American Immigration Issues
Immigration in America is changing quickly under new president Donald Trump. Though overall immigration policies have yet to change, his proposals are having considerable effect.
What’s changing for American Immigration?
Fast processing for H-1B visa’s allowing highly skilled workers to quickly take up important roles in the US economy for a period of one to three years was suspended for a time. Standard processing can take six months and the suspension caused concern for medical institutions and technology companies across America who rely on H-1B to fill skills gaps.
The new president has also signed an executive order to review the H-1B visa program, potentially replacing it with a more merit based system with the aim of favouring American workers and reducing immigration. More recently Donald Trump is supporting the RAISE act which although stalling in congress, if passed would bias towards financially stable English speakers, and reduce American immigration by 50 per cent.
Though Trump’s repeated attempts at travel bans for citizens of certain countries was not targeted at those who had already gained visas, the controversy and treatment of these citizens is certainly beginning to deter migrants and skilled workers.
The proposed wall on the Mexican border, and clampdowns on illegal immigrants is affecting individuals and families who have lived in the US for years and now facing possible deportation.
This September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, passing it over to congress to find a legislative alternative. The announcement and the potential effects on the 800,000 young individuals under DACA is controversial and far reaching.
What is DACA?
Barack Obama created DACA in 2012 to allow those brought to the UK illegally as children the temporary right to live, study and work in America. The program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) covrtd a group now known as “dreamers”, most of whom know America as their home country and have little or no knowledge of their birth countries culture or language. “Dreamers” see themselves as Americans. The DACA program allows those who have completed school or military service, and have passed criminal and security vetting, a two-year deferral on any threat of deportation. After which they have opportunity to renew. During the two-year period they are granted rights to a driving license, college access, and a work permit.
What will ending DACA mean?
DACA protects 800,000 between the ages of 15 to 36. Trump has indicated that current “dreamers” if generally law abiding, will not be subject to any action. However new applications will not be affected. Trump touts his plan to make the deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants in the USA a priority for his government. Though current DACA protectees should be safe right now, they are rightly terrified for their future. As are many other young people who will miss this opportunity yet know only America as their home country.
For most “dreamers” their status under DACA will lapse by March 2020 and it’s unclear what will happen to them then. For the first DACA citizens, their two-year deferral expires in 2018, the rest in 2019 and 2020. Immigrants with DACA permits expiring before March 5, 2018 can apply for a renewal.
Currently 15 states have joined together in a lawsuit protesting the decision to rescind DACA and California has announced its own lawsuit against the process.
More resist Trump’s policies – who are the sanctuary cities?
Sanctuary cities, places of protection and respite, go back thousands of years. For the US they have gained in number and reputation over the past 10 years, accelerating with the newest presidential administration and its policies. New York was the first to speak out with a letter the week of Donald Trump’s inauguration defending the right of every student in New York City to school. It explained school staff do not check if children’s parents had visas and would not permit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to enter schools without proper legal authority. New York has an estimated 1.2 million undocumented immigrants.
Sanctuary cities are considered to have adopted laws, policies or practices which may impede some immigration enforcement efforts. The Sanctuary counties and cities in the US currently include Oregon, with 31 counties, Washington with 18 counties, California with 15 counties. Massachusetts has 6 cities, California 3 and there are many more. A list can be found here: http://www.10news.com/news/list-of-sanctuary-cities-2017
How have the recent hurricanes affected undocumented immigrants?
In Texas and Florida there are many undocumented immigrants affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They are deeply concerned about being deported under the government’s new and proposed policies. Despite some of them being entitled to aid from the federal government, most are too afraid to draw attention to themselves by asking for help, and are instead turning to churches and private charities. Federal Emergency Management Agency rules allow people in the country illegally to apply for disaster assistance on behalf of their children who are under 18 and have legal status in the USA. Undocumented immigrants are concerned applying for FEMA aid will expose their information and lead immigration authorities to them.
Trends in US immigration – a quick look at some interesting statistics.
America is changing. Immigrants, even if not yet affected by new policy are worried. They are concerned about changing attitudes, both from the government and American citizens. Some can’t cope with living in fear. There are increasing numbers of Mexican nationals voluntarily choosing to return to Mexico, even though their children were born in the US.
It’s easy to forget that America is a nation of migrants, in 1890 14.8% of the population were non- US born. Today that figure is still only 13.4% of the total population.
In the period 2009 to 2014 more Mexican nationals returned to Mexico than entered America. 1 million returned, and 870,000 went to the US. Recent reports are that more and more Mexicans are leaving America each week.
Other groups of immigrants are either leaving or turning away from the USA. The changes in H-1B and some student visas are discouraging students and highly skilled migrants from India, China and other countries. Last year the growing rate of foreign student admissions to the US grew at its slowest rate since 2009. Canada however, is actively seeking to attract international students and highly skilled workers to fill a skills gap in its economy. The number of international students in Canada has grown 92% since 2008.
A recent Ivy League study predicts 4.6million jobs will be lost by Donald Trump’s policies and the US economy will be 2% smaller by 2040. The article from CNN makes for interesting reading http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/10/news/economy/trump-immigration-jobs/index.html