by including immigrants and refugees in economic development strategies. (Elizabeth Portaluppi for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Segmentation and the Role of Labor Standards Enforcement in Immigration Reform,
Journal of Migration and Human Security, 5:2 (2017), 20 pp.
Authors:  Janice Fine & Gregory Lyon

This article questions the inevitability of a low-wage, labor market where violations of labor laws are widespread and where immigrants are disproportionally victimized.  Some economists have posited that there are structural reasons why modern economies bifurcate into a primary labor market, where jobs are stable and family sustaining, and a secondary market where jobs are unstable, low paying, and often exploitive. The authors review and attempt to rebut the theories supporting this proposition. They cite examples from other advanced economies (France and Denmark, in particular) that seem to disprove this thesis. The key to preventing these abuses, they argue, is to combine “vertical” enforcement efforts by governments at all levels with “lateral” participation by civic sector organization that have links to, and enjoy the trust of, the communities most affected by labor rights violations. The paper cites two recent examples of such multi-faceted, “co-enforcement” programs:  the work of the Office of Labor Standards of the City of Seattle which enforces six municipal ordinances covering various labor standards, and the innovative work of Julie Su, the Labor Commissioner of the State of California, whose department has worked in close collaboration with community-based organizations. Finally, the authors argue that labor standard enforcement should be an integral part of immigration reform in order to eliminate downward pressure on wages and safeguard the rights of all working Americans, whether immigrant or not. They reference two pieces of stand-alone legislation already introduced in Congress that could be incorporated into a larger immigration reform proposal.

Exploitation Based on Migrant Status in the United States:  Current Trends and Historical Roots,
Social Science Research Network, March 23, 2018, 34 pp.
Author:  Maria Linda Ontiveros

While the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, worker exploitation has continued in the United States particularly among non-citizen migrant workers. This situation is due in part to the U.S.’s long reliance on migrant labor use and the fact that, while federal law forbids discrimination based on national origin, it does not prohibit discrimination based on citizenship or migration status. This paper examines in historical context the workplace abuses experienced by present day authorized and unauthorized laborers.   The author notes that vestiges of unfree labor conditions from the antebellum period have continued throughout American history including the inability to freely exit from employment, lack of options to voice formal or informal complaints, and restriction on accessing the larger labor market. These practices persist because of weak laws protecting migrant workers, poor enforcement of labor laws, and the fact that many migrants lack the language skills and legal know-how to advocate for their labor rights. Owing to their power to report immigration violations, employers can also easily exploit non-citizen migrant workers through wage theft, debt bondage and forcing laborers to work in abusive conditions. The paper also notes that visa requirements that tie immigrants to specific employers, such as guest worker programs, have the potential to create exploitive workplace conditions.
(The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

Instilling Fear and Regulating Behavior:  Immigration Law as Social Control,
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, Vol. 31 (2017), 34 pp.
Author:  Lori Nessel
In this article, Lori Nessel, Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law, argues the plenary power doctrine, which shields immigration law from constitutional scrutiny, coupled with the Trump Administration’s targeting of all undocumented immigrants for deportation, have created a climate of fear in the workplace, which creates a “largely compliant workforce,” unable and unwilling to assert their rights. Rather than being an unintended consequence of immigration enforcement, she suggests that this policy is “a means of creating an obedient workforce and community.” Low-wage undocumented workers, for example, are more than twice as likely as low-wage American workers to suffer minimum wage violations, yet they are reluctant to report labor, wage, and health code violations for fear of employer retaliation. Moreover, immigrants refrain from seeking medical treatment and even sending their children to school, worried that in so doing, they will expose themselves to deportation. By focusing attention on the domestic implications of immigration law enforcement, she joins other commentators in calling for greater judicial scrutiny and constitutional protections for immigrants. The article reviews the evolution of immigration policy as a tool for social control going back to the 19th century.  The author also looks for hopeful signs in recent court decisions meant to constrain the blatantly discriminatory policies of the Trump administration. 

The H-4 Visa Classification: Attracting and Maintaining Global Talent,
American Immigration Council, Fact Sheet, March 26, 2018, 3 pp.
This fact sheet provides an overview of the H-4 Visa and a profile of current recipients. It explains the eligibility of certain H-4 spouses to work and the benefits of allowing them to do so. The H-4 visa category is for the spouses and unmarried children under 21 of other H temporary nonimmigrant workers, including H-1B specialty workers. In 2017, there were more than 136,000 H-4 visas issued╤86 percent to family members of workers from India. Beginning in 2015, H-4 spouses of certain H-1B workers were given the right to work. In the government╒s fiscal year 2016, 41,526 work authorizations were issued to eligible H-4 spouses. The ability of spouses to work makes a job offer from a U.S. employer a more attractive proposition for talented H-1B workers. The Trump administration is preparing a regulation that will rescind the 2015 rule permitting H-4 spouses of H-1B workers to work. The Council suggests that such a change will discourage high-skilled immigrants from coming to the U.S. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)

Beyond DACA - Defying Employer Sanctions Through Civil Disobedience
University of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2018-02
Author:  Bill Ong Hing
Described as a working draft, this paper lays out the case for employers to engage in civil disobedience and to continue to employ Dreamers, i.e. recipients of DACA, if and when their employment authorization expires (either because legal challenges to the revocation of DACA fail and/or Congress fails to find a legislative solution to the problem). The author is Bill Ong Hing, Professor Law and Migration Studies at the University of San Francisco. Hing notes that hundreds of companies have already gone on record in support of the Dreamer cause. Whether they will stand by their Dreamer employees in any future moment of reckoning remains to be seen. The paper reviews the fines and penalties facing companies found in violation of the law and discusses the moral and philosophical case for civil disobedience, especially as found in a 2010 book by legal scholar Daniel t. Ostas. The author concludes that the impact of such a massive show of support for Dreamers could "prove vital to bringing about a permanent, fair outcome for Dreamers."

Opportunity Lost: The Economic Benefit of retaining Foreign-Born Students in Local Economies,
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, April 2016, 23 pp.
Authors: Giovanni Peri et al
This study measures the likelihood that three categories of foreign-born individuals (F-1 visa holders, lawful permanent residents, and undocumented individuals) will be employed five years after graduating from college.  Described by the authors as the "first-of-its-kind quantification of college-to-employment rates," the study devotes special attention to the growing numbers of foreign students, i.e. F-1 visa holders -- two-thirds of whom are studying in high-demand STEM fields. As the U.S. continues to attract students from around the world (the number of F-1 visas issued annually has increased five-fold from 2001 to 2014), the ability of the U.S. to retain these students as entrepreneurs and contributing members of American society has not kept pace. Indeed, the authors found that for every 100 F-1 students educated in a state or metro area, none were working in that state or locality five years later. The authors provide estimates as to the wages and state tax revenue lost as a result of this waste of human resources. Finally, the report reviews stalled legislation introduced in Congress to address this problem, and offers a number of policy recommendations, including the establishment of a provisional visa for STEM college graduates with a job offer from a U.S.-based employer, and creating work permits with geographical restrictions to enable regions where students were educated to benefit from the education provided by local institutions.

Refugees, Rights, and Responsibilities: Bridging the Integration Gap,
University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, 39: 1 (2017), 62 pp.
Author: Megan J. Ballard
The author of this paper makes two important arguments:  first, that the U.S. refugee resettlement program has operated under an early employment goal that "undermines" the goal of successful integration; and second, that private sector actors can help to overcome this deficiency, in part through a workshop program piloted in Spokane, Washington. The author considers refugee integration to be a multi-dimensional process involving 10 different domains (a theoretical model borrowed from two British scholars: Aliastair Ager and Alison Strang). Despite a mandate from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees requiring the 37 countries admitting refugees to facilitate their integration, the U.S. has chosen to rely instead on "a free market approach to social welfare" that has been especially ineffective since the 2008 financial crisis. For example, the growth of the contingent workforce has resulted in lower pay and fewer benefits for so-called entry-level jobs.  Moreover, refugees trapped in such jobs lack the time and resources to acquire the English language skills, job training, and social capital necessary to truly advance in the job market.  Recognizing the flaws in the U.S. refugee resettlement program, groups in Spokane developed "an interactive, multicultural, and multilinguistic opportunity for refugees to learn about their legal rights and responsibilities."  The balance of the paper explains why this program was developed, what it accomplished, and how it was implemented. The author concludes that "local communities can support refugee integration even in the absence of a U.S. integration policy."

Career Pathways in Nursing:  Using Your Foreign Education in the United States,
World Education Services (WES), 2017, 30 pp.

Designed for foreign-trained nurses interested in reestablishing their careers in a new country, this guide provides practical advice on how to traverse the career landscape in the United States. After reviewing the requirements for licensure as a nurse in the United States, including procedures for credential evaluation and options for supplemental education, the guide also suggests the possibility of alternate careers in healthcare, either as a stepping-stone into nursing later on or as a permanent career choice. The guide emphasizes that foreign-trained nurses often have transferrable skills, which would enable them to work in a wide-range of positions both within the larger field of healthcare (e.g. healthcare interpreters, medical transcriptionists, pharmacy technicians, etc.) or outside the field (e.g. medical sales representatives, community health workers, health insurance claims specialists, etc.).  The publication also includes a list of online resources that may be useful to foreign-trained immigrants. WES has also published a companion guide for nurses settling in Canada.

What the Data Tells Us About Immigrant Executives in the U.S.,
Harvard Business Review, November 29, 2017, 6 pp.
Authors: Sami Mahroum & Rashid Ansari

Google's Sergey Brin and Tesla's Elon Musk provide just two modern examples of well-known immigrant CEOs; however, despite the long history of immigrant contributions to American business, little research has been done to better understand the role of immigrant leadership in corporate America. “What the Data Tells Us About Immigrant Executives in the U.S,” published in the Harvard Business Review, tries to fill this gap by examining the contributions of immigrant executives – an important research task because, as the authors note, 60 percent of American companies are facing leadership talent shortages that are impeding their performance. Using data obtained from the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, the authors employ name-matching techniques to help identify the ethnic identity of individual corporate executives of Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern descent. The authors then examine the educational backgrounds of the executives, classifying those who obtained their first degree outside the U.S. as immigrants. Study results reveal that more immigrants tend to be in possession of higher educational degrees than their non-immigrant counterparts and the healthcare and IT sectors saw the highest concentrations of foreign-trained executives. The authors also found that 42 percent of executives educated in the Caribbean worked in the health sector and 45 percent of executives with degrees from the Middle East worked in IT. The article asserts that restrictive U.S. immigration policy is only exacerbating the leadership talent shortage by driving potential immigrant business leaders away from the U.S. (Jonathan Eizyk for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)


DREAM Act-Eligible Posed to Build on the Investments Made in Them,
Journal on Migration and Human Security, 6:1 (2018), 12 pp.
Authors: Donald Kerwin & Robert Warren
Political debate has intensified over "Dreamers" -- immigrants who were brought to the United States as children without authorization. In this paper, Donald Kerwin and Robert Warren from the Center for Migration Studies argue that granting Dreamers a path to citizenship would capitalize on the educational investments already made in them and boost their already high economic productivity. Using data from the American Community Survey, the authors present a series of tables showing the size of the Dreamer population, money invested in them, connections to their community, labor force participation rates, occupations and likely countries of origin. In doing so, the authors also reveal how the Dreamer population is distributed around the country (at least 5,000 in each of 41 states) and how deeply integrated they are in U.S. life. Dreamers, for example, have above average labor force participation (65 percent) and English language proficiency (88 percent speak English exclusively, very well, or well). Citing a study that shows that a path to citizenship would also increase U.S. gross domestic product by $7.6 billion annually in the short-term, the authors call for legislation to achieve this goal. (Sakura Tomizawa for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

Will DREAMers Crowd U.S.-Born Millennials Out of Jobs?
Migration Policy Institute, December 2017, 4 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova & Michael Fix
This "commentary" piece challenges the argument that legislation to regularize the status of DREAMers will adversely affect the job prospects of U.S.-born millennials.  The authors bring forth three main arguments to support their position. First, DREAMers represent a very small share of the overall millennial population nation-wide (about 1 percent); second, DREAMers tend to be concentrated in states like California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida. These states account for just 33 percent of Black and 28 percent of White millennials. Finally, DACA holders show different occupational patterns than other millennials, thereby minimizing the potential for job competition.  For example, DACA recipients were more likely than millennials overall to work in hospitality (23 percent versus 16 percent) and construction (11 percent versus 6 percent). The authors conclude that the argument of widespread labor market competition between DREAMers and the U.S.-born is a weak one.

A Profile of Current DACA Recipients by Education, Industry, and Occupation
Migration Policy Institute, November, 2017, 20 pp.
Authors:  Jie Zong et al
In September 2017, the Trump administration announced it would discontinue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted temporary legal protection against deportation for unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Using recent data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), MPI researchers have prepared this educational and occupational profile of individuals currently holding DACA status. Among the key findings is that DACA recipients are almost as likely as U.S. adults to be enrolled in college, but only four percent have graduated, compared to 18 percent of U.S. adults. The data also show that more than half of DACA recipients are employed and they are much more likely than unauthorized immigrants in general to work in more skilled professions like office support rather than construction jobs. DACA recipients are a largely middle-skilled population, either enrolled in school or working or both. They are also widely dispersed across industries and occupations. Beginning in March 2018, 915 DACA recipients will lose their protected status each day and may face deportation. The report also includes state-level occupational and educational profiles of the DACA population.  (Deb D'Anastasio for the Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute)

Wages and High-Skilled Immigration: How the Government Calculates Prevailing Wages and Why It Matters,
American Immigration Council, December 2017, 17 pp.
Author: Amy Marmer Nice

The H-1B temporary work classification is an immigration status that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals to work in a "specialty occupation" or a highly skilled position that typically requires a bachelor's degree. An employer applying for an H-1B worker must satisfy the prevailing wage requirement for hiring an immigrant worker, i.e. the new immigrant employee must be paid "wages that are not less than those prevailing in the occupation in the recruitment area, or the employer's actual wage level, whichever is higher."  The wages paid to H-1B workers has long been a point of contention in immigration reform discussions. The report Wages and High Skilled Immigration by the American Immigration Council explains how wage levels are determined by the Department of Labor (DOL) for H-1B wage purposes and describes the history of the H-1B classification from the creation of the H-1 program in 1952 to the current controversy surrounding the program today. The author identifies three general problems with current prevailing wage data: first, the pay ranges are based on very broad data; second, pay ranges are not differentiated by type of employer, e.g. universities, not-for-profit, for-profit; and third, the current system does not reflect the educational level, experience, and supervisory skills of the candidate. The author argues that Congress needs to update the current prevailing wage system and evaluates some of the proposals that have been floated to do so (Mia Fasano for the Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute).

The Immigrant Right to Work,
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, 31:2017, September 21, 2017, 44 pp.
Author: Geoffrey Heeren

The author reviews over 100 years of political and legal history to make the case that unauthorized residents of the United States have a right work.  A key starting point is that there is currently no statute that actually prevents unauthorized immigrants from working (if they do not present false papers).  Rather, through employer sanctions and related policies there is a putative illegality that forces undocumented workers into conditions that limit their choice of employment and reduces their labor rights, mainly through fears of deportation.  The author presents 19th century court cases that established the right to work as both part of natural law and consistent with the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.  He then reviews how immigration policy changed over the course of the 20th century, but suggests there was no fundamental changes to labor law as it relates to immigrants, regardless of their documentation status.  He calls attention to language used by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to limit the rights of undocumented residents to work that has no statutory basis and suggests that the court system and state and local governments share this misconception.  He concludes that these restrictions may serve more of a symbolic value and might be a response to the anxiety provoked by a globalizing economy.  Although limiting the right of undocumented residents to work will do little to change macroeconomic conditions, it certainly has had a devastating impact on the undocumented workers themselves (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)

H-1B visa needs reform to make it fairer to migrant and American workers,
Economic Policy Institute, Fact Sheet, April 5, 2017, 4 pp.
Author: Daniel Costa
A more equitable job market for foreign- and U.S.-born workers alike is possible with reforms to the H-1B work visa program, asserts the Economic Policy Institute in this fact sheet. The publication outlines flaws in the H-1B program and suggests a series of reforms to protect both U.S. workers and "H-1B workers, who deserve fair pay for their work according to U.S. wage standards and who should not have to fear retaliation and exploitation by employers." The H-1B program provides non-immigrant U.S. work visas valid for as long as six years for foreign-born, college-educated workers and fashion models. Employers are then allowed to sponsor H-1B workers for permanent residence. An estimated 460,000 H-1B workers are employed in the U.S. and upwards of 85,000 new H-1B visas can be issued per year. Yet, problems with the H-1B system allow some employers to exploit foreign-born workers and prevent qualified U.S. workers from applying for job opportunities. For example, although U.S. employers are required to recruit U.S. workers first before seeking H-1B workers, there are two loopholes to circumvent this rule: hiring an H-1B worker with a master's degree or paying the worker an  annual salary of at least $60,000, which is $21,000 lower than the national median wage for workers in computer occupations. To avoid these and other issues, the fact sheet proposes requiring employers to recruit U.S. workers and offer jobs to qualified workers before hiring H-1B workers, and requiring that employers who cannot find qualified U.S. workers pay H-1B workers no less than the average local wage for the job.

The Typology of Modern Slavery: Defining Sex and Labor Trafficking in the United States,
The Polaris Project, March, 2017, 72 pp.
Recognizing that the forms of human trafficking vary from one sector to another, and that strategies for combatting trafficking must be adapted to the circumstances of each sector, the Polaris Project has produced this typology of 25 "types of human slavery."  An important goal of the study was to move beyond the traditional broad categories of sex trafficking and labor trafficking.  The study is based on an analysis of more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking documented between December 2007 and December 2016 on the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the BeFree Textline -- services operated by the Polaris Project. The authors describe their study as "the largest data set on human trafficking in the United States ever compiled and publically analyzed."  Within each of the 25 categories, the authors describe the business model, recruitment practices, methods of control, geographic patterns, and give profiles of both victims and traffickers. The authors caution, however, that cases of labor trafficking are probably underreported in the Polaris database "due to a lack of awareness about the issue and a lack of recognition of the significant vulnerability of workers in many U.S. labor sectors."

Unlocking Skills: Successful Initiatives for Integrating Foreign-Trained Immigrant Professionals,
Migration Policy Institute,February, 2017, 38 pp.
Authors: Margie McHugh & Madeleine Morawski
Nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants and refugees in the United States are not working in high-skill jobs despite years of education and work experience. This report examines program initiatives and policy reforms designed to reduce this waste of skill and economic potential. These innovations are drawn from the top finishers in the Migration Policy Institute's E Pluribus Unum Prize competition, which recognizes outstanding immigrant integration programs. Immigrants trained in such fields as civil engineering, education, and medicine are filling lower-skilled and often low-wage jobs in the United States. This problem is greater for immigrants who obtained their education and training outside of the United States, as 29 percent of foreign-trained immigrants are unemployed or underemployed, compared to 21 percent of U.S.-trained immigrants and 18 percent of native-born persons. The authors recommend reforming state licensing laws to remove unnecessary requirements on foreign-trained immigrants, as well as increasing advanced English language and bridge programs, which aim to help immigrants gain the necessary professional skills and English proficiency to successfully navigate the job market and re-enter the workforce. The report also suggests that the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education lead an effort to identify successful program models and closely monitor efforts to serve the high-skilled immigrant population. In addition, monitoring and addressing employer bias and expanding mutual recognition agreements to harmonize qualifications can help to reduce the problem of  "brain waste." (Christy Box for The ILC Public Education Institute)

Open Windows, Closed Doors: Mutual Recognition Arrangements on Professional Services in the ASEAN Region,
Migration Policy Institute, Asian Development Bank, 2016, 50 pp.
Authors: Dovelyn Ranneveig Mendoza, Maria Vincenza Desiderio, Guntur Sugiyarto, & Brian Salant
Between 2005 and 2014, eight nations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam -- negotiated Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) permitting professionals trained in one country to have their qualifications recognized in another. The agreements cover the tourism sector, accountancy, architecture, dentistry, engineering, medicine, and nursing. There are three types of MRAs:  "open, comprehensive frameworks with minimal restrictions" (tourism sector), "partially open, regional-driven frameworks with major restrictions" (accountancy, architecture, and engineering), and "virtually closed, destination country-led frameworks with minimal opportunities for recognition" (dentistry, medicine, and nursing). The authors see promise in the second type (regionally-driven frameworks) which can help to harmonize training and practice requirements among the member states, thereby relieving some of the concerns of local authorities. However, the "vastly different levels of socioeconomic development" among these states serves as a barrier to negotiating more open agreements. Nonetheless, there are useful lessons to be drawn from the progress to date, and the current MRAs "could do much to usher in the advent of skilled mobility" envisioned by the ASEAN Economic Community.

Getting Opportunities in the Hands of New Americans Striving for the American Dream,
National Immigration Forum, November 8, 2016, 18 pp.
Financial literacy and knowledge of basic legal rights could go a long way toward helping immigrants realize their full potential in the U.S. The report Getting Opportunities in the Hands of New Americans Striving for the American Dream from the National Immigration Forum highlights the social and economic obstacles immigrants face when coming to the U.S. The study additionally addresses ways in which government bodies and nonprofit organizations can provide practical knowledge, support and training to immigrants to enhance the integration process. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 26 percent of the population and 40 percent of Fortune 500 company founders. While immigrants have higher rates of entrepreneurship, their companies have lower survival rates due to immigrant entrepreneurs' lack of familiarity with local markets and other disadvantages. Nonprofits and state offices nationwide are providing immigrant communities with financial literacy, entrepreneurship training, fraud protection, and other services. The report describes some of these programs in detail. Maintaining that immigrants' success is critical to America's success, the authors recommend establishing a White House Office for New Americans with state and local partners to remove barriers faced by immigrants who wish to access opportunities for socioeconomic advancement. The Forum also recommends an expansion of the services provided by the USCIS Office of Citizenship. (Sarah Purdy for The ILC Public Education Institute)

Defining Skill: The Many Forms of Skilled Immigrant Labor,
American Immigration Council, November, 2016, 15 pp.
Author: Jacqueline Hagan
This brief reports on the results of a study that focused on the experiences of immigrant workers in the United States.  The main goal of the research was to problematize notions of "skilled" and "unskilled" work, with an eye towards shifting the discourse about immigrant labor.  As part of the study, the author interviewed 320 individuals who might be labeled "unskilled" migrant laborers, as well as key informants from industries with heavy concentrations of immigrants (e.g., construction, manufacturing, agriculture). The brief asserts that immigrant workers possess high levels of skills that might not be captured by standard rubrics, such as those that use years of education as a proxy for skill level.  Rather than approaching migrant workers from a deficit model, the author suggests that these workers bring with them skills that they further develop while working in the U.S.  Examples are provided of how these workers draw on their pre-migration experiences to contribute new ideas to their employers.  In one example, Mexican immigrants working in the masonry industry shared their knowledge about working with mud and sand, rather than concrete, creating a look that their customers preferred.  The author also suggests that because of their skills and their desire to continue developing their talents, not all immigrant workers are trapped in jobs that offer no means of mobility (with the exception of the service industry). The author concludes that a more holistic account of workers' abilities is necessary in debates about immigration policy, and that millions of workers should not be written off as "unskilled." (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)

Untapped Talent: The Costs of Brain Waste among Highly Skilled Immigrants in the United States
Migration Policy Institute, New American Economy, & World Education Services; December, 2016, 42 pp.
Authors: Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, & James D. Bachmeier
This report examines the issue of "brain waste" resulting from high-skilled immigrants being underemployed (that is, high-skilled immigrants in low-skill jobs) or unemployed. For the first time, this report estimates the earnings lost from underutilized immigrant skills. Researchers compared the earnings of high-skilled immigrants employed in jobs appropriate to their skills to the earnings of high-skilled immigrants in low-skill jobs. (Unemployed high-skilled immigrants were not included in the cost calculations.) Researchers determined that the 1.5 million high-skilled immigrants working in low-skill jobs earn, collectively, $39.4 billion less each year than they would if they were employed in jobs appropriate to their skill level. The forgone earnings translate into a total of $10.2 billion in lost state and local tax revenue. The most common characteristics leading to the underemployment or unemployment of high-skilled immigrants were, among others, education or training outside of the U.S., lack of English proficiency, immigration status and race. Calculations were also performed for seven states representing a mix of traditional immigrant receiving states, newer destination states and rust-belt states now trying to attract immigrants. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

Jobs for Californians: Strategies to Ease Occupational Licensing Barriers,
Little Hoover Commission, Report #234, October, 2016, 46 pp.
After undertaking a review of California licensing requirements for regulated professions, the Little Hoover Commission -- a nonpartisan state oversight and research agency established by the California State Legislature -- concluded that many requirements are unnecessary, obsolete, and particularly burdensome to vulnerable groups, such as ex-offenders, veterans and their spouses, and those trained or educated outside the state, including foreign-trained workers. The extent of this problem is far-reaching; one out of five Californians must obtain permission from the government to work. The challenge is to ensure that consumer protection is balanced with the need to provide access to jobs and services. This report suggests that the balance needs to be corrected in many areas. The Commission found "a nearly impenetrable thicket of bureaucracy" and a tendency to rely on political considerations to determine policy, rather than a thoughtful examination of consumer interest.  The Commission offers eight recommendations to improve the system, four systemic in nature and four procedural. One of the systemic recommendations involves the collection of demographic data about all applicants for licensing to determine whether procedures are having an adverse impact on specific groups.  Two of the procedural recommendations have direct bearing on the needs of foreign-trained workers: first, mandating that all California colleges create bridge education programs, and second, developing work and apprenticeship models that would enable people to work in their professions while pursuing licensure.

Schooling and Labor Market Effects of Temporary Authorization: Evidence from DACA
Institute for the Study of Labor, August, 2016, 42 pp.
Authors: Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Francisca Antman
Using data from the Current Population Survey, this paper attempts to gauge the impact of DACA on the schooling, employment and wages of eligible youth. One key finding is that -- contrary to some expectations that DACA would increase motivation to pursue higher education - participation in the DACA program "significantly reduced the likelihood of school enrollment" of eligible youth who had already earned a high school diploma or a GED.  At the same time, the grant of work authorization through DACA resulted in higher rates of employment, "suggesting that the potential labor market returns to authorization today might outweigh any additional returns to higher education to be felt further down the road." The authors do acknowledge, however, that their study only looks at short-term impacts of DACA, not the longer-range outcomes, which might be quite different.

Can Authorization Reduce Poverty among Undocumented Immigrants? Evidence from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program,
Institute for the Study of Labor, August, 2016, 14 pp.
Authors: Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Francisca Antman
The estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States face poverty rates nearly twice as large as those of U.S-born individuals. This study examines the impact of authorization on the rate of poverty among households headed by undocumented immigrants. Specifically, the researchers examined the effects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows eligible individuals a reprieve from immediate deportation and the ability to temporarily work in the United States. The report compares the poverty exposure of DACA-eligible and DACA-ineligible individuals finding that the program reduces the likelihood of poverty conditions in households headed by DACA-eligible individuals by 38 percent. The researchers conclude that even temporary authorization has a significant impact on the rate of poverty among undocumented immigrants. However, the long-term effects of DACA depend on the outcome of the presidential election and whether the program is continued, expanded, or ended. (Sophia Mitrokostas for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

Banking on Unsafe Working Conditions: Placing Profits Before Protection of
University of California, Irvine, May 17, 2016, 54 pp.
Authors: Fatma E. Marouf, Sameer M. Ashar & Jennifer J. Rosenbaum
The third-largest private employer in Nevada, Station Casinos, LLC, is alleged to have committed human rights violations against its largely Latino and immigrant workforce. In preparing this report, the authors conducted 101 interviews with employees to investigate the workers' health and safety. In April 2016, multinational German corporation Deutsche Bank was a partial owner of Station Casinos LLC but has since reduced its share of the company from 25 percent to 16-18 percent thereby forfeiting governance rights. The report argues that by reducing its holdings, Deutsche Bank is not fulfilling its obligation to investigate and address human rights violations alleged by the workers interviewed for this report. These violations include unfair labor practices, such as blocking freedom of association and collective bargaining, and health and safety violations, such as inadequate safety gear, defective machinery, negative repercussions from reporting violations, lack of break time, inadequate benefits and mental stress from understaffing. The report calls for Deutsche Bank and Station Casinos LLC to investigate and address these complaints. (Sophia Mitrokostas for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

A City of Immigrant Workers: Building a Workforce Strategy to Support All New Yorkers,
The Center for Popular Democracy & Center for an Urban Future, April, 2016, 41 pp.
Authors: Kate Hamaji & Christian González-Rivera
In this report, Hamaji and González-Rivera argue for a revised and expanded approach to workforce development programs for immigrants in New York City.  Their key concern is moving from a sector-based workforce strategy that focuses on equipping workers with the skills that particular employers are demanding to one that also includes a population-based strategy.  Such an approach would address the particular needs of immigrant workers by providing ESOL classes for increasing English proficiency, by offering "bridge" programs that help adult learners transition from ABE into higher education and trade-based certification programs, and by providing targeted training in other employment-related issues (e.g., the difficulty of navigating the US job market, the complexity of getting credentials from abroad recognized in the US, etc.).  The authors suggest that the current workforce system in New York City is fragmented in ways that limit immigrants' ability to access services, and they present a number of recommendations for ways to better coordinate services (e.g., recognizing and supporting smaller agencies that already have a presence in immigrant neighborhoods).  To deal with persistent concerns about the exploitation of workers, Hamaji and González-Rivera suggest that workers' rights should be a central focus of any workforce development effort.  Similarly, given the key role immigrants play in the economy and their limited ability to access necessary services, the authors assert that the needs of undocumented workers must be addressed in a systemic fashion. The report provides descriptions of model workforce efforts and concludes with a number of specific policy recommendations (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).

Danger and Dignity: Immigrant Day Laborers and Occupational Risk,
Seton Hall Law Review, 46(3): 2016, 70 pp.
Author: Jayesh Rathod
This article presents findings from a research study designed to assess immigrant workers' exposure to unhealthy and unsafe working conditions. Conducted over several months in 2014, the study relies on in-depth interviews with 84 immigrant day laborers who were seeking employment in Northern Virginia. Through this investigation, the author seeks to identify the factors that either increase or reduce the risk of occupational injury 
Casino & Hotel Workers' Human Rights in Deutsche Bank's U.S. Supply Chain,
or illness, with special attention to variables such as immigration status, language and cultural differences, and worksite administration and enforcement. The article begins with a literature review to frame some of the questions deserving of further study. The author then provides an overview of the day laborer phenomenon in the United States, noting that the growth in the day laborer population "is just one manifestation of a broader shift in the economy towards contingent employment." After an explanation of the research methodology used in the study, the author provides a snapshot of the demographic characteristics of the interviewees and summarizes some of the key findings from the survey.  Forty-six percent reported experiencing a workplace-related injury or illness. However, those workers affiliated with a worker center (38 of the 84 interviewees) had a dramatically lower rate. Indeed, there wasn't a single injury for jobs secured at the center.  The study concludes with a number of key findings and recommendations, including the importance of accommodating the diversity of the day laborer population. As the author points out, the "essentializing of the immigrant worker population leads to ill-fitting policy proposals premised on an incomplete, outdated, and/or stereotyped understanding of the immigrant worker community."

Reaching a "Fair Deal" on Talent: Emigration, Circulation, and Human Capital in Countries of Origin,
Migration Policy Institute, Transatlantic Council on Migration, February 2016, 36 pp.
Authors:  Kate Hooper & Madeleine Sumption
To assist migrants in using their skills to the fullest, both in the destination country and in the country of origin if they return or support development projects there, a variety of initiatives have been implemented by the private sector and national and local governments. Kate Hooper and Madeleine Sumption of the Migration Policy Institute review some of these initiatives in their report, Reaching a "Fair Deal" on Talent: Emigration, Circulation, and Human Capital in Countries of Origin. The report emphasizes the importance of skill transferability so that regardless of where migrants choose to settle, the economies of both the host and sending countries can benefit from their talent and labor. The initiatives include promoting portable education programs and credentialing systems in countries of origin and creating targeted job and language programs in countries of destination. For example, in the Philippines, the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) administers an inexpensive certification and training system for both the domestic and foreign labor markets. TESDA official certifications have gained recognition outside of the Philippines, and some have been drawn up with the assistance of destination country industry representatives. Other initiatives to maximize the potential of skilled migrants include promoting remittance activity and fostering exchanges between diaspora communities and people in their countries of origin. The report emphasizes that while there is no way to ensure that migration benefits both the host country and country of origin equally, national and local authorities should scale up cost-effective initiatives. (The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

Beyond Coercion,
62 UCLA Law Review 1558 (2015), 26 pp.
Author: Kathleen Kim
This paper explores the consequences of worksite immigration enforcement on the exercise of free labor rights, as derived from the 13th Amendment's abolition of slavery and other labor and employment laws. The author asks: "does the absence of (immigration) status render undocumented workers unfree in the workplace?" Although constitutional and legal protections theoretically apply to all workers, no matter their immigration status, they are largely unavailable to undocumented workers due to the implicit or explicit threat of deportation and the common assumption that the employment relationship is "consensual" in nature. "The notion that these workers willingly accept their exploitation nullifies their coercion claims. Free labor rights seek to correct coercion in the workplace, yet the illegality of undocumented workers places them beyond coercion, outside the protection of free market remedies."  Coerced labor may be defined as conduct by an employer "intended to constrain the worker's choice between providing labor according to the employer's demands or suffering a negative consequence." The author recognizes that she is opening a dialogue on these questions and suggests that worksite enforcement of any type, including E-Verify, may put in jeopardy "our constitutional and moral commitments to free labor."

Immigration Policy and the Search for Skilled Workers,
The National Academies Press, 2015, 155 pp.
Rapporteurs:  Gail Cohen, Aqila Coulthurst & Joe Alper
The importance of high-skilled labor in the global economy is increasing as the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge become crucial to maintaining a competitive advantage. While the United States continues to attract the most talented migrants, high-skilled immigration has been growing faster in other member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine organized a workshop to collect information on how other countries have changed their temporary and/or permanent resident programs in order to meet employer needs and fuel growth in new enterprises. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions at the workshop and highlights some of the key points made. The workshop participants compared policies aimed at attracting and retaining international students and high-skilled workers, analyzed the impact on innovation and labor markets, and examined systemic changes countries undertook in response to unintended results. While the major focus was on policy comparisons among the U.S., Canada and Australia, immigration systems and trends in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, Israel, the Middle East and Southeast Asia were also discussed. Participants used data from the United Nations, OECD and respective countries' official sources to show that most effective high-skilled immigration policies need to be flexible to respond to changing labor and market needs. For example, Canada switched from a points-based system in which applicants waited in queue for years, losing employment opportunities for which they initially applied, to the "Expression of Interest system." Applicants provide career information and qualifications, and eligible applicants are placed on a list of similar applicants and ranked according to eligibility criteria and Canadian labor market needs. This method seems to respond better to economic needs while enhancing opportunities for foreign-born workers. The report notes that the U.S. has been successful in attracting high-skilled immigrants mainly because of factors other than immigration policy such as the quality of education and research opportunities as well as employment and retention rates. Participants recommended several policies from other countries that the U.S. might consider adopting, including an annual pool of applicants from which employers can choose people to obtain permanent visas; better data collection to assess policy effectiveness, perhaps modeled on the kind of longitudinal studies of skilled immigrants done in Canada and Australia; allowing employer-sponsored immigrants to change employers; giving states greater control over skilled immigrant admissions; and a benefits package similar to the one that Israel provides to new immigrants. (Jasmina Popaja for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

State of Latino Entrepreneurship: Research Report 2015,
Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, November 2015, 37 pp.
Authors: Douglas Rivers et al
Since the early 2000s, the number of Latino-Owned Businesses (LOBs) has increased at substantially higher rates than Non-Latino Owned Businesses (NLOBs). Yet, a multi-trillion dollar "opportunity gap" exists between LOBs and NLOBs. For this reason, the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (a partnership between the Latino Business Action Network and Stanford University) released the first annual report State of Latino Entrepreneurship in an effort to explain why LOBs lag behind NLOBs in yearly sales and to promote the economic potential of Latino businesses. Based on surveys of Latino businesses owners, the report disputes the notion that the opportunity gap exists because LOBs lack a diverse customer base or because they are concentrated in smaller industries. Instead, the authors find that lower sales are more likely to be caused by difficulties raising capital and the weaker networks of LOBs. LOBs also have greater difficulty getting approval for bank loans and tend to rely on other financing methods such as credit cards or personal savings for business investment. They are also less familiar with government programs such as those run by the Small Business Administration. The report encourages policymakers and business leaders to increase their engagement with Latino entrepreneurs to help LOBs scale to the level of NLOBs and reach their full economic potential. (The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

Immigrants and WIOA Services: Comparison of Sociodemographic Characteristics of Native- and Foreign-Born Adults in the United States, Fact Sheets for the United States and Selected States
Migration Policy Institute, December, 2015, 12 pp.
Authors:  Margie McHugh & Madeleine Morawski
As states and the federal government work to implement the Workforce innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) Act of 2015, MPI undertook an analysis of the characteristics of the immigrant population relevant to the "equitable implementation of WIOA, as well as consideration of other policy and funding initiatives to promote the successful linguistic, economic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees in the United States." The Fact Sheets, available for the United States as a whole and the ten states with the largest immigrant populations, explore seven demographic variables:  nativity, age, and origin; educational attainment; limited English proficiency (LEP); brain waste; the number of immigrants with young children; poverty and health insurance; and U.S. citizenship and immigration status. The Fact Sheets discuss the relevance of each data point for successful WIOA implementation. For example, noting that LEP individuals have constituted less than 2 percent of individuals receiving Title I services over the last five years, the authors suggest that significant capacity-building and policy change will be necessary to achieve equity for immigrants in accessing training services. Moreover, the law's "narrow accountability measures" may exclude immigrants without employment or postsecondary transition and completion goals from participating in WIOA funded adult education programs.

Reducing Brain Waste: Creating Career Pathways for Foreign-Educated Immigrants in Washington State,
One America, 2015, 27 pp.
Authors: Vy Nguyen et al
Concerned about the growing number of underemployed, foreign-educated immigrants in Washington State, OneAmerica undertook this study to gauge the scope and severity of the problem and to identify effective policy solutions. The report describes the barriers that keep foreign-educated immigrants from re-entering their professions and shows how the integration of foreign-educated immigrants can bolster the state's economy.  The authors examine two sectors in particular - nursing and teaching - and show how these professions could benefit from the more effective utilization of immigrant talent. The two professions would gain access to a labor pool with strong multicultural and linguistic skills -- attributes important to both reducing health disparities and improving student educational outcomes in an increasingly diverse state. The report identifies a number of "key levers" of systemic policy change, including: more effective data collection, the development of case management capacity, utilization of online resources, the development of bridge programs, the use of alternative routes and pipelines to recertification, licensing reform, the development of professional connector programs, standard-setting for credential evaluation, financial assistance programs to ease the cost burden of recertification, and greater employer support and engagement. In order to implement these changes in an efficient manner - drawing on the resources and expertise of community-based and educational organizations, as well as different agencies and departments of state government - the authors recommend the establishment of a state Office of New Americans with broad responsibility for the economic, social, and civic integration of immigrants. This office would create a special task force dedicated to maximizing the economic potential of foreign-educated immigrants.

Engaging Employers in Immigrant Integration
Urban Institute, August, 2015, 41 pp.
Author:  María E. Enchautegui

Immigrants make up an outsized share of America's workforce compared to their share of population, and the country's competitive advantage depends in part on how successfully employers integrate immigrant workers into the economy. Describing workplaces as "essential spaces for immigrant integration," the author of this study, funded by the Ford Foundation, interviews key informants and scans the available literature to answer three main questions: 1) What do we know about employer engagement in immigrant integration? 2) How can we conceptualize this engagement? And, 3) what can employers do to promote integration?  Enchautegui observes that effective integration practices can benefit both the employer and the foreign-born worker, but these practices are not well known. Among the report's recommendations are: offering workplace English-language training; equipping human resources staff with information on immigration policy and the value of foreign credentials; providing safety and occupational training in foreign language; offering naturalization assistance; and creating employee assistance programs geared specifically toward immigrants. The author hopes that the study will serve as a tool for "systematizing the knowledge about employer engagement in immigrant integration" and for cataloguing the many ways that employers can participate in this effort. Through such an effort, employers will boost worker productivity and company profitability, at the same time that they improve the skills and well-being of their immigrant workers.
(Karly Foland for The ILC Public Education Institute)

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: What We can Learn from the Banking and Credit Habits of Undocumented Immigrants,
University of New Mexico School of Law Research Paper 2015-08, 61 pp.
Author: Nathalie Martin

Described by the author as "the first empirical study of the debtor-credit relationships of undocumented immigrants," this study is based on in-person interviews with 50 undocumented immigrants in New Mexico.  The article begins with a discussion of how "the silencing of undocumented persons due to fear of deportation has implications for contract and consumer law." The author explains how "when it comes to credit of almost every form, the poor pay more."  Data from the study show "that the financial condition of many undocumented immigrants if far more precarious than one might imagine" as 74 percent of interviewees "would not be able to cover a $100 emergency if it came up."  Other information gathered from the interviews involved type of work, income levels, property ownership, use of credit cards and bank accounts, use of payday or title loans, savings levels, use of public benefits, and remittances.  In her conclusion, the author observes that "participants overall were very way of debt, a trait the general American population could learn from." She also found "little attempt to access public benefits or otherwise tax the American system."

Steps to Success: Integrating Immigrant Professionals in the U.S.,
IMPRINT and World Educational Services, 2015, 37 pp.
Authors: Amanda Bergon-Shilcock & James Witte

This report provides a "first-of-its-kind" analysis of the experiences of college-educated immigrants who earned their degrees abroad.  The U.S. is home to some 3.7 million such immigrants, many of whom are either unemployed or underemployed in low-wage jobs. Based on an online survey with 4,002 respondents, as well as an innovative audio survey of 5,000 immigrant radio listeners, the study drew samples from six cities: Boston, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, San Jose, and Seattle.  The researchers attempted to identify the factors most strongly associated with professional success in the U.S.  They found a "remarkably powerful correlation" between an immigrant's self-reported social network and the ability to earn a salary of at least $50,000 per year - the measure used to define "earnings success" in this study. Moreover, English-speaking ability was also strongly predictive of positive integration outcomes, as was the ability to get formal recognition, whether full or partial, for foreign credentials. Those immigrants who were able to buttress their foreign degrees with some form of higher education in the United States, even if just "short-term ‘Made in America' supplements," also did better in the U.S. job market.  Finally, the report looks at the characteristics of the immigrant professional populations in each of the six cities and concludes with a series of recommendations for service providers, funders, and policymaker.

Guide to Immigrant Economic Development
Welcoming America, July, 2015, 92 pp.
Principal Author: Steve Tobocman

According to the authors of this guide, the last half-decade has seen a convergence of interest between economic development specialists and advocates for immigrant integration. Both have come to see that immigrant integration can serve as an engine for economic development. "Cities that lead in the 21st century," the report contends, "will be those that intentionally attract and incorporate diverse people and ideas, and create the means for talented people from around the world to not only come, but to put down roots." The Guide is a compendium of immigrant-focused economic development strategies and model practices. There are separate chapters on immigrant entrepreneurship, workforce development, initiatives for highly skilled immigrants, connector programs, home ownership, urban agriculture, export promotion, international student retention, immigrant investor visas, corporate diversity programs, and general integration services. Within each of these topical areas, the author assesses the state of the art and identifies different models or approaches to achieve a particular policy goal. For example, in the entrepreneurship chapter, he identifies four different models to promote immigrant entrepreneurship: the Community Development Model, as represented by the Neighborhood Development Center of Minneapolis/ St. Paul; the Case Management Model, as represented by the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians; the Service Integration Model, as exemplified by the Mission Economic Development Agency of San Francisco; and the Women Entrepreneurship Model, as represented by the Acre Family Child Care Program in Lowell, MA, which trains women to develop licensed, home-based child care businesses.  The chapter on "connector" programs showcases a program in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that has been replicated in 15 Canadian communities. Connector programs are similar to mentorship programs, except that the time commitment from volunteers is not as onerous. The lead author of the report is Steve Tobocman, Director of Global Detroit and a founder of the Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network of Welcoming America, a ten-state regional network of local immigrant economic development initiatives.

Share of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers in Production, Construction Jobs Falls Since 2007,
Pew Research Center, March 26, 2015, 34 pp.
Authors: Jeffrey S. Passel & D'Vera Cohn

Analyzing data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the Current Population Survey, this report examines the unauthorized immigrant workforce by occupation and industry, with particular attention to changes since the Great Recession of 2007. In addition to illuminating national trends, this study also shows occupational and industrial patterns within 43 states and the District of Columbia. Reflecting changes in the overall U.S. economy since the recession, the study finds small shifts in the composition of unauthorized workers in the labor market. While unauthorized immigrants in construction and manufacturing industries fell by 5 percent, those with white-collar or professional jobs grew by 3 percent. Despite these changes, unauthorized workers remain twice as likely to work in low-skill, low-pay positions as U.S.-born workers and less than half as likely to work in professional or management jobs. The study also finds that, making up approximately 5.1% of the U.S. labor force in 2012, unauthorized immigrants are generally overrepresented in blue-collar industries and "account for a far higher share of the total workforce in specific jobs, notably farming (26 percent), cleaning and maintenance (17 percent), and construction (14 percent)." (Jamie Cross for The ILC Public Education Institute)

Mentoring Practices in Europe and North America: Strategies for Improving Immigrants' Employment Outcomes
Migration Policy Institute Europe, January, 2015, 74 pp.
Author: Milica Petrovic

Mentoring is a promising strategy to facilitate labor market entry and career success for immigrants. This study examines mentoring programs on both sides of the Atlantic in an effort to distill the key "ingredients" for effective programs. The King Baudouin Foundation funded the study out of a concern to reverse the poor labor market outcomes for non-E.U. immigrants in Belgium.  In reviewing the landscape of mentoring programs, the authors provide details on sponsoring organization(s), targeted populations, numbers served, and results to date. In some cases, programs target immigrants exclusively, e.g. out-of-school immigrant youth, or highly-skilled immigrants, while in other cases, programs serve a broader population, of which immigrants may be one component. The "recipe" for effective mentoring programs seems to include the following:  government and private sector support; stable core funding, predicated on the belief that immigrant employment is "beneficial to everyone;" success in elevating the issue of immigrant employment to a high level public priority and getting all actors pulling in the same direction; and having clear benchmarks for success and ensuring careful evaluation of all programs.

Policing Wage Theft in the Day Labor Market,
UC Irvine Law Review, 4:2, 2014, 25 pp.
Author: Stephen Lee
In recent years, workers' right advocates have pushed for the criminalization of wage theft, i.e. the nonpayment of wages for work already performed, and convinced a number of state and local governments to pass laws imposing hefty fines and the possibility of imprisonment for engaging in it. Noting that wage theft is most common in the informal labor market and that many of the affected workers are undocumented immigrants, the author evaluates the effectiveness of this strategy in an environment in which the federal government, through programs such as Secure Communities and detention contracts with local governments, enlists the help of local law enforcement authorities in enforcing immigration laws.  Even with the best of intentions, police departments find it difficult to "insulate" themselves against the pressure to cooperate with federal authorities. The author concludes that, "the distrust of the police effectively neutralizes the potential of wage theft statutes when employed against employers who hire unauthorized immigrant workers." Another unintended consequence is that employers, who themselves are undocumented, may be apprehended and deported, cutting off a source of livelihood for immigrant workers. He acknowledges, however, that the existing civil regime for enforcing labor law is weak, especially given the challenge of reaching "into the crevices nestled at the bottom of the economy where much of the nation's day labor work is negotiated and carried out," the limited resources of the federal government, and the unwillingness of many labor attorneys to take on these cases given the small sums involved and the contingency fee model under which they operate. One effective approach might be legislation like the Trust Act recently passed in California. However, further research is needed to determine the extent to which local police departments can reassure immigrant communities and secure their trust and cooperation.

Rx for Strengthening Massachusetts' Economy and Healthcare System: A Report by the Governor's Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants, Task force on Immigration Healthcare Professionals in Massachusetts, December, 2014, 53 pp.
Author: Jeffrey Gross
This report examines labor market barriers facing foreign-trained healthcare professionals in Massachusetts and the U.S. and offers detailed policy and program recommendations to enable these individuals to contribute their talent and training  to address current and future skill shortages in the health care field, particularly in community and primary care settings. The report was produced with funding from the J.M. Kaplan Fund and The Boston Foundation and utilizes new data from the 2013 National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), conducted every 10 years by the National Science Foundation. The NSCG permits the disaggregation of college graduates by source of degree (foreign or U.S.), degree field, salary, and relationship of current occupation to degree field. One of the more striking statistics cited in this report is that foreign-educated nurses in Massachusetts are over seven times more likely to have a low-skilled job (21 percent) than their U.S.-trained counterpart (3 Percent) - the highest disparity in all states studied. Noting that many studies project major shortages of nurses, physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, and mental health professionals in the years to come, the author observes that programs and policies to accelerate the reentry of foreign-educated health care professionals will play an important role in addressing these shortages. The report details efforts that can be undertaken by state governments and other stakeholders in four key areas: improving informational resources and awareness about career pathways for foreign-trained healthcare professionals; strengthening and expanding workforce development and educational programs directly serving immigrant professionals; addressing financial and structural barriers to professional relicensing; and establishing a staff position within state government to coordinate immigrant integration policy, including policies and programs for foreign-educated professionals.

Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States,
Urban Institute and Northeastern University, October, 2014, 287 pp.
Authors: Colleen Owens et al
With funding from the National Institute of Justice (Office of Justice Programs), this study is the "first of its kind" to examine the organization, operation, and victimization process of labor trafficking across multiple industries in the U.S. The research is intended to fill the gap in knowledge of labor trafficking, which has not been studied as extensively as sex trafficking. Data for this study came from a sample of 122 closed labor trafficking cases handled by service providers in four U.S. cities, as well as 86 interviews with victims, service providers, legal advocates, and local and federal officials. Most victims entered the U.S. on legal temporary visas and worked in the areas of agriculture, hospitality, domestic service in private residences, and restaurants. Few formal connections were found between labor trafficking perpetrators and other criminal networks, such as drug trafficking. The study examines the recruitment process in countries origin, the process of movement into the United States, the forms of intimidation or threats that traffickers used to keep victims in exploitive situations, how victims escaped from these situations, and the nature of services received after escape. Victims experienced document fraud, withholding of documents, extortion, sexual abuse and rape, discrimination, psychological manipulation and coercion, torture, attempted murder, and violence and threats against victims and their family members. In addition to these criminal activities, victims also experienced high rates of civil labor exploitation, e.g. being paid less than minimum wage, being paid less the promised, wage theft, and illegal deductions. The report finds that local law enforcement authorities did not prioritize prosecution of these cases and had trouble separating labor trafficking from other forms of labor exploitation and workplace violations. The authors present a series of policy and practice recommendations, including reforms to state and federal laws, greater public awareness of the problem, specialized training for law enforcement, and dedicated funding to support civil litigation for trafficking survivors so they can collect back wages and damages.

Demand for H-1B Visas in New England: An Analysis of Employer Requests for Highly Skilled Guest Workers,
New England Public Policy Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, October, 2014, 23 pp.
Author: Robert Clifford
This report explains the mechanics of the H-1B visa program, discusses how the program is utilized in New England and elsewhere, and makes recommendations to revamp the program so that it garners greater public support and meets the needs of the economy. In recent years, New England accounted for 7 percent of all H-1 visa requests, exceeding its 5 percent share of national employment, with most demand highly concentrated in the urban centers of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The report calculates "intensity of demand" for these visas for all 50 states, with Montana showing the least demand and the New Jersey the greatest. The author also analyzes regional and national variations in the allocation of H-1 visas by three components of STEM: computer and mathematical, scientists and engineers, and all other STEM occupations. More than 50 percent of all visas both regionally and nationally were granted in the first category: computer and mathematical - creating a disproportionate intensity of demand in this field. Data confirms that the heaviest users of the H-1B visa program are outsourcing or staffing firms, particularly in IT. Two such firms: Infosys and Wipro requested over 1,000 such visas in New England during the period from 2010 to 2012. Data suggests that employers utilizing H-1B workers through these firms "would not be doing so in response to regional labor market conditions but instead to provide a temporary source of labor for shifting work to another location, often overseas." The author suggests that a more transparent, merit-based system might be more effective in attracting "the best and the enable the United States to compete successfully in global markets..."

Policies to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurship
Migration Policy Institute and Transatlantic Council on Migration, August, 2014, 19 pp.
Author:  Maria Vincenza Desiderio
Policymakers around the world are aware of the economic and social benefits of attracting and supporting immigrant entrepreneurs, who are often more likely than the native-born to start a business and create jobs, revitalize declining neighborhoods, innovate, and integrate other immigrants into the labor market. At the same time, immigrants face major obstacles to starting a business due to a lack of language proficiency, professional networks, knowledge of local business systems, start-up capital, and credit history. In Policies to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Maria Vincenza Desiderio outlines a variety of policies that seek to remove these obstacles and promote success among immigrant entrepreneurs. She suggests, for instance, that these policies rely on public-private partnerships to ensure sustainability. London's own Silicon Valley known as Tech City, for instance, grew out of a private initiative that eventually garnered government support. By clustering co-working spaces, start-up incubators and business accelerators, the partnership was able to offer targeted local support for high-tech entrepreneurship. The author also suggests that programs rely on both mainstream (open to all residents) and targeted (open to immigrants) business-support measures. In the economically disadvantaged German city of Dortmund, city authorities partnered with banks and the European Union to launch a credit union that facilitates easy access to credit, tailored counseling and assistance, and mentoring and network-building initiatives. The author concludes that Initiatives like these ought to be embedded in a broader policy strategy to create an entrepreneurship-friendly environment. (Denzil Mohammed)

Latino Jobs Growth Driven by U.S. Born: Immigrants No Longer the Majority of Hispanic Workers
Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, June 19, 2014, 9 pp.
Author: Rakesh Kochhar
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, the share of Hispanic immigrant workers has fallen such that, for the first time since 1995, U.S.-born Latinos make up a majority of Hispanic workers in the United States. According to Rakesh Kochhar in Latino Jobs Growth Driven by U.S. Born: Immigrants No Longer the Majority of Hispanic Workers, data from the Current Population Survey showed that, since the recession started in 2007, the growth in the Latino immigrant workforce slowed significantly while the Latino U.S.-born workforce rapidly expanded. As such, most of the job gains made by Hispanics during the economic recovery since 2009 went to U.S.-born workers. Kochhar attributes this development both to the bust of the housing market, which was fueled largely by Hispanic immigrant workers, and to a reduction in the numbers of Hispanic immigrants entering the country. (Denzil Mohammed)

Closing Economic Windows: How H-1B Visa Denials Cost U.S.-Born Tech Workers Jobs and Wages During the Great Depression,
Partnership for a New American Economy, June, 2014, 34 pp.
Authors: Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih, Chad Sparber, & Angie Marek Zeitlin

For the U.S. tech industry to grow, it needs an adequate supply of high-skilled workers. Given that the U.S. higher education system produces only 51,000 such graduates annually, technology companies also hire foreign-born workers through the H-1B visa system. The annual cap of 65,000 visas, however, is too low to meet the need, stymies the growth of U.S. tech companies and hinders job creation for U.S.-born workers as the companies expand. The cap also affects the communities in which these companies are located as a result of lost taxes and investments. These are the major findings of Closing Economic Windows: How H-B1 Visa Denials Cost U.S.-Born Tech Workers Jobs and Wages during the Great Recession. Using estimates from theories on how H-1B visa holders interact with the U.S. high-skilled workforce, Giovanni Peri et al conclude that rejected H-1B visa applicants prevented U.S. metropolitan areas from hiring as many as 231,224 U.S.-born workers in 2007-08 and slowed wage growth for workers in computer-related industries. Consequently, the U.S. tech industry missed an opportunity to grow substantially, which would have quickened the pace of recovery out of the Great Recession. The authors suggest an urgent need for less restrictive immigration policies so as to ensure greater economic growth for the U.S. (Denzil Mohammed)

Migrant Labour in the United States: Working Beneath the Floor for Free Labour?
Chapter from Migrants at Work: Immigration and Vulnerability in Labour Law, Oxford University Press, Forthcoming, June 23, 2014, 20 pp.
Author:  Maria Linda Ontiveros
This paper argues that the treatment of migrant labor in the United States violates prohibitions against slavery and involuntary servitude found in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although undocumented workers are theoretically covered under federal labor and employment laws, there are two problems that eviscerate their protection under these laws: First, the Supreme Court's 2002 Hoffman decision denied undocumented workers important remedies under the law, such as back pay and reinstatement if terminated unfairly. Second, if they participate in union activity or complain about working conditions, undocumented workers fear that employers will report their status to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement thus resulting in deportation. Even guest workers who are in the country legally know that employers will retaliate if they speak out.  Moreover, agricultural and domestic workers ae specifically excluded from protection under the National Labor Relations Act. "By creating a group of legally exploitable workers who, in practice, tend to be racial minorities," the United States is "running afoul of the amendment's purpose."

Everybody in the Tent: Lessons from the Grassroots About Labor Organizing, Immigrants, and Temporary Worker Policies,
Harvard Latino Law Review, 2014, Forthcoming, UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 382, May 16, 2014, 35 pp.
Author:  Leticia M. Saucedo
This paper seeks to understand why the labor movement experiences difficulties in organizing immigrants. The author compares and contrasts the views of academics, labor leaders, and immigrant workers themselves on the question.  She draws on a series of interviews and focus groups with over 100 construction workers, union leaders, organizers, and union members in the residential construction industry in Las Vegas, most of whom are undocumented.  Many of these workers have an "endure or leave" philosophy, priding themselves on their ability to tolerate working conditions that others would find intolerable.  Many also aspire to become subcontractors themselves, after saving enough money to buy tools and accumulate some capital, or to become labor brokers, or contratistas .  With regard to the benefits of organizing, the workers didn't have negative views of labor unions, only a "void in knowledge" as to how labor unions might improve their lot. The paper gives examples of how this void can be filled and how unions can conduct successful organizing drives among immigrants.  The author finds fault with recent policy positions of the AFL-CIO on immigration reform (calling them "glimmers of the restrictionist position of the past"). By supporting a provision in the Senate's immigration bill that creates an annual cap of 15,000 seasonal construction workers (the W visa program), the AFL-CIO "signals the labor movement's concession to the seasonal nature of construction work."  According to the author, allowing W visas in construction will interfere with organizing efforts "especially if there is no counterbalancing set of provisions making it easier for unions to organize temporary workers..."  She goes so far as to suggest that the AFL-CIO should "jettison immigration proposals based on the historic narrative that certain jobs must be protected for the American worker."

Immigrants and Retirement Resources
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 1, 2014
Authors: Purvi Sevak & Lucie Schmidt
In Immigrants and Retirement Resources, the authors examine data from the Health and Retirement Study, as well as  restricted access earnings information from the Social Security Administration, to compare retirement resources of immigrants and natives. The researchers find that working-age immigrants have lower predicted and actual Social Security benefits than natives largely due to fewer years spent working in Social Security-covered employment. The report also examines the other two components of the so-called "three-legged stool" of retirement resources: pensions and savings. Married male immigrants, for example, have an 11 percentage point lower probability than their native-born counterparts of reporting that they have a pension -- a gap that shrinks, however, the longer the immigrant has lived in the country.  The report also reveals that immigrants have higher net worth than the native-born when controlling for age, education, and self-related health. The authors then explore whether this "private wealth accumulation" is sufficient to offset the shortfalls in pension and social security income.  The report concludes that "immigrants might be more prepared for retirement than previously indicated in the literature, compensating for lower Social Security benefits with higher private savings." However, those who migrated to the U.S. at older ages might be at a significant disadvantage. (Denzil Mohammed)

How do E-Verify Mandates Affect Unauthorized Immigrant Workers?
Institute for the Study of Labor, February, 2014, 27 pp.
Authors: Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny
Several studies have looked at the effects of the E-Verify program, which requires employers in the 19 states that have mandated the program (to all employers in 8 states and to public sector workers or contractors in the others) to verify a worker's eligibility to work in the U.S. legally by checking a database of authorized workers maintained by the federal government. These studies have variously found that the program's implementation leads to shifts in labor across industries, decreases in the overall employment rate, and a decrease in the overall population of unauthorized Hispanics. This report, based on data from the Current Population Survey, shows that E-Verify mandates are largely successful in worsening labor market outcomes among unauthorized immigrants. It reduces average hourly earnings among male unauthorized Mexican immigrants while increasing labor force participation and employment among female unauthorized Mexican immigrants, who may be compelled to work when their husband's earnings decline. Overall, this may increase poverty and social assistance needs among these workers. Furthermore, while the report finds that E-Verify might lead to better labor market outcomes among some groups of workers who are likely to compete with unauthorized immigrants such as naturalized citizens born in Mexico or U.S.-born Hispanic men, it does not show positive or negative effects on non-Hispanic White men or women. (Denzil Mohammed)

Fatal Inequality: Workplace Safety Eludes Construction Workers of Color in New York State,
The Center for Popular Democracy, October, 2013, 14 pp.
Reviewing OSHA investigations of construction site accidents in New York State from 2003 to 2011 involving a fatal fall from an elevation, this report finds that 60 percent of accidents in New York State (and 74 percent in New York City) involved Latinos and/or immigrants, even though these groups comprised only 34 percent of the population in the state. Most Latinos and immigrants work for non-Union contractors, who routinely flout OSHA safety regulations. The report faults OSHA for failing to conduct a sufficient number of worksite inspections due to understaffing and for failing to impose monetary penalties that would compel employers to abide by workplace safety rules. "When OSHA does inspect a construction site, the monetary penalties imposed for violations are so small that employers can see them as just an incidental cost of doing business." Moreover, "OSHA almost never pursues criminal penalties...Since 1970, there have been almost 400,000 worker deaths and liable parties have served only 89 months in jail." The report cautions New York State not to water down its "Scaffold Law," which fills in some of the gaps in federal legislation by holding owners and contractors fully liable if a worker is injured or killed on the job because of safety violations.

Day Labor, Worker Centers & Disaster Relief Work in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,
City University of New York, Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, October 30, 2013, 17 pp.
Authors: Hector Cordero-Guzman, Elizabeth Pantaleon, & Martha Chavez
According to this study by researchers at the City University of New York, Hurricane Sandy revealed the important role played by day laborers in disaster response, as they engaged in critical post-disaster tasks, such as debris removal, general clean-up, demolition work, yard maintenance, tree removal, and basement remodeling. Working for contractors or directly for homeowners, day laborers stepped in to fill an important labor void, exposed themselves to great hazards and risks, and speeded the overall recovery effort.  The authors point out that the network of worker centers in New York City and New Jersey functioned as important "labor market intermediaries," allowing day laborers to be incorporated into the informal economy.  The researchers conducted interviews with staff members at these centers and organized three focus groups with day laborers themselves.  Some day laborers experienced wage theft, especially those who were hired on corners, rather than at worker centers. An "overwhelming majority, 91% of respondents, said that they had seen or heard of workers being exposed to hazardous materials," including mold, contaminated water, unstable structures, toxic substances, and chemicals at industrial sites. Some laborers reported work-related accidents. Based on their findings, the authors make a number of recommendations, including "dedicat(ing) specific resources from government agencies such as OSHA, the USDOL Wage and Hour division and other enforcement agencies to addressing the conditions faced by day laborers," enlisting experienced day laborers to provide training to other day laborers in advance of any disaster, and expanding the network of day Laborer centers in New York City through the provision of local funding. The authors conclude that "Any disaster planning that does not incorporate the role of worker centers, day laborers and other low wage construction workers into their plan rather than being proper disaster planning is more a disaster of a plan."

Skilled Immigrants in the Global Economy: Prospects for International Cooperation on Recognition of Foreign Qualifications,
Migration Policy Institute, December, 2013, 25 pp.
Authors: Madeleine Sumption, Demetrios G. Papademetriou, & Sarah Flamm
This paper looks at the present and future of mutual recognition agreements (MRAs), i.e. agreements between governments and/or professional licensing authorities to recognize training and experience acquired in foreign countries.  The authors lament the antiquated nature of professional licensing arrangements in most countries and observe that, "Limiting the right to practice professions to single jurisdictions multiplies inefficiencies when the economies in which regulated professionals operate have become global." Most current agreements are presently confined to corridors of commerce within the developed world, such as France and the Province of Quebec, Australia and New Zealand, and the European Union and Canada. The authors point out that the challenges of negotiating such agreements are formidable, especially when sub-national authorities are involved, when private professional associations control entry into a particular profession, and when some licensing authorities do not even recognize certification granted by fellow citizens in different geographic jurisdictions, i.e. other states in the U.S.  The authors describe several types of MRAs, including  automatic recognition (the "gold standard" of MRAs), partial recognition (when credit is given for home-country qualifications but additional testing, training, or supervised work experience are required), limited-scope recognition (allowing professional practice in limited areas), and temporary access (allowing people to practice for short periods while they satisfy requirements in the new jurisdiction).  The authors suggest that new MRAs might be more easily negotiated in the context of free trade agreements, such as the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the U.S. They also suggest that visa regulations need to be reformed to permit freer movement of professionals between countries; otherwise, MRAs will be underutilized.

Maximizing Human Capital in a Rapidly Evolving Economic Landscape: Council Statement,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Transatlantic Council on Migration, November, 2013, 8 pp.
Author: Demetrios G. Papademetriou
This statement grew out of discussions at the Council's ninth plenary meeting  held in Madrid in December of 2012. (MPI has separately published many of the papers commissioned for this meeting) . The meeting sought to achieve consensus on two broad areas: "Growing Skills" and "Using Skills."  In the first area, the Council "focused on what can be done to adapt mainstream workforce development services so that migrants' special needs are taken into account without specifically targeting these services to migrants" and produced three broad recommendations:  expand entry points into the system, provide better navigation assistance, and link training to employer needs.  In addressing the needs of higher-skilled immigrants, the Council recommended three important steps:  facilitate early entry into meaningful work that takes advantage of immigrant professional training; pressure regulators to make qualification assessments more flexible and transparent; and provide hands-on assistance to help immigrants navigate complex systems. According to the Council, attention to how immigrants interact with workforce development and regulatory systems is crucial because "national self-sufficiency in nurturing the right skills and talent, and in finding workers willing to perform the most in-demand jobs, is a thing of the past."

Maximizing Potential:  How Countries Can Address Skills Deficits Within the Immigrant Workforce,
Migration Policy Institute, October, 2013, 22 pp.
Author:  Meghan Benton
This is the first in a series of four reports discussing the challenges facing policy makers and practitioners seeking to address skill deficits within the immigrant workforce in both the European Union and North America.  Unlike the other three reports -- case studies of Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom -- this report is an overview of the issues facing training and workforce systems in different national settings. The author begins by calling attention to the disincentives to address these challenges on the part of policy makers, service providers, employers, and migrants themselves. For example, policy makers may worry about the political risks associated with targeted investments in the immigrant population, especially if the per-capita costs associated with such investments are greater than the costs incurred by the native-born population. Service providers, under pressure to get their clients into work as quickly as possible -- and perhaps less concerned with the quality of work than with its availability "at entry level" -- may bristle at the time it takes to prepare immigrants for work commensurate with their potential.  The author notes that policy interventions fall into "two main camps: targeted programs that are often classified as integration policy, and mainstream programs that form components of broader workforce development systems." She adds that "the appropriate mix of these two approaches continues to be hotly debated in Europe and beyond..." The balance of the report describes and assesses the various approaches. She concludes by articulating five principles of good practice:  first, adopt a flexible and calibrated approach; second, fund innovative research that assesses different labor market outcomes over longer time periods; third, consider "add-ons" to current systems in the form of mentoring and navigation support, or extended time with service providers;  fourth, reduce opportunity costs by fitting training around migrant work and other commitments;  and fifth, adapt mainstream systems to accommodate diverse learners.

Tackling Brain Waste: Strategies to Improve the Recognition of Immigrants' Foreign Qualifications,
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2013, 19 pp.
Author: Madeleine Sumption
Maximizing the skills and experiences of foreign-trained professionals is a formidable challenge for many immigrant-receiving countries. This report is a "state of the art" review of policy initiatives to address this challenge. According to the report, a host of issues arise when workers cross borders including language differences, licensing hurdles, differences in education and training, discrimination on the basis of race or nationality, and navigating complex government and accreditation processes. By first examining how foreign credentials are currently assessed, the report provides examples of "cooperative policies and mutual recognition agreements" that show some promise of success. These include the EU Professional Qualifications Directive, which reduces member state regulatory discretion in rejecting applications. The authors then suggest ways in which governments can develop policies to speed the integration of skilled immigrants.  These include providing more information both on credentials and government processes to employers and immigrants, offering training opportunities to fill skills gaps including language and culture, working with regulators to simplify job requirements, and screening for credentials at time of entry to better place foreign workers in suitable job positions. However, the author also observes that "much more detailed evidence is needed on the costs and benefits of the range of possible interventions." (Denzil Mohammed)

Verification Nation: How E-Verify Affects America's Workers,
National Immigration Law Center, August, 2013, 19 pp.
Authors: Josh Stehlik, Emily Tulli, & Stacy Villalobos

Every major immigration reform proposal being considered by Congress in 2013 includes a requirement that employers use the electronic employment eligibility verification system known as E-Verify to determine employee work authorization. This report examines the recently released Evaluation of the Accuracy of E-Verify Findings against case studies and prior research on E-Verify to conclude that such a system would result in a host of deleterious consequences. These include job loss, workplace discrimination and intimidation, an undermining of employment standards and worker rights, technological obstacles with the massive increase in its use, and employer abuse of the system. For instance, given the estimated 0.3 percent error rate of the system currently being used by seven percent of employers, the authors conclude that up to a half-million eligible workers including U.S. citizens could be flagged as "unauthorized" by the E-Verify system without a straightforward procedure for such errors to be corrected. In one example, a Minnesota woman who had been a U.S. citizen for two decades was fired because of an E-Verify error and her efforts to have the error corrected were futile. The authors recommend amending proposed legislation on E-Verify to include a formal review process for workers to have errors rectified, penalties for employer abuse of the system, and a pathway to citizenship to protect workers' rights and to reduce E-Verify's negative impacts (Denzil Mohammed).

Exploitation Creep and the Unmaking of Human Trafficking Law,
American University, Washington College of Law Research Paper, August 24, 2013, 69 pp.
Author:  Janie A. Chuang
Janie A. Chung examines the history of the anti-trafficking movement since the adoption of the U.N. Anti-Trafficking Protocol in 2000.   Noting that the anti-trafficking field has been a "strikingly rigor-free zone" when it comes to defining the concept of "trafficking," the author also contends that the movement has been under the "grip of a criminal justice paradigm," which has "absolve(d) the state (and its corporate partners) of responsibility for maintaining labor and migration structures that render those at the bottom of the global labor market hierarchy vulnerable to trafficking."   One reason for the dominance of this paradigm has been the tendency to conflate all exploitation with trafficking, and all trafficking with "slavery." These conceptual "creeps," as she calls them, particularly the last one, "re-entrenches the dominant criminal justice paradigm by locating the harm of trafficking in individual deviant actors," not in systems or institutions. "The over-prioritization of aggressive criminal justice," she asserts, has "rendered the welfare of trafficked persons a secondary concern."  Moreover, without addressing the underlying vulnerabilities to trafficking, such as the failure to afford rights to those working in low-wage sectors of the economy, the goal of eradicating trafficking will remain elusive.

Attracting and Selecting from the Global Talent Pool - Policy Challenges,
Migration Policy Institute and Bertelsmann Stiftung, September, 2013, 16 pp.
Authors: Demetrios G. Papademetriou & Madeleine Sumption
This paper calls attention to the policy implications of the growing demand for human capital investment and high quality education both in developed and developing countries. The "enormous" growth of the "global talent pool" is matched by surging demand for high skilled labor both in emerging and developed economies. Governments face two interrelated challenges: first, attracting high-skilled migrants to their countries; and second, ensuring that those migrants successfully integrate into society. The paper offers a schematic showing the factors the influence a migrant's decision to relocate to another country, and distinguishing between "first-order variables," such as capital infrastructure and the presence of critical masses of other talented professionals, and "second-order variables," such as a welcoming society and a "fair and generous social model." The authors also emphasize the importance of "the immigration package," i.e. the soundness, reliability, and transparency of the rules permitting migrants and their families to progress to permanent residence and economic integration. Examples of such rules include:  allowing spouses to work during the provisional period of residence and establishing credential recognition systems for those working in regulated professions.  The final section of the paper discusses how countries can "admit the ‘right' people from the pool of prospective immigrants...." The authors discuss the relative advantages of point-based vs employer-based systems and find greater promise in hybrid approaches.  The authors also caution against overly-generous immigration opportunities for foreign students for fear that the educational levels of such students will diminish over time through the spread of "diploma mills."

Recognizing Foreign Qualifications: Emerging Global Trends
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), July, 2013, 17 pp.
Author: Lesleyanne Hawthorne
Produced with the financial support of the European Union, this report is the third in a series of MPI reports examining credential recognition issues in migrant-receiving countries. Noting that "the scale of skilled migration has grown phenomenally in the past two decades," the author reviews the forces that are propelling this change, including skill shortages in many countries, a trend toward privileging skilled immigrants in country admission policies, and the desire of transnational employers to have greater flexibility in transferring workers around the world.  The report reviews a number of new approaches to recognizing professional qualifications, including Australia's Fast-Track Medical Registration Program, which recognizes the quality and equivalence of medical screening procedures in other countries; international agreements governing the reciprocal recognition of engineering qualifications; and the emergence of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) as a private, international training and accrediting body for accountants. The author also describes the work of a global umbrella body, called the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO), in certifying geologists to work as "competent persons" in assessing the value of global mineral discoveries. These ground-breaking efforts show "an evolving way forward, beyond the 19th-century regulatory structures that still prevail in many immigrant-destination countries."

Skills, Professional Regulation, and International Mobility in the Engineering Workforce,
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2013, 31 pp.
Author: Matthew Dixon

This report describes efforts by trans-national engineering associations to reduce barriers to the international mobility of engineering professionals. Two initiatives, in particular, receive focused attention in the report: first, the work of the European Federation of National Engineering Associations, which certifies engineering degrees offered by institutions of higher education in EU member states and maintains a European index of qualified engineers; and second, the International Engineering Alliance (IEA), a grouping of 19 national degree-accrediting or practice-regulating bodies, which performs similar services in a non-European context. More than 6,000 engineering programs have been accredited under the IEA, but fewer than 5,000 individuals have been registered, compared to 30,000 members on the European list. According to the author, there is no data on the role played by these agreements in facilitating international migration.  Nor can the existence of these efforts by non-governmental professional associations guarantee that governmental authorities won't deny recognition to foreign-trained engineers. The problem is especially complex and challenging in the U.S. where state governments are empowered to grant professional licenses.  The author observes that the upsurge in the "virtual mobility" of analytical and expert services might "'call the bluff' of the regulators - bypassing regulatory constraints that cannot really be justified."
Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Winter, 2012,
43 pp.
Author:  Lori A. Nessel

The author seeks to contextualize the practice of medical repatriation, i.e. the private deportation by hospitals of seriously ill or injured immigrants lacking health insurance to their home countries. According to the author, this "inhumane approach" seems to flourish in a social environment that is hostile to workers performing low-wage and often hazardous work. Repatriation is symptomatic of a trend toward the privatization of immigrant enforcement, which acts to shield the government from liability for human rights violations and provides cover for hospitals to act with impunity. The author shows how U.S. obligations under a variety of international human rights treaties covering the right to life, due process in expulsion, health, freedom from discrimination, and family integrity, are being ignored. She refers to "a well-established principle under international human rights law that a state cannot insulate itself from liability for human rights abuses by stepping back and allowing private actors to violate an individual's human rights." The essay discusses various strategies to reform "a legal regime that treats migrant labor as disposable," including ratification of the Migrant Worker Convention, making health care coverage truly universal, creating additional visa categories to allow undocumented immigrants who have been injured at work to qualify for lawful immigration status, and undertaking a "broader examination of all of the interconnected factors that lead to migration and make migrants vulnerable to human trafficking or exploitation."

Credential Recognition in the United States for Foreign Professionals,
Migration Policy Institute, May, 2013, 17 pp.
Author: Linda Rabben
The movement of labor, especially high-skilled workers, across U.S. borders is often stymied by the lack of recognition of foreign qualifications and outdated recertification procedures. As a result, more than 1.6 million college-educated immigrants in the United States were underemployed or unemployed as of 2011. The Migration Policy Institute brings this issue to light in Credential Recognition in the United States for Foreign Professionals. The report is the first in a series of European Union-funded studies exploring how governments can improve the credential recognition process through domestic policy changes and international cooperation. While credential recognition reform is currently on the EU agenda, little is being done on the federal level in the U.S.  The author examines the credential recognition process in the U.S., with special attention to medical professionals and engineers.  Barriers to practice are particularly daunting in the medical profession. The author reviews efforts that have been undertaken, often on a small scale, to surmount barriers to recertification, but notes that health care reform creates a special urgency to achieve systemic reform. Although some states such as New York, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are taking steps to improve the credential-recognition process, the federal government can play a vital role in setting common goals, bringing stakeholders together, and targeting resources to achieve significant change. (Denzil Mohammed)

Screening for Solidarity,
University of Chicago Law Review, 2013, 36 pp.
Author: Stephen Lee
In determining how to use its enforcement resources, the federal government has largely relied on the concept of "undesirability," i.e. certain people such as criminals and potential terrorists should be screened and removed.  Believing that removing 8 million unauthorized workers would be both politically unpalatable and administratively infeasible, the author of this paper argues that the government should also develop criteria for identifying "desirable" workers from the pool of unauthorized workers.  One important criterion to use in making such a selection would be the potential of the immigrant to integrate into the larger society.  When unauthorized workers show "solidarity" with their native-born and authorized, foreign-born co-workers, by filing non-frivolous complaints against unscrupulous employers, their commitment to improved working conditions merits consideration for preferential treatment by the government.  The Obama administration has already redesigned immigration enforcement "to allow the assertion of labor rights to slow, and in some cases, to halt altogether the removal process."  The next step, according to the author, would be to grant permanent residence for such acts of solidarity. The author also suggests ways in which such a policy might be implemented, including giving labor unions sponsorship authority, similar to the authority vested in employers to file labor certifications.

Legal Immigration Policies for Low-Skilled Foreign Workers,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), April, 2013, 12 pp.
Authors: Madeleine Sumption & Demetrios G. Papademetriou

In this policy brief, MPI lays out the concerns that policymakers must consider in drafting more effective work-based visa program. The report notes that current policies for low-skilled work-based visas are restrictive and out of touch with labor demands: there is an annual cap of 66,000 seasonal, non-agricultural worker visas lasting up to 1 year (H-2B) and permanent work-based visas are capped at just 5,000 annually. As a result, some employers continue to recruit unauthorized workers, resulting in a burgeoning of the undocumented population in the 1990s and 2000s. Along with the current thrust towards bipartisan agreement on comprehensive immigration reform, a recent accord between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor unions on a new work-based visa category "W" augurs well for more realistic immigration policies. These include making work-based visas "portable," i.e. permitting workers to move on to other employers; addressing violations of labor standards; and allowing some visas to be convertible to permanent residence. Addressing these concerns, the policy brief suggests, would allow for a more humane visa program that better reflects economic realities and safeguards both native-born and foreign-born workers. (Denzil Mohammed) 


The End of Farm Labor Abundance,
Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, November, 2012, 12 pp.
Authors: J. Edward Taylor, Diane Charlton & Antonio Yunez-Naude
This paper predicts an end to American agriculture's historic reliance on Mexican farm labor. Not only is the fertility rate of the Mexican population sharply declining, but the percentage of Mexicans working in agriculture is also declining. As the Mexican economy generates opportunities in non-farm employment, and as the Mexican agriculture sector itself booms, fewer Mexicans will want to cross the border, either legally or illegally, to work on American farms. The authors see little likelihood of finding alternate sources of farm labor, mainly because countries in Central America like Guatemala and El Salvador have small populations compared to Mexico.  "Since U.S. domestic workers are unwilling to do farm work and the United States can feasibly import farm workers from only a few countries in close geographic proximity, the agricultural industry will eventually need to adjust production to use less labor."

Workers' Rights on ICE: How Immigration Reform Can Stop Retaliation and Advance Labor Rights,
National Employment Law Project, February, 2013, 34 pp.
Authors: Rebecca Smith & Eunice Hyunhye Cho
Providing many examples of how employers use the threat of reporting immigration violations to thwart union organizing campaigns and prevent the filing of workplace abuse complaints, this report suggests that all workers in low-wage industries, both immigrant and native-born, suffer as a result. The authors detail the strategies used by employers to evade responsibility under fair labor legislation, including I-9 "self-audits" and bringing "new players to the retaliation game" by involving local police in immigrant enforcement. The report suggests that the mandatory use of E-Verify "will provide employers added incentive to erroneously call their workers independent contractors or simply pay them ‘off the books' in order to skirt their E-Verify obligations. The Congressional Budget Office estimates tax losses at over $17.3 billion." The authors offer a number of recommendations to address these problems, including providing 8 million workers with a pathway to citizenship; updating and codifying Operation Instruction 287.3(a) to create a "firewall" between immigration and labor enforcement; restoring equal remedies, including back pay, to undocumented workers subject to illegal working conditions; modifying U visa provisions to ensure its availability to employees confronting criminal employer retaliation; and ensuring that no deportations result from a labor dispute.

Designing Temporary Worker Programs,
University of Chicago Law Review, February, 2013, 26 pp.
Author: Hiroshi Motomura
This paper describes four perspectives on guest worker programs, each of which may lead to differing policy conclusions. The author suggests that effective programs must somehow harmonize these various perspectives, in order to move from "political impasses" to "sound compromises." The first perspective sees temporary worker programs exclusively in economic terms; the second views such programs as a solution to the problem of unauthorized migration; the third looks at their positive impact at international economic development; and the final perspective worries about the existence of a class of people denied the full rights of membership in a democratic society. To reconcile these different viewpoints, the author argues that these programs must include "some kind of path to belonging," however complex that task may be. In this context, she sees birthright citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment as a "backstop against the marginialization caused by barriers between temporary workers and citizenship." 

How to Make Guest Worker Visas Work
Cato Institute, January 31, 2013, 17 pp.
Author: Alex Nowrasteh

This paper begins with a review of guest worker programs dating back to the BraceroProgram of World War II.  According to the author, a major flaw in all such programs has been the excessive amount of governmental regulation that interfered with the efficient flow of workers to and from the United States and in a perverse way, led to the growth of illegal migration and the underground economy. The author recommends four major steps to address this problem: first, the elimination of numerical quotas in all visa categories in order to allow the number of workers "to expand and contract on the basis of ebbs and flows of the market;" second, making the length of visas variable and extendable so that employers can take advantage of the experience and accumulated skills of guest workers; third, allowing guest workers to switch employers without penalty; and fourth, using bonds and returnable payroll deductions to incentivize guest workers to return to their countries. In short, Congress should not repeat the mistake of the 1986 immigration Act, which failed to create a "large and flexible guest worker stanch unauthorized immigration and grow our economy."

Increasing Pathways to Legal Status for Immigrant In-Home Care Workers,
Institute for Women's Policy Research & Caring Across Generations, February, 2013, 23 pp.
Authors: Cynthia Hess & Jane Henrici
Noting that immigrants currently make up 28 percent of the in-home health workforce and that 90 percent of these workers are women, this report calls for fundamental changes in U.S. immigration law to accommodate the growing demand for workers in the personal care and in-home care industries. The large number of undocumented workers in these industries speaks to the absence of legal avenues for foreign workers to migrate to the United States. Legal status, both for current and future workers, will address the challenge of low wages and poor working conditions resulting in improved quality of in-home health care for American's growing elderly population.  The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) proposes four possible ways to improve job quality and increase pathways to legal status.  First, legalize undocumented care workers who currently reside in the U.S. and complete specified job training requirements within a certain time frame.  Second, develop a new temporary visa for women or men abroad who plan to work in the U.S. in-home care industry.  Third, implement a provisional visa that allows care workers from abroad would be able to enter the country with a temporary visa, eventually transitioning to permanent legal status after three years of permanent or year-round jobs.  Finally, create a hybrid model in which the federal government uses a point system to assess and addresses each state's labor shortages.  In doing so, states would share authority with the federal government to determine the number of visas given based on the number of skilled workers needed in that region.  These steps would go a long way to reverse "society's tendency to undervalue care work" and ensure the provision of quality, long-term care to the aging population. (Lorin Mordecai)

The American Dream Up for Sale:  A Blueprint for Ending International Labor Recruitment Abuse
The International Labor Recruitment Working Group, February, 2013, 49 pp. + notes

This report details the problems, inefficiencies and abuses suffered by internationally recruited workers in the "dizzying array" of U.S. temporary work visa categories. It also provides comprehensive recommendations for reforming these critical areas of U.S. foreign labor policy. Among the 18 organizations comprising the report's publisher, the International Labor Recruitment Working Group, are the AFL-CIO, Centro de Derechos del Migrante, Global Workers Justice Alliance, and the Alliance for Ethical Recruitment. The working group finds that internationally recruited workers, in all visa categories and wage levels,  face recruitment abuse such as fraud, discrimination, economic coercion, retaliation, blacklisting and forced labor; and in some cases, indentured servitude; debt bondage; and human trafficking. It also finds that disparate rules and requirements for workers, employers and recruiters together with lax enforcement of regulations allow and perhaps even incentivize recruiters and employers to engage in such abuses. The bulk of the report, therefore, makes recommendations on eight major issues that, if implemented, could repair the "systemic" problems that plague these programs. These include freedom from economic coercion, freedom of movement, employer accountability, access to justice, and the right to receive a contract with fair terms and to give informed consent. (Denzil Mohammed)

Taken for A Ride: Migrant Workers in the U.S. Fair and Carnival Industry,
American University, Washington College of Law & Centro de los Derechos del Migrante,
February, 2013, 88 pp.
The H-2B allows for the temporary admission of workers to the U.S. to complete seasonal, non-agricultural worker when U.S. workers are unavailable or unwilling to fill those jobs. With approximately 5,000 workers, fair and amusement park workers constitute the third largest group of H-2B visa-holders, after positions in landscaping and forestry.  These workers are responsible for assembling, operating, and dismantling carnival rides. The carnival industry's growing reliance on H-2B workers coincides with the consolidation of the industry from mom-and-pop businesses into larger national corporations. Based on interviews with H-2B workers in Maryland, Virginia, and Mexico, the report finds serious and widespread abuses including "deceptive recruitment practices and high pre-employment fees and costs; wage theft; lack of access to legal and medical assistance; substandard housing; and unsafe working conditions." Efforts by the Obama administration to tighten up on regulation of the industry have been met with resistance by trade groups who have filed suit to block implementation.  The report urges actions by Congress and the federal Department of Labor to stem the growing tide of abuses in the industry.

Recruitment Revealed: Fundamental Flaws in the H-2 Temporary Worker Program and Recommendations for Change,
Centro de los Derechos Del Migrante (Center for Migrant Rights), January, 2013, 32 pp.
Despite the more than 100,000 temporary immigrant workers recruited annually and the centrality of the guest-worker program to proposed immigration reform, there is minimal transparency in the recruitment, treatment and financing of these "guest workers." Based on 220 interviews with workers, formal information requests to the U.S. and Mexican governments, and organizational surveys, this report reveals the hidden reality of international labor recruitment for low-wage, temporary jobs in the U.S., with special attention to Mexico, home to the largest number of temporary migrants. Recruitment Revealed concludes that "temporary workers are routinely subjected to fraud, charged illegal fees, and threatened, intimidated and mistreated by recruiters and employers." It finds that guest workers suffer financial hardships through illegal recruitment fees by employers, recruiters and agents, who also fail to reimburse visa, travel and recruitment-related expenses. Employers, recruiters and their agents often misrepresent the terms of employment. Workers consequently arrive in the U.S. already in debt and migrant communities suffer economic harm. The authors conclude that the H-2 guest-worker program must be overhauled in order to protect workers from recruitment abuse, and they make a series of recommendations, including new legislation holding employers liable for all recruitment fees charged to workers, the extension of federally funded legal services to all H-2 workers, and the amendment of anti-discrimination laws to cover guest workers. (Denzil Mohammed)

A Labor Paradigm for Human Trafficking,
UCLA Law Review, November 6, 2012, 60 pp.
Author: Hila Shamir
This paper urges a shift from a "human rights approach" to a "labor approach" as a more effective way to combat human trafficking.  The author finds two aspects of current trafficking policies to be especially problematic:  first, the emphasis on sex trafficking (the trafficking of women and girls into the sex industry for the purpose of prostitution) to the neglect of other labor markets prone to exploitive labor practices; and second, the dominance of a border control and crime control framework, which obscures the needs of trafficking victims.  The current human rights approach also fails to provide help and empowerment to the great majority of victims.  In 2012, fewer than 43,000 trafficking victims were identified out of an estimated 2.4 million world-wide.  Moreover, the current approach helps victims after being exploited instead of improving or preventing the conditions that lead to trafficking.  According to the author, the current approach is not only "acutely limited in its reach but in fact may also be harmful in that it has created the illusion that the international community is taking action against severe forms of exploitation, when in reality, little is being done to address the underlying causes." A labor approach would not only shift the focus to power disparities between victims and traffickers but it would also address the economic and social issues that increase vulnerability to trafficking.  To implement the labor approach, the author recommends five strategies: ensure that vulnerable workers have access to the justice system without fear of deportation or criminalization; ensure that the applicable visa regime does not assign workers to one specific employer in a binding agreement; regulate against work contracts structured around large debt; extend the application of protective employment law to sectors subject to trafficking; and guarantee the right to unionize for vulnerable workers. (Lorin Mordecai)

Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work,
National Domestic Workers Alliance, Center for Urban Economic Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, DataCenter, 2012, 53 pp.
Described as "the first large-scale, national survey of domestic workers in the US," this report documents widespread mistreatment of domestic workers - nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers. The number of these workers employed in private households and directly paid by their employers grew from 666,435 in 2004 to 726,437 in 2010, an increase of almost 10 percent.  According to the American Community Survey, the overwhelming majority (95 percent) are women, over half (54 percent) are from minority groups, and almost half (46 percent) are foreign-born. Noting that "household labor, paid and unpaid, is...the work that makes all other work possible," and that such labor "carries the long legacy of the devaluation of women's work in the household," as well as traditions dating back to slavery that exclude household labor from coverage under worker rights and safety legislation, the authors attempt to quantify the conditions and abuses faced by this group of workers. Between June 2011 and February 2012, the researchers, using a team of community-based surveyors, did face-to-face interviews in nine different languages with 2,086 domestic workers in 14 metropolitan areas.  They also gleaned insights from 29 focus groups and 52 testimonies from members of domestic worker organizations. The findings paint a bleak picture of the situation facing these workers. For example, 70 percent are paid less than $13 an hour, fewer than 2 percent of domestic workers receive retirement or pension benefits, 60 percent spend more than half of their income on rent or mortgage payments, and 38 percent suffered from work-related wrist, shoulder, elbow, or hip pain during the prior 12 months.  The authors offer a set of recommendations that could transform the working conditions of domestic workers, including eliminating the exclusion of domestic workers from employment and labor laws, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, and "bold solutions" to the challenges facing families with caregiving responsibilities.  We need to recognize that "household labor is a lynchpin connecting the economics of the home and the economics of the workplace."

Mal-Employment Problems among College-Educated Immigrants in the United States,
Center for Labor Markets and Policy, Drexel University, October, 2012¸ 22 pp.
Authors:  Neeta P. Fogg & Paul E. Harrington
This is the fifth in a series of five research papers examining labor force underutilization problems experienced by college-educated immigrants. Mal-employment occurs when people are working in occupations that do not utilize the knowledge and skills gained through a college education. Unlike unemployment numbers, mal-employment is not usually captured in official government statistics. In probing this topic, the researchers used data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates which profiled 100,400 people who held bachelor's degrees or higher at the time of the 2000 census.  They found that 26 percent of all immigrants with college degrees were mal-employed. However, the rate was twice as high (36 percent vs 18 percent) for immigrants with college degrees earned abroad.  And among this group, rates exceeded 40 percent for immigrants from the Philippines (50 percent), Africa (47 percent, and Latin America (46 percent). The report also examines variations in mal-employment by major field of study, English language proficiency, type of visa, year of entry to the United States, and region of residence in the United States.

Immigrants in Risky Occupations,
Institute for the Study of Labor, June, 2012, 25 pp.

This study probes the variances in occupational risks for the native-born and foreign-born in the United States and other countries. The authors Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny find that immigrants in the U.S., particularly Hispanics, are at much greater risk for injury or death while at work than the native-born. While overall workplace fatality rates in the U.S. decreased between 1992 and 2005, the fatality rate for foreign-born workers increased. In particular, the fatal injury rate for Hispanics in 2007 at 4.0 deaths per 100,000 workers was higher than for blacks and whites. The report suggests that the undocumented status of some immigrants, lower English ability, less education, naïve perceptions of job safety in the U.S. and less time residing in the U.S. all contribute  to the concentration of immigrants in the riskiest occupational sectors, including mining, logging, agriculture and construction. Despite these vulnerabilities, most immigrants appear to earn risk premiums similar to natives for working in risky jobs. The authors conclude by urging further research on the impact of immigration on working conditions. (Denzil Mohammed)

Alice (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed): Study of Financial hardship in New Jersey,
United Way of Northern New Jersey, August, 2012, 109 pp.
Researched and written by Stephanie Hoopes, Director of the New Jersey DataBank at Rutgers University, this study analyzes the near-poor or working poor in New Jersey, described by the author as "the people...who live each day one crisis away from falling into poverty." They make more than the official poverty level, but less than what "an individual or family needs to sustain a reasonably healthy standard of living."  The author finds that more than one-third of all households in New Jersey (1.1. million) struggle to meet basic human needs; 769,900 are ALICE households and 312,762 are poor households (below the official poverty level). The services that ALICE workers provide, such as health aides, security guards, and cashiers, are "vital to the New Jersey economy."  Although this study does not disaggregate immigrants as a sub-set of the ALICE population, it does note that particular groups of immigrants, e.g. those lacking a high school diploma and those who are language isolated, are more prone to this type of income deprivation. The study calculates that the "household survival budget" in New Jersey is $58,500 for a family of four and $25,368 for a single individual. As low income jobs will "dominate the economy in New Jersey now and in the future," the author observes that "the traditional formula of more education and training to generate better and more equitable outcomes does not hold true in today's economy." Although there are short-term steps that may alleviate the plight of ALICE households, "structural economic changes are required to make New Jersey more affordable and provide better income opportunities."

Investing in the Human Capital of Immigrants, Strengthening Regional Economies,
Brookings Institution, September, 2012, 11 pp.
This paper stresses the importance of maximizing the productivity of the existing immigrant population in order to boost short- and long-term economic growth in the United States. The author Audrey Singer notes that immigrant workers are more likely to be underemployed, i.e. overqualified for current jobs, than similarly educated native-born workers, especially immigrants with post-secondary education. Noting the growing interest in reforming immigration policy to match the needs of the U.S. economy, she suggests that "the opportunity to take advantage of the skills of incumbent immigrants, by investing in their potential" is a complementary and equally promising strategy. The balance of the paper provides capsule summaries of innovative workforce development programs that have successfully pursued this strategy. Many of these programs provide clear pathways to occupationally-specific credentials and jobs, building in contextualized English language instruction along the way.

Undocumented Workers: Crossing the Borders of Immigration and Workplace Law,
Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, May 14, 2012, 39 pp.
The author, Professor Kati L. Griffith of Cornell University, suggests that a new "hybrid" field of the law has emerged - what she describes as immployment law, a blending of immigration and employment law. She argues that this is a "crucial field of inquiry" because of the sheer number of undocumented workers in the American economy; their concentration in particular industries, such as agriculture and construction; the frequency with which they experience minimum wage and overtime violations; the tendency of some employers to take retaliatory action when immigrant workers organize or file complaints; and the spread of state and county workplace-based immigration law. The author discusses the shift in federal policy away from workplace raids to worksite audits, and to greater cooperation between ICE with the Department of Labor. She also discusses the implications of the Supreme Court decision in Hoffman Plastics Compounds v NLRB in 2002, which ruled that an undocumented worker could not have access to back pay remedies available under the National Labor Relations Act.  According to the author, "the treatment of immigrant workers, documented and undocumented alike, may have broader effects on the wages, working conditions, and collective organizing efforts of U.S.-born workers."  She concludes that "scholars, courts, and policy makers should develop comprehensive immployment law frameworks that can resolve ongoing legal ambiguity about the workplace law remedies available to undocumented workers."

New Jersey's Supply Chain Pain: Warehouse & Logistics Work under Walmart and other Big Box Retailers,
New Labor, 2012, 22 pp.
Based on a survey of 291 logistic workers, this report analyzes wages, benefits and working conditions within New Jersey's logistics industry. Home to Port Newark/Elizabeth -- the second largest container port in the U.S. -- New Jersey has an extensive network of distribution centers employing thousands of workers, many of whom are immigrants. Responsible for the processing and sorting of goods as they make their way to retail markets throughout the country, most workers experience job insecurity, economic hardship, and exploitation. Approximately 90 percent of workers fail to make a living wage and most lack employer based health insurance. The report notes that a majority of logistics workers are indirectly employed through staffing agencies, a situation which exacerbates problems for these workers. One key finding is that Walmart, the country's biggest retailer, occupies a prominent position among companies active in driving down wages and perpetuating poor working conditions. Finally, the report points to explicit gender discrimination in hiring, illegal payroll deductions, wage theft, and a variety of occupational health and safety issues, all of which negatively impact the working conditions and well-being of logistics workers. The paper concludes with a call for legislative changes and suggests action steps in order for lawmakers, enforcement bodies and civic advocates to develop a deeper understanding of the industry, empower workers, and provide the response needed to uphold accountability and improve conditions within the sector.  (Daniel McNulty)

Immigrant Professional Integration: Federal Policy Recommendations,
IMPRINT, January, 2012, 7 pp.
IMPRINT - a coalition of five nonprofit organizations working nationally and locally to advance effective policy and practice in the emerging field of immigrant professional integration - developed this set of 11 recommendations for consideration by the executive branch of the federal government. The recommendations are divided into two broad areas: closing the information gap in order to help immigrant professionals make informed decisions about available career paths, and improving access to workforce services.  Recommendations in the former area include:  the creation of "an online site for newcomers to obtain accurate and timely employment guidance" and "the development of a clearinghouse of credentialing-related information." Recommendations in the latter area include: the issuance of a "policy guidance affirming skilled immigrants' eligibility for existing services," and the use of "policy guidance, regulatory authority, and/or discretionary funding to create incentives for expanded services to this population."

Monitoring International Labor Recruitment: A cross-Visa Exploration of Regulatory Challenges,
Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, 2011, 39 pp

This report was prepared as a supplemental resource for the first meeting of the International labor Recruitment Working Group that took place at George Washington University on October 17-18, 2011. It provides a capsule summary of all the non-immigrant visa programs used to employ temporary, foreign workers in the United States. The report focuses on weaknesses in the regulatory framework for each program. Among the programs covered in the report are: B-1 (personal or domestic workers), H-1B (specialty occupations), H-2A (seasonal agricultural workers), H-2B (seasonal non-agricultural workers), and J-1 (exchange visitor program).

What Do Immigrants Do When They Can't Practise Their Professions? Immigrant Professionals in the Ontario Settlement Service Sector,
CERIS - The Ontario Metropolis Centre, December, 2011, 43 pp.
Pointing out that three options confront foreign-trained immigrants when they are unable to practice their chosen professions: exit (returning to home country or going to another country), de-professionalization, and professional rebuilding, the author of this study explores how a group of 155 well-educated immigrants took the third option by taking positions within Ontario immigrant/refugee service organizations. Through the use of a detailed survey and follow-up interviews, the author gains insight into the motivation and experiences of this admittedly non-random sample of the immigrant professional population. Opportunities for employment in this sector opened up as "ethnocultural affinity with the service provider" came to be understood as an important criterion for hiring. At the same time, the sector did not raise other insurmountable barriers to entry.  If the field, however, were to become a "full-fledged profession," with the imposition of workforce training standards and licensure requirements, then a "hardening of the boundaries" within the field would limit access and raise again the thorny issue of immigrant access to the professions.  The paper also provides a short review of Canadian efforts to facilitate the entry of skilled immigrants into the workforce.

Welcome to Canada. Now What?  Unlocking the Potential of Immigrants for Business Growth and Innovation,
Deloitte, November, 2011, 25 pp.
This "White Paper Summary" of Deloitte's 2011 Dialogue on Diversity is based on a series of nine roundtable discussions with employers, community organizations, special interest groups, government agencies and immigrants across Canada. According to Canadian government statistics, immigrants are expected to account for all net labor and population growth in years to come. Although foreign-born workers are essential to grow the Canadian economy, the talents and skills of immigrants, according to the white paper, continue to be underutilized while immigrants face disproportionately higher unemployment rates. The paper suggests that the foreign-born are uniquely qualified to benefit employers by bringing greater diversity into the workplace - a development that can drive the innovation needed to compete in a global market. Yet, despite arriving in Canada with the training and education necessary to fill market gaps, barriers to entering the workforce keep immigrants underemployed. These include: a lack of Canadian experience, lack of connections, language, and unrecognized foreign credentials. The paper concludes with an action plan for better integration of immigrants into the labor market with specific recommendations in the areas of recruitment, internship opportunities, mentoring, developing cultural connections, use of employee resource groups, and employee training programs. (Dan McNulty) 

Migration and Occupational Health: Understanding the Risks,
Migration Policy Institute, October 11, 2011, 6 pp.
Adapted from an article that appeared in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, this article by Marc B. Schenker summarizes available data on fatal and non-fatal injuries suffered by immigrant workers in the U.S. As immigrants are over-represented in so-called ‘three D" jobs (dirty, dangerous, and difficult), they tend to experience higher rates of injury than the native-born population. The author, however, laments the absence of research data on the nexus between immigration and occupational injury (only 48 articles on immigrant occupational health appeared between 1990 and 2005) and reviews the methodological challenges involved in conducting such research. The author calls for efforts to understand the nature and causes of immigrant occupational health disparities in order to develop appropriate public policy responses.

Immigration and Poverty in America's Suburbs,
The Brookings Institution, August, 2011, 20 pp.
This paper examines the phenomenon of suburban poverty, with particular attention to immigrant poverty. Noting that the majority of the nation's poor in the 100 largest metropolitan areas now live in the suburbs, the authors observe that "it is no longer useful to think of central cities as the primary locations of poverty in America, surrounded by concentric suburban rings of predominantly white and affluent populations."  There are now 2.7 million foreign-born poor in the suburbs, representing ca 20% of all suburban poor. The authors conclude that "suburbs with little or no experience with either immigration or poverty face complex and unfamiliar public policy challenges." 

The Economic Integration of Immigrants in the United States: Long- and Short-Term Perspectives,
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2011, 16 pp.
This paper describes the occupational niches and contributions of diverse groups of immigrants and their children within the U.S. economy. The author devotes special attention to the impact of the global economic crisis on the economic prospects of immigrants. Although the workplace in the U.S., in contrast to other immigrant-receiving countries, has traditionally functioned as "one of the country's most powerful immigrant-integrating institutions," the author suggests that the uncertain economic outlook "could realign the economic and social forces that have historically propelled the intergenerational upward mobility of immigrants (and natives)." In addition, budget cuts on the federal, state, and local levels, especially in the area of public education, could weaken "the public and community-based institutions and programs that historically promote upward intergenerational mobility among the children of immigrants."

Labor Standards Enforcement and Low-wage Immigrants: Creating an Effective Enforcement System,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), July, 2011, 68 pp.
This report analyzes the labor law enforcement records of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administration, with particular attention to wage and hour laws and industries with high concentrations of immigrant workers.  The report identifies best practices in labor law enforcement and suggests closer coordination between federal and state agencies working in this area.  The report also presents findings from an MPI survey of state resources, priorities, and initiatives in labor standards. Among the policy recommendations in the report are the following: deterring violators by pressuring dominant or lead employers in an industry or geographic area; status-blind enforcement; creating new metrics less driven by complaints filed and resolved; combating the misclassification of employees as independent contractors; and leveraging the resources of other public and private agencies. Finally, the report recommends a study to determine whether increased labor law enforcement would lead to a decrease in unauthorized employment and migration. If such a study showed such an effect, then immigration enforcement resources might be diverted to labor standards enforcement.

Measures of Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles County,
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California, and Rob Paral and Associates, June, 2011, 17 pp.
Seeking to overcome the limitations of standard point-in-time comparisons of immigrants and native-born groups, the author of this report tracks the progress of a cohort of Los Angeles County immigrants who entered the U.S. during the 1980s and who were between the ages of 25 and 34 at the time of the 1990 census.  Snapshots of this group are taken in 2000 and 2006-08. Data is also disaggregated for the eight largest immigrant communities in the County. Among the observed variables are: educational gains (high school and college completion rates), poverty levels, rates of home ownership, and family income.  There are many positive developments during  this period, including a "sharp drop in immigrant poverty levels" and a climb in immigrant home ownership. However, few immigrant groups were able to narrow the gap in family income between themselves and native-born whites, and college completion rates remain low for some of the largest immigrant communities, e.g. only 5.4% of Mexicans had college degrees by the end of the study period.

All Work and No Pay: Day Laborers, Wage Theft, and Workplace Justice in New Jersey,
Immigrants' Rights/International Human Rights Clinic, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall University School of Law, January, 2011, 24 pp
Building on a 2010 study of day laborers in Newark, Seton Hall researchers have expanded the scope of the earlier study to examine the experience of 113 day laborers at pick-up sites in Elizabeth, Freehold, Morristown, Orange, and Palisades Park.  Over the course of a single year, 54% of the workers statewide were paid less money than they were promised by at least one employer, and 94% were never paid overtime if they worked more than 40 hours per week for the same employer.  Twenty-six percent were assaulted on the job and 35% were abandoned at a work site. There were wide variations among communities in levels of noncompliance with labor laws. In general, communities like Elizabeth, without advocacy groups championing the interest of day laborers, had much higher violation rates. Despairing of any meaningful assistance from an understaffed and financially strapped NJ Department of Labor, the authors of the report propose a "more robust criminal wage theft statute," which would facilitate the filing and prosecution of complaints with local municipal courts. The report includes the text of a model statute.

Human Trafficking and Business: Good Practices to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking,
United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, 2010, 62 pp.
Noting that "human trafficking is not currently well integrated into the Corporate Responsibility (CR)programmes of most brands, companies, and business associations," this report presents an overview of human trafficking, explains why trafficking is an important issue for business, and profiles companies doing exemplary work in this area.  According to data in the report, there are over 2.4 million people world-wide who are victims of forced labor as a result of human trafficking, of whom the majority are between the ages of 18 and 24. The ILO estimates that 43 percent work in forced commercial sexual exploitation, and 32% in forced economic exploitation. In addition to the sex trade, the following sectors have significant rates of forced labor:  agriculture; construction; garments and textiles; hospitality; mining, logging, and forestry; food processing and packaging; transportation; and domestic service. The publication features six detailed case studies covering the work of the following companies or trade associations: International Cocoa Initiative (West Africa); Manpower, Inc (Colombia); the Apparel Export Trade Council (India); the tourism industry (world-wide); Public Private Partnerships organized by the International Organization for Migration (India); and the Body Shop International (world-wide).

Injustice on our Plates:  Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry,
Southern Poverty Law Center, 2010, 64 pp.

This report aims to shine a light on the suffering and indignities experienced by the many undocumented female workers in the American food industry. A majority of the 150 women interviewed for this study endured sexual harassment and assaults while working in the fields, packinghouses or food processing plants. Few are willing to report incidents to employers or police, for fear of losing their jobs or being deported. Working for poverty wages, they have no access to government programs to help the poor, nor do they typically receive health care coverage, sick or vacation time, or unemployment compensation. The report also chronicles the heavy toll of work-related illnesses and injuries sustained by workers in the food and meat-processing industries in the U.S.  They are exposed to pesticides, blistering heat in the fields, and cold in the packinghouses. The report concludes with a series of recommendations to Congress and various federal agencies to end the "shameful exploitation" of "the most vulnerable workers in our country."

Overcoming the Barriers Faced by Immigrants
A Briefing Report by the New Jersey State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, September 2010, 25 pp.

One of 50 state advisory committees, charged with advising the federal Commission on Civil Rights about issues in their states that fall within the Commission's jurisdiction, the NJ Advisory Committee held a hearing on May 8, 2009 "to address the most pressing civil rights issues affecting immigrants in New Jersey." The committee convened three panels of stakeholders and experts to give testimony in the areas of state and local enforcement of immigration laws, housing and employment discrimination, and the immigrant experience.  This report includes summaries of the testimony and concludes with seven findings and recommendations, including the adoption of a "fair labor enforcement plan of action" to address the under-enforcement of labor and workforce safety regulations involving immigrants.

Still an Hourglass?  Immigrant workers in Middle-Skilled Jobs
Migration Policy Institute, September, 2010, 17 pp.
This report casts doubt on  the depiction of the immigrant workforce as an hourglass, noting that almost a quarter (24%) of immigrants in 2006 were working in "middle skill" jobs compared to 29% of native-born Americans. Middle-skilled jobs are defined as "jobs that require more than a high school but less than a four-year college degree and that typically pay a family-sustaining wage ($30,000 annually per worker). In three of four specific occupations analyzed in the report (healthcare, IT, and hospitality), the percent of immigrants actually exceeded that of native workers. One possible reason, according to the authors, may be the overrepresentation of immigrants with college and advanced degrees in these jobs as a result of their inability to meet credentialing requirements in higher skilled occupations.

The Geography of Immigrant Skills:  Educational Profiles of Metropolitan Areas,
Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program, June, 2011, 32 pp.
This report observes that the U.S. has reached an important milestone: the percentage of working-age high-skilled immigrants (defined by the authors as those with a bachelor's degree or higher) now exceeds the percentage of low-skilled working-age immigrants (defined as those without a high school diploma).  However, the distribution of high-skilled immigrants varies widely across the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.  The report groups these 100 areas into three categories: low-skill destinations, i.e. fewer than 75 high-skilled immigrants for every 100 low-skilled immigrants; balanced-skill destinations, i.e. ratios of 75 to 125, and high-skill destinations, i.e. more than 125 high-skilled immigrants for every 100 low-skilled immigrants. Most low-skilled destinations are located in the southwest border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and in the Plains States, where agricultural processing centers make heavy use of low-skill labor. High-skill destinations are found along the coasts, in large college towns, and in older industrial areas, such as Cleveland, Pittsburg, and St. Louis.  Balanced-skill destinations, such as New York, Atlanta, and Charlotte, predominate in Eastern and Southern states.  The report notes that almost half of high-skilled immigrants, across all destinations, appear to be over-qualified for their jobs, suggesting a systemic waste of human capital that needs to be addressed by policy makers. The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations designed to maximize the contribution of immigrants to economic recovery and stabilization.

Policies to Curb Unauthorized Employment,
Migration Policy Institute, May, 2011, 10 pp
Written by MPI policy analyst Madeleine Sumption, this  policy brief offers a sobering analysis of the policy options available to governments seeking to reduce the hiring of unauthorized workers. The author concludes that "a comprehensive approach has the greatest potential for success."  Such an approach would combine stronger sanctions against illegal hiring with some expansion of legal flows of low-skilled workers, along with stronger enforcement of basic labor law standards. However, fiscal and budgetary constraints may make it difficult to implement such an approach, and even if implemented, some employers, particularly small employers operating entirely in the informal economy, may fail to comply. 

Migrant Social Networks: Vehicles for Migration, Integration, and Development
Migration Policy Institute, March 30, 2011, 6 pp.
This short “primer” on migrant social networks is intended to enrich the “policy discourse” on this subject. Written by Prof. Maritsa V. Poros of City University of New York, the article notes that social networks “make migration possible” in the first place and create their own vibrant labor markets. Noting that governments are beginning to invest in the capacity of migrant networks to foster development in home countries, she calls attention to the potential of migrant networks to facilitate the economic and social integration of newcomers.

Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010,
Pew Research Center, February 1, 2011
This statistical analysis of the undocumented population updates previous annual reports published by the Pew Research Center.  At 11.2 million in 2010, Pew's estimate of the national total of undocumented immigrants remains largely unchanged from 2009. During the previous two years (2007-2009), however, the number had declined from a high of 12 million in 2007. The 2010 numbers, however, show significant variations among the states. The decline in unauthorized numbers was especially great in New York and Florida, while increases occurred in Texas and Louisiana. New Jersey had an estimated 550,000 unauthorized immigrants in 2010, including 400,000 in the workforce, representing 8.6% of the total state workforce - the 4th highest percentage in the country.

Ironbound Underground:  Wage Theft & Workplace Violations Among Day Laborers in Newark's East Ward,
Immigrant Workers' Rights Clinic, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall University School of Law, July, 2010, 25 pp
Modeled after the influential 2004 National Day Labor Study, this report illuminates the experience of some 55 largely Ecuadorian day laborers at a "shape-up" site in Newark. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents had completed high school, and 54% were married. Almost all respondents reported being victims of wage theft, with "substantial" losses ($800 or more annually ) experienced by 38% of workers.  Safety violations were also rampant. Many workers possess "a profound fear of retribution by employers," who often threaten to report immigration problems to ICE if the workers file formal complaints against employers. The authors of the report, echoing the sentiments of all people interviewed for the project, including public officials and the day laborers themselves, recommend that the City of Newark establish a hiring hall for day laborers to alleviate these problems.. The report further urges the NJ Department of Labor to "proactively" investigate the plight of day laborers in Newark and to work with law enforcement to prosecute violators.

Getting Your Professional License in Ontario:  The Experiences of International and Canadian Applicants: Final Report
Office of the Fairness Commissioner, February 11, 2010, 82 pp + appendices
In 2007, the Province of Ontario created the Office of the Fairness Commissioner to ensure that licensing procedures for regulated professions, such as engineering and healthcare, did not discriminate against foreign-trained immigrants. In 2008, the Office undertook a comprehensive research study to understand the experiences of both native-born and foreign license applicants. This report, based on survey responses from 3,784 people across 37 regulated professions, as well as input from five focus groups, and a literature review, summarizes the findings. A key recommendation is that regulatory bodies need to make their procedures clearer and more transparent, a reform that would be welcome by all applicants, whether native-born or international.

Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers:  Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America's Cities,
Center for Urban Economic Development (University of Illinois at Chicago), National Employment Law Project, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2009, 65 pp.
Based on a survey conducted in 2008 with a representative sample of over 4,000 low-wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, 70% of whom were immigrants, this report concludes that "the core protections that many Americans take for granted - the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, the right to be paid for overtime hours, the right to take meal breaks, access to workers' compensation when injured, and the right to advocate for better working conditions - are failing significant numbers of workers."  The authors stratify their data by particular industries, as well as by place of birth (foreign-born or native-born), gender and ethnicity. They also extrapolate from their data the extent of "wage theft" for the broader low-wage population, estimating that in one week alone, more than 1 million workers in the three cities have at least one pay-related violation, resulting in a loss of $56.4 million per week. The authors believe that conditions have likely worsened as the recession deepened in late 2008.

Fulfilling the Promise: Integrating Immigrant Skills into the Urban Economy,
Cities of Migration, Archived Webinar, July 28, 2009
This one-hour international webinar features a presentation by Elizabeth McIsaac, Executive Director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, a ground-breaking initiative to integrate skilled immigrants into the urban economy. The work of the Council is designed to make Toronto more economically competitive in the North American environment. With over 50 corporate partners, the Council works on both the individual and systemic level to effect change. To date, the Council has arranged over 4000 mentorship opportunities for immigrants. Another project called "Career Bridge" provides paid immigrant internships. Samples of TV ads used by the Council are included in the webinar. The Council's approach is now being replicated across Canada through a program called Allies, Inc. (  Another presenter discusses how the program is being implemented in New Zealand.

A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States,
The Pew Hispanic Center, April 14, 2009, 42 pp.
In this comprehensive study, researchers from the Pew Hispanic Center found that unauthorized immigrants are 4% of the U.S. population and 5.4% of its workforce. Although more widely dispersed throughout the country than in the past, unauthorized immigrants continue to settle in high numbers in states like New Jersey, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Texas. Pew estimates that New Jersey's unauthorized population increased from 400,000 in 2005 to 550,000 in 2008, while the unauthorized share of the state's labor force increased from 6.4% to 9.2%, or 425,000 workers. Nationally, two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants work in the service, construction, and production sectors. In addition, 47% of unauthorized immigrants ages 25 to 64 have less than a high school education, as compared with 8% of U.S. born-population in the same age category.

Port Trucking Down the Low Road: A Sad Story of Deregulation,
DEMOS & School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, 2009, 19 pp.
Through extensive interviews with 299 truck drivers operating as "independent contractors" in the ports of Newark, Elizabeth, and Bayonne, and focus groups with another 70 truckers, the authors of this report found general dissatisfaction with low pay,  sub-standard benefits, and unsafe working conditions. Describing port trucking in Newark as a "broken system," the authors assert that port operators are "externalizing the costs of the port system," by forcing the public to cover the cost of health problems associated with environmental pollution from old and poorly maintained diesel fueled trucks. The authors also contend that these practices "add billions of dollars to the cost of doing business in New Jersey." Two-thirds of the 7,000 drivers in New Jersey are Latino immigrants.

This report examines the plight of 1.3 million college-educated immigrants who are unemployed or working in unskilled jobs. An important explanatory factor is the non-recognition of foreign academic and professional credentials by state and local government. Contending that this situation represents a "serious waste of human capital," and noting that the problem is most severe for Latino and African immigrants, the report discusses model programs in other countries to address this problem. The report also proposes a research agenda on the subject, including an effort to quantify the economic costs of underemployment, a study to determine the impact of discrimination, and a systematic effort to catalog best practices.

Report of the Joint Enforcement Task Force on Employee Misclassification to Eliot Spitzer,
Governor State of New York, February 1, 2008, 29 pp.
In September 2007, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer created an interagency strike force consisting of six agencies to address the problem of employers who wrongly classify employees as independent contractors or pay workers off the books as part of the underground economy, thereby depriving workers of the benefits and protections guaranteed under state and federal law. Immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable to these practices. This report looks at the history of the task force initiative, including research supporting the need for such a group, and discusses initial actions and prosecutions by each of the partner agencies. The report concludes with a series of "lessons learned," along with a discussion of logistical and legal issues hampering the work of the Task Force, including data sharing restrictions and inconsistent worker classification policies among the partner agencies.

Unregulated Work in the Global City: Employment and Labor Law Violations in New York City,
Brennan School of Justice, New York University School of Law, 2007, 126 pp.
This report summarizes the results a groundbreaking, multi-year study of widespread labor law violations in New York City. According to the authors, conditions are so egregious that the Progressive/New Deal social contract "has broken down." Most workers in this "invisible economy" are immigrants, both documented and undocumented. The report identifies 13 different industry clusters where "unregulated work" is common and includes detailed reports on each industry. Finally, the report defines basic principles to guide public policy reform.

Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen & Expand the American Middle Class,
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, 2007 Edition, 28 pp.
This report argues that any debate over immigration policy must be tied to a discussion of the dilemma of the American middle class in general. A two-tiered job market exploiting the labor of undocumented immigrants is detrimental to the interests of U.S.-born workers. The report proposes a two-part test for evaluating current immigration reform proposals.

The Integration of Immigrants in the Workplace,
Institute for Work and the Economy, July, 2006, 60 pp.
This report summarizes the findings of a two-year project funded by The Joyce Foundation to identify effective ways to integrate immigrants into the workforce. Input was received from a national Advisory Committee of 41 individuals, and participants in 7 community forums. The report is organized according to the 7 major lessons learned by the project, one of which is that "strategies directed explicitly at immigrants must be components of a broader range of initiatives that support the entire workforce."  The report is noteworthy for its attention to the diverse backgrounds and needs of immigrants, including both lower skilled immigrants and foreign-trained professionals.

On the Corner: Day Labor in the United States (Executive Summary),
January, 2006, 36 pp.
Funded in part by two national foundations, this report is one of the first in-depth studies of day laborers in the United States. It is based on a national survey of 2,660 day laborers randomly selected at 264 hiring sites in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The report provides a wide range of demographic information, including wages, working conditions, family circumstances, and occupations.

Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream,
Economic Policy Institute, December 14, 2005, 24 pp.
This briefing paper by Janice Fine summarizes the findings of a major research study on more than 100 immigrant worker centers published by Cornell University Press. Worker Centers are defined as "community-based and community-led organizations that engage in a combination of service, advocacy, and organizing to provide support to low-wage workers."  Unlike traditional immigrant service organizations, worker centers emphasize organizing and advocacy as lynchpin activities. The author discusses the commonalities in their operation and the challenges faced by the centers.