Two DHS Studies Confirm That Legal Immigration Grinds On

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

January 25, 2012

A recent New York Times opinion editorial written by University of Southern California Professor Dowell Meyers makes the familiar claim that America’s immigration crisis is over. Meyers wrote that illegal immigration has slowed and Mexico’s birthrate has declined to 2.1 which suggests that as Mexico’s population dwindles, there will be fewer Mexicans trying to enter the United States illegally.

Meyers concluded that he U.S. must now turn its attention to a domestic immigration policy that would focus on integrating those who are already here. Citing questionable evidence, Meyers argued that immigrants have “assimilated in remarkable and unexpected ways.” [The Next Immigration Challenge, by Dowell Meyers, New York Times, January 11, 2012]

Meyers surprised me---at least a little. I realize that he’s an academic at a liberal university. But since he works in Los Angeles’ east side, where USC has its main campus, not everything he sees day in and day out is proof of “remarkable and unexpected” assimilation. I’ve been to East Los Angeles and know that Spanish is the language of choice and Hispanic culture dominates.

Granted, illegal immigration is down but mostly because of a stubbornly depressed U.S. economy. An analysis of previous economic-related immigration declines shows that once hiring resumes so does the alien influx from Mexico and Central America as well as other nations.

But, importantly, legal immigration continues its upward climb. For months CAPS has pointed out that because of its adverse impact on payroll jobs and the population growth chain migration creates, legal immigration is at least as damaging to America over both the short and long terms as illegal immigration.

According to a Department of Homeland Security report titled U.S. Legal Permanent Residents: 2010, the numbers of “new arrival” permanent resident green card holders has increased steadily since 2008.

Another DHS report, Non-Immigrant Admissions to the United States, shows that most visa categories are up including the much politically touted H-1B and the less well known but equally hurtful L visa for intra-company transferees. The L visa has no cap. Their 2010 totals are 451,763 and 502,738, respectively.

The most frequent destinations for 2010 non-immigrant admissions are California (18 percent), Florida (13 percent), New York (12 percent) and Texas (10 percent). These four states represented the destinations of 53 percent of foreign nationals admitted. As usual, California gets the largest percentage.

The DHS reports confirm that no matter whether the U.S. has been in a sustained jobs slump, the desire among foreign-born workers to come to America is constant.

To change that pattern, the federal government would have to institute a more restrictive legal immigration policy that would reduce the numbers of visas issued and eliminate some of the useless categories such as the fiancée and religious worker. At the same time, internal protections for Americans like the Legal Workforce Act which mandates E-Verify should be enacted and strictly enforced.

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