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CPRC June 10, 1996

Accomplishments and Plans

of the

CA Policy Seminar Immigration Panel

June 10, 1996

1. January 26, 1996 1
2. March 1, 1996 2

Does Gatekeeper Deter Illegal Immigration? 2

US Immigration Reforms 4

3. June 7, 1996 5

Domestic and Unauthorized Migration 5

Dealing with Alien Offenders 6

4. September-October, 1996 7

Education and Immigration: Challenges for CA-- September 13 or 20, 1996 7

CIR--An Update--October 4, 1996 8

Gatekeeper--An Update--October 18, 1996 8

Health and Immigration: Challenges for CA-- November __, 1996 8

Crime and Immigration: Challenges for CA 8

Estimating Immigration: the CPS and other methods 9

Guestworkers and Mexican Cooperation in Border Control? 9

Employment and Immigration: Challenges for CA 9

1. JANUARY 26, 1996

Who's doing what? The Current Status of Research on Immigration to CA--UCLA.

26 participants

Roger Waldinger (UCLA) noted that an analysis of Census data for Los Angles for 1970, 1980, and 1990 emphasizes that there are far more immigrants arriving at the bottom than at the top of the job ladder, and that especially Mexicans at the bottom are not enjoying rapid upward mobility. A fifteen chapter book on Ethnic Los Angeles will be published in 1996. Waldinger, Roger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr (Eds). 1996. Ethnic Los Angeles. New York: Russell Sage.

Dowell Myers (USC) reported on his double cohort method--by age and year of entry-- of analyzing what happened to immigrants arriving in the seven southern CA counties after 1980. His analysis shows that especially young immigrants make considerable economic progress after their arrival--as measured by their total incomes--and that some of their behavior converges rapidly to that of natives, e.g., they rapidly abandon buses and drive cars to work. In southern CA, one-third of all bus riders are recent immigrants.

Myers noted that immigration is raising other issues, including overcrowded housing. The US definition of acceptable housing was two or less persons per room until 1960, when the definition was change to one or less per room. However, as immigrants moved into southern CA, overcrowding jumped, raising questions about how aggressively cities should enforce housing codes developed during a non-immigrant era.

George Vernez (Rand) outlined an ambitious project that is dealing with the question of whether immigration is, on balance, a plus or minus for CA by examining the effects of immigration on internal migration, on wages, and on public sector finances since 1960. These studies show that immigrants from most countries do catch up to similar natives in average weekly earnings after 10 to 20 years, but not immigrants from the major country of origin--Mexico. Furthermore, immigrant children tend to follow in their parents' footsteps, meaning that the children of Asian immigrants tend to do well in school, etc., while the children of Mexican immigrants do not.

The Mexican lag may be even more severe if Mexicans tend to report a more recent arrival date than they actually arrived. For example, many Mexicans who may have arrived in the US before 1987 reported in the 1990 Census that they arrived in 1987, the year that they applied for legalization. It was also noted that, in the three major industrial democracies of France, Germany, and the US, the largest immigrant group--Algerians, Turks, and Mexicans--seem to do "worst" on most integration measures.

Hans Johnson (CA PPI) reported that the institute has a number of immigration projects underway, including an examination of internal migration patterns, Mexican return migration, and the effects of Prop 187 on prenatal care.

2. March 1, 1996

Operation Gatekeeper and other Border Control Efforts? How well are they working? CA Research Bureau

28 participants

Does Gatekeeper Deter Illegal Immigration?

Mexico devalued the peso in December 1994, and 1995 was a year of economic crisis in Mexico. More Mexicans attempted illegal entry into the US, and the US responded with a series of border control operations designed to prevent illegal border crossings-- Operation Gatekeeper in California, Operation Hold-the-Line in Texas, and Operation Safeguard in Arizona. As one result, apprehensions increased sharply in 1995-- some 1,381,465 foreigners were apprehended by the US Border Patrol in calendar year 1995, up 43 percent from 965,144 in 1994.

Do increased apprehensions reflect the success of the Border Patrol in apprehending a stable or declining number of aliens attempting entry, or do they reflect more aliens attempting unauthorized entry? Most surveys suggest that the probability of apprehension on any attempt to enter the US without inspection is about 30 percent--in the Westat survey of 6,200 newly legalized aliens conducted in 1989, for example, 74 percent of those in the US illegally before January 1, 1982 reported that they had never apprehended.

Manuel Garcia y Griego showed that the probability of successful entry is very high for persistent aliens despite stepped up border controls. Assuming that each entry attempt is an independent effort--meaning that the probability of apprehension does not change from one illegal entry attempt to the next-- if the probability of apprehension is 30 percent on any attempted illegal entry, then 99 percent of the aliens attempting entry will succeed after four attempted entries.

Apprehensions and Entries for 1000 Persons
Probability of apprehension is 30 percent on any entry attempt
Attempted Attempted Apprehended and Entered Cumulative
Entry # Entries Returned US Entries
1 1000 300 700 700
2 300 90 210 910
3 90 27 63 973
4 27 8 19 992
Total 1417 425 992

Suppose that more Border Patrol agents, fences, and lights increase the probability of apprehension to 70 percent on any attempted entry. In this case, about 73 percent of the aliens who attempt to enter will succeed after four attempts, and 78 percent after five attempts. In other words, border control efforts work only if they change the behavior of aliens--if those apprehended "give up" and return home, thereby discouraging others from attempting illegal entry.

Total 1417 425 992
Probability of apprehension is 70 percent on any entry attempt
Attempted Attempted Apprehended and Entered Cumulative
Entry # Entries Returned US Entries
1 1000 700 300 300
2 700 490 210 510
3 490 343 147 657
4 240 168 72 729
5 168 118 50 779
Total 2598 1819 779

The Border Patrol's Gatekeeper operation fingerprints and photographs all aliens apprehended, so that apprehension data for the first time can be used to estimate recidivism rates. Unofficial Gatekeeper data in the winter of 1995-96 suggest that about 30 percent of those caught once are caught again, which suggests that the probability of successfully entering the US on any attempt may be as high as 70 percent, especially if most aliens who are apprehended keep on trying, as empirical studies suggest they do.

If border controls were deterring aliens, then there should be reports of labor shortages and rising wages in the industries that are known to employ recently arrived unauthorized immigrants. But there are few such reports. For example, reports from the single most labor-intensive activity in North American agriculture in Fall 1995--the harvest of about 200,000 acres of raisin grapes around Fresno, California from mid-August to October-- found that newly arrived workers were getting into the US and going to work despite Gatekeeper.

Unauthorized raisin harvesters reported in September 1995 that some are still entering the US illegally on their first attempt. Of those apprehended, most persisted, and succeeded after two or three attempts. Aliens who used smugglers reported that smugglers' fees rose from $200 to $300 in 1994 to $300 to $400 in 1995. However, the workers major complaint was not the higher smuggling fees--it was the fact that they lost days of work in the US because of delays in crossing the border.

Higher smuggling fees may not be much of a deterrent because, in most cases, the unauthorized border crossing is financed by family members in the United States, rather than by the migrants themselves.

US Immigration Reforms

Philip Martin summarized the status of immigration reform pending in Congress. The House was set to take up in March a bill that would beef-up-the-border and add new bars to access by illegal aliens to education and welfare. The bill as approved would double the Border Patrol from 5,000 to 10,000 agents by the year 2000, authorize the construction of a 14-mile triple fence on the US-Mexican border south of San Diego, and set up a five-state pilot project that would permit employers to verify the work eligibility of all new hires by checking a computer data base.

To cut down on the use of false documents, the bill would reduce from 29 to six the documents that workers can present to employers to prove their legal status, and treats document forgers as harshly as money counterfeiters. The bill would also permit the imposition of fines of $50 to $250 on people caught inside the US illegally, and permits state and local law enforcement officials to detain illegal aliens until the INS can take custody of them.

The House was also scheduled to debate a proposal by CA growers to enact a new guest worker program. Under the Pombo proposal, growers, labor contractors, or associations wanting to employ foreign farm workers would have to file at least 25 days before the job was to begin a labor condition attestation (LCA) with their state Employment Service office listing the number of foreigners requested and when work was to begin. Local ES offices would review these LCAs "only for completeness and obvious inaccuracies" within seven days after they are filed. Employers violating their attestations or program rules can be assessed civil money penalties, and be debarred from the program.

To encourage returns, 25 percent of the foreign workers' wages would be placed into a federal trust fund managed by the INS, which foreign workers could reclaim with interest in their country of origin. Foreign workers would be limited to a maximum two years in the US. Program costs would be financed by employer contributions equivalent to Social Security and unemployment insurance taxes that would not be paid by growers.

3. June 7, 1996

Internal Migration and Unauthorized Immigration, and Dealing with Criminal Aliens--CA Research Bureau

26 participants

Domestic and Unauthorized Migration

California in July 1995 had an estimated 32 million residents, reflecting 569,000 births in 1994-95, 222,000 deaths, 260,000 net foreign immigrants, and a net 334,000 CA residents who moved to other states. According to the CA Department of Finance, the net number of CA residents moving to other states exceeded the net number of immigrants to CA in 1992-93, 1993-94, and 1994-95.

CA projects the population of each of the state's 58 counties by asking counties to report any changes that are likely to significantly affect their growth rates. The last series of projections was done in 1993; a new series is planned for 1997.

During the 1980s, California gained a net 1.25 million residents from the other 49 states. Between 1990 and 1995, California lost a net 1.55 million residents to other states. CA thus experienced a "turning point" in domestic migration--switching from a net recipient of domestic migrants to a source of domestic migrants.

Hans Johnson of the PPI examined patterns of migration to and from CA between 1980 and 1993 and, contrary to some earlier estimates, found that US-born residents began to move out of CA in the late 1980s, but that CA's population kept growing during this economic boom period because of previously underestimated unauthorized immigration--a peak 200,000 unauthorized aliens are believed to have arrived in CA in 1989, versus the 125,000 per year estimated by Bob Warren for the 1989-1992 period..

Between 1985 and 1990, CA residents with lower than average levels of education and income moved to nearby western states, while college graduates from the east coast and midwest moved to CA. These domestic migration patterns continued in the early 1990s.

Johnson's research raises three issues:

* What is the best method for estimating unauthorized migration. Johnson uses a residual technique, in which unauthorized migration is the unexplained part of population change after births, deaths, and net domestic and legal migration are accounted for. The most common alternative methods for estimating illegal immigration are apprehension methods--assuming that the number of persons detected by the INS is a partial measure of an underlying flow.
* Patterns of domestic and foreign migration change over time in response to changing conditions in CA, other states, and other countries. Which models provide the best estimates at inflection points, e.g., when CA turns from being a net recipient to a net source of domestic migrants?
* WHY do US residents enter and leave CA? Are the persons at the bottom of the education and income ladders pushed out of CA by immigrants, as Bill Frey suggests? Does CA continue to attract college-educated US residents because the unskilled immigrants are complements to such labor in the CA economy, as many production function models suggest?

Dealing with Alien Offenders

Every year, hundreds of millions of people enter the US via land ports of entry, and the INS each year apprehends over 1.3 million aliens at or near the border. Over 90 percent of those apprehended near the border are Mexicans, and some who enter the US legally and illegally are carrying drugs into the US.

The US Attorney for San Diego, Alan Bersin, was named "border czar" in October 1995, and given responsibility for coordinating US law enforcement efforts along the 2,000 mile US-Mexican border. Bersin implemented a Deferred Prosecution Program that, under certain circumstances, permits aliens who have been apprehended with drugs--so-called drug mules-- to be subject to an administrative exclusion proceeding in which green cards, border crossing cards, and other entry documents are seized, and the alien is prohibited from re-entering the US.

If the alien does re-enter the US and is apprehended, then the alien is subject to prosecution for the new offense, as well as the original offense that led to the exclusion--the deferred prosecution.

The intent of the DPP is to preserve limited federal prosecutors' funds for "serious" offenses, including prosecuting aliens who return after being excluded in the DPP process. Experience so far indicates that DPP is successful in deterring the re-entry of "drug mules;" of those excluded, very few have been re-apprehended in the US.

In May 1996, the DPP was criticized sharply by Republican politicians for allegedly returning to Mexico aliens with up to 125 pounds of marijuana; the Los Angeles Times reported that 1,000 smuggling suspects had been returned to Mexico under DPP since 1994. Most law enforcement officials support DPP's policy of seizing immigration documents of first-time, small-quantity offenders, rather than prosecute them for misdemeanors.

It is not yet clear what the long-run effects of DPP will be. Loss of legal border crossing documents can be a serious economic loss to a Mexican national, and immigration lawyers may point out to those apprehended that they should take their chances with a US jury rather than surrender their greencards etc.

Such a tactic may doom the program's deterrent effects, since, in most cases, the sentence for a first offense on drug smuggling is 90 or 120 days, which is typically the time already served by an alien held over for trial.

If this were to happen, federal prosecutors would need more resources to deal both with aliens who elect to contest the charges against them, and to pursue felony prosecutions of aliens who return after being excluded in DPP proceedings.