Immigrants Make Valuable Contributions to U.S. Economy


economicsNew Report: The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration


President-Elect Trump’s controversial immigration proposals have without a doubt caused many to question the future of immigration policy and the effect it will have on our nation’s immigrant community.   Among those who work closely with immigrants, such as in our immigration law practice, we know that immigration has great power and helps to propel our economy.  That’s why we believe it was very timely that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) published its recent 2016 report, and we share here some of its findings on our blog, as it confirms the positive effects of immigration.

Specifically, the report provides a comprehensive assessment of the impact of immigration on economic and fiscal outcomes for the U.S.  Through extensive data, the report confirms that immigrants make valuable contributions to economic growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the U.S. and are essentially integral to the nation’s economic growth. At the end of this post, there is a link to the full report (the site will request an email in exchange for a free PDF download of the full report).   We have below summarized some of the major findings of the report.

Impact on Employment, Wages, and the Economy

Effects on wages. When measured over a period of 10 years or more, the impact of immigration on the wages of native workers overall is very small. To the extent that negative wage effects are found, prior immigrants – who are often the closest substitutes for new immigrants – are most likely to experience them, followed by native-born high-school dropouts, who share job qualifications similar to the large share of low-skilled workers among immigrants to the United States.

Role of immigrants in consumer demand. The contributions of immigrants to the labor force reduce the prices of some goods and services, which benefits consumers in a range of sectors including child care, food preparation, house cleaning and repair, and construction. Moreover, new arrivals and their descendants are a source of demand in key sectors such as housing, which benefits residential real estate markets.

Effects on employment levels. There is little evidence that immigration significantly affects the overall employment levels of native-born workers. Any negative effects were small and were experienced primarily by other recent immigrants and those who did not graduate high school.

Impacts on economic growth. Immigration is integral to the nation’s economic growth. The inflow of labor supply has helped the United States avoid the problems facing other economies that have stagnated as a result of unfavorable demographics, particularly the effects of an aging workforce and reduced consumption by older residents. In addition, the infusion of human capital by high-skilled immigrants has boosted the nation’s capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological change. Research suggests, for example, that immigrants raise patenting per capita, which ultimately contributes to productivity growth. The prospects for long-run economic growth in the United States would be considerably dimmed without the contributions of high-skilled immigrants.

Impact on Federal, State, and Local Budgets

All population subgroups contribute to government finances by paying taxes and add to expenditures by consuming public services—but the levels differ. On average, individuals in the first generation group of immigrants are more costly to governments, mainly at the state and local levels, than are the native-born generations; however, immigrants’ children—the second generation—are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the U.S. population overall, contributing more in taxes than either their parents or the rest of the native born population.

This outcome is primarily driven by two factors: first, the lower average education level of the first generation translated into lower incomes and, in turn, lower tax payments; second, higher per capita costs (notably those for public education) were generated at the state and local levels because the first generation had, on average, more dependent children than other adults in the population. Today’s immigrants have more education than earlier immigrants, and as a result, are more positive contributors to government finances. If today’s immigrants had the same lower educational distribution as immigrants two decades ago, their fiscal impact, would be much less positive. Thus, the total net fiscal impact of immigrants across all levels of government has become more positive over time.

For more information, a copy of the full report can be downloaded at (note that the site will request an email in exchange for a free PDF download of the full report):

Immigration News: DV-2017 Instructions Now Available

San Jose Immigration News

The U.S. Department of State’s instructions for the 2017 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2017) are now available. Entries for the DV-2017 program must be submitted electronically between October 1 and November 3, 2015.

There are no changes in eligibility this year. Eligibility requirements and entry instructions are on the U.S. Department of State’s DV lottery web site. See DV-2017 instructions.

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California Federal Judge Reaffirms Order to Release Detained Migrant Children

California Federal Judge Reaffirms Order to Release Detained Migrant Children

The immigrant detention center in Dilley, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Ilana Panich-Linsman, New York Times)

The immigrant detention center in Dilley, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Ilana Panich-Linsman, New York Times)

Blog written by Tiffany Keng

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered for the government to release children held in family detention centers “without unnecessary delay,” and with their mothers when possible. The family detention centers originally came as a response to the surge of Central American women and children, many of them unaccompanied minors, caught crossing the U.S. border in the last two years.  According to the Los Angeles Times, an estimated 1,400 women and children are currently being held at three detention centers, two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania, as they attempt to pursue claims of asylum or other ways of remaining in the country.

Last month, in late July, Judge Gee found that these detention centers failed to meet the minimum legal requirements set out in a 1997 court settlement related to the detention of migrant children in the country illegally.  The 1997 settlement, Flores v. Reno, governed the treatment of unaccompanied minors who tried to enter the U.S. illegally without a parent. In her ruling, the judge determined that the settlement covered all children in detention, including those with a parent, and that the government had violated the terms of the settlement.

Despite the Department of Homeland Security’s request for the judge to reconsider her July ruling, Judge Gee reaffirmed her ruling last Friday, calling the government’s arguments “repackaged and reheated.”

Specifically, Judge Gee found that the family detention centers were a “material breach” of provisions in the 1997 settlement requiring that minors be placed in facilities that are not secured like prisons and are licensed to take care of children.  Currently, the centers are run by private prison contractors, not by agencies with state licenses to care for children.  The ruling found that the children had been held in “widespread deplorable conditions;” in some cases, those conditions include children being held in crowded rooms for days at a time without any place to sleep. The judge ordered the government to upgrade the conditions to ensure a “safe and sanitary” environment for children. Judge Gee also noted that immigration officials “routinely failed to proceed as expeditiously as possible to place unaccompanied minors, and in some instances, may still be unnecessarily dragging their feet now.”

Judge Gee ordered the government to release the children “without unnecessary delay” to a parent or other relative in the U.S., and in a significant mandate, to release the parent as well unless that person posed a flight risk or threat to national security.  She gave federal officials until October 23 to comply with her order.  Thereafter, Judge Gee’s order provides that the government may only hold families for five days, unless there are “extenuating circumstances,” such as when “70,000 Central American migrants flooded into America and overwhelmed the system,” in which case the government could extend the window for release to 20 days.

In response to the ruling, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement declaring that the Judge Gee’s clarifications in her August 21st ruling will “permit the government to process families apprehended at the border at family residential facilities consistent with congressional provided authority.”

Back in November 2014, Alison blogged about her pro bono work in Artesia, New Mexico, defending unrepresented women and children from Central America who were detained by the government (see Alison’s Thanksgiving post here).  It is amazing to see the continuing progress that has since been made by attorneys (mostly volunteer immigrant and nonimmigrant attorneys) and human rights groups fighting unceasingly for these women and children. This ruling is yet another confirmation that these family detention centers are wrong and need to end.

“Detention of children is inextricably linked with the ill-treatment of children” — Are you listening, President Obama?

Juan Mendez, Argentina, was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010.  Per his report to the UN on March 5, 2015, he found that detaining immigrant children results in “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.”  He recommended that States that detain children immigrants, such as the United States, should “cease the detention of children, with or without their parents, on the basis of their immigration status.”  (See full UN report here.)

The report concluded that:

  • Detention of children should be used only for the shortest possible period of time, only if it is in the best interest of the child, and limited to exceptional cases.
  • States should adopt alternatives to detention for children whenever possible.
  • Minimum age of criminal responsibility no lower than 12 years old.
  • No life sentences without parole for children (and even lengthy sentences can be grossly disproportionate and amount to ill-treatment).
  • No use of restraints for children deprived of their liberty under any circumstance.
  • No solitary confinement for children deprived of their liberty.
  • No death penalty for children deprived of their liberty.
  • No corporal punishment for children deprived of their liberty.
  • No immigration detention (detention of children based on migration status is never in the best interests of child, is grossly disproportionate, and constitutes ill-treatment).
  • Special attention should be paid to children deprived of their liberty in health- and social-care institutions, including in private settings.

Are you listening President Obama?

Ebola Outbreak-Related Immigration Relief Measures

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is closely monitoring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. USCIS offers relief measures to nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who are currently in the United States.  Relief measures include:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status;
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
  • Expedited adjudication and approval of employment authorization for F-1 students;
  • Expedited processing of adjustment of status applications for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens;
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications; and
  • Waiver of fees associated with USCIS benefit applications.

These relief measures are not absolute; there are limitations and each case is reviewed on a case by case basis.  Be sure to consult with a competent attorney to discuss the most appropriate relief measure for you or your loved one.

More information may be found here.

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