H-1B visa needs reform to make it fairer to migrant and American workers,
Economic Policy Institute, Fact Sheet, April 5, 2017, 4 pp.
Author: Daniel Costa
equitable job market for foreign- and U.S.-born workers alike is possible with reforms to the H-1B work visa program, asserts
the Economic Policy Institute in this fact sheet. The publication outlines flaws in the H-1B program and suggests a series
of reforms to protect both U.S. workers and "H-1B workers, who deserve fair pay for their work according to U.S. wage
standards and who should not have to fear retaliation and exploitation by employers." The H-1B program provides non-immigrant
U.S. work visas valid for as long as six years for foreign-born, college-educated workers and fashion models. Employers are
then allowed to sponsor H-1B workers for permanent residence. An estimated 460,000 H-1B workers are employed in the U.S. and
upwards of 85,000 new H-1B visas can be issued per year. Yet, problems with the H-1B system allow some employers to exploit
foreign-born workers and prevent qualified U.S. workers from applying for job opportunities. For example, although U.S. employers
are required to recruit U.S. workers first before seeking H-1B workers, there are two loopholes to circumvent this rule: hiring
an H-1B worker with a master's degree or paying the worker an annual salary of at least $60,000, which is $21,000 lower
than the national median wage for workers in computer occupations. To avoid these and other issues, the fact sheet proposes
requiring employers to recruit U.S. workers and offer jobs to qualified workers before hiring H-1B workers, and requiring
that employers who cannot find qualified U.S. workers pay H-1B workers no less than the average local wage for the job.
The Typology of Modern Slavery: Defining Sex and Labor Trafficking in the United States,
The Polaris Project, March, 2017, 72 pp.
Recognizing that the forms of human
trafficking vary from one sector to another, and that strategies for combatting trafficking must be adapted to the circumstances
of each sector, the Polaris Project has produced this typology of 25 "types of human slavery." An important
goal of the study was to move beyond the traditional broad categories of sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The
study is based on an analysis of more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking documented between December 2007 and December
2016 on the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the BeFree Textline -- services operated by the Polaris Project. The authors
describe their study as "the largest data set on human trafficking in the United States ever compiled and publically
analyzed." Within each of the 25 categories, the authors describe the business model, recruitment practices, methods
of control, geographic patterns, and give profiles of both victims and traffickers. The authors caution, however, that cases
of labor trafficking are probably underreported in the Polaris database "due to a lack of awareness about the issue and
a lack of recognition of the significant vulnerability of workers in many U.S. labor sectors."
Unlocking Skills: Successful Initiatives for Integrating Foreign-Trained Immigrant Professionals,
Migration Policy Institute,February, 2017, 38 pp.
Authors: Margie McHugh & Madeleine Morawski
2 million college-educated immigrants and refugees in the United States are not working in high-skill jobs despite years of
education and work experience. This report examines program initiatives and policy reforms designed to reduce this waste of
skill and economic potential. These innovations are drawn from the top finishers in the Migration Policy Institute's E Pluribus
Unum Prize competition, which recognizes outstanding immigrant integration programs. Immigrants trained in such fields as
civil engineering, education, and medicine are filling lower-skilled and often low-wage jobs in the United States. This problem
is greater for immigrants who obtained their education and training outside of the United States, as 29 percent of foreign-trained
immigrants are unemployed or underemployed, compared to 21 percent of U.S.-trained immigrants and 18 percent of native-born
persons. The authors recommend reforming state licensing laws to remove unnecessary requirements on foreign-trained immigrants,
as well as increasing advanced English language and bridge programs, which aim to help immigrants gain the necessary professional
skills and English proficiency to successfully navigate the job market and re-enter the workforce. The report also suggests
that the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education lead an effort to identify successful program models and closely monitor
efforts to serve the high-skilled immigrant population. In addition, monitoring and addressing employer bias and expanding
mutual recognition agreements to harmonize qualifications can help to reduce the problem of "brain waste."
(Christy Box for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Open Windows, Closed Doors: Mutual Recognition Arrangements on Professional Services in the
Migration Policy Institute, Asian Development Bank, 2016, 50 pp.
Dovelyn Ranneveig Mendoza, Maria Vincenza Desiderio, Guntur Sugiyarto, & Brian Salant
Between 2005 and 2014,
eight nations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand, and Vietnam -- negotiated Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) permitting professionals trained in one country
to have their qualifications recognized in another. The agreements cover the tourism sector, accountancy, architecture, dentistry,
engineering, medicine, and nursing. There are three types of MRAs: "open, comprehensive frameworks with minimal
restrictions" (tourism sector), "partially open, regional-driven frameworks with major restrictions" (accountancy,
architecture, and engineering), and "virtually closed, destination country-led frameworks with minimal opportunities
for recognition" (dentistry, medicine, and nursing). The authors see promise in the second type (regionally-driven frameworks)
which can help to harmonize training and practice requirements among the member states, thereby relieving some of the concerns
of local authorities. However, the "vastly different levels of socioeconomic development" among these states serves
as a barrier to negotiating more open agreements. Nonetheless, there are useful lessons to be drawn from the progress to date,
and the current MRAs "could do much to usher in the advent of skilled mobility" envisioned by the ASEAN Economic
Getting Opportunities in the Hands of New Americans Striving for the American Dream,
National Immigration Forum, November 8, 2016, 18 pp.
and knowledge of basic legal rights could go a long way toward helping immigrants realize their full potential in the U.S.
The report Getting Opportunities in the Hands of New Americans Striving for the American Dream
from the National
Immigration Forum highlights the social and economic obstacles immigrants face when coming to the U.S. The study additionally
addresses ways in which government bodies and nonprofit organizations can provide practical knowledge, support and training
to immigrants to enhance the integration process. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 26 percent of the population
and 40 percent of Fortune 500 company founders. While immigrants have higher rates of entrepreneurship, their companies have
lower survival rates due to immigrant entrepreneurs' lack of familiarity with local markets and other disadvantages. Nonprofits
and state offices nationwide are providing immigrant communities with financial literacy, entrepreneurship training, fraud
protection, and other services. The report describes some of these programs in detail. Maintaining that immigrants' success
is critical to America's success, the authors recommend establishing a White House Office for New Americans with state and
local partners to remove barriers faced by immigrants who wish to access opportunities for socioeconomic advancement. The
Forum also recommends an expansion of the services provided by the USCIS Office of Citizenship. (Sarah Purdy for The ILC
Public Education Institute)
Defining Skill: The Many Forms of Skilled Immigrant Labor,
American Immigration Council, November, 2016, 15 pp.
Author: Jacqueline Hagan
This brief reports
on the results of a study that focused on the experiences of immigrant workers in the United States. The main goal of
the research was to problematize notions of "skilled" and "unskilled" work, with an eye towards shifting
the discourse about immigrant labor. As part of the study, the author interviewed 320 individuals who might be labeled
"unskilled" migrant laborers, as well as key informants from industries with heavy concentrations of immigrants
(e.g., construction, manufacturing, agriculture). The brief asserts that immigrant workers possess high levels of skills that
might not be captured by standard rubrics, such as those that use years of education as a proxy for skill level. Rather
than approaching migrant workers from a deficit model, the author suggests that these workers bring with them skills that
they further develop while working in the U.S. Examples are provided of how these workers draw on their pre-migration
experiences to contribute new ideas to their employers. In one example, Mexican immigrants working in the masonry industry
shared their knowledge about working with mud and sand, rather than concrete, creating a look that their customers preferred.
The author also suggests that because of their skills and their desire to continue developing their talents, not all immigrant
workers are trapped in jobs that offer no means of mobility (with the exception of the service industry). The author concludes
that a more holistic account of workers' abilities is necessary in debates about immigration policy, and that millions of
workers should not be written off as "unskilled." (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University)
Untapped Talent: The Costs of Brain Waste among Highly Skilled Immigrants in the United States
Migration Policy Institute, New American Economy, & World Education Services; December, 2016, 42 pp.
Batalova, Michael Fix, & James D. Bachmeier
This report examines the issue of "brain waste" resulting
from high-skilled immigrants being underemployed (that is, high-skilled immigrants in low-skill jobs) or unemployed. For the
first time, this report estimates the earnings lost from underutilized immigrant skills. Researchers compared the earnings
of high-skilled immigrants employed in jobs appropriate to their skills to the earnings of high-skilled immigrants in low-skill
jobs. (Unemployed high-skilled immigrants were not included in the cost calculations.) Researchers determined that the 1.5
million high-skilled immigrants working in low-skill jobs earn, collectively, $39.4 billion less each year than they would
if they were employed in jobs appropriate to their skill level. The forgone earnings translate into a total of $10.2 billion
in lost state and local tax revenue. The most common characteristics leading to the underemployment or unemployment of high-skilled
immigrants were, among others, education or training outside of the U.S., lack of English proficiency, immigration status
and race. Calculations were also performed for seven states representing a mix of traditional immigrant receiving states,
newer destination states and rust-belt states now trying to attract immigrants. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Jobs for Californians: Strategies to Ease Occupational Licensing Barriers,
Little Hoover Commission, Report #234, October, 2016, 46 pp.
a review of California licensing requirements for regulated professions, the Little Hoover Commission -- a nonpartisan state
oversight and research agency established by the California State Legislature -- concluded that many requirements are unnecessary,
obsolete, and particularly burdensome to vulnerable groups, such as ex-offenders, veterans and their spouses, and those trained
or educated outside the state, including foreign-trained workers. The extent of this problem is far-reaching; one out of five
Californians must obtain permission from the government to work. The challenge is to ensure that consumer protection is balanced
with the need to provide access to jobs and services. This report suggests that the balance needs to be corrected in many
areas. The Commission found "a nearly impenetrable thicket of bureaucracy" and a tendency to rely on political considerations
to determine policy, rather than a thoughtful examination of consumer interest. The Commission offers eight recommendations
to improve the system, four systemic in nature and four procedural. One of the systemic recommendations involves the collection
of demographic data about all applicants for licensing to determine whether procedures are having an adverse impact on specific
groups. Two of the procedural recommendations have direct bearing on the needs of foreign-trained workers: first, mandating
that all California colleges create bridge education programs, and second, developing work and apprenticeship models that
would enable people to work in their professions while pursuing licensure.
Schooling and Labor Market Effects of Temporary Authorization: Evidence from DACA
Institute for the Study of Labor, August, 2016, 42 pp.
Authors: Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Francisca Antman
Using data from the Current Population Survey, this paper attempts to gauge the impact of DACA on the schooling,
employment and wages of eligible youth. One key finding is that -- contrary to some expectations that DACA would increase
motivation to pursue higher education - participation in the DACA program "significantly reduced the likelihood of school
enrollment" of eligible youth who had already earned a high school diploma or a GED. At the same time, the grant
of work authorization through DACA resulted in higher rates of employment, "suggesting that the potential labor market
returns to authorization today might outweigh any additional returns to higher education to be felt further down the road."
The authors do acknowledge, however, that their study only looks at short-term impacts of DACA, not the longer-range outcomes,
which might be quite different.
Can Authorization Reduce Poverty among Undocumented Immigrants? Evidence from the Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals Program,
Institute for the Study of Labor, August, 2016, 14 pp.
Authors: Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes
& Francisca Antman
The estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States face poverty
rates nearly twice as large as those of U.S-born individuals. This study
examines the impact of authorization on
the rate of poverty among households headed by undocumented immigrants. Specifically, the researchers examined the effects
of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows eligible individuals a reprieve from immediate
deportation and the ability to temporarily work in the United States. The report compares the poverty exposure of DACA-eligible
and DACA-ineligible individuals finding that the program reduces the likelihood of poverty conditions in households headed
by DACA-eligible individuals by 38 percent. The researchers conclude that even temporary authorization has a significant impact
on the rate of poverty among undocumented immigrants. However, the long-term effects of DACA depend on the outcome of the
presidential election and whether the program is continued, expanded, or ended. (Sophia Mitrokostas for The Immigrant
Learning Center Public Education Institute)
Banking on Unsafe Working Conditions: Placing Profits Before Protection of Casino & Hotel
Workers' Human Rights in Deutsche Bank's U.S. Supply Chain,
University of California, Irvine, May 17, 2016, 54 pp.
Authors: Fatma E. Marouf, Sameer M. Ashar &
Jennifer J. Rosenbaum
The third-largest private employer in Nevada, Station Casinos, LLC, is alleged to have
committed human rights violations against its largely Latino and immigrant workforce. In preparing this report,
authors conducted 101 interviews with employees to investigate the workers' health and safety. In April 2016, multinational
German corporation Deutsche Bank was a partial owner of Station Casinos LLC but has since reduced its share of the company
from 25 percent to 16-18 percent thereby forfeiting governance rights. The report argues that by reducing its holdings, Deutsche
Bank is not fulfilling its obligation to investigate and address human rights violations alleged by the workers interviewed
for this report. These violations include unfair labor practices, such as blocking freedom of association and collective bargaining,
and health and safety violations, such as inadequate safety gear, defective machinery, negative repercussions from reporting
violations, lack of break time, inadequate benefits and mental stress from understaffing. The report calls for Deutsche Bank
and Station Casinos LLC to investigate and address these complaints. (Sophia Mitrokostas for The Immigrant Learning Center
Public Education Institute
A City of Immigrant Workers: Building a Workforce Strategy to Support All New Yorkers,
The Center for Popular Democracy & Center for an Urban Future, April, 2016, 41 pp.
Kate Hamaji & Christian González-Rivera
In this report, Hamaji and González-Rivera argue for
a revised and expanded approach to workforce development programs for immigrants in New York City. Their key concern
is moving from a sector-based workforce strategy that focuses on equipping workers with the skills that particular employers
are demanding to one that also includes a population-based strategy. Such an approach would address the particular needs
of immigrant workers by providing ESOL classes for increasing English proficiency, by offering "bridge" programs
that help adult learners transition from ABE into higher education and trade-based certification programs, and by providing
targeted training in other employment-related issues (e.g., the difficulty of navigating the US job market, the complexity
of getting credentials from abroad recognized in the US, etc.). The authors suggest that the current workforce system
in New York City is fragmented in ways that limit immigrants' ability to access services, and they present a number of recommendations
for ways to better coordinate services (e.g., recognizing and supporting smaller agencies that already have a presence in
immigrant neighborhoods). To deal with persistent concerns about the exploitation of workers, Hamaji and González-Rivera
suggest that workers' rights should be a central focus of any workforce development effort. Similarly, given the key
role immigrants play in the economy and their limited ability to access necessary services, the authors assert that the needs
of undocumented workers must be addressed in a systemic fashion. The report provides descriptions of model workforce efforts
and concludes with a number of specific policy recommendations (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).
Danger and Dignity: Immigrant Day Laborers and Occupational Risk,
Seton Hall Law Review, 46(3): 2016, 70 pp.
Author: Jayesh Rathod
article presents findings from a research study designed to assess immigrant workers' exposure to unhealthy and unsafe working
conditions. Conducted over several months in 2014, the study relies on in-depth interviews with 84 immigrant day laborers
who were seeking employment in Northern Virginia. Through this investigation, the author seeks to identify the factors that
either increase or reduce the risk of occupational injury or illness, with special attention to variables such as immigration
status, language and cultural differences, and worksite administration and enforcement. The article begins with a literature
review to frame some of the questions deserving of further study. The author then provides an overview of the day laborer
phenomenon in the United States, noting that the growth in the day laborer population "is just one manifestation of a
broader shift in the economy towards contingent employment." After an explanation of the research methodology used in
the study, the author provides a snapshot of the demographic characteristics of the interviewees and summarizes some of the
key findings from the survey. Forty-six percent reported experiencing a workplace-related injury or illness. However,
those workers affiliated with a worker center (38 of the 84 interviewees) had a dramatically lower rate. Indeed, there wasn't
a single injury for jobs secured at the center. The study concludes with a number of key findings and recommendations,
including the importance of accommodating the diversity of the day laborer population. As the author points out, the "essentializing
of the immigrant worker population leads to ill-fitting policy proposals premised on an incomplete, outdated, and/or stereotyped
understanding of the immigrant worker community."
Reaching a "Fair Deal" on Talent: Emigration, Circulation, and Human Capital in Countries
Migration Policy Institute, Transatlantic Council on Migration, February
2016, 36 pp.
Authors: Kate Hooper & Madeleine Sumption
To assist migrants
in using their skills to the fullest, both in the destination country and in the country of origin if they return or support
development projects there, a variety of initiatives have been implemented by the private sector and national and local governments.
Kate Hooper and Madeleine Sumption of the Migration Policy Institute review some of these initiatives in their report, Reaching
a "Fair Deal" on Talent: Emigration, Circulation, and Human Capital in Countries of Origin. The report emphasizes
the importance of skill transferability so that regardless of where migrants choose to settle, the economies of both the host
and sending countries can benefit from their talent and labor. The initiatives include promoting portable education programs
and credentialing systems in countries of origin and creating targeted job and language programs in countries of destination.
For example, in the Philippines, the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) administers an inexpensive
certification and training system for both the domestic and foreign labor markets. TESDA official certifications have gained
recognition outside of the Philippines, and some have been drawn up with the assistance of destination country industry representatives.
Other initiatives to maximize the potential of skilled migrants include promoting remittance activity and fostering exchanges
between diaspora communities and people in their countries of origin. The report emphasizes that while there is no way to
ensure that migration benefits both the host country and country of origin equally, national and local authorities should
scale up cost-effective initiatives. (The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)
62 UCLA Law Review 1558 (2015), 26 pp.
Author: Kathleen Kim
paper explores the consequences of worksite immigration enforcement on the exercise of free labor rights, as derived from
the 13th Amendment's abolition of slavery and other labor and employment laws. The author asks: "does the
absence of (immigration) status render undocumented workers unfree in the workplace?" Although constitutional and legal
protections theoretically apply to all workers, no matter their immigration status, they are largely unavailable to undocumented
workers due to the implicit or explicit threat of deportation and the common assumption that the employment relationship is
"consensual" in nature. "The notion that these workers willingly accept their exploitation nullifies their
coercion claims. Free labor rights seek to correct coercion in the workplace, yet the illegality of undocumented workers places
them beyond coercion, outside the protection of free market remedies." Coerced labor may be defined as
conduct by an employer "intended to constrain the worker's choice between providing labor according to the employer's
demands or suffering a negative consequence." The author recognizes that she is opening a dialogue on these questions
and suggests that worksite enforcement of any type, including E-Verify, may put in jeopardy "our constitutional and moral
commitments to free labor."
Immigration Policy and the Search for Skilled Workers,
The National Academies Press, 2015, 155 pp.
Rapporteurs: Gail Cohen, Aqila Coulthurst &
The importance of high-skilled labor in the global economy is increasing as
the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge become crucial to maintaining a competitive advantage. While the
United States continues to attract the most talented migrants, high-skilled immigration has been growing faster in other member
countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering
and Medicine organized a workshop to collect information on how other countries have changed their temporary and/or permanent
resident programs in order to meet employer needs and fuel growth in new enterprises. This publication summarizes the presentations
and discussions at the workshop and highlights some of the key points made. The workshop participants compared policies aimed
at attracting and retaining international students and high-skilled workers, analyzed the impact on innovation and labor markets,
and examined systemic changes countries undertook in response to unintended results. While the major focus was on policy comparisons
among the U.S., Canada and Australia, immigration systems and trends in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark,
Israel, the Middle East and Southeast Asia were also discussed. Participants used data from the United Nations, OECD and respective
countries' official sources to show that most effective high-skilled immigration policies need to be flexible to respond to
changing labor and market needs. For example, Canada switched from a points-based system in which applicants waited in queue
for years, losing employment opportunities for which they initially applied, to the "Expression of Interest system."
Applicants provide career information and qualifications, and eligible applicants are placed on a list of similar applicants
and ranked according to eligibility criteria and Canadian labor market needs. This method seems to respond better to economic
needs while enhancing opportunities for foreign-born workers. The report notes that the U.S. has been successful in attracting
high-skilled immigrants mainly because of factors other than immigration policy such as the quality of education and research
opportunities as well as employment and retention rates. Participants recommended several policies from other countries that
the U.S. might consider adopting, including an annual pool of applicants from which employers can choose people to obtain
permanent visas; better data collection to assess policy effectiveness, perhaps modeled on the kind of longitudinal studies
of skilled immigrants done in Canada and Australia; allowing employer-sponsored immigrants to change employers; giving states
greater control over skilled immigrant admissions; and a benefits package similar to the one that Israel provides to new immigrants.
(Jasmina Popaja for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)
State of Latino Entrepreneurship: Research Report 2015,
Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, November 2015, 37 pp.
Authors: Douglas Rivers et al
Since the early 2000s, the number of Latino-Owned Businesses (LOBs) has increased at
substantially higher rates than Non-Latino Owned Businesses (NLOBs). Yet, a multi-trillion dollar "opportunity gap"
exists between LOBs and NLOBs. For this reason, the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (a partnership between the
Latino Business Action Network and Stanford University) released the first annual report State of Latino Entrepreneurship
in an effort to explain why LOBs lag behind NLOBs in yearly sales and to promote the economic potential of Latino businesses.
Based on surveys of Latino businesses owners, the report disputes the notion that the opportunity gap exists because LOBs
lack a diverse customer base or because they are concentrated in smaller industries. Instead, the authors find that lower
sales are more likely to be caused by difficulties raising capital and the weaker networks of LOBs. LOBs also have greater
difficulty getting approval for bank loans and tend to rely on other financing methods such as credit cards or personal savings
for business investment. They are also less familiar with government programs such as those run by the Small Business Administration.
The report encourages policymakers and business leaders to increase their engagement with Latino entrepreneurs to help LOBs
scale to the level of NLOBs and reach their full economic potential. (The Immigrant Learning Center
Public Education Institute)
Immigrants and WIOA Services: Comparison of Sociodemographic Characteristics of Native-
and Foreign-Born Adults in the United States, Fact Sheets for the United States and Selected States
Migration Policy Institute, December, 2015, 12 pp.
Authors: Margie McHugh & Madeleine
As states and the federal government work to implement the Workforce innovation and Opportunity (WIOA)
Act of 2015, MPI undertook an analysis of the characteristics of the immigrant population relevant to the "equitable
implementation of WIOA, as well as consideration of other policy and funding initiatives to promote the successful linguistic,
economic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees in the United States." The Fact Sheets, available for the
United States as a whole and the ten states with the largest immigrant populations, explore seven demographic variables:
nativity, age, and origin; educational attainment; limited English proficiency (LEP); brain waste; the number of immigrants
with young children; poverty and health insurance; and U.S. citizenship and immigration status. The Fact Sheets discuss the
relevance of each data point for successful WIOA implementation. For example, noting that LEP individuals have constituted
less than 2 percent of individuals receiving Title I services over the last five years, the authors suggest that significant
capacity-building and policy change will be necessary to achieve equity for immigrants in accessing training services. Moreover,
the law's "narrow accountability measures" may exclude immigrants without employment or postsecondary transition
and completion goals from participating in WIOA funded adult education programs.
Reducing Brain Waste: Creating Career Pathways for Foreign-Educated Immigrants in Washington
One America, 2015, 27 pp.
Authors: Vy Nguyen et al
about the growing number of underemployed, foreign-educated immigrants in Washington State, OneAmerica undertook this study
to gauge the scope and severity of the problem and to identify effective policy solutions. The report describes the barriers
that keep foreign-educated immigrants from re-entering their professions and shows how the integration of foreign-educated
immigrants can bolster the state's economy. The authors examine two sectors in particular - nursing and teaching - and
show how these professions could benefit from the more effective utilization of immigrant talent. The two professions would
gain access to a labor pool with strong multicultural and linguistic skills -- attributes important to both reducing health
disparities and improving student educational outcomes in an increasingly diverse state. The report identifies a number of
"key levers" of systemic policy change, including: more effective data collection, the development of case management
capacity, utilization of online resources, the development of bridge programs, the use of alternative routes and pipelines
to recertification, licensing reform, the development of professional connector programs, standard-setting for credential
evaluation, financial assistance programs to ease the cost burden of recertification, and greater employer support and engagement.
In order to implement these changes in an efficient manner - drawing on the resources and expertise of community-based and
educational organizations, as well as different agencies and departments of state government - the authors recommend the establishment
of a state Office of New Americans with broad responsibility for the economic, social, and civic integration of immigrants.
This office would create a special task force dedicated to maximizing the economic potential of foreign-educated immigrants.
Engaging Employers in Immigrant Integration
Urban Institute, August, 2015, 41 pp.
Author: María E. Enchautegui
Immigrants make up an outsized share of America's workforce compared to their share of population,
and the country's competitive advantage depends in part on how successfully employers integrate immigrant workers into the
economy. Describing workplaces as "essential spaces for immigrant integration," the author of this study, funded
by the Ford Foundation, interviews key informants and scans the available literature to answer three main questions: 1) What
do we know about employer engagement in immigrant integration? 2) How can we conceptualize this engagement? And, 3) what can
employers do to promote integration? Enchautegui observes that effective integration practices can benefit both the
employer and the foreign-born worker, but these practices are not well known. Among the report's recommendations are: offering
workplace English-language training; equipping human resources staff with information on immigration policy and the value
of foreign credentials; providing safety and occupational training in foreign language; offering naturalization assistance;
and creating employee assistance programs geared specifically toward immigrants. The author hopes that the study will serve
as a tool for "systematizing the knowledge about employer engagement in immigrant integration" and for cataloguing
the many ways that employers can participate in this effort. Through such an effort, employers will boost worker productivity
and company profitability, at the same time that they improve the skills and well-being of their immigrant workers. (Karly Foland for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: What We can Learn from the Banking and Credit Habits
of Undocumented Immigrants,
University of New Mexico School of Law Research Paper 2015-08, 61 pp.
Described by the author as "the first empirical study of the debtor-credit relationships of undocumented
immigrants," this study is based on in-person interviews with 50 undocumented immigrants in New Mexico. The article
begins with a discussion of how "the silencing of undocumented persons due to fear of deportation has implications for
contract and consumer law." The author explains how "when it comes to credit of almost every form, the poor pay
more." Data from the study show "that the financial condition of many undocumented immigrants if far more
precarious than one might imagine" as 74 percent of interviewees "would not be able to cover a $100 emergency if
it came up." Other information gathered from the interviews involved type of work, income levels, property ownership,
use of credit cards and bank accounts, use of payday or title loans, savings levels, use of public benefits, and remittances.
In her conclusion, the author observes that "participants overall were very way of debt, a trait the general American
population could learn from." She also found "little attempt to access public benefits or otherwise tax the American
Steps to Success: Integrating Immigrant Professionals in the U.S.,
IMPRINT and World Educational Services, 2015, 37 pp.
Authors: Amanda Bergon-Shilcock &
This report provides a "first-of-its-kind" analysis of the experiences of college-educated
immigrants who earned their degrees abroad. The U.S. is home to some 3.7 million such immigrants, many of whom are either
unemployed or underemployed in low-wage jobs. Based on an online survey with 4,002 respondents, as well as an innovative audio
survey of 5,000 immigrant radio listeners, the study drew samples from six cities: Boston, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, San
Jose, and Seattle. The researchers attempted to identify the factors most strongly associated with professional success
in the U.S. They found a "remarkably powerful correlation" between an immigrant's self-reported social network
and the ability to earn a salary of at least $50,000 per year - the measure used to define "earnings success" in
this study. Moreover, English-speaking ability was also strongly predictive of positive integration outcomes, as was the ability
to get formal recognition, whether full or partial, for foreign credentials. Those immigrants who were able to buttress their
foreign degrees with some form of higher education in the United States, even if just "short-term ‘Made in America'
supplements," also did better in the U.S. job market. Finally, the report looks at the characteristics of the immigrant
professional populations in each of the six cities and concludes with a series of recommendations for service providers, funders,
Guide to Immigrant Economic Development
Welcoming America, July, 2015, 92 pp.
Principal Author: Steve Tobocman
to the authors of this guide, the last half-decade has seen a convergence of interest between economic development specialists
and advocates for immigrant integration. Both have come to see that immigrant integration can serve as an engine for economic
development. "Cities that lead in the 21st century," the report contends, "will be those that intentionally
attract and incorporate diverse people and ideas, and create the means for talented people from around the world to not only
come, but to put down roots." The Guide is a compendium of immigrant-focused economic development strategies and model
practices. There are separate chapters on immigrant entrepreneurship, workforce development, initiatives for highly skilled
immigrants, connector programs, home ownership, urban agriculture, export promotion, international student retention, immigrant
investor visas, corporate diversity programs, and general integration services. Within each of these topical areas, the author
assesses the state of the art and identifies different models or approaches to achieve a particular policy goal. For example,
in the entrepreneurship chapter, he identifies four different models to promote immigrant entrepreneurship: the Community
Development Model, as represented by the Neighborhood Development Center of Minneapolis/ St. Paul; the Case Management Model,
as represented by the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians; the Service Integration Model, as exemplified by the Mission
Economic Development Agency of San Francisco; and the Women Entrepreneurship Model, as represented by the Acre Family Child
Care Program in Lowell, MA, which trains women to develop licensed, home-based child care businesses. The chapter on
"connector" programs showcases a program in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that has been replicated in 15 Canadian communities.
Connector programs are similar to mentorship programs, except that the time commitment from volunteers is not as onerous.
The lead author of the report is Steve Tobocman, Director of Global Detroit and a founder of the Welcoming Economies (WE)
Global Network of Welcoming America, a ten-state regional network of local immigrant economic development initiatives.
Share of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers in Production, Construction Jobs Falls Since
Pew Research Center, March 26, 2015, 34 pp.
Authors: Jeffrey S. Passel & D'Vera Cohn
Analyzing data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the Current Population Survey, this report
examines the unauthorized immigrant workforce by occupation and industry, with particular attention to changes since the Great
Recession of 2007. In addition to illuminating national trends, this study also shows occupational and industrial patterns
within 43 states and the District of Columbia. Reflecting changes in the overall U.S. economy since the recession, the study
finds small shifts in the composition of unauthorized workers in the labor market. While unauthorized immigrants in construction
and manufacturing industries fell by 5 percent, those with white-collar or professional jobs grew by 3 percent. Despite these
changes, unauthorized workers remain twice as likely to work in low-skill, low-pay positions as U.S.-born workers and less
than half as likely to work in professional or management jobs. The study also finds that, making up approximately 5.1% of
the U.S. labor force in 2012, unauthorized immigrants are generally overrepresented in blue-collar industries and "account
for a far higher share of the total workforce in specific jobs, notably farming (26 percent), cleaning and maintenance (17
percent), and construction (14 percent)." (Jamie Cross for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Mentoring Practices in Europe and North America: Strategies for Improving Immigrants'
Migration Policy Institute Europe, January, 2015, 74 pp.
Author: Milica Petrovic
Mentoring is a promising strategy to facilitate labor market entry and career success for immigrants. This study examines
mentoring programs on both sides of the Atlantic in an effort to distill the key "ingredients" for effective programs.
The King Baudouin Foundation funded the study out of a concern to reverse the poor labor market outcomes for non-E.U. immigrants
in Belgium. In reviewing the landscape of mentoring programs, the authors provide details on sponsoring organization(s),
targeted populations, numbers served, and results to date. In some cases, programs target immigrants exclusively, e.g. out-of-school
immigrant youth, or highly-skilled immigrants, while in other cases, programs serve a broader population, of which immigrants
may be one component. The "recipe" for effective mentoring programs seems to include the following: government
and private sector support; stable core funding, predicated on the belief that immigrant employment is "beneficial to
everyone;" success in elevating the issue of immigrant employment to a high level public priority and getting all actors
pulling in the same direction; and having clear benchmarks for success and ensuring careful evaluation of all programs.
Policing Wage Theft in the Day Labor Market,
UC Irvine Law Review, 4:2, 2014, 25 pp.
Author: Stephen Lee
recent years, workers' right advocates have pushed for the criminalization of wage theft, i.e. the nonpayment of wages for
work already performed, and convinced a number of state and local governments to pass laws imposing hefty fines and the possibility
of imprisonment for engaging in it. Noting that wage theft is most common in the informal labor market and that many of the
affected workers are undocumented immigrants, the author evaluates the effectiveness of this strategy in an environment in
which the federal government, through programs such as Secure Communities and detention contracts with local governments,
enlists the help of local law enforcement authorities in enforcing immigration laws. Even with the best of intentions,
police departments find it difficult to "insulate" themselves against the pressure to cooperate with federal authorities.
The author concludes that, "the distrust of the police effectively neutralizes the potential of wage theft statutes when
employed against employers who hire unauthorized immigrant workers." Another unintended consequence is that employers,
who themselves are undocumented, may be apprehended and deported, cutting off a source of livelihood for immigrant workers.
He acknowledges, however, that the existing civil regime for enforcing labor law is weak, especially given the challenge of
reaching "into the crevices nestled at the bottom of the economy where much of the nation's day labor work is negotiated
and carried out," the limited resources of the federal government, and the unwillingness of many labor attorneys to take
on these cases given the small sums involved and the contingency fee model under which they operate. One effective approach
might be legislation like the Trust Act recently passed in California. However, further research is needed to determine the
extent to which local police departments can reassure immigrant communities and secure their trust and cooperation.
Rx for Strengthening Massachusetts' Economy and Healthcare System: A Report by the Governor's
Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants, Task force on Immigration Healthcare Professionals in Massachusetts, December, 2014, 53 pp.
Author: Jeffrey Gross
This report examines labor market barriers facing foreign-trained healthcare professionals in Massachusetts and the
U.S. and offers detailed policy and program recommendations to enable these individuals to contribute their talent and training
to address current and future skill shortages in the health care field, particularly in community and primary care settings.
The report was produced with funding from the J.M. Kaplan Fund and The Boston Foundation and utilizes new data from the 2013
National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), conducted every 10 years by the National Science Foundation. The NSCG permits
the disaggregation of college graduates by source of degree (foreign or U.S.), degree field, salary, and relationship of current
occupation to degree field. One of the more striking statistics cited in this report is that foreign-educated nurses in Massachusetts
are over seven times more likely to have a low-skilled job (21 percent) than their U.S.-trained counterpart (3 Percent) -
the highest disparity in all states studied. Noting that many studies project major shortages of nurses, physicians, pharmacists,
physical therapists, and mental health professionals in the years to come, the author observes that programs and policies
to accelerate the reentry of foreign-educated health care professionals will play an important role in addressing these shortages.
The report details efforts that can be undertaken by state governments and other stakeholders in four key areas: improving
informational resources and awareness about career pathways for foreign-trained healthcare professionals; strengthening and
expanding workforce development and educational programs directly serving immigrant professionals; addressing financial and
structural barriers to professional relicensing; and establishing a staff position within state government to coordinate immigrant
integration policy, including policies and programs for foreign-educated professionals.
Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking
in the United States,
Urban Institute and Northeastern University, October, 2014, 287 pp.
Authors: Colleen Owens et al
With funding from the National Institute of Justice (Office of Justice Programs), this study
is the "first of its kind" to examine the organization, operation, and victimization process of labor trafficking
across multiple industries in the U.S. The research is intended to fill the gap in knowledge of labor trafficking, which has
not been studied as extensively as sex trafficking. Data for this study came from a sample of 122 closed labor trafficking
cases handled by service providers in four U.S. cities, as well as 86 interviews with victims, service providers, legal advocates,
and local and federal officials. Most victims entered the U.S. on legal temporary visas and worked in the areas of agriculture,
hospitality, domestic service in private residences, and restaurants. Few formal connections were found between labor trafficking
perpetrators and other criminal networks, such as drug trafficking. The study examines the recruitment process in countries
origin, the process of movement into the United States, the forms of intimidation or threats that traffickers used to keep
victims in exploitive situations, how victims escaped from these situations, and the nature of services received after escape.
Victims experienced document fraud, withholding of documents, extortion, sexual abuse and rape, discrimination, psychological
manipulation and coercion, torture, attempted murder, and violence and threats against victims and their family members. In
addition to these criminal activities, victims also experienced high rates of civil labor exploitation, e.g. being paid less
than minimum wage, being paid less the promised, wage theft, and illegal deductions. The report finds that local law enforcement
authorities did not prioritize prosecution of these cases and had trouble separating labor trafficking from other forms of
labor exploitation and workplace violations. The authors present a series of policy and practice recommendations, including
reforms to state and federal laws, greater public awareness of the problem, specialized training for law enforcement, and
dedicated funding to support civil litigation for trafficking survivors so they can collect back wages and damages.
Demand for H-1B Visas in New England: An Analysis of Employer Requests for Highly Skilled Guest
New England Public Policy Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, October,
2014, 23 pp.
Author: Robert Clifford
This report explains the mechanics of the H-1B
visa program, discusses how the program is utilized in New England and elsewhere, and makes recommendations to revamp the
program so that it garners greater public support and meets the needs of the economy. In recent years, New England accounted
for 7 percent of all H-1 visa requests, exceeding its 5 percent share of national employment, with most demand highly concentrated
in the urban centers of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The report calculates "intensity of demand" for these visas
for all 50 states, with Montana showing the least demand and the New Jersey the greatest. The author also analyzes regional
and national variations in the allocation of H-1 visas by three components of STEM: computer and mathematical, scientists
and engineers, and all other STEM occupations. More than 50 percent of all visas both regionally and nationally were granted
in the first category: computer and mathematical - creating a disproportionate intensity of demand in this field. Data confirms
that the heaviest users of the H-1B visa program are outsourcing or staffing firms, particularly in IT. Two such firms: Infosys
and Wipro requested over 1,000 such visas in New England during the period from 2010 to 2012. Data suggests that employers
utilizing H-1B workers through these firms "would not be doing so in response to regional labor market conditions but
instead to provide a temporary source of labor for shifting work to another location, often overseas." The author suggests
that a more transparent, merit-based system might be more effective in attracting "the best and the brightest...to enable
the United States to compete successfully in global markets..."
Policies to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurship
Migration Policy Institute and Transatlantic Council on Migration, August, 2014, 19 pp.
Maria Vincenza Desiderio
Policymakers around the world are aware of the economic and social benefits of attracting
and supporting immigrant entrepreneurs, who are often more likely than the native-born to start a business and create jobs,
revitalize declining neighborhoods, innovate, and integrate other immigrants into the labor market. At the same time, immigrants
face major obstacles to starting a business due to a lack of language proficiency, professional networks, knowledge of local
business systems, start-up capital, and credit history. In Policies to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Maria
Vincenza Desiderio outlines a variety of policies that seek to remove these obstacles and promote success among immigrant
entrepreneurs. She suggests, for instance, that these policies rely on public-private partnerships to ensure sustainability.
London's own Silicon Valley known as Tech City, for instance, grew out of a private initiative that eventually garnered government
support. By clustering co-working spaces, start-up incubators and business accelerators, the partnership was able to offer
targeted local support for high-tech entrepreneurship. The author also suggests that programs rely on both mainstream (open
to all residents) and targeted (open to immigrants) business-support measures. In the economically disadvantaged German city
of Dortmund, city authorities partnered with banks and the European Union to launch a credit union that facilitates easy access
to credit, tailored counseling and assistance, and mentoring and network-building initiatives. The author concludes that Initiatives
like these ought to be embedded in a broader policy strategy to create an entrepreneurship-friendly environment. (Denzil Mohammed)
Latino Jobs Growth Driven by U.S. Born: Immigrants No Longer the Majority of Hispanic Workers,
Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, June 19, 2014, 9 pp.
Author: Rakesh Kochhar
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, the share of Hispanic immigrant workers has fallen such that, for the
first time since 1995, U.S.-born Latinos make up a majority of Hispanic workers in the United States. According to Rakesh
Kochhar in Latino Jobs Growth Driven by U.S. Born: Immigrants No Longer the Majority of Hispanic Workers, data from
the Current Population Survey showed that, since the recession started in 2007, the growth in the Latino immigrant workforce
slowed significantly while the Latino U.S.-born workforce rapidly expanded. As such, most of the job gains made by Hispanics
during the economic recovery since 2009 went to U.S.-born workers. Kochhar attributes this development both to the bust of
the housing market, which was fueled largely by Hispanic immigrant workers, and to a reduction in the numbers of Hispanic
immigrants entering the country. (Denzil Mohammed)
Closing Economic Windows: How H-1B Visa Denials Cost U.S.-Born Tech Workers Jobs and Wages
During the Great Depression,
Partnership for a New American Economy, June, 2014, 34 pp.
Authors: Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih,
Chad Sparber, & Angie Marek Zeitlin
For the U.S. tech industry to grow, it needs
an adequate supply of high-skilled workers. Given that the U.S. higher education system produces only 51,000 such graduates
annually, technology companies also hire foreign-born workers through the H-1B visa system. The annual cap of 65,000 visas,
however, is too low to meet the need, stymies the growth of U.S. tech companies and hinders job creation for U.S.-born workers
as the companies expand. The cap also affects the communities in which these companies are located as a result of lost taxes
and investments. These are the major findings of Closing Economic Windows: How H-B1 Visa Denials Cost U.S.-Born Tech Workers
Jobs and Wages during the Great Recession. Using estimates from theories on how H-1B visa holders interact with the U.S.
high-skilled workforce, Giovanni Peri et al conclude that rejected H-1B visa applicants prevented U.S. metropolitan areas
from hiring as many as 231,224 U.S.-born workers in 2007-08 and slowed wage growth for workers in computer-related industries.
Consequently, the U.S. tech industry missed an opportunity to grow substantially, which would have quickened the pace of recovery
out of the Great Recession. The authors suggest an urgent need for less restrictive immigration policies so as to ensure greater
economic growth for the U.S. (Denzil Mohammed)
Migrant Labour in the United States: Working Beneath the Floor for Free Labour?
Chapter from Migrants at Work: Immigration and Vulnerability in Labour Law, Oxford University
Press, Forthcoming, June 23, 2014, 20 pp.
Author: Maria Linda Ontiveros
This paper argues that the treatment of migrant labor in the United States violates prohibitions against slavery
and involuntary servitude found in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although undocumented workers are
theoretically covered under federal labor and employment laws, there are two problems that eviscerate their protection under
these laws: First, the Supreme Court's 2002 Hoffman decision denied undocumented workers important remedies under
the law, such as back pay and reinstatement if terminated unfairly. Second, if they participate in union activity or complain
about working conditions, undocumented workers fear that employers will report their status to U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement thus resulting in deportation. Even guest workers who are in the country legally know that employers will retaliate
if they speak out. Moreover, agricultural and domestic workers ae specifically excluded from protection under the National
Labor Relations Act. "By creating a group of legally exploitable workers who, in practice, tend to be racial minorities,"
the United States is "running afoul of the amendment's purpose."
Everybody in the Tent: Lessons from the Grassroots About Labor Organizing, Immigrants, and
Temporary Worker Policies,
Harvard Latino Law Review, 2014, Forthcoming, UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 382, May 16,
2014, 35 pp.
Author: Leticia M. Saucedo
This paper seeks to understand why
the labor movement experiences difficulties in organizing immigrants. The author compares and contrasts the views of academics,
labor leaders, and immigrant workers themselves on the question. She draws on a series of interviews and focus groups
with over 100 construction workers, union leaders, organizers, and union members in the residential construction industry
in Las Vegas, most of whom are undocumented. Many of these workers have an "endure or leave" philosophy, priding
themselves on their ability to tolerate working conditions that others would find intolerable. Many also aspire to become
subcontractors themselves, after saving enough money to buy tools and accumulate some capital, or to become labor brokers,
or contratistas . With regard to the benefits of organizing, the workers didn't have negative views of labor
unions, only a "void in knowledge" as to how labor unions might improve their lot. The paper gives examples of how
this void can be filled and how unions can conduct successful organizing drives among immigrants. The author finds fault
with recent policy positions of the AFL-CIO on immigration reform (calling them "glimmers of the restrictionist position
of the past"). By supporting a provision in the Senate's immigration bill that creates an annual cap of 15,000 seasonal
construction workers (the W visa program), the AFL-CIO "signals the labor movement's concession to the seasonal nature
of construction work." According to the author, allowing W visas in construction will interfere with organizing
efforts "especially if there is no counterbalancing set of provisions making it easier for unions to organize temporary
workers..." She goes so far as to suggest that the AFL-CIO should "jettison immigration proposals based on
the historic narrative that certain jobs must be protected for the American worker."
Immigrants and Retirement Resources
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 1, 2014
Authors: Purvi Sevak & Lucie Schmidt
In Immigrants and Retirement Resources, the authors examine data from the Health and Retirement Study, as
well as restricted access earnings information from the Social Security Administration, to compare retirement resources
of immigrants and natives. The researchers find that working-age immigrants have lower predicted and actual Social Security
benefits than natives largely due to fewer years spent working in Social Security-covered employment. The report also examines
the other two components of the so-called "three-legged stool" of retirement resources: pensions and savings. Married
male immigrants, for example, have an 11 percentage point lower probability than their native-born counterparts of reporting
that they have a pension -- a gap that shrinks, however, the longer the immigrant has lived in the country. The report
also reveals that immigrants have higher net worth than the native-born when controlling for age, education, and self-related
health. The authors then explore whether this "private wealth accumulation" is sufficient to offset the shortfalls
in pension and social security income. The report concludes that "immigrants might be more prepared for retirement
than previously indicated in the literature, compensating for lower Social Security benefits with higher private savings."
However, those who migrated to the U.S. at older ages might be at a significant disadvantage. (Denzil
How do E-Verify Mandates Affect Unauthorized Immigrant Workers?
Institute for the Study of Labor, February, 2014, 27 pp.
Authors: Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny
Several studies have looked at the effects of the E-Verify program, which requires employers
in the 19 states that have mandated the program (to all employers in 8 states and to public sector workers or contractors
in the others) to verify a worker's eligibility to work in the U.S. legally by checking a database of authorized workers maintained
by the federal government. These studies have variously found that the program's implementation leads to shifts in labor across
industries, decreases in the overall employment rate, and a decrease in the overall population of unauthorized Hispanics.
This report, based on data from the Current Population Survey, shows that E-Verify mandates are largely successful in worsening
labor market outcomes among unauthorized immigrants. It reduces average hourly earnings among male unauthorized Mexican immigrants
while increasing labor force participation and employment among female unauthorized Mexican immigrants, who may be compelled
to work when their husband's earnings decline. Overall, this may increase poverty and social assistance needs among these
workers. Furthermore, while the report finds that E-Verify might lead to better labor market outcomes among some groups of
workers who are likely to compete with unauthorized immigrants such as naturalized citizens born in Mexico or U.S.-born Hispanic
men, it does not show positive or negative effects on non-Hispanic White men or women. (Denzil Mohammed)
Fatal Inequality: Workplace Safety Eludes Construction Workers of Color in New York State,
The Center for Popular Democracy, October, 2013, 14 pp.
OSHA investigations of construction site accidents in New York State from 2003 to 2011 involving a fatal fall from an elevation,
this report finds that 60 percent of accidents in New York State (and 74 percent in New York City) involved Latinos and/or
immigrants, even though these groups comprised only 34 percent of the population in the state. Most Latinos and immigrants
work for non-Union contractors, who routinely flout OSHA safety regulations. The report faults OSHA for failing to conduct
a sufficient number of worksite inspections due to understaffing and for failing to impose monetary penalties that would compel
employers to abide by workplace safety rules. "When OSHA does inspect a construction site, the monetary penalties imposed
for violations are so small that employers can see them as just an incidental cost of doing business." Moreover, "OSHA
almost never pursues criminal penalties...Since 1970, there have been almost 400,000 worker deaths and liable parties have
served only 89 months in jail." The report cautions New York State not to water down its "Scaffold Law," which
fills in some of the gaps in federal legislation by holding owners and contractors fully liable if a worker is injured or
killed on the job because of safety violations.
Day Labor, Worker Centers & Disaster Relief Work in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,
City University of New York, Baruch College, School of Public Affairs,
October 30, 2013, 17 pp.
Authors: Hector Cordero-Guzman, Elizabeth Pantaleon, & Martha Chavez
According to this study by researchers at the City University of New York, Hurricane Sandy revealed the important
role played by day laborers in disaster response, as they engaged in critical post-disaster tasks, such as debris removal,
general clean-up, demolition work, yard maintenance, tree removal, and basement remodeling. Working for contractors or directly
for homeowners, day laborers stepped in to fill an important labor void, exposed themselves to great hazards and risks, and
speeded the overall recovery effort. The authors point out that the network of worker centers in New York City and New
Jersey functioned as important "labor market intermediaries," allowing day laborers to be incorporated into the
informal economy. The researchers conducted interviews with staff members at these centers and organized three focus
groups with day laborers themselves. Some day laborers experienced wage theft, especially those who were hired on corners,
rather than at worker centers. An "overwhelming majority, 91% of respondents, said that they had seen or heard of workers
being exposed to hazardous materials," including mold, contaminated water, unstable structures, toxic substances, and
chemicals at industrial sites. Some laborers reported work-related accidents. Based on their findings, the authors make a
number of recommendations, including "dedicat(ing) specific resources from government agencies such as OSHA, the USDOL
Wage and Hour division and other enforcement agencies to addressing the conditions faced by day laborers," enlisting
experienced day laborers to provide training to other day laborers in advance of any disaster, and expanding the network of
day Laborer centers in New York City through the provision of local funding. The authors conclude that "Any disaster
planning that does not incorporate the role of worker centers, day laborers and other low wage construction workers into their
plan rather than being proper disaster planning is more a disaster of a plan."
Skilled Immigrants in the Global Economy: Prospects for International Cooperation on Recognition
of Foreign Qualifications,
Migration Policy Institute, December, 2013, 25 pp.
Authors: Madeleine Sumption, Demetrios G. Papademetriou,
& Sarah Flamm
This paper looks at the present and future of mutual recognition agreements
(MRAs), i.e. agreements between governments and/or professional licensing authorities to recognize training and experience acquired
in foreign countries. The authors lament the antiquated nature of professional licensing arrangements in most countries
and observe that, "Limiting the right to practice professions to single jurisdictions multiplies inefficiencies when
the economies in which regulated professionals operate have become global." Most current agreements are presently confined
to corridors of commerce within the developed world, such as France and the Province of Quebec, Australia and New Zealand,
and the European Union and Canada. The authors point out that the challenges of negotiating such agreements are formidable,
especially when sub-national authorities are involved, when private professional associations control entry into a particular
profession, and when some licensing authorities do not even recognize certification granted by fellow citizens in different
geographic jurisdictions, i.e. other states in the U.S. The authors describe several types of MRAs, including
automatic recognition (the "gold standard" of MRAs), partial recognition (when credit is given for home-country
qualifications but additional testing, training, or supervised work experience are required), limited-scope recognition (allowing
professional practice in limited areas), and temporary access (allowing people to practice for short periods while they satisfy
requirements in the new jurisdiction). The authors suggest that new MRAs might be more easily negotiated in the context
of free trade agreements, such as the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the U.S.
They also suggest that visa regulations need to be reformed to permit freer movement of professionals between countries; otherwise,
MRAs will be underutilized.
Maximizing Human Capital in a Rapidly Evolving Economic Landscape: Council Statement,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Transatlantic Council on Migration, November, 2013, 8 pp.
Demetrios G. Papademetriou
This statement grew out of discussions at the Council's ninth
plenary meeting held in Madrid in December of 2012. (MPI has separately published many of the papers commissioned for
this meeting) . The meeting sought to achieve consensus on two broad areas: "Growing Skills" and "Using Skills."
In the first area, the Council "focused on what can be done to adapt mainstream workforce development services so that
migrants' special needs are taken into account without specifically targeting these services to migrants" and
produced three broad recommendations: expand entry points into the system, provide better navigation assistance, and
link training to employer needs. In addressing the needs of higher-skilled immigrants, the Council recommended three
important steps: facilitate early entry into meaningful work that takes advantage of immigrant professional training;
pressure regulators to make qualification assessments more flexible and transparent; and provide hands-on assistance to help
immigrants navigate complex systems. According to the Council, attention to how immigrants interact with workforce development
and regulatory systems is crucial because "national self-sufficiency in nurturing the right skills and talent, and in
finding workers willing to perform the most in-demand jobs, is a thing of the past."
Maximizing Potential: How Countries Can Address Skills Deficits Within the Immigrant
Migration Policy Institute, October, 2013, 22 pp.
Author: Meghan Benton
This is the first in a series of four reports discussing the challenges facing policy makers and practitioners seeking
to address skill deficits within the immigrant workforce in both the European Union and North America. Unlike the other
three reports -- case studies of Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom -- this report is an overview of the issues facing
training and workforce systems in different national settings. The author begins by calling attention to the disincentives
to address these challenges on the part of policy makers, service providers, employers, and migrants themselves. For example,
policy makers may worry about the political risks associated with targeted investments in the immigrant population, especially
if the per-capita costs associated with such investments are greater than the costs incurred by the native-born population.
Service providers, under pressure to get their clients into work as quickly as possible -- and perhaps less concerned with
the quality of work than with its availability "at entry level" -- may bristle at the time it takes to prepare immigrants
for work commensurate with their potential. The author notes that policy interventions fall into "two main camps:
targeted programs that are often classified as integration policy, and mainstream programs that form components of broader
workforce development systems." She adds that "the appropriate mix of these two approaches continues to be hotly
debated in Europe and beyond..." The balance of the report describes and assesses the various approaches. She concludes
by articulating five principles of good practice: first, adopt a flexible and calibrated approach; second, fund innovative
research that assesses different labor market outcomes over longer time periods; third, consider "add-ons" to current
systems in the form of mentoring and navigation support, or extended time with service providers; fourth, reduce opportunity
costs by fitting training around migrant work and other commitments; and fifth, adapt mainstream systems to accommodate
Tackling Brain Waste: Strategies to Improve the Recognition of Immigrants' Foreign Qualifications,
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2013, 19 pp.
Author: Madeleine Sumption Maximizing the skills and experiences of foreign-trained professionals is a formidable challenge for many immigrant-receiving
countries. This report is a "state of the art" review of policy initiatives to address this challenge. According
to the report, a host of issues arise when workers cross borders including language differences, licensing hurdles, differences
in education and training, discrimination on the basis of race or nationality, and navigating complex government and accreditation
processes. By first examining how foreign credentials are currently assessed, the report provides examples of "cooperative
policies and mutual recognition agreements" that show some promise of success. These include the EU Professional Qualifications
Directive, which reduces member state regulatory discretion in rejecting applications. The authors then suggest ways in which
governments can develop policies to speed the integration of skilled immigrants. These include providing more information
both on credentials and government processes to employers and immigrants, offering training opportunities to fill skills gaps
including language and culture, working with regulators to simplify job requirements, and screening for credentials at time
of entry to better place foreign workers in suitable job positions. However, the author also observes that "much more
detailed evidence is needed on the costs and benefits of the range of possible interventions." (Denzil Mohammed)
Verification Nation: How E-Verify Affects America's Workers,
National Immigration Law Center, August, 2013, 19 pp.
Authors: Josh Stehlik, Emily Tulli, &
Every major immigration reform proposal being considered by Congress
in 2013 includes a requirement that employers use the electronic employment eligibility verification system known as E-Verify
to determine employee work authorization. This report examines the recently released Evaluation of the Accuracy of E-Verify Findings against case studies and prior research on E-Verify to conclude that such a system would result in a host of deleterious
consequences. These include job loss, workplace discrimination and intimidation, an undermining of employment standards and
worker rights, technological obstacles with the massive increase in its use, and employer abuse of the system. For instance,
given the estimated 0.3 percent error rate of the system currently being used by seven percent of employers, the authors conclude
that up to a half-million eligible workers including U.S. citizens could be flagged as "unauthorized" by the E-Verify
system without a straightforward procedure for such errors to be corrected. In one example, a Minnesota woman who had been
a U.S. citizen for two decades was fired because of an E-Verify error and her efforts to have the error corrected were futile.
The authors recommend amending proposed legislation on E-Verify to include a formal review process for workers to have errors
rectified, penalties for employer abuse of the system, and a pathway to citizenship to protect workers' rights and to reduce
E-Verify's negative impacts (Denzil Mohammed).
Exploitation Creep and the Unmaking of Human Trafficking Law,
American University, Washington College of Law Research Paper, August
24, 2013, 69 pp.
Author: Janie A. Chuang
Janie A. Chung examines the history of the anti-trafficking
movement since the adoption of the U.N. Anti-Trafficking Protocol in 2000. Noting that the anti-trafficking field
has been a "strikingly rigor-free zone" when it comes to defining the concept of "trafficking," the author
also contends that the movement has been under the "grip of a criminal justice paradigm," which has "absolve(d)
the state (and its corporate partners) of responsibility for maintaining labor and migration structures that render those
at the bottom of the global labor market hierarchy vulnerable to trafficking." One reason for the dominance
of this paradigm has been the tendency to conflate all exploitation with trafficking, and all trafficking with "slavery."
These conceptual "creeps," as she calls them, particularly the last one, "re-entrenches the dominant criminal
justice paradigm by locating the harm of trafficking in individual deviant actors," not in systems or institutions. "The
over-prioritization of aggressive criminal justice," she asserts, has "rendered the welfare of trafficked persons
a secondary concern." Moreover, without addressing the underlying vulnerabilities to trafficking, such as the failure
to afford rights to those working in low-wage sectors of the economy, the goal of eradicating trafficking will remain elusive.
Attracting and Selecting from the Global Talent Pool - Policy Challenges,
Migration Policy Institute and Bertelsmann Stiftung, September, 2013, 16 pp.
Demetrios G. Papademetriou & Madeleine Sumption
This paper calls
attention to the policy implications of the growing demand for human capital investment and high quality education both in
developed and developing countries. The "enormous" growth of the "global talent pool" is matched by surging
demand for high skilled labor both in emerging and developed economies. Governments face two interrelated challenges: first,
attracting high-skilled migrants to their countries; and second, ensuring that those migrants successfully integrate into
society. The paper offers a schematic showing the factors the influence a migrant's decision to relocate to another country,
and distinguishing between "first-order variables," such as capital infrastructure and the presence of critical
masses of other talented professionals, and "second-order variables," such as a welcoming society and a "fair
and generous social model." The authors also emphasize the importance of "the immigration package," i.e. the
soundness, reliability, and transparency of the rules permitting migrants and their families to progress to permanent residence
and economic integration. Examples of such rules include: allowing spouses to work during the provisional period of
residence and establishing credential recognition systems for those working in regulated professions. The final section
of the paper discusses how countries can "admit the ‘right' people from the pool of prospective immigrants...."
The authors discuss the relative advantages of point-based vs employer-based systems and find greater promise in hybrid approaches.
The authors also caution against overly-generous immigration opportunities for foreign students for fear that the educational
levels of such students will diminish over time through the spread of "diploma mills."
Recognizing Foreign Qualifications: Emerging Global Trends
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), July, 2013, 17 pp.
Produced with the financial support of the European Union, this report is the third in a series of
MPI reports examining credential recognition issues in migrant-receiving countries. Noting that "the scale of skilled
migration has grown phenomenally in the past two decades," the author reviews the forces that are propelling this change,
including skill shortages in many countries, a trend toward privileging skilled immigrants in country admission policies,
and the desire of transnational employers to have greater flexibility in transferring workers around the world. The
report reviews a number of new approaches to recognizing professional qualifications, including Australia's Fast-Track Medical
Registration Program, which recognizes the quality and equivalence of medical screening procedures in other countries; international
agreements governing the reciprocal recognition of engineering qualifications; and the emergence of the Association of Chartered
Certified Accountants (ACCA) as a private, international training and accrediting body for accountants. The author also describes
the work of a global umbrella body, called the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO),
in certifying geologists to work as "competent persons" in assessing the value of global mineral discoveries. These
ground-breaking efforts show "an evolving way forward, beyond the 19th-century regulatory structures that
still prevail in many immigrant-destination countries."
Skills, Professional Regulation, and International Mobility in the Engineering Workforce,
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2013, 31 pp.
Author: Matthew DixonThis report describes efforts by trans-national engineering associations to reduce barriers
to the international mobility of engineering professionals. Two initiatives, in particular, receive focused attention in the
report: first, the work of the European Federation of National Engineering Associations, which certifies engineering degrees
offered by institutions of higher education in EU member states and maintains a European index of qualified engineers; and
second, the International Engineering Alliance (IEA), a grouping of 19 national degree-accrediting or practice-regulating
bodies, which performs similar services in a non-European context. More than 6,000 engineering programs have been accredited
under the IEA, but fewer than 5,000 individuals have been registered, compared to 30,000 members on the European list. According
to the author, there is no data on the role played by these agreements in facilitating international migration. Nor
can the existence of these efforts by non-governmental professional associations guarantee that governmental authorities won't
deny recognition to foreign-trained engineers. The problem is especially complex and challenging in the U.S. where state governments
are empowered to grant professional licenses. The author observes that the upsurge in the "virtual mobility"
of analytical and expert services might "'call the bluff' of the regulators - bypassing regulatory constraints that cannot
really be justified."
Disposable Workers: Applying a Human Rights Framework to Analyze Duties Owed to Seriously Injured
or Ill Migrants
Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Winter, 2012,
A. NesselThe author seeks to contextualize the practice of medical repatriation,
i.e. the private deportation by hospitals of seriously ill or injured immigrants lacking health insurance to their home countries.
According to the author, this "inhumane approach" seems to flourish in a social environment that is hostile to workers
performing low-wage and often hazardous work. Repatriation is symptomatic of a trend toward the privatization of immigrant
enforcement, which acts to shield the government from liability for human rights violations and provides cover for hospitals
to act with impunity. The author shows how U.S. obligations under a variety of international human rights treaties covering
the right to life, due process in expulsion, health, freedom from discrimination, and family integrity, are being ignored.
She refers to "a well-established principle under international human rights law that a state cannot insulate itself
from liability for human rights abuses by stepping back and allowing private actors to violate an individual's human rights."
The essay discusses various strategies to reform "a legal regime that treats migrant labor as disposable," including
ratification of the Migrant Worker Convention, making health care coverage truly universal, creating additional visa categories
to allow undocumented immigrants who have been injured at work to qualify for lawful immigration status, and undertaking a
"broader examination of all of the interconnected factors that lead to migration and make migrants vulnerable to human
trafficking or exploitation."
Credential Recognition in the United States for Foreign Professionals,
Migration Policy Institute, May, 2013, 17 pp.
Author: Linda Rabben
The movement of labor, especially high-skilled workers, across U.S. borders is often stymied by the
lack of recognition of foreign qualifications and outdated recertification procedures. As a result, more than 1.6 million
college-educated immigrants in the United States were underemployed or unemployed as of 2011. The Migration Policy Institute
brings this issue to light in Credential Recognition in the United States for Foreign Professionals. The report is
the first in a series of European Union-funded studies exploring how governments can improve the credential recognition process
through domestic policy changes and international cooperation. While credential recognition reform is currently on the EU
agenda, little is being done on the federal level in the U.S. The author examines the credential recognition process
in the U.S., with special attention to medical professionals and engineers. Barriers to practice are particularly daunting
in the medical profession. The author reviews efforts that have been undertaken, often on a small scale, to surmount barriers
to recertification, but notes that health care reform creates a special urgency to achieve systemic reform. Although some
states such as New York, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are taking steps to improve the credential-recognition
process, the federal government can play a vital role in setting common goals, bringing stakeholders together, and targeting
resources to achieve significant change. (Denzil Mohammed)
A Look at Skilled Immigrant Workers in the U.S.,
Upwardly Global, April, 2013, 4 pp.The
thesis of this report is that when foreign-educated skilled immigrants are able to fill jobs commensurate with their qualifications
and experience, everyone gains. Examining 500 of its clients from 2010 and 2011, Upwardly Global - a nonprofit organization
that specializes in serving foreign-educated professionals -- found that the employment rate increased from 20 to 85 percent
and that the average salary increased by 900 percent (121 percent for those who had been employed at the start of the study).
Upwardly Global further calculated that nearly 700 additional indirect and induced jobs, about 1.4 jobs per participant, were
created. As a result, these new jobs would have led to a $1.8-million increase in annual federal income tax revenue and around
a $16 million increase in annual consumer spending. Upwardly Global estimates a Return on Investment of between 292 percent
and 311 percent for the costs it incurred in serving these clients. The findings suggest the benefit of "invest(ing)
in the support necessary to facilitate skilled immigrants' integration into the country's economic fabric..." (Denzil
Screening for Solidarity,
University of Chicago Law Review, 2013, 36 pp.
Author: Stephen Lee
In determining how to use its enforcement resources, the federal government has largely relied on the concept of
"undesirability," i.e. certain people such as criminals and potential terrorists should be screened and removed.
Believing that removing 8 million unauthorized workers would be both politically unpalatable and administratively infeasible,
the author of this paper argues that the government should also develop criteria for identifying "desirable" workers
from the pool of unauthorized workers. One important criterion to use in making such a selection would be the potential
of the immigrant to integrate into the larger society. When unauthorized workers show "solidarity" with their
native-born and authorized, foreign-born co-workers, by filing non-frivolous complaints against unscrupulous employers, their
commitment to improved working conditions merits consideration for preferential treatment by the government. The Obama
administration has already redesigned immigration enforcement "to allow the assertion of labor rights to slow, and in
some cases, to halt altogether the removal process." The next step, according to the author, would be to grant
permanent residence for such acts of solidarity. The author also suggests ways in which such a policy might be implemented,
including giving labor unions sponsorship authority, similar to the authority vested in employers to file labor certifications.
Legal Immigration Policies for Low-Skilled Foreign Workers,
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), April, 2013, 12 pp.
Authors: Madeleine Sumption
& Demetrios G. Papademetriou
In this policy brief, MPI lays out the concerns that policymakers must consider in drafting more
effective work-based visa program. The report notes that current policies for low-skilled work-based visas are restrictive
and out of touch with labor demands: there is an annual cap of 66,000 seasonal, non-agricultural worker visas lasting up to
1 year (H-2B) and permanent work-based visas are capped at just 5,000 annually. As a result, some employers continue to recruit
unauthorized workers, resulting in a burgeoning of the undocumented population in the 1990s and 2000s. Along with the current
thrust towards bipartisan agreement on comprehensive immigration reform, a recent accord between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
and labor unions on a new work-based visa category "W" augurs well for more realistic immigration policies. These
include making work-based visas "portable," i.e. permitting workers to move on to other employers; addressing violations
of labor standards; and allowing some visas to be convertible to permanent residence. Addressing these concerns, the policy
brief suggests, would allow for a more humane visa program that better reflects economic realities and safeguards both native-born
and foreign-born workers. (Denzil Mohammed)
The End of Farm Labor Abundance,
Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, November, 2012, 12 pp.
Authors: J. Edward
Taylor, Diane Charlton & Antonio Yunez-Naude
This paper predicts an
end to American agriculture's historic reliance on Mexican farm labor. Not only is the fertility rate of the Mexican population
sharply declining, but the percentage of Mexicans working in agriculture is also declining. As the Mexican economy generates
opportunities in non-farm employment, and as the Mexican agriculture sector itself booms, fewer Mexicans will want to cross
the border, either legally or illegally, to work on American farms. The authors see little likelihood of finding alternate
sources of farm labor, mainly because countries in Central America like Guatemala and El Salvador have small populations compared
to Mexico. "Since U.S. domestic workers are unwilling to do farm work and the United States can feasibly import
farm workers from only a few countries in close geographic proximity, the agricultural industry will eventually need to adjust
production to use less labor."
Workers' Rights on ICE: How Immigration Reform Can Stop Retaliation and Advance Labor Rights,
National Employment Law Project, February, 2013, 34 pp.
Authors: Rebecca Smith
& Eunice Hyunhye Cho
Providing many examples of how employers use
the threat of reporting immigration violations to thwart union organizing campaigns and prevent the filing of workplace abuse
complaints, this report suggests that all workers in low-wage industries, both immigrant and native-born, suffer as a result.
The authors detail the strategies used by employers to evade responsibility under fair labor legislation, including I-9 "self-audits"
and bringing "new players to the retaliation game" by involving local police in immigrant enforcement. The report
suggests that the mandatory use of E-Verify "will provide employers added incentive to erroneously call their workers
independent contractors or simply pay them ‘off the books' in order to skirt their E-Verify obligations. The Congressional
Budget Office estimates tax losses at over $17.3 billion." The authors offer a number of recommendations to address these
problems, including providing 8 million workers with a pathway to citizenship; updating and codifying Operation Instruction
287.3(a) to create a "firewall" between immigration and labor enforcement; restoring equal remedies, including back
pay, to undocumented workers subject to illegal working conditions; modifying U visa provisions to ensure its availability
to employees confronting criminal employer retaliation; and ensuring that no deportations result from a labor dispute.
Designing Temporary Worker Programs,
University of Chicago Law Review, February, 2013, 26 pp.
Author: Hiroshi Motomura
This paper describes four perspectives on guest worker programs, each of
which may lead to differing policy conclusions. The author suggests that effective programs must somehow harmonize these various
perspectives, in order to move from "political impasses" to "sound compromises." The first perspective
sees temporary worker programs exclusively in economic terms; the second views such programs as a solution to the problem
of unauthorized migration; the third looks at their positive impact at international economic development; and the final perspective
worries about the existence of a class of people denied the full rights of membership in a democratic society. To reconcile
these different viewpoints, the author argues that these programs must include "some kind of path to belonging,"
however complex that task may be. In this context, she sees birthright citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment as a "backstop
against the marginialization caused by barriers between temporary workers and citizenship."
How to Make Guest Worker Visas Work
Cato Institute, January 31, 2013, 17 pp.
Author: Alex Nowrasteh
This paper begins with a review of guest worker programs dating back to the BraceroProgram
of World War II. According to the author, a major flaw in all such programs has been the excessive amount of governmental
regulation that interfered with the efficient flow of workers to and from the United States and in a perverse way, led to
the growth of illegal migration and the underground economy. The author recommends four major steps to address this problem:
first, the elimination of numerical quotas in all visa categories in order to allow the number of workers "to expand
and contract on the basis of ebbs and flows of the market;" second, making the length of visas variable and extendable
so that employers can take advantage of the experience and accumulated skills of guest workers; third, allowing guest workers
to switch employers without penalty; and fourth, using bonds and returnable payroll deductions to incentivize guest workers
to return to their countries. In short, Congress should not repeat the mistake of the 1986 immigration Act, which failed to
create a "large and flexible guest worker program...to stanch unauthorized immigration and grow our economy."
Increasing Pathways to Legal Status for Immigrant In-Home Care Workers,
Institute for Women's Policy Research & Caring Across Generations, February, 2013,
Authors: Cynthia Hess & Jane Henrici
Noting that immigrants
currently make up 28 percent of the in-home health workforce and that 90 percent of these workers are women, this report calls
for fundamental changes in U.S. immigration law to accommodate the growing demand for workers in the personal care and in-home
care industries. The large number of undocumented workers in these industries speaks to the absence of legal avenues for foreign
workers to migrate to the United States. Legal status, both for current and future workers, will address the challenge of
low wages and poor working conditions resulting in improved quality of in-home health care for American's growing elderly
population. The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) proposes four possible ways to improve job quality and
increase pathways to legal status. First, legalize undocumented care workers who currently reside in the U.S. and complete
specified job training requirements within a certain time frame. Second, develop a new temporary visa for women or men
abroad who plan to work in the U.S. in-home care industry. Third, implement a provisional visa that allows care workers
from abroad would be able to enter the country with a temporary visa, eventually transitioning to permanent legal status after
three years of permanent or year-round jobs. Finally, create a hybrid model in which the federal government uses a point
system to assess and addresses each state's labor shortages. In doing so, states would share authority with the federal
government to determine the number of visas given based on the number of skilled workers needed in that region. These
steps would go a long way to reverse "society's tendency to undervalue care work" and ensure the provision of quality,
long-term care to the aging population. (Lorin Mordecai)
The American Dream Up for Sale: A Blueprint for Ending International Labor Recruitment
The International Labor Recruitment Working Group, February, 2013, 49 pp. + notes
This report details the problems, inefficiencies and abuses suffered by internationally
recruited workers in the "dizzying array" of U.S. temporary work visa categories. It also provides comprehensive
recommendations for reforming these critical areas of U.S. foreign labor policy. Among the 18 organizations comprising the
report's publisher, the International Labor Recruitment Working Group, are the AFL-CIO, Centro de Derechos del Migrante, Global
Workers Justice Alliance, and the Alliance for Ethical Recruitment. The working group finds that internationally recruited
workers, in all visa categories and wage levels, face recruitment abuse such as fraud, discrimination, economic coercion,
retaliation, blacklisting and forced labor; and in some cases, indentured servitude; debt bondage; and human trafficking.
It also finds that disparate rules and requirements for workers, employers and recruiters together with lax enforcement of
regulations allow and perhaps even incentivize recruiters and employers to engage in such abuses. The bulk of the report,
therefore, makes recommendations on eight major issues that, if implemented, could repair the "systemic" problems
that plague these programs. These include freedom from economic coercion, freedom of movement, employer accountability, access
to justice, and the right to receive a contract with fair terms and to give informed consent. (Denzil Mohammed)
Taken for A Ride: Migrant Workers in the U.S. Fair and Carnival Industry,
American University, Washington College of Law & Centro de los Derechos del Migrante,
2013, 88 pp.
The H-2B allows for the temporary admission of workers to the U.S. to complete
seasonal, non-agricultural worker when U.S. workers are unavailable or unwilling to fill those jobs. With approximately 5,000
workers, fair and amusement park workers constitute the third largest group of H-2B visa-holders, after positions in landscaping
and forestry. These workers are responsible for assembling, operating, and dismantling carnival rides. The carnival
industry's growing reliance on H-2B workers coincides with the consolidation of the industry from mom-and-pop businesses into
larger national corporations. Based on interviews with H-2B workers in Maryland, Virginia, and Mexico, the report finds serious
and widespread abuses including "deceptive recruitment practices and high pre-employment fees and costs; wage theft;
lack of access to legal and medical assistance; substandard housing; and unsafe working conditions." Efforts by the Obama
administration to tighten up on regulation of the industry have been met with resistance by trade groups who have filed suit
to block implementation. The report urges actions by Congress and the federal Department of Labor to stem the growing
tide of abuses in the industry.
Recruitment Revealed: Fundamental Flaws in the H-2 Temporary Worker Program and Recommendations
Centro de los Derechos Del Migrante (Center for Migrant Rights), January, 2013, 32 pp.
Despite the more than 100,000 temporary immigrant workers recruited annually and the centrality of the guest-worker
program to proposed immigration reform, there is minimal transparency in the recruitment, treatment and financing of these
"guest workers." Based on 220 interviews with workers, formal information requests to the U.S. and Mexican governments,
and organizational surveys, this report reveals the hidden reality of international labor recruitment for low-wage, temporary
jobs in the U.S., with special attention to Mexico, home to the largest number of temporary migrants. Recruitment
Revealed concludes that "temporary workers are routinely subjected to fraud, charged illegal fees, and threatened,
intimidated and mistreated by recruiters and employers." It finds that guest workers suffer financial hardships through
illegal recruitment fees by employers, recruiters and agents, who also fail to reimburse visa, travel and recruitment-related
expenses. Employers, recruiters and their agents often misrepresent the terms of employment. Workers consequently arrive in
the U.S. already in debt and migrant communities suffer economic harm. The authors conclude that the H-2 guest-worker program
must be overhauled in order to protect workers from recruitment abuse, and they make a series of recommendations, including
new legislation holding employers liable for all recruitment fees charged to workers, the extension of federally funded legal
services to all H-2 workers, and the amendment of anti-discrimination laws to cover guest workers. (Denzil
A Labor Paradigm for Human Trafficking,
UCLA Law Review, November 6, 2012, 60 pp.
Author: Hila Shamir
This paper urges a shift from a "human rights approach" to a "labor approach" as a more
effective way to combat human trafficking. The author finds two aspects of current trafficking policies to be especially
problematic: first, the emphasis on sex trafficking (the trafficking of women and girls into the sex industry for the
purpose of prostitution) to the neglect of other labor markets prone to exploitive labor practices; and second, the dominance
of a border control and crime control framework, which obscures the needs of trafficking victims. The current human
rights approach also fails to provide help and empowerment to the great majority of victims. In 2012, fewer than 43,000
trafficking victims were identified out of an estimated 2.4 million world-wide. Moreover, the current approach helps
victims after being exploited instead of improving or preventing the conditions that lead to trafficking. According
to the author, the current approach is not only "acutely limited in its reach but in fact may also be harmful in that
it has created the illusion that the international community is taking action against severe forms of exploitation, when in
reality, little is being done to address the underlying causes." A labor approach would not only shift the focus to power
disparities between victims and traffickers but it would also address the economic and social issues that increase vulnerability
to trafficking. To implement the labor approach, the author recommends five strategies: ensure that vulnerable workers
have access to the justice system without fear of deportation or criminalization; ensure that the applicable visa regime does
not assign workers to one specific employer in a binding agreement; regulate against work contracts structured around large
debt; extend the application of protective employment law to sectors subject to trafficking; and guarantee the right to unionize
for vulnerable workers. (Lorin Mordecai)
Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work,
National Domestic Workers Alliance, Center for Urban Economic Development, University of Illinois
at Chicago, DataCenter, 2012, 53 pp.
Described as "the first large-scale, national survey of domestic workers
in the US," this report documents widespread mistreatment of domestic workers - nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers.
The number of these workers employed in private households and directly paid by their employers grew from 666,435 in 2004
to 726,437 in 2010, an increase of almost 10 percent. According to the American Community Survey, the overwhelming majority
(95 percent) are women, over half (54 percent) are from minority groups, and almost half (46 percent) are foreign-born. Noting
that "household labor, paid and unpaid, is...the work that makes all other work possible," and that such labor "carries
the long legacy of the devaluation of women's work in the household," as well as traditions dating back to slavery that
exclude household labor from coverage under worker rights and safety legislation, the authors attempt to quantify the conditions
and abuses faced by this group of workers. Between June 2011 and February 2012, the researchers, using a team of community-based
surveyors, did face-to-face interviews in nine different languages with 2,086 domestic workers in 14 metropolitan areas. They
also gleaned insights from 29 focus groups and 52 testimonies from members of domestic worker organizations. The findings
paint a bleak picture of the situation facing these workers. For example, 70 percent are paid less than $13 an hour, fewer
than 2 percent of domestic workers receive retirement or pension benefits, 60 percent spend more than half of their income
on rent or mortgage payments, and 38 percent suffered from work-related wrist, shoulder, elbow, or hip pain during the prior
12 months. The authors offer a set of recommendations that could transform the working conditions of domestic workers,
including eliminating the exclusion of domestic workers from employment and labor laws, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented
workers, and "bold solutions" to the challenges facing families with caregiving responsibilities. We need
to recognize that "household labor is a lynchpin connecting the economics of the home and the economics of the workplace."
Mal-Employment Problems among College-Educated Immigrants in the United States,
Center for Labor Markets and Policy, Drexel University, October, 2012¸ 22 pp.
Neeta P. Fogg & Paul E. Harrington
This is the fifth in a series of five research
papers examining labor force underutilization problems experienced by college-educated immigrants. Mal-employment occurs when
people are working in occupations that do not utilize the knowledge and skills gained through a college education. Unlike
unemployment numbers, mal-employment is not usually captured in official government statistics. In probing this topic, the
researchers used data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates which profiled 100,400 people who held bachelor's
degrees or higher at the time of the 2000 census. They found that 26 percent of all immigrants with college degrees
were mal-employed. However, the rate was twice as high (36 percent vs 18 percent) for immigrants with college degrees earned
abroad. And among this group, rates exceeded 40 percent for immigrants from the Philippines (50 percent), Africa (47
percent, and Latin America (46 percent). The report also examines variations in mal-employment by major field of study, English
language proficiency, type of visa, year of entry to the United States, and region of residence in the United States.
Immigrants in Risky Occupations,
Institute for the Study of Labor, June, 2012, 25 pp.
probes the variances in occupational risks for the native-born and foreign-born in the United States and other countries.
The authors Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny find that immigrants in the U.S., particularly Hispanics, are at much greater
risk for injury or death while at work than the native-born. While overall workplace fatality rates in the U.S. decreased
between 1992 and 2005, the fatality rate for foreign-born workers increased. In particular, the fatal injury rate for Hispanics
in 2007 at 4.0 deaths per 100,000 workers was higher than for blacks and whites. The report suggests that the undocumented
status of some immigrants, lower English ability, less education, naïve perceptions of job safety in the U.S. and less
time residing in the U.S. all contribute to the concentration of immigrants in the riskiest occupational sectors, including
mining, logging, agriculture and construction. Despite these vulnerabilities, most immigrants appear to earn risk premiums
similar to natives for working in risky jobs. The authors conclude by urging further research on the impact of immigration
on working conditions. (Denzil Mohammed)
Investing in the Human Capital of Immigrants, Strengthening Regional Economies, Alice (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed): Study of Financial hardship in
United Way of Northern New Jersey, August, 2012, 109 pp.
Researched and written
by Stephanie Hoopes, Director of the New Jersey DataBank at Rutgers University, this study analyzes the near-poor or working
poor in New Jersey, described by the author as "the people...who live each day one crisis away from falling into poverty."
They make more than the official poverty level, but less than what "an individual or family needs to sustain a reasonably
healthy standard of living." The author finds that more than one-third of all households in New Jersey (1.1. million)
struggle to meet basic human needs; 769,900 are ALICE households and 312,762 are poor households (below the official poverty
level). The services that ALICE workers provide, such as health aides, security guards, and cashiers, are "vital to the
New Jersey economy." Although this study does not disaggregate immigrants as a sub-set of the ALICE population,
it does note that particular groups of immigrants, e.g. those lacking a high school diploma and those who are language isolated,
are more prone to this type of income deprivation. The study calculates that the "household survival budget" in
New Jersey is $58,500 for a family of four and $25,368 for a single individual. As low income jobs will "dominate the
economy in New Jersey now and in the future," the author observes that "the traditional formula of more education
and training to generate better and more equitable outcomes does not hold true in today's economy." Although there are
short-term steps that may alleviate the plight of ALICE households, "structural economic changes are required to make
New Jersey more affordable and provide better income opportunities."
Brookings Institution, September, 2012, 11 pp.
This paper stresses the importance
of maximizing the productivity of the existing immigrant population in order to boost short- and long-term economic growth
in the United States. The author Audrey Singer notes that immigrant workers are more likely to be underemployed, i.e. overqualified
for current jobs, than similarly educated native-born workers, especially immigrants with post-secondary education. Noting
the growing interest in reforming immigration policy to match the needs of the U.S. economy, she suggests that "the opportunity
to take advantage of the skills of incumbent immigrants, by investing in their potential" is a complementary and equally
promising strategy. The balance of the paper provides capsule summaries of innovative workforce development programs that
have successfully pursued this strategy. Many of these programs provide clear pathways to occupationally-specific credentials
and jobs, building in contextualized English language instruction along the way.
Undocumented Workers: Crossing the Borders of Immigration and Workplace Law,
Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, May 14, 2012, 39 pp.
author, Professor Kati L. Griffith of Cornell University, suggests that a new "hybrid" field of the law has emerged
- what she describes as immployment law, a blending of immigration and employment law. She argues that this is a
"crucial field of inquiry" because of the sheer number of undocumented workers in the American economy; their concentration
in particular industries, such as agriculture and construction; the frequency with which they experience minimum wage and
overtime violations; the tendency of some employers to take retaliatory action when immigrant workers organize or file complaints;
and the spread of state and county workplace-based immigration law. The author discusses the shift in federal policy away
from workplace raids to worksite audits, and to greater cooperation between ICE with the Department of Labor. She also discusses
the implications of the Supreme Court decision in Hoffman Plastics Compounds v NLRB in 2002, which ruled that an
undocumented worker could not have access to back pay remedies available under the National Labor Relations Act. According
to the author, "the treatment of immigrant workers, documented and undocumented alike, may have broader effects on the
wages, working conditions, and collective organizing efforts of U.S.-born workers." She concludes that "scholars,
courts, and policy makers should develop comprehensive immployment law frameworks that can resolve ongoing legal
ambiguity about the workplace law remedies available to undocumented workers."
Labor Standards Enforcement and Low-wage
Immigrants: Creating an Effective Enforcement System, New Jersey's Supply Chain Pain: Warehouse & Logistics Work under Walmart and other
Big Box Retailers,
New Labor, 2012, 22 pp.
Based on a survey of 291 logistic workers, this report
analyzes wages, benefits and working conditions within New Jersey's logistics industry. Home to Port Newark/Elizabeth -- the
second largest container port in the U.S. -- New Jersey has an extensive network of distribution centers employing thousands
of workers, many of whom are immigrants. Responsible for the processing and sorting of goods as they make their way to retail
markets throughout the country, most workers experience job insecurity, economic hardship, and exploitation. Approximately
90 percent of workers fail to make a living wage and most lack employer based health insurance. The report notes that a majority
of logistics workers are indirectly employed through staffing agencies, a situation which exacerbates problems for these workers.
One key finding is that Walmart, the country's biggest retailer, occupies a prominent position among companies active in driving
down wages and perpetuating poor working conditions. Finally, the report points to explicit gender discrimination in hiring,
illegal payroll deductions, wage theft, and a variety of occupational health and safety issues, all of which negatively impact
the working conditions and well-being of logistics workers. The paper concludes with a call for legislative changes and suggests
action steps in order for lawmakers, enforcement bodies and civic advocates to develop a deeper understanding of the industry,
empower workers, and provide the response needed to uphold accountability and improve conditions within the sector.
Immigrant Professional Integration: Federal Policy Recommendations,
IMPRINT, January, 2012, 7 pp.
IMPRINT - a coalition of five nonprofit
organizations working nationally and locally to advance effective policy and practice in the emerging field of immigrant professional
integration - developed this set of 11 recommendations for consideration by the executive branch of the federal government.
The recommendations are divided into two broad areas: closing the information gap in order to help immigrant professionals
make informed decisions about available career paths, and improving access to workforce services. Recommendations in
the former area include: the creation of "an online site for newcomers to obtain accurate and timely employment
guidance" and "the development of a clearinghouse of credentialing-related information." Recommendations in
the latter area include: the issuance of a "policy guidance affirming skilled immigrants' eligibility for existing services,"
and the use of "policy guidance, regulatory authority, and/or discretionary funding to create incentives for expanded
services to this population."
Monitoring International Labor Recruitment: A cross-Visa Exploration of Regulatory Challenges,
Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, 2011, 39 pp
This report was
prepared as a supplemental resource for the first meeting of the International labor Recruitment Working Group that took place
at George Washington University on October 17-18, 2011. It provides a capsule summary of all the non-immigrant visa programs
used to employ temporary, foreign workers in the United States. The report focuses on weaknesses in the regulatory framework
for each program. Among the programs covered in the report are: B-1 (personal or domestic workers), H-1B (specialty occupations),
H-2A (seasonal agricultural workers), H-2B (seasonal non-agricultural workers), and J-1 (exchange visitor program).
What Do Immigrants Do When They Can't Practise Their Professions? Immigrant Professionals
in the Ontario Settlement Service Sector,
CERIS - The Ontario Metropolis Centre, December, 2011, 43 pp.
Pointing out that
three options confront foreign-trained immigrants when they are unable to practice their chosen professions: exit (returning
to home country or going to another country), de-professionalization, and professional rebuilding, the author
of this study explores how a group of 155 well-educated immigrants took the third option by taking positions within Ontario
immigrant/refugee service organizations. Through the use of a detailed survey and follow-up interviews, the author gains
insight into the motivation and experiences of this admittedly non-random sample of the immigrant professional population.
Opportunities for employment in this sector opened up as "ethnocultural affinity with the service provider" came
to be understood as an important criterion for hiring. At the same time, the sector did not raise other insurmountable barriers
to entry. If the field, however, were to become a "full-fledged profession," with the imposition of workforce
training standards and licensure requirements, then a "hardening of the boundaries" within the field would limit
access and raise again the thorny issue of immigrant access to the professions. The paper also provides a short review
of Canadian efforts to facilitate the entry of skilled immigrants into the workforce.
Welcome to Canada. Now What? Unlocking the Potential of Immigrants for Business Growth
Deloitte, November, 2011, 25 pp.
This "White Paper Summary"
of Deloitte's 2011 Dialogue on Diversity is based on a series of nine roundtable discussions with employers, community organizations,
special interest groups, government agencies and immigrants across Canada. According to Canadian government statistics, immigrants
are expected to account for all net labor and population growth in years to come. Although foreign-born workers are essential
to grow the Canadian economy, the talents and skills of immigrants, according to the white paper, continue to be underutilized
while immigrants face disproportionately higher unemployment rates. The paper suggests that the foreign-born are uniquely
qualified to benefit employers by bringing greater diversity into the workplace - a development that can drive the innovation
needed to compete in a global market. Yet, despite arriving in Canada with the training and education necessary to fill market
gaps, barriers to entering the workforce keep immigrants underemployed. These include: a lack of Canadian experience, lack
of connections, language, and unrecognized foreign credentials. The paper concludes with an action plan for better integration
of immigrants into the labor market with specific recommendations in the areas of recruitment, internship opportunities, mentoring,
developing cultural connections, use of employee resource groups, and employee training programs. (Dan McNulty)
Migration and Occupational Health: Understanding the Risks,
Migration Policy Institute, October 11, 2011, 6 pp.
Adapted from an article that
appeared in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, this article by Marc B. Schenker summarizes available data on fatal
and non-fatal injuries suffered by immigrant workers in the U.S. As immigrants are over-represented in so-called ‘three
D" jobs (dirty, dangerous, and difficult), they tend to experience higher rates of injury than the native-born population.
The author, however, laments the absence of research data on the nexus between immigration and occupational injury (only 48
articles on immigrant occupational health appeared between 1990 and 2005) and reviews the methodological challenges involved
in conducting such research. The author calls for efforts to understand the nature and causes of immigrant occupational health
disparities in order to develop appropriate public policy responses.
Immigration and Poverty in America's Suburbs,
The Brookings Institution, August, 2011, 20 pp.
This paper examines the phenomenon
of suburban poverty, with particular attention to immigrant poverty. Noting that the majority of the nation's poor in the
100 largest metropolitan areas now live in the suburbs, the authors observe that "it is no longer useful to think of
central cities as the primary locations of poverty in America, surrounded by concentric suburban rings of predominantly white
and affluent populations." There are now 2.7 million foreign-born poor in the suburbs, representing ca 20% of all
suburban poor. The authors conclude that "suburbs with little or no experience with either immigration or poverty face
complex and unfamiliar public policy challenges."
The Economic Integration of Immigrants in the United States: Long- and Short-Term Perspectives,
Migration Policy Institute, July, 2011, 16 pp.
paper describes the occupational niches and contributions of diverse groups of immigrants and their children within the U.S.
economy. The author devotes special attention to the impact of the global economic crisis on the economic prospects of immigrants.
Although the workplace in the U.S., in contrast to other immigrant-receiving countries, has traditionally functioned as "one
of the country's most powerful immigrant-integrating institutions," the author suggests that the uncertain economic outlook
"could realign the economic and social forces that have historically propelled the intergenerational upward mobility
of immigrants (and natives)." In addition, budget cuts on the federal, state, and local levels, especially in the area
of public education, could weaken "the public and community-based institutions and programs that historically promote
upward intergenerational mobility among the children of immigrants."
Migration Policy Institute (MPI), July, 2011, 68 pp.
This report analyzes the labor law enforcement records of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administration, with particular
attention to wage and hour laws and industries with high concentrations of immigrant workers. The report identifies
best practices in labor law enforcement and suggests closer coordination between federal and state agencies working in this
area. The report also presents findings from an MPI survey of state resources, priorities, and initiatives in labor
standards. Among the policy recommendations in the report are the following: deterring violators by pressuring dominant or
lead employers in an industry or geographic area; status-blind enforcement; creating new metrics less driven by complaints
filed and resolved; combating the misclassification of employees as independent contractors; and leveraging the resources
of other public and private agencies. Finally, the report recommends a study to determine whether increased labor law enforcement
would lead to a decrease in unauthorized employment and migration. If such a study showed such an effect, then immigration
enforcement resources might be diverted to labor standards enforcement.
Measures of Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles County,
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University
of Southern California, and Rob Paral and Associates, June, 2011, 17 pp.
Seeking to overcome the limitations
of standard point-in-time comparisons of immigrants and native-born groups, the author of this report tracks the progress
of a cohort of Los Angeles County immigrants who entered the U.S. during the 1980s and who were between the ages of 25 and
34 at the time of the 1990 census. Snapshots of this group are taken in 2000 and 2006-08. Data is also disaggregated
for the eight largest immigrant communities in the County. Among the observed variables are: educational gains (high school
and college completion rates), poverty levels, rates of home ownership, and family income. There are many positive developments
during this period, including a "sharp drop in immigrant poverty levels" and a climb in immigrant home ownership.
However, few immigrant groups were able to narrow the gap in family income between themselves and native-born whites, and
college completion rates remain low for some of the largest immigrant communities, e.g. only 5.4% of Mexicans had college
degrees by the end of the study period.
All Work and No Pay: Day Laborers, Wage Theft, and
Workplace Justice in New Jersey,
Immigrants' Rights/International Human Rights
Clinic, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall University School of Law, January, 2011, 24 pp
Building on a 2010 study
of day laborers in Newark, Seton Hall researchers have expanded the scope of the earlier study to examine the experience of
113 day laborers at pick-up sites in Elizabeth, Freehold, Morristown, Orange, and Palisades Park. Over the course of
a single year, 54% of the workers statewide were paid less money than they were promised by at least one employer, and 94%
were never paid overtime if they worked more than 40 hours per week for the same employer. Twenty-six percent were assaulted
on the job and 35% were abandoned at a work site. There were wide variations among communities in levels of noncompliance
with labor laws. In general, communities like Elizabeth, without advocacy groups championing the interest of day laborers,
had much higher violation rates. Despairing of any meaningful assistance from an understaffed and financially strapped NJ
Department of Labor, the authors of the report propose a "more robust criminal wage theft statute," which would
facilitate the filing and prosecution of complaints with local municipal courts. The report includes the text of a model statute.
Human Trafficking and Business: Good Practices to Prevent
and Combat Human Trafficking,
United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, 2010,
Noting that "human trafficking is not currently
well integrated into the Corporate Responsibility (CR)programmes of most brands, companies, and business associations,"
this report presents an overview of human trafficking, explains why trafficking is an important issue for business, and profiles
companies doing exemplary work in this area. According to data in the report, there are over 2.4 million people world-wide
who are victims of forced labor as a result of human trafficking, of whom the majority are between the ages of 18 and 24.
The ILO estimates that 43 percent work in forced commercial sexual exploitation, and 32% in forced economic exploitation.
In addition to the sex trade, the following sectors have significant rates of forced labor: agriculture; construction;
garments and textiles; hospitality; mining, logging, and forestry; food processing and packaging; transportation; and domestic
service. The publication features six detailed case studies covering the work of the following companies or trade associations:
International Cocoa Initiative (West Africa); Manpower, Inc (Colombia); the Apparel Export Trade Council (India); the tourism
industry (world-wide); Public Private Partnerships organized by the International Organization for Migration (India); and
the Body Shop International (world-wide).
Injustice on our Plates: Immigrant Women in
the U.S. Food Industry,
Southern Poverty Law Center, 2010, 64 pp.
This report aims to shine a light on the suffering and indignities experienced by the many undocumented female workers in
the American food industry. A majority of the 150 women interviewed for this study endured sexual harassment and assaults
while working in the fields, packinghouses or food processing plants. Few are willing to report incidents to employers or
police, for fear of losing their jobs or being deported. Working for poverty wages, they have no access to government programs
to help the poor, nor do they typically receive health care coverage, sick or vacation time, or unemployment compensation.
The report also chronicles the heavy toll of work-related illnesses and injuries sustained by workers in the food and meat-processing
industries in the U.S. They are exposed to pesticides, blistering heat in the fields, and cold in the packinghouses.
The report concludes with a series of recommendations to Congress and various federal agencies to end the "shameful exploitation"
of "the most vulnerable workers in our country."
Overcoming the Barriers Faced by Immigrants
A Briefing Report by the New Jersey State Advisory Committee to the United
States Commission on Civil Rights, September 2010, 25 pp.
of 50 state advisory committees, charged with advising the federal Commission on Civil Rights about issues in their states
that fall within the Commission's jurisdiction, the NJ Advisory Committee held a hearing on May 8, 2009 "to address the
most pressing civil rights issues affecting immigrants in New Jersey." The committee convened three panels of stakeholders
and experts to give testimony in the areas of state and local enforcement of immigration laws, housing and employment discrimination,
and the immigrant experience. This report includes summaries of the testimony and concludes with seven findings and
recommendations, including the adoption of a "fair labor enforcement plan of action" to address the under-enforcement
of labor and workforce safety regulations involving immigrants.
Still an Hourglass? Immigrant workers
in Middle-Skilled Jobs
Migration Policy Institute, September, 2010, 17 pp.
report casts doubt on the depiction of the immigrant workforce as an hourglass, noting that almost a quarter (24%) of
immigrants in 2006 were working in "middle skill" jobs compared to 29% of native-born Americans. Middle-skilled
jobs are defined as "jobs that require more than a high school but less than a four-year college degree and that typically
pay a family-sustaining wage ($30,000 annually per worker). In three of four specific occupations analyzed in the report (healthcare,
IT, and hospitality), the percent of immigrants actually exceeded that of native workers. One possible reason, according to
the authors, may be the overrepresentation of immigrants with college and advanced degrees in these jobs as a result of their
inability to meet credentialing requirements in higher skilled occupations.
The Geography of Immigrant Skills: Educational
Profiles of Metropolitan Areas,
Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program,
June, 2011, 32 pp.
This report observes that the U.S. has reached an important milestone: the percentage of
working-age high-skilled immigrants (defined by the authors as those with a bachelor's degree or higher) now exceeds the percentage
of low-skilled working-age immigrants (defined as those without a high school diploma). However, the distribution of
high-skilled immigrants varies widely across the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. The report groups these 100 areas
into three categories: low-skill destinations, i.e. fewer than 75 high-skilled immigrants for every 100 low-skilled immigrants;
balanced-skill destinations, i.e. ratios of 75 to 125, and high-skill destinations, i.e. more than 125 high-skilled immigrants
for every 100 low-skilled immigrants. Most low-skilled destinations are located in the southwest border states of California,
Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and in the Plains States, where agricultural processing centers make heavy use of low-skill
labor. High-skill destinations are found along the coasts, in large college towns, and in older industrial areas, such as
Cleveland, Pittsburg, and St. Louis. Balanced-skill destinations, such as New York, Atlanta, and Charlotte, predominate
in Eastern and Southern states. The report notes that almost half of high-skilled immigrants, across all destinations,
appear to be over-qualified for their jobs, suggesting a systemic waste of human capital that needs to be addressed by policy
makers. The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations designed to maximize the contribution of immigrants to
economic recovery and stabilization.
Policies to Curb Unauthorized Employment,
Migration Policy Institute, May, 2011, 10 pp
by MPI policy analyst Madeleine Sumption, this policy brief offers a sobering analysis of the policy options available
to governments seeking to reduce the hiring of unauthorized workers. The author concludes that "a comprehensive approach
has the greatest potential for success." Such an approach would combine stronger sanctions against illegal hiring
with some expansion of legal flows of low-skilled workers, along with stronger enforcement of basic labor law standards. However,
fiscal and budgetary constraints may make it difficult to implement such an approach, and even if implemented, some employers,
particularly small employers operating entirely in the informal economy, may fail to comply.
Migrant Social Networks: Vehicles for Migration,
Integration, and DevelopmentUnauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010,
Migration Policy Institute, March 30, 2011, 6 pp.
short “primer” on migrant social networks is intended to enrich the “policy discourse” on this subject.
Written by Prof. Maritsa V. Poros of City University of New York, the article notes that social networks “make migration
possible” in the first place and create their own vibrant labor markets. Noting that governments are beginning to invest
in the capacity of migrant networks to foster development in home countries, she calls attention to the potential of migrant
networks to facilitate the economic and social integration of newcomers.
Pew Research Center, February 1, 2011
analysis of the undocumented population updates previous annual reports published by the Pew Research Center. At 11.2
million in 2010, Pew's estimate of the national total of undocumented immigrants remains largely unchanged from 2009. During
the previous two years (2007-2009), however, the number had declined from a high of 12 million in 2007. The 2010 numbers,
however, show significant variations among the states. The decline in unauthorized numbers was especially great in New York
and Florida, while increases occurred in Texas and Louisiana. New Jersey had an estimated 550,000 unauthorized immigrants
in 2010, including 400,000 in the workforce, representing 8.6% of the total state workforce - the 4th highest percentage in
Modeled after the influential 2004
National Day Labor Study, this report illuminates the experience of some 55 largely Ecuadorian day laborers at a "shape-up"
site in Newark. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents had completed high school, and 54% were married. Almost all respondents
reported being victims of wage theft, with "substantial" losses ($800 or more annually ) experienced by 38% of workers.
Safety violations were also rampant. Many workers possess "a profound fear of retribution by employers," who often
threaten to report immigration problems to ICE if the workers file formal complaints against employers. The authors of the
report, echoing the sentiments of all people interviewed for the project, including public officials and the day laborers
themselves, recommend that the City of Newark establish a hiring hall for day laborers to alleviate these problems.. The report
further urges the NJ Department of Labor to "proactively" investigate the plight of day laborers in Newark and to
work with law enforcement to prosecute violators.
Getting Your Professional License in Ontario: The Experiences of International
and Canadian Applicants: Final ReportOffice of the Fairness Commissioner, February 11, 2010, 82 pp + appendices
In 2007, the Province of Ontario created the Office of the Fairness Commissioner to ensure that licensing procedures
for regulated professions, such as engineering and healthcare, did not discriminate against foreign-trained immigrants. In
2008, the Office undertook a comprehensive research study to understand the experiences of both native-born and foreign license
applicants. This report, based on survey responses from 3,784 people across 37 regulated professions, as well as input from
five focus groups, and a literature review, summarizes the findings. A key recommendation is that regulatory bodies need to
make their procedures clearer and more transparent, a reform that would be welcome by all applicants, whether native-born
Financial Literacy Programs for Immigrants,
Guide, National League of Cities, Winter, 2010, 3 pp
This primer explains the rationale for developing financial
literacy programs for immigrants, describes various program types, contains links to useful resources, and gives examples
of successful programs.
Broken Laws, Unprotected
Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America's Cities,
for Urban Economic Development (University of Illinois at Chicago), National Employment Law Project, UCLA Institute for Research
on Labor and Employment, 2009, 65 pp.
Based on a survey conducted in 2008 with a representative sample of over
4,000 low-wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, 70% of whom were immigrants, this report concludes that
"the core protections that many Americans take for granted - the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, the right
to be paid for overtime hours, the right to take meal breaks, access to workers' compensation when injured, and the right
to advocate for better working conditions - are failing significant numbers of workers." The authors stratify their
data by particular industries, as well as by place of birth (foreign-born or native-born), gender and ethnicity.
They also extrapolate from their data the extent of "wage theft" for the broader low-wage population, estimating
that in one week alone, more than 1 million workers in the three cities have at least one pay-related violation, resulting
in a loss of $56.4 million per week. The authors believe that conditions have likely worsened as the recession deepened
in late 2008.
Fulfilling the Promise: Integrating Immigrant Skills into
the Urban Economy,
Cities of Migration, Archived Webinar, July 28, 2009
This one-hour international webinar features
a presentation by Elizabeth McIsaac, Executive Director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, a ground-breaking
initiative to integrate skilled immigrants into the urban economy. The work of the Council is designed to make Toronto more
economically competitive in the North American environment. With over 50 corporate partners, the Council works on both the
individual and systemic level to effect change. To date, the Council has arranged over 4000 mentorship opportunities for
immigrants. Another project called "Career Bridge" provides paid immigrant internships. Samples of TV ads used
by the Council are included in the webinar. The Council's approach is now being replicated across Canada through a program
called Allies, Inc. (http://www.maytree.com/integration/allies.). Another presenter
discusses how the program is being implemented in New Zealand.
A Portrait of Unauthorized
Immigrants in the United States,
The Pew Hispanic Center, April 14, 2009, 42 pp.
In this comprehensive study, researchers from the Pew Hispanic
Center found that unauthorized immigrants are 4% of the U.S. population and 5.4% of its workforce. Although more widely dispersed
throughout the country than in the past, unauthorized immigrants continue to settle in high numbers in states like
New Jersey, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Texas. Pew estimates that New Jersey's unauthorized population increased from
400,000 in 2005 to 550,000 in 2008, while the unauthorized share of the state's labor force increased from 6.4% to 9.2%, or
425,000 workers. Nationally, two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants work in the service, construction, and production sectors.
In addition, 47% of unauthorized immigrants ages 25 to 64 have less than a high school education, as compared with 8% of U.S.
born-population in the same age category.
Report on Port Truckers' Survey at the New Jersey Ports,
School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University,
February, 2009, 38 pp.
Through extensive interviews with 299 truck drivers operating as "independent contractors"
in the ports of Newark, Elizabeth, and Bayonne, and focus groups with another 70 truckers, the authors of this report found
general dissatisfaction with low pay, sub-standard benefits, and unsafe working conditions. Describing port trucking
in Newark as a "broken system," the authors assert that port operators are "externalizing the costs of the
port system," by forcing the public to cover the cost of health problems associated with environmental pollution from
old and poorly maintained diesel fueled trucks. The authors also contend that these practices "add billions of dollars
to the cost of doing business in New Jersey." Two-thirds of the 7,000 drivers in New Jersey are Latino immigrants.
This report examines
the plight of 1.3 million college-educated immigrants who are unemployed or working in unskilled jobs. An important explanatory
factor is the non-recognition of foreign academic and professional credentials by state and local government. Contending that
this situation represents a "serious waste of human capital," and noting that the problem is most severe for Latino
and African immigrants, the report discusses model programs in other countries to address this problem. The report also proposes
a research agenda on the subject, including an effort to quantify the economic costs of underemployment, a study to determine
the impact of discrimination, and a systematic effort to catalog best practices.
Report of the Joint Enforcement Task Force on Employee Misclassification
to Eliot Spitzer,
Governor State of New York, February 1, 2008, 29 pp.
In September 2007,
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer created an interagency strike force consisting of six agencies to address the problem
of employers who wrongly classify employees as independent contractors or pay workers off the books as part of the underground
economy, thereby depriving workers of the benefits and protections guaranteed under state and federal law. Immigrant
workers are particularly vulnerable to these practices. This report looks at the history of the task force initiative, including
research supporting the need for such a group, and discusses initial actions and prosecutions by each of the partner agencies.
The report concludes with a series of "lessons learned," along with a discussion of logistical and legal issues
hampering the work of the Task Force, including data sharing restrictions and inconsistent worker classification policies
among the partner agencies.
Unregulated Work in the Global City: Employment and Labor
Law Violations in New York City,
Brennan School of Justice,
New York University School of Law, 2007, 126 pp.
report summarizes the results a groundbreaking, multi-year study of widespread labor law violations in New York City. According
to the authors, conditions are so egregious that the Progressive/New Deal social contract "has broken down." Most
workers in this "invisible economy" are immigrants, both documented and undocumented. The report identifies 13 different
industry clusters where "unregulated work" is common and includes detailed reports on each industry. Finally, the
report defines basic principles to guide public policy reform.Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen &
Expand the American Middle Class,
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, 2007 Edition, 28 pp.
This report argues that any debate over immigration policy
must be tied to a discussion of the dilemma of the American middle class in general. A two-tiered job market exploiting the
labor of undocumented immigrants is detrimental to the interests of U.S.-born workers. The report proposes a two-part test
for evaluating current immigration reform proposals.
The Integration of Immigrants
in the Workplace,
Institute for Work and the Economy,
July, 2006, 60 pp.
report summarizes the findings of a two-year project funded by The Joyce Foundation to identify effective ways to integrate
immigrants into the workforce. Input was received from a national Advisory Committee of 41 individuals, and participants in
7 community forums. The report is organized according to the 7 major lessons learned by the project, one of which is that
"strategies directed explicitly at immigrants must be components of a broader range of initiatives that support the entire
workforce." The report is noteworthy for its attention to the diverse backgrounds and needs of immigrants, including
both lower skilled immigrants and foreign-trained professionals.
On the Corner: Day Labor in the United States (Executive
January, 2006, 36 pp.
Funded in part by two national foundations, this report is one of the first in-depth studies of day laborers
in the United States. It is based on a national survey of 2,660 day laborers randomly selected at 264 hiring sites in 20 states
and the District of Columbia. The report provides a wide range of demographic information, including wages, working conditions,
family circumstances, and occupations.
Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the
Economic Policy Institute, December 14, 2005, 24 pp.
This briefing paper by Janice Fine summarizes the findings of a major research
study on more than 100 immigrant worker centers published by Cornell University Press. Worker Centers are defined as "community-based
and community-led organizations that engage in a combination of service, advocacy, and organizing to provide support to low-wage
workers." Unlike traditional immigrant service organizations, worker centers emphasize organizing and advocacy
as lynchpin activities. The author discusses the commonalities in their operation and the challenges faced by the centers.
News and Opinion
Development, Immigrant Employment and Labor Rights
Obama's immigration plan is a game changer for undocumented construction workers
The New Republic, December 9, 2014
Organizations aim to train immigrant entrepreneurs
Associated Press, May 12, 2014
California bill would ease professional licensing rules for immigrants
The Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2014
Advocates for Workers Raise the Ire of Business,
The New York Times, January 16, 2014
Anonymous Job Applications Help Overcome Hiring Biases
Cities of Migration, November 28, 2013
New Jersey Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards honor first winners
Courier News, November 24, 2013
Resetting the Way We Work on Migration
Manjula Luthria, The World Bank, September 12, 2013
Why MBAs Need to be Bilingual
Bloomberg Businessweek, July 23, 2013
Polish immigrant deported by N.J. hospital after crippling stroke
The New York Daily News, June 25, 2013
Workers claim race bias as farms rely on immigrants
The New York Times, May 6, 2013
If People Could Immigrate Anywhere, Would Poverty Be Eliminated
The Atlantic, April 25, 2013
What 'Stapling a Green Card' Portends for STEM
Science, April 5, 2013
Migrant carnival workers need protection, advocates say
USA Today, March 18, 2013
USC takes a leadership role in finding solutions to human trafficking,
USC Dornsife Magazine, February 6, 2013
Study of Home Help Finds Low Worker Pay,
The New York Times, November 27, 2012
Incubating ideas in the U.S., hatching them elsewhere,
The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2012
Visas-for-dollars program a boon to hotel developers,
The New York Times, September 7, 2012
Brookings H-1B report draws criticism,
Computerworld, July 19, 2012
Green cards lure beef plan investors,
Aberdeen News, July 7, 2012
Princeton immigration conference focuses on keeping skilled foreign workers in the country.
The Trenton Times, July 5, 2012
Immigrant women more likely to own businesses in U.S. than women born in the country,
Daily Mail, June 14, 2012
Citizenship for Sale: Foreign Investors Flock to U.S.,
CNN, June 11, 2012
Top Immigrant-Owned Startups,
Forbes, June 1, 2012
Foreign governments seek to channel expatriates' money,
The Associated Press, May 5, 2012
U.S. Motel Industry Tells Story of Indian-American Immigrants,
Voice of America, May 2, 2012
Making Visas-for Dollars Work,
The New York Times, April 16, 2012
Many U.S. Immigrants' Children Seek American Dream Abroad,
The New York Times, April 16, 2012
Chicago promotes creation of immigrant-owned businesses,
Foxnews Latino, March 15, 2012
The Powerful Economic Case for Immigration,
Minnesota Public Radio News, February 23, 2012
Immigrant business owners get little help from the city (NewYork),
Daily News, February 16, 2012