ON IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT AND LABOR RIGHTS |
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.
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
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
Economic Policy Institute, March 31, 2021, 6 pp.
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
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.
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,
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
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
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
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,
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
Temporary Migrant Workers or Immigrants: The Question for U.S. Labor Migration,
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.
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
Fwd.us, December 6, 2020, 48 pp.
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)
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
The Immigrant Income Gap,
Harvard Business Review, May 7, 2020, 11 pp.
Authors: Stacey Fitzsimmons
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
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
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)
Tennessee Law Review, 87:3 (2020), 61 pp.
Author: Jacqueline Lainez Flanagan
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Social Science Research Network, March 23, 2018, 34 pp.
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.
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
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
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,
Authors: Sami Mahroum & Rashid Ansari
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
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
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
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
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
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
Migration Policy Institute, Asian Development Bank, 2016, 50 pp.
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
Getting Opportunities in the Hands of New Americans Striving for the American Dream,
National Immigration Forum, November 8, 2016, 18 pp.
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.
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,
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.
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).
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
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)
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
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
One America, 2015,
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
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
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: What We can Learn from the Banking and Credit Habits of Undocumented
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
Migration Policy Institute Europe, January, 2015, 74 pp.
Author: Milica Petrovic
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
Urban Institute and Northeastern University, October, 2014, 287 pp.
Authors: Colleen Owens et al
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 brightest...to 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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
Migration Policy Institute, December, 2013, 25 pp.
Authors: Madeleine Sumption, Demetrios G. Papademetriou, &
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
Maximizing Human Capital in a Rapidly Evolving Economic Landscape: Council Statement,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Transatlantic Council on Migration, November, 2013, 8 pp.
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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 program...to 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
The International Labor Recruitment Working Group, February, 2013, 49 pp. + notes
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
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
Centro de los Derechos Del Migrante (Center for Migrant Rights), January, 2013, 32 pp.
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
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
Investing in the Human Capital of Immigrants, Strengthening Regional Economies, Alice (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed): Study of Financial hardship in New Jersey,
United Way of Northern New Jersey, August, 2012, 109 pp.
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."
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."
Labor Standards Enforcement and Low-wage Immigrants: Creating an Effective Enforcement System, New Jersey's Supply Chain Pain: Warehouse & Logistics Work under Walmart and other Big Box
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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 DevelopmentUnauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010,
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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. (http://www.maytree.com/integration/allies.). 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,
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,
& 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.
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
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, 2007 Edition, 28 pp.
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.