Thursday, August 10, 2017

Asian Americans say Trump's ideas on immigration will hurt economy, divide famillies

Some industries couldn't get by without immigrant labor.

PEOPLE who have a friend or relative waiting in the 20-year line for his or her visa to immigrate to the United States, might have to wait a little longer under the Republican's proposed immigration plan.
The RAISE Act (S. 1720) introduced by Republican Senators Tom Cotton, Ark., and David Purdue, Ga., will impact immigrants from Asia and Latin America and at the same time, give an advantage to immigrants from Great Britain, Australia and Canada - all English-speaking countries.

Besides cutting all legal immigration into the United States in half, the RAISE Act also,

  • Curtails family-based visa programs,
  • Makes a reduction in refugee admissions permanent
  • Slashes the number of green cards available, and
  • Replaces employment visa categories with a point-based merit system that gives priority to individuals based on criteria including age, English proficiency, education, and economic factors. 

“Commonsense immigration reform is necessary, but the RAISE Act keeps families apart, and undermines American businesses and their workforce needs,” said Cyndie M. Chang, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association . “This bill reduces legal immigration, turns our backs on refugees, and rejects our core value of keeping families together."
Nearly two-thirds of the Asian Pacific American community is foreign-born and 92 percent of Asian Pacific Americans are immigrants or have immigrant parents. AAPI families are diverse, having come to the U.S. to join their families to seek opportunity, or as refugees following humanitarian crises. The majority of these families came to the U.S. under employment-based visas and family-based visa programs that would be cut under this legislation. 

Further, these reductions would increase delays in the already long visa-backlog that continues to keep families apart. Many who have applied to sponsor family members have already been enduring separation from their families because of the backlog for visas, Yang said. India and the Philippines have among the highest number of waiting list registrants with some of those back of the line face 20-plus years of waiting.

“The draconian use of legislation and executive orders to criminalize and marginalize immigrant communities reveals the inherent xenophobia of this administration. From bans to walls to raids to this current focus on slashing green card numbers, there is a concerted effort to purge immigrants from our nation," stated Lakshmi Sridaran, Director of National Policy and Advocacy at South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

Jobs, really?

One of the claims the administration is using to sell this plan is that it would help American workers, as if immigrants were taking the jobs away from native born. There’s a reason those against immigrants don’t cite data showing how much of a drag immigration puts on the economy or even cite the net number of jobs Americans lose to new immigrants. There is no data to support their position.

Instead, they can only present anecdotal evidence. They tell us about the grieving mother of someone killed by an “illegal” or the recidivism of a recent immigrant who commits a crime.  And they won’t say how often the crimes are perpetrated by illegal or recent immigrants relative to the general population because that would undermine their argument.

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote in a 2015 commentary that “newcomers to the US are less likely than the native population to commit violent crimes or be incarcerated.”

Most economists say immigration has a net economic benefit and is associated more with job creation than with job loss, even though there may be negative effects for the least skilled, least educated native-born workers.

"In reality, these drastic cuts to our legal immigration system would devastate America’s economic growth and threaten our competitive advantage to attract the best talent to our shores," said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“America wins when people are welcomed and integrated into our society and given the chance to contribute to the U.S. economy. Immigrant families fill critical gaps in our workforce, open new businesses, and help to create jobs to improve local economies across the country."

"Immigrants are overrepresented in a lot of occupations in both low- and high-skilled jobs," he explained. "You'd feel an impact and loss in many, many different occupations and industries, from construction and landscape to finance and IT," said Daniel Costa, the director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, an economic research think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Though some U.S.-born workers could fill some of those jobs, large gaps in several sectors would remain and cause a decline in the economy, Costa said.

A study by the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonpartisan think tank, found that 51% of the billion-dollar startups in the tech industry were founded by immigrants.

"If you look at the great companies driving the U.S. as an innovation hub, you'll see that a lot of companies were started by immigrants or the child of immigrants, like Apple and Google," he said. Apple was co-founded by Steve Jobs, whose biological father was a Syrian refugee, and Google (now Alphabet) was co-founded by Sergey Brin, who was born in Moscow.

Though immigrants make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they contribute nearly 15 percent of the country's economic output, according to a 2014 report from the Economic Policy Institute. The report contains the institute's latest data on immigration and the U.S. economy.

David Kallick, the director of the Immigration Research Initiative at the Fiscal Policy Institute, said Americans should not be fearful that immigrants are stealing jobs from them.

"It may seem surprising, but study after study has shown that immigration actually improves wages to U.S.-born workers and provides more job opportunities for U.S.-born workers," he told ABC News. "The fact is that immigrants often push U.S.-born workers up in the labor market rather than out of it."

Hidden motive

Despite the evidence refuting the economic reasons claimed by the Trump administration, the proposal appeals is stil appealing to the Trump base if it slows down the demographic shift in the U.S. that will soon see no ethnic group having the majority. That would mean whites would lose their historic position as the dominant race.

"We remind the country that the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was a civil rights act that overturned the racist quota system that gave preference to Northern and Western European immigrants. Immigration to the U.S. since the passage of that Act is responsible for the vibrant and diverse country that we have today. To end that system would be a grave mistake harming the very soul of our Nation," said Asian Americans Advancing Justice in a statement.

“America is a nation of values, founded on an idea that all people are created equal. Policies that break families apart and create false divisions among immigrants based on flawed notions of meritocracy do not live up to these values," 
stated Lakshmi Sridaran, Director of National Policy and Advocacy at SAALT.

“The draconian use of legislation and executive orders to criminalize and marginalize immigrant communities reveals the inherent xenophobia of this administration. From bans to walls to raids to this current focus on slashing green card numbers, there is a concerted effort to purge immigrants from our nation."

Labor leaders, members of the Asian Pacific Americans Labor Association (APALA), believe the immigraiton proposal is trying to scapegoat immigrants and divide the communities of color.

“Every day our immigrant and refugee communities face a new threat, a new reason to fear living in this country. The administration-backed RAISE Act is another damaging tactic that is not only laced with xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment but also part of a larger agenda to strengthen white supremacy under the guise of ‘America First,’ said 
Johanna Puno Hester, APALA National President and Assistant Executive Director of the United Domestic Workers, AFSCME Local 3930:

"Let us not be fooled by the divisive narrative the right wing is painting of ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ immigrant, and let us not forget that the countless contributions of immigrants and refugees continue to enrich our country at its core," she said.