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August 1995, Volume 2, Number 8

Reaction to CIR Proposals

Strange bedfellows attacked the Commission on Immigration Reform's proposals to reduce and restructure legal immigration. The Wall Street Journal on July 3 attacked what it called "bipartisan animosity" toward legal immigrants.

Most of the attacks on the CIR recommendations were directed at the recommendation to reduce the number of immigrants admitted for economic and employment, and to require US employers who bring immigrants to the US to pay more than the prevailing wage, plus a fee into a training fund to prepare US workers for these jobs.

The number of professionals and skilled workers seeking one of the 150,000 visas reserved for such workers and their families--the quota was higher in 1994 because of unused slots from earlier years-- fell from 147,000 in 1993 to 123,300 in 1994, largely because such immigrants did not apply for visas.

The Wall Street Journal editorial argued that adopting the CIR's recommendation to reduce the number of immigrants admitted for economic or employment reasons from 140,000 to 100,000 annually would be costly to US high-tech firms. Microsoft, the software firm, reports that three to four percent of its 12,000 US-based employees are foreign born.

USA Today analyzed data on 2.2 million immigrants who arrived between 1991 and 1993, and concluded that if the US changes its immigration system to give more weight to personal characteristics that produce high US earnings, then the sources of US immigrants would change. For example, 52 percent of the 1993 immigrants from Mexico reporting an occupation listed laborer, while 0.3 percent were engineers. By contrast, one percent of Indian immigrants were laborers, and 25 percent were engineers.

In 1993, 40 percent of all legal immigrants came from five countries: Mexico, China, the Philippines, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. Most head for New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Houston.

According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, 65 percent of all respondents, and 30 percent of immigrant respondents, think that immigration should be reduced; seven percent of all respondents, and 15 percent of immigrant respondents, think that immigration should be increased. Almost 60 percent of immigrants and other respondents think that immigrants should "blend in" to American culture, versus about one-third who think that immigrants should do more to maintain their own culture.

Asian immigrant groups attacked proposals by the CIR that were endorsed by President Clinton to eliminate the quotas for adult relatives of US citizens to enter the US as immigrants. According to their data, 40 percent of all adult children of US citizens, and two-thirds of all adult brothers and sisters of US citizens, are Asians.

Lena Sun, "Ethnic Groups Unite Against Benefit Cuts," Washington Post, July 10, 1995. "Tightened Immigration Law Could Hurt Business," Crain's Cleveland Business, July 10, 1995. Jim Specht, "House panel Oks hospital reimbursement for illegal immigrant care," Gannett News Service, July 13, 1995. Marc Lacey, "Gallegly, Beilenson Differ on Report's Details," Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1995. Maria Puente, " The New Immigrants: Is latest wave a drain or boon to society? USA Today, June 30, 1995. Sara Catania and Eric Wahlgren, "Immigration Plan Draws Strong Reactions,: Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1994. "Immigration Measures Proposed," New York Times, June 30, 1995.