Tag: immigration policy
We Need An Immigration Policy That Builds Our Future

We Need An Immigration Policy That Builds Our Future

Postcards from the great American labor shortage: A couple arrives at the Seattle airport after a five-hour flight and stands in line at the car rental desk. People are angry. At the desk sits a harassed employee explaining that he simply has no cars of any kind to rent. Nothing. Why? There aren't enough employees on hand to vacuum, wash, fuel and process the cars.

Another snapshot. A couple has been driving for several hours and requires a bathroom stop. They pull into a Burger King. The doors are locked. The only service is at the drive-thru. Why? Lack of employees.

Perhaps you've stayed in a hotel recently? Maid service and room service are scarce. If hotels offer these services at all, they are available only upon request. About 25% of restaurant and hotel employees are immigrants. What could be going on here?

Politico reports that hospitals in 40 states have reported critical staffing shortages — orderlies and janitors, yes, but also nurses, doctors and medical technicians. One in five nurses and one in four health aides are foreign-born. Twenty-eight percent of physicians are immigrants.

That dining room set you've been waiting to have delivered? A shortage of port workers and truck drivers is slowing everything down. More airline delays. Fewer varieties of foods in supermarkets. Shortages of lumber, cars and consumer electronics.

And, as you may have noticed, everything is much more expensive.

The reasons for this are multifactorial. Plunging demand for cars during the pandemic, for example, induced the industry to slow down its production. It takes time to ramp back up. The inflation we're experiencing is partially a result of the government flooding too much cash into people's accounts, compounded by COVID-induced supply chain shocks and the disruptions caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But the one factor we discuss too little is immigration — or rather, we emphasize the wrong aspect. Republicans are obsessed with the southern border and the dreaded waves of people (or sometimes "caravans") attempting entry. But we've long had people thronging the Mexican border. What we haven't seen in many decades is a serious decline in the number of legal immigrants-a decline that is a big factor in all the things Americans dislike about how things are going right now. If an immigration advocate had wanted to concoct a scenario to demonstrate to Americans just how diminished their lives would be with fewer immigrants, they couldn't have devised a better scheme than the combination of the Trump administration and the pandemic.

Trump began his squeeze on immigrants in 2017 with a ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and followed up with drastic reductions in the number of green cards issued, the number of refugees admitted (a shameful policy choice) and the number of legal immigrants processed. A Government Accountability Office review found that the Citizenship and Immigration Service increased its processing time for immigration applications sixfold between 2015 and 2020. Trump officials threw sand into the gears. They raised fees for naturalization applications from $620 to $1,160 and added burdensome, niggling requirements. A 2019 rule, for example, forced immigrants to refile forms if they left a space blank, even if the question did not pertain to them. Interviews were stalled, and they starved the relevant agencies of funding.

Where is the outrage that we are turning away highly skilled immigrants who could make the difference in our competition with China? Wouldn't an "America first" policy capitalize on our desirability as a destination for the talented instead of slamming our doors? Wouldn't we be welcoming those who will create the key technologies for the future, like artificial intelligence?

Before Trump, Republicans used to stress that they were all for legal immigration but only opposed the illegal variety, but that's all changed now. In fact, as Alex Nowrasteh at the CATO Institute argues, Trump failed to budge the number of illegal immigrants in the United States but radically diminished the number of legal immigrants. Sen. Tom Cotton and other Republicans are now on the record as favoring less legal immigration. According to some estimates, if the immigration rate had remained unchanged during Trump's term, we would now have nearly 2 million more prime-age workers.

Those workers would be driving trucks, administering IVs at hospitals, cleaning hotel rooms, picking vegetables and designing software. They'd be starting businesses (immigrants are 80% more likely to do this than native-borns), paying taxes and caring for the elderly. And, by the way, they would be helping to bring down the overall price level.

But Trump distorted the Republican party into a xenophobic, blinkered cult that wrongly sees immigrants as a drain instead of a boon.

So the question Republicans must answer today is: How do you like this immigrant-starved America? How do you like the shortages, the inflation and the poor service? Because this is what comes of nativism.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Donald Trump, human trafficking executive order

How Trump’s Immigration Policy Makes Him An Accomplice Of Child Traffickers

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

President Donald Trump thinks of himself as a champion against human trafficking. He addressed a White House Summit on the issue in January claiming there was a "humanitarian crisis" at the border fomented by criminal organizations and that "traffickers victimize countless women and children." He signed an executive order and diverted $400 million in funding to combat the issue, boasting in his usual manner that "we have signed more legislation on human trafficking than any other administration has ever even thought about."

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Danziger: His Little Rasputin

Danziger: His Little Rasputin

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Ken Cuccinelli, Would-Be Poet, Needs A History Lesson

Ken Cuccinelli, Would-Be Poet, Needs A History Lesson

It happened like clockwork. Every few weeks, especially in the winter months, when snowbirds traveled to my then-home in Tucson, Arizona, from parts north that included Michigan and Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, a letter to the editor would turn up at the paper where I worked. With slight changes, it would go something like: “I stopped in a store and overheard some people speaking Spanish. Why don’t they speak English?”

It took a little bit of time and a lot of convincing to explain that the families of many of these folks had been on the land the new arrivals so expansively and immediately claimed for generations, in the state since before it was a state, which Arizona didn’t become until 1912. It also has the greatest percentage of its acreage designated as Indian tribal land in the United States. And would it hurt you to know a word or two of Spanish?

Those are facts I was eager to learn — often from those long-timers — when I moved from the East Coast, many miles and a world away. Better late than never.

I thought of those brief history lessons when I read the seething words left behind, it is believed, by the young man accused of driving hundreds of miles to El Paso to murder “Mexicans,” some of them folks whose ancestors probably had been in Texas under many flags before it was the state of Texas. The sprawling suburban house thought to have been his home for a time looks as though it could be a suburban house in Anywhere, USA, not some bastion of Texas culture. His life goal, as shared on a LinkedIn profile believed to be his, said: “I’m not really motivated to do anything more than what’s necessary to get by.”

Was he lazy, a pejorative usually reserved for black and brown people doing the work since America’s founding, but instead fitting those like the accused shooter, resentful for not automatically winning the prize? Apparently, he spent too much energy and time brooding about his expectations as a young, white man, angry that he might be losing the privilege of getting ahead while doing not much of anything, not knowing much of anything.

Despite the hopes of older generations that young people growing up in a diverse society would experience enough to save the country from its history and itself, the youth of the killers and accused from Charleston, South Carolina, to El Paso poke a hole in that theory.

In America, ignorance is obviously dangerous when it leads to twisted ideologies and domestic terrorism schemes.

But short of that ultimate evil, not knowing much about many things can also translate into indifference, hostility and policies that do harm to the people and the idea of America.

Lack of awareness is certainly not limited to a certain region or age or person. I’ve been schooled by The New York Times’ series of “Overlooked” obituaries, stories of the pioneers and innovators who happened to be women and minorities, icons whose life’s work and passing received no notice in their times from the paper that helps to write history.

There are bound to be consequences when so many are content with knowing little more than what’s necessary to get by. “The stories we tell become the world we live in,” goes the saying I repeat and sincerely mean when leading seminars for The OpEd Project.

Right now we are seeing what happens when a blinkered view of history takes hold, in a chipping away of the rights of legal immigrants, new policies courtesy of the Trump administration, despite its earlier insistence that illegal immigration was the problem.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has been criticized for tweaking Emma Lazarus’ poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty to “give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” and again when he interpreted that hopeful invitation as “referring back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies, where people were considered wretched if they weren’t in the right class.”

Cuccinelli conveniently forgot the history that not too many of those arriving at Ellis Island toted sacks of cash or spoke perfect and unaccented English, and that his own ancestors who sought opportunity in America might not pass muster.

While most non-citizens do not qualify for public benefits, the rules announced by Cuccinelli would affect the present and future status of those who have already cleared initial hurdles to becoming citizens. They could expand the types of benefits that could potentially disqualify an applicant to include prior use of Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or food stamps) and housing assistance. A chilling effect might keep immigrants and even U.S. citizens from applying for benefits or cause them to withdraw from programs for themselves and their families.

Will all those politicians who regale crowds with stories of hard-working ancestors who succeeded with grit — and government programs such as the G.I. Bill and Social Security — at least recognize the hypocrisy?


Why not just rewrite a poem?

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.