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[CGES-CIIP October 4, 1996]

Comparative Immigration and Integration Program

Fall Workshop

Friday, October 4, 1996


IGA Reading Room

Shields Library, Third Floor

Immigration and Welfare Reform 1

Illegal Immigration 1

Removing Aliens 1

Legal Immigration 1

What's Next? 1

California Implications 1

Los Angeles and San Diego 1

Los Angeles and Amsterdam 1

MexicoÕs Labor Market 1

Bi-National US-Mexican Migration Study 1

Some 45 UC faculty and graduate students interested in comparative migration issues held a workshop October 4, 1996 at UCD.

Immigration and Welfare Reform

Susan Martin, Executive Director of the Commission on Immigration Reform, discussed the origins, provisions, and likely consequences of three major three major laws that had their origins in the 1994 and 1995 recommendations of the Commission on Immigration Reform: the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, signed into law on April 24, 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, signed into law on August 22, 1996, and the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act, signed into law on September 30, 1996.

There is never a "good time" to make immigration policy, and 1996 was particularly difficult because of the need to find savings in government expenditures, and American insecurity and frustration.

The CIR's recommendations were based on two principles. First, the US should do more to reduce illegal immigration. To accomplish this goal, CIR recommended that the borders be "managed" to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants, increasing penalties for smuggling, and testing systems to help employers determine quickly and reliably who is legally authorized to work in the US.

Second, the CIR recommended that the US strike a "grand bargain" on legal immigration--reduce the growth of immigration, but maintain legal immigrants' full access to the social safety net. Specifically, CIR recommended that the US speed up the admission of immediate family members of immigrants living in the US, but eliminate the right of brothers and sisters of US citizens to immigrate.

Congress adopted many of the CIR's recommendations to reduce illegal immigration, but rejected the CIR's grand bargain proposal.

Illegal Immigration

The CIR urged a three prong effort to reduce and deter illegal immigration: prevent entry over borders, prevent those inside the US from getting jobs or benefits and, if detected, quickly remove illegal aliens from the US.

Congress agreed to add Border Patrol agents and support personnel to deter illegal entries over US borders, and also agreed to add staff to expedite legal entries. However, Congress did not add significantly to efforts to prevent illegal aliens in the US from getting jobs: US employers may, but do not have to, participate in experimental employee verification systems. The INS will get 1200 more inspectors, including 900 whose primary responsibility is to deal with employer sanctions and alien smuggling.

However, at the last minute, Congress refused to authorize the hiring of 350 more labor inspectors to the DOL.

Removing Aliens

The anti-terrorism bill made it easier to remove from the US aliens who are convicted of felonies in the US. Once apprehended, criminal aliens must be detained, and they have fewer opportunities to appeal to stay in the US and, under the new immigration law, they may be required to serve their sentences in their country of origin, if the US negotiates agreements with other countries.

The immigration bill also made it easier to exclude foreigners who enter the US without valid documents. If an unauthorized alien applies for asylum to remain in the US, she must make a credible claim to an INS asylum officer. If the INS officer rejects her claim as not credible, then she has one appeal to an immigration judge, who must make a decision within 7 days.

Unauthorized aliens in the US for seven or more years may apply for "suspension of deportation," an acknowledgment that, over that time, the alien may have developed US roots. However, Congress adopted a tougher standard for suspension of deportation, and limited the number of foreigners who can obtain this relief to 4000 per year.

The new immigration law allows the US Attorney General to deport without any judicial review any illegal alien apprehended inside the US, who has been in the US for less than two years.

Legal Immigration

According to Susan Martin, the US legal immigration system, which manages immigration by backlogs or waiting lists, needs a major overhaul. Over 1.1 million spouses and children of legal immigrants living in the US are waiting--up to 10 years--to come to the US. Many do not wait; they come illegally. Similarly, there are 1.7 million siblings, such as the adult brothers and sisters of US citizens, in the Philippines, Mexico, and other countries waiting, sometimes 20 to 30 years, until they receive permission to migrate legally to the US.

The CIR recommended that the US eliminate immigration slots for brothers and sisters of US citizens. However, an unusual alliance between business and religious and ethnic groups prevented changes to the legal immigration system, but not changes to the US welfare system that make most legal immigrants ineligible for benefits.

The CIR recommended that the US draw a firm line between the access of legal and illegal immigrants to welfare and other public assistance in the US. The CIR recommended that illegal immigrants receive only emergency services, and those authorized by the US constitution, including K-12 education for illegal alien children.

The CIR recommended that legal immigrants be eligible for the same public assistance services as US citizens, but that sponsorship agreements be made legally binding--if a US citizen or legal immigrant agreed to support a relative, and that relative, after arriving in the US, applied for welfare, the applicant would be assumed to have access to the income and assets of the sponsor, and thus likely not be eligible for benefits.

In order to sponsor the admission of an immigrant, a US resident would have to earn at least 125 percent of the poverty line for the sponsor and the immigrant(s) who would arrive, and sign an affidavit promising to support the immigrant in the US. The US-sponsor could have another US-cosponsor.

The welfare law makes newly-arrived legal immigrants not eligible for most welfare benefits for at least five years after their arrival in the US.

What's Next?

Susan Martin believes that immigration, which accounts for about 40 percent of US population growth, will continue to be a prominent issue in the US and California. Four issues not addressed in 1996 are likely to get attention: legal immigration, refugees, immigrant policy, and the administration of US immigration.

Martin believes that the US will eventually have to strike some type of Grand Bargain of the sort recommended by the CIR because. With legal immigration rising, and welfare services ending, poor immigrants may become more vulnerable and visible.

Second, the end of the cold war has eliminated the major rationale for refugee admissions over the past 50 years--providing a haven for those fleeing communism.

The US must rethink what it wants to accomplish with refugee policy--just who among the world's 25 million refugees should US admit to start over in the US?

Third, the US has admitted about 15 million immigrants since 1980, and many of them are not faring well in the US economy. As immigrants and US citizens compete in a labor market crowded by ex-welfare recipients, the US may have to consider immigrant integration policies.

Fourth, the INS is one of the few federal agencies whose budget has doubled in a time of reduced government spending. The US needs to study what has become a large and expensive system for managing immigration.

California Implications

Phil Romero explained why Governor Wilson in the early 1990s led a campaign to reduce illegal immigration. The 1991-92 recession increased the demand for state-funded services, but made it impossible to pay for more state services. However, immigration continued to bring large numbers of people into the state who needed state-funded services, including unauthorized aliens.

According to Romero, Wilson thought that the federal government should either reimburse CA for the cost of providing services to illegal aliens, or prevent their entry. When the federal government did neither, Wilson endorsed a state effort to reduce services to unauthorized aliens, Proposition 187.

David Illig explained that the major assistance programs affected by 1996 immigration and welfare legislation include AFDC, which had about 380,000 legal immigrants on the rolls in summer 1996, Food Stamps, with about 436,000 non-US citizen recipients, SSI, with 331,000 immigrant recipients, and in-home supportive services, with 55,000 non-US citizen recipients. Perhaps 500,000 non-US citizens now receiving one or more welfare benefits may lose them under 1996 legislation.

The major fear in CA is that, as non-US citizens are removed from welfare rolls, state and local government may have to provide assistance to them. Under CA law, county governments must provide locally-paid-for General Assistance to persons not eligible for any other benefits who need assistance, and in July 1996, about 150,000 persons in CA were receiving assistance that cost county governments $300 to $400 million per year.

CA politicians are waiting until after the November 1996 elections to decide how to respond to the non-eligibility of most newly-arrived immigrants for welfare benefits, and the removal of immigrants from the welfare rolls. Among the options are to prolong the eligibility of current immigrant recipients--non-US citizens currently receiving Food Stamps can continue to do so until April 1, 1996, encourage naturalization, or simply ignore federal sanctions that are threatened if CA does not remove immigrants as the law requires.

One proposal is to have parallel welfare programs in CA--a 100 percent federally-funded program that meets all federal criteria, and a 100-percent state-funded program that would permit e.g. people to draw benefits longer than five years, and perhaps serve some immigrants.

Los Angeles and San Diego

Roger Waldinger, UCLA, discussed the conclusions to his book, Ethnic Los Angeles. Waldinger noted that, in 1990, about 33 percent of LA county residents, and 37 percent of LA city residents, were foreign born, comparable to the foreign born share of the population of New York City in 1910.

However, while New York City has experienced immigration continuously for two centuries, Los Angeles experienced mass immigration only since 1980. Today, 55 percent of the immigrants in the US live in five cities, including 20 percent in Los Angeles, and 18 percent in New York City.

In Los Angeles, Mexicans are the dominant immigrant group, and most of them have very little education--over half of the adult Mexican immigrants in 1990 in Los Angeles had less than eight years of education.

Waldinger believes that social networks and economic development evolved in ways so that the supply of unskilled immigrants created a demand for them in "niches," industries and occupations in which an immigrant group is over represented, compared to its share of the work force, by 50 percent or more. One of the most striking findings of this niche analysis is that Mexican immigrants are over-represented in low wage industries such as non-durables manufacturing, and in occupations such as gardening, while African-Americans are over represented in government jobs.

Commentator Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee, stressed the difference in the characteristics of the population of CA--about 53 percent of state residents are non-Hispanic whites--and voters in CA--about 80 percent of the voters are non-Hispanic whites. White voters are older than the average residents, setting up potential ethnic and age political conflicts that, Walters believes, will continue to be resolved in favor of the older whites.

Some institutions are trying anticipate and plan for these demo-political changes. Only 20 percent of CA voters still have children in K-12 public schools, which may have contributed to Prop 98, which guarantees state funding for K-12 schools.

Finally, Walters argued that the 1996 naturalization wave has not yet shown up on voter rolls. There are 19 to 20 million eligible voters in CA, 14 million registered voters, and 9 million votes cast in November 1994--Hispanics cast 8 to 9 percent, or 800,000 of these votes.

Wayne Cornelius, UCSD, reported on a comparative study of employers and workers in San Diego and Japan that is examining whether foreign worker employment fluctuates over the business cycle. Preliminary analysis suggests that, employers dependent on foreign workers do not lay off immigrant workers and hire natives when natives are presumably more available. Indeed, Cornelius concluded that there is less seasonality in labor markets that hire Mexican-born workers than is commonly assumed, and that many of the Mexican-born workers entering the US labor market are not seeking seasonal US jobs, so that "a temporary worker program meets the needs of neither most US employers of Mexican migrants nor the migrants themselves, except for those who define themselves strictly as shuttle migrants seeking employment in strictly seasonal enterprises (which is clearly a minority among contemporary Mexican migrants to the US)."

Cornelius notes that Mexican-born workers dominate the work force in only a few sectors, such as agriculture and food processing. The diffusion of Mexican-born workers by geography, industry, and occupation means that any type of guest worker or enforcement strategy targeted on Mexican-born workers will become increasingly difficult to enforce.

Los Angeles and Amsterdam

Ivan Light, UCLA, summarized his contribution to a book that compares immigration's effects on the garment industry in Los Angeles and Amsterdam. In contrast to Saskia Sassen, who argues that globalization creates a demand for immigrant workers by increasing the incomes of the very rich who demand immigrant services from gardening to maids, Light stresses that social networks enable immigrants to cross borders and find jobs by lowering the cost and risk of migrating.

Combining globalization and network theories yields a "spillover" or threshold date, when migration switches from being mostly a demand-pull to mostly a supply-push phenomenon.

Light notes that, in the LA garment industry, jobs are being created by immigrants for immigrants.

Joshua Skov, UCB, noted that the globalization theory seems to concentrate on structural explanations for migration, while networks emphasize agency factors.

MexicoÕs Labor Market

Agustin Escobar, Ciesas Occidente, Guadalajara, reviewed the evolution of Mexico's labor market since the 1980s, and emphasized that the number of 16-64 year olds, many of whom would be expected to join the labor force, increased much faster than the number of jobs, both formal and informal. However, the informal sector has lost some of its ability to serve as Mexico's shock absorber after 1989, so that, as the mobility of Mexicans increased, more Mexicans moved to border cities within Mexico, and from Mexico to the US.

Inequality increased in Mexico throughout the past decade; the highest 10 percent of Mexican income earners got 47 percent of Mexico's total income in 1992, and 48 percent in 1994.

Bi-National US-Mexican Migration Study

The Bi-National US-Mexican Migration Study was proposed by Mexico to quantify migration between Mexico and the US, and the US and Mexico, as well as the characteristics of migrants, factors that sustain migration, the impacts of migration in both countries, and policy responses. The study will be completed in summer 1997.

There were 4.5 million Mexican-born persons in the US in 1990, according to the Census, and 6.7 million in March 1996, according to the CPS. Mexicans in the US have traditionally come from the lower ends of the Mexican education and skill ladder, in part because Bracero farm workers were recruited. Migration seems to be less selective today than in the past; there are more urban residents, more migrants with skills, and from new regions of Mexico.

Demand-pull, supply-push, and network factors sustain Mexico-US labor migration, but their roles have changed. Demand-pull factors have declined in importance, and supply-push and network factors have increased in importance.

As Mexico-US migration has increased in magnitude, changed in character, and sustained by factors other than US-government approved recruitment, the context of US-Mexican relations, as well as the context for dealing with migration, has changed.


Comparative Immigration and Integration Program

Fall Workshop

Friday, October 4, 1996


IGA Reading Room

Shields Library, Third Floor

7:30AM Continental Breakfast

8 -9:30 AM

What hath Congress wrought? The Implications of Immigration and Welfare Reform for California

Susan Forbes Martin, Executive Director, Commission on Immigration Reform

Discussant: David Illig, CA Research Bureau

9:30-10am Break

10:00 AM CIIP purposes and goals, Philip Martin, UCD and Richard Buxbaum, UCB

10:05AM Introductions and 1-minute presentations on each participant's current comparative immigration and integration research.

10:30 AM Roger Waldinger, UCLA, Prospects for Immigrants in Los Angeles

Discussant: Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee

11:30 AM Wayne Cornelius, UCSD, Determinants of Employer Dependence on Immigrant Labor in San Diego County.

12PM Lunch

1:15PM Ivan Light, UCLA, Globalization and Migration Networks

Discussant: Joshua Skov, UCB

2PM Augustin Escobar, Guadalajara. The Mexican Labor Market--1976-1996

2:45PM Break

3PM The Bi-National US-Mexican Migration Study

Susan Forbes Martin, Commission on Immigration Reform

Ed Taylor, UCD

Philip Martin, UCD

Manuel Garcia y Griego, UCI

4 PM Adjourn