In a new report, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) paints a misleading financial portrait of the DREAM Act. The report, entitled Estimating the Impact of the DREAM Act, claims that the bill would be a burden on U.S. taxpayers and would "crowd out" native-born students in the classroom. However, the available evidence does not support either of these dire predictions. In fact:
Washington, D.C. - Today, the Pew Hispanic Center released a report that has an attention-getting headline, but pays little attention to detail. The report makes much of recent data indicating that unemployment has fallen slightly among foreign-born workers over the past year, while rising slightly among native-born workers. Some observers will undoubtedly conclude from this that the jobs which went to foreign-born workers would have otherwise gone to native-born workers if not for the presence of immigrants in the labor market. However, this is not the case. In reality, immigrant and native-born workers are not interchangeable, nor do they compete with each other for some fixed number of jobs in the U.S. economy. Moreover, many immigrants are highly skilled professionals who create jobs through their inventiveness and entrepreneurship.
Unfortunately, the Pew report provides no detail about the skill level of the workers who have gained or lost jobs since last year, nor does it tell us where in the country they live. Yet this is critical information in determining how many unemployed natives might have filled jobs which went to immigrants. As the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) pointed out in an August 2009 report, employed immigrants and unemployed natives “tend to have different levels of education, to live in different parts of the country, to have experience in different occupations, and to have different amounts of work experience. As a result, they could not simply be ‘swapped’ for one another.”
Washington D.C. - On Wednesday, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S.B. 3932, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010. The bill takes a broad approach to solving the wide range of problems that plague our broken immigration system. It offers proposals on border, interior, and worksite enforcement, on legalization, and on future flows of immigration. Now the Senate and House both have a vehicle (Congressman Luis Gutierrez previously introduced a CIR bill in the House last December) for generating a serious discussion on immigration reform in the coming weeks. These bills are a direct response to the overwhelming public demand for solutions to our broken immigration system. Both political parties have acknowledged that this broken system is no longer sustainable, and is disrupting America's businesses, families, and long-term economic recovery.
"It is hard to turn ideas into legislation and legislation into good law, but Senators Menendez and Leahy have injected new life into the immigration reform debate," said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. "At a time when every social issue we care about bumps up against immigration - healthcare, national security, and the economy - this bill is a step in the right direction. However, attention now turns to the rest of the Senate and House - where there are serious comprehensive proposals which lawmakers can react to and build upon - and the question remains; will they embrace this challenge or kick it down the road once again?"
The Immigration Policy Center has prepared a summary of the The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 which can be accessed at:
Washington D.C. - Today, the Senate voted 56 to 43 against proceeding to the Defense Authorization Act. This procedural vote, which basically followed party lines, ends consideration of critical social issues that affect the military and were to be offered as amendments to the bill. Among the amendments not considered is the DREAM Act, an immigration bill that would provide legal status to young people who graduate from high school and pursue college or military service.
The following is a statement from Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center:
"The political gridlock that has immobilized the Senate has resulted once again in a lost opportunity for the American people. By refusing to allow the Defense Authorization Act to proceed, America will not see, at this time, an up or down vote on the DREAM Act, which would have been a first legislative step in resolving our immigration crisis. The Senators who voted "no" today are ignoring unequivocal evidence that the DREAM Act is good for military readiness, the American workforce and the U.S. economy.
The energy and enthusiasm of thousands of young people who have poured themselves into promoting the DREAM Act has not been wasted, however. Because of their efforts, more people today understand the importance of DREAM to our economy, our military, and the future of our country than ever before."
Washington, D.C. - Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would attach the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to the Department of Defense authorization bill expected to come before the Senate as early as next week. The vote will be an important test of whether Congress can transcend partisan politics and work together on crafting solutions to the broken immigration system that both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge is in desperate need of reform. That the proposal will be considered as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill is appropriate, given the Department of Defense's support for DREAM Act as a way to improve military readiness.
First introduced in 2001, the DREAM Act would address the plight of young immigrants who have been raised in the U.S. and managed to succeed despite the challenges of being brought to the U.S. without proper documentation. The proposal would offer a path to legal status to those who have graduated from high-school, have stayed out of trouble and plan to attend college or serve in the U.S. military for at least two years.
Each year, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, many at the top of their classes, but cannot go to college, join the military, work, or otherwise pursue their dreams. They belong to the 1.5 generation - any (first generation) immigrants brought to the United States at a young age who were largely raised in this country and therefore share much in common with second generation Americans. These students are culturally American, growing up here and often having little attachment to their country of birth. They tend to be bicultural and fluent in English.
Washington D.C. - Over the last several weeks, a handful of elected officials have re-ignited a call for the repeal of birthright citizenship. Claiming that countless unauthorized and temporary immigrants are coming to the United States solely to give birth, some are suggesting changing the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, thereby forcing the U.S. government to individually determine the citizenship of every single child born in the country.
A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center is intended to provide data on the numbers of children born to unauthorized immigrants each year. However, the report offers no real clarity on the question of birthright citizenship. Limitations in the Census data upon which the report is based make it impossible to determine how many children are born into families in which both parents are unauthorized or temporarily in the United States. As a result, the report is only able estimate that 340,000 of the 4.3 million children born in the United States in 2008 had at least one unauthorized parent. In other words, this figure includes families in which one parent is unauthorized and the other a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant, so we still have no idea how many children would be affected by a change to the Fourteenth Amendment. If anything, the Pew report highlights how complicated this issue is given that so many unauthorized immigrants live in "mixed status" families that also include U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.
Washington D.C. - Today, Fox Newsis reporting on data provided to them by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which amounts to a highly misleading fiscal snapshot of the costs allegedly imposed on U.S. taxpayers by unauthorized immigrants. However, in its rush to portray unauthorized immigrants as nothing more than a drain on the public treasury, FAIR completely discounts the economic contributions of unauthorized workers and consumers. Moreover, FAIR inflates their cost estimate by indiscriminately lumping together native-born, U.S.-citizen children with their unauthorized parents.
Washington D.C. - On Monday, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) hosted a teleconference with border and national-security experts who dissected the myths linking immigration and border violence. These experts shared their analyses of the reality of crime and violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, what the real sources of violence are, and how the U.S. should respond. They all made the point that nearly twenty years of immigration policy focusing on "securing the border first" has failed to address the underlying issues and criminal cartels that are the real cause of violence along the border. The experts noted that immigration laws and policies of the past two decades have, ironically, made the border less safe and have actually benefitted the traffickers and smugglers who operate at the border.
Washington, D.C. - Following a meeting to discuss comprehensive immigration reform with Senate Republicans, President Obama announced that he would send 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and would request $500 million for additional border personnel and technology as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill.
As we have seen time and time again, efforts to overhaul the entire immigration system have taken a back seat to the political expediency of pouring more money into border enforcement. While it is clear that border violence must be addressed, it is also clear that enforcement alone is not a solution to our country's immigration problems.
Over the last two decades, the United States has spent billions of dollars on border enforcement. Since 1992, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased by 714 percent. At the same time, the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border has grown by 390 percent. Interior enforcement has expanded as well, and detentions and deportations are at record levels. However, during the same time period, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has roughly tripled from 3.5 million in 1990 to 11.9 million in 2008. Yet close family members of American families continue to wait in visa backlogs that routinely last 5 to 7 years, and Americas competitiveness in the global market place is challenged by difficulties recruiting and retaining exceptional foreign workers.
Washington D.C. - In the midst of a loud, long and contentious battle over immigration, a soft voice emerged yesterday which spoke volumes about our nation's broken immigration system - and the fear and havoc it creates in the lives of million of young people in America. "My mom... she says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers," whispered a second grade girl in Silver Spring, Maryland, to Michele Obama during her visit to that school yesterday. Her honesty was powerful testimony on behalf of 5.5 million children (75% of which are U.S. Citizens) in America, who have at least one parent without proper immigration status.
For several years a range of academics have documented the powerful effect this uncertain future is having on the lives of children in America. The Immigration Policy Center has produced fact sheets and provides links which highlight these various studies.