Friday, April 14, 2017

Two Recent Studies Debunk Anti-Immigrant “Alternative Facts”

Among the right’s favorite talking points are claims that “illegals” are “swarming over the border” and “sanctuary cities” are “breeding crime.” The anti-immigrant forces never present evidence, for good reason: there isn’t any. But there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary, as two studies published this year demonstrate. Crime is actually lower in jurisdictions that limit cooperation with the federal deportation machine, according to research by the Center for American Progress, while a Brookings Institution report shows how demographic factors in sending nations have basically ended the 1970-2007 surge in undocumented immigration,

This doesn’t mean the studies are perfect. The Brookings report in particular has a strangely ahistorical approach to the push factors behind the recent immigration surge. The authors cite the Mexican economic crisis in the 1990s as a factor, but they don’t connect it with the effects of U.S.-inspired neoliberal efforts like NAFTA, which drove millions of Mexicans off the farm. In discussing Central American immigration the Brookings researchers ignore similar economic push factors and, strikingly, the wars of the 1980s, which forced hundreds of thousands of Central Americans to flee their homes. As for future immigration, the authors don’t mention the likely effect of global warming on the sending countries in this hemisphere.—TPOI editor

The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy

By Tom K. Wong, Center for American Progress
January 26, 2017
As the Trump administration begins to implement its immigration policy agenda, the issue of local assistance with federal immigration enforcement officials is back in the spotlight. So-called sanctuary jurisdictions are one focus of that debate. Sanctuary counties—as defined by this report—are counties that do not assist federal immigration enforcement officials by holding people in custody beyond their release date.1 Using an Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, dataset obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center,2 the analyses in this report provide new insights about how sanctuary counties perform across a range of social and economic indicators when compared to nonsanctuary counties.

To understand the effects of having a sanctuary policy, we statistically match counties based on a broad range of demographic characteristics and then compare sanctuary counties to nonsanctuary counties to better understand the effects that sanctuary policies have on a local jurisdiction.

The data are clear: Crime is statistically significantly lower in sanctuary counties compared to nonsanctuary counties. Moreover, economies are stronger in sanctuary counties—from higher median household income, less poverty, and less reliance on public assistance to higher labor force participation, higher employment-to-population ratios, and lower unemployment.[...]

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Along the watchtower: The rise and fall of U.S. low-skilled immigration

By Gordon H. Hanson, Chen Liu, and Craig McIntosh, Brookings Institution
Thursday, March 23, 2017
In “Along the watchtower: The rise and fall of U.S. low-skilled immigration,” Gordon H. Hanson, Chen Liu, and Craig McIntosh of the University of California San Diego find immigration to the U.S. of young, low-skilled workers will continue to slow until it reverses in 2050, regardless of U.S. policy, thanks to weak labor-supply growth in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Instead, a bigger issue of concern for the Trump administration should be a growing number of aging, undocumented permanent residents, the authors argue. Over the course of the next 15 years, the authors calculate, the population of Latin American-born residents over age 40 in the U.S. will grow by 82 percent.

From the early 1980s to the mid-2000s, the U.S. experienced a huge wave of low-skilled immigration, due in part to several macroeconomic factors—such as high U.S. incomes, relatively stable U.S. GDP growth, and slow U.S. labor-supply growth—that made immigration attractive to young, low-skilled workers from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, the authors note.

However, around the time of the Great Recession, the undocumented population declined by an annual average of 160,000 individuals between 2007-2014. By 2015, 75 percent of low-skilled immigrants had resided in the U.S. for 11 or more years, while the share of the population aged 18 to 33 had dropped to 27 percent.[...]

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