Every day, organizations worldwide are engaged in a collective two steps forward, one step back march toward improved immigration services and policies. What hard-earned lessons are these nonprofits, and the foundations that support them, learning from their persistent efforts? This collection of evaluations, case studies, and lessons learned exposes and explores the nuances of effective collaboration, the value of coordinated messaging, the bedrock of ongoing advocacy efforts, and the vital importance of long-term and flexible funding.

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New American Electorate: The Growing Political Power of Immigrants and Their Children (Updated October 2010)

October 14, 2010

At a time when federal, state, and local elections are often decided by small voting margins -- with candidates frequently locked in ferocious competition for the ballots of those "voting blocs" that might turn the electoral tide in their favor -- one large and growing bloc of voters has been consistently overlooked and politically underestimated: New Americans. This group of voters and potential voters includes not only immigrants who have become U.S. citizens (Naturalized Americans), but also the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of large-scale immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965 (the Post-1965 Children of Immigrants). These immigrants and their children have a powerful and highly personal connection to the modern immigrant experience that most other Americans do not. It's one thing to hear family stories about a grandfather or great-grandfather coming to the United States during the much-romanticized "Ellis Island" era of immigration from Europe that ended decades ago. It's quite another to belong to a family that is experiencing first-hand the political and economic realities of immigration today. The ranks of registered voters who are New Americans, or Latino or Asian, have been growing rapidly this decade and are likely to play an increasingly pivotal role in elections at all levels in the years to come, particularly in battleground states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. As public opinion polls reveal, anti-immigrant political rhetoric is likely to motivate many New Americans to cast ballots, but is unlikely to win many votes for candidates perceived as anti-immigrant.

The Economics of Immigration Reform

August 3, 2010

Now more than ever, Americans are seeking real solutions to our nationas problems, and there is no better place to start than protecting our workers, raising wages, and getting our economy moving again. Part of this massive effort must include workable answers to our critically important immigration problems.

The Criminal Alien Program: Immigration Enforcement in Travis County, Texas

February 17, 2010

In February 2008, Austin Police Department (APD) officers pulled over a car on a routine traffic stop. In the car were a Central American couple and their three-year-old U.S.-citizen son. The officers arrested Sylvia and Ernesto due to outstanding traffic tickets, and later charged them with tampering with government records after finding the couple's false Social Security cards used to gain employment. Sylvia and Ernesto were booked into the Travis County Jail, while their son Luis was temporarily placed into Child Protective Services (CPS), to be reunited with his parents once they were released from jail. However, this reunion was not to occur on American soil. Through an initiative called the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), local law enforcement agencies collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify deportable[3] non-citizens in county jails across the county. In Austin, Texas, the seat of Travis County, the Sheriff's Office supplies ICE with a list of foreign-born arrestees and grants ICE unlimited access to the jail to interview inmates. For individuals like Sylvia and Ernesto, who are undocumented, or for legal immigrants who are still vulnerable to deportation for crimes as minor as shoplifting, an arrest can lead to deportation. Because ICE was able to take custody of them, Sylvia and Ernesto were not released into the community to be with their young son. Instead, they were held in ICE detention while deportation proceedings commenced against them. Meanwhile, CPS transferred Luis to foster care, as no relatives could be immediately found to claim him. Luis's parents were ultimately both deported to Central America, and Luis lingered in foster care for a week until a relative was found. Unfortunately, this is no isolated incident. In 2008, the University of Texas School of Law's Children's Rights Clinic saw another similar case, and in April 2009, The New York Times reported that an undocumented woman's child was placed for adoption when the court deemed she "abandoned" her son after being jailed subsequent to an immigration workplace raid. ICE and local law enforcement officials claim that CAP targets the worst criminal offenders -- those dangerous individuals who make our communities less safe. The Chief Deputy of the Travis Country Sheriff's Office (TCSO) has said, "We know for a fact that we are only getting the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. These guys are really the undesirables. Most people wouldn't want them getting out of jail and being their neighbor. They'd like to see them deported out of the country." However, stories like those of Sylvia and Ernesto, and those of many others whose families are torn apart because of traffic arrests or misdemeanor offenses, show that many of the people impacted are far from being at "the bottom of the barrel." Not only are these individuals facing deportation and separation from their families, but CAP has also negatively impacted entire communities. There have also been allegations of law-enforcement agencies engaging in racial profiling and pretextual arrests in order to get suspected deportable immigrants into the jail so they can be identified by ICE. CAP can also affect a town's reputation, economy, and school system. Achieving the opposite of its mandate, CAP in fact decreases public safety when immigrant victims and witnesses fear contacting police due to law enforcement's collaboration with immigration authorities, creating a sphere for criminals to operate with impunity. This paper provides a brief history and background on the CAP program. It also includes a case study of CAP implementation in Travis County, Texas, which finds that the program has a negative impact on communities because it increases the community's fear of reporting crime to police, is costly, and may encourage racial profiling.

The New Electoral Landscape and What It Means for Immigration Reform

December 4, 2008

IPC has compiled this one-stop analysis of all the available data on the Asian, Latino and New American vote and shows how and why they voted the way they did in the 2008 election cycle. The report features a variety of early, exit and election-day polling which tells the story of not only a record rate turnout, but also provides insight into the greatest areas of concern for these voters. It also explores early signals from the new administration and congress with respect to immigration reform.

The Social Security Administration No-Match Program: Inefficient, Ineffective, and Costly

May 8, 2008

This report provides an overview of SSA's no-match letter program, a summary of DHS's new supplemental proposed rule regarding no-match letters, and an overview of the unintended consequences of no-match letters that are sent to employers.

Thinking Ahead About Our Immigrant Future: New Trends and Mutual Benefits in Our Aging Society

January 1, 2008

What is the real story about the importance of immigration for Americaas future? Demographer Dowell Myers examines trends in U.S. immigration and finds that immigration has not only begun to level off, but immigrants are climbing the socio-economic ladder, and will become increasingly important to the U.S. economy as workers, taxpayers, and homebuyers supporting the aging Baby Boom generation.

U.S. Immigration Policy in Global Perspective: International Migration in OECD Countries

January 3, 2007

Despite the U.S.'s huge and flexible labor market and its abundance of leading-edge multinational corporations and world-class universities, it faces growing competition for skilled labor from other countries. This situation underscores the need to revamp U.S. immigration policies to make them more responsive to the demands of an increasingly competitive global economy. One possibility is to replace the H1-B visa program for highly skilled foreign professionals with a quality-selective regime like the point-based systems in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Attracting the Best and the Brightest: The Promise and Pitfalls of a Skill-Based Immigration Policy

December 5, 2006

One question that recently received heightened attention from lawmakers is whether or not immigrants should be admitted to the United States less on the basis of family ties and more on the basis of the skills they can contribute to the U.S. economy. Today, the most common way permanent immigrants enter the United States legally is through sponsorship by a family member already in the country. By contrast, nations such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom admit immigrants primarily for employment reasons, based on a point system. Points are assigned on the basis of educational level, professional skills, proficiency in the host country's language, and other qualities that increase immigrants' likelihood of integrating into the host country's labor market. Policymakers should investigate how a similar policy might work in the United States. Although some of the practices associated with a point-based immigration system might benefit the U.S. economy, policymakers should be careful not to assume that such a system would be a panacea for the widespread dysfunction of U.S. immigration policies. Among the findings of this report: Today, the government allocates 480,000 visas each year to family-sponsored immigrants and 140,000 visas to immigrants entering to work. Approximately 86 percent of permanent employment visas are reserved for immigrants who are highly skilled or hold advanced degrees. Given the realities of immigration to the United States today, the government would face several challenges to implementing a system that selects most immigrants based on their skills, because a point system would multiply the paperwork and bureaucracy. The waiting times for immigrants wanting to join family would grow even longer as consideration of their applications was delayed in favor of immigrants with skills the nation desires. A point system favoring high-skilled workers would not meet the demand for less-skilled workers in industries such as agriculture, construction, and services, especially as more native-born workers earn college degrees, and as the U.S. population ages and the pool of native workers shrinks. U.S. businesses might suffer under a skill-based point system that reduces the flexibility of the labor market. Instead of employers directly recruiting the immigrants they need, the government would take on the responsibility of filling labor gaps and determining the skills of immigrants entering the labor force. The danger in this is that shortterm labor shortages could take priority over building longer-term economic stability and growth. Canada's experimentation with its immigration system provides a valuable lesson for U.S. policymakers in considering if and how such a system could be implemented in the United States. Its experience indicates that any point system should not replace other systems, but rather serve as a complement to them.

Undocumented Immigration by Congressional Districts

October 1, 2006

In this IPC Policy Brief, author Rob Paral uses new census data to update his earlier IPC report (Playing Politics on Immigration: Congress Favors Image over Substance in Passing H.R. 4437) on the number of undocumented immigrants in U.S. congressional districts.

Rethinking the Effects of Immigration on Wages: New Data and Analysis from 1990-2004

October 1, 2006

A crucial question in the current debate over immigration is what impact immigrants have on the wages of native-born workers. At first glance, it might seem that the simple economics of supply and demand provides the answer: immigrants increase the supply of labor; hence they should decrease the wages of native workers. However, the issue is more complicated than this for two reasons that have been largely overlooked.

Competing for Global Talent: The Race Begins with Foreign Students

September 1, 2006

In order to retain its competitive edge in global knowledge production and its leadership in research and education, the United States has to remain open to talented people from around the world. However, the status of the United States as the preferred destination for foreign students and scholars faces serious challenges. As global competition intensifies for professionals and high-tech workers, doctors and nurses, and university students and researchers, will the United States remain in the forefront in attracting the best and the brightest? Recognizing that today's foreign students are potential contributors to the American knowledge-based economy, as well as ambassadors of public diplomacy abroad, it is in the national interest of the United States to maintain its historical openness to foreign students. By developing a concerted strategy to attract and retain skilled and educated students and workers from around the world, the United States can turn its existing strengths into long-term competitive advantages, building upon its international reputation for superb education and cutting-edge research. Among the findings of this report: Beginning in 2002/03 (the first academic year after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) the annual growth rate of total and graduate-level enrollments by foreign students in U.S. colleges and universities fell significantly. The decline in total foreign student enrollment in 2003/04 was the first in 30 years, while the decline in foreign graduate student enrollment in 2004/05 was the first in 9 years. Tightened visa procedures and entry conditions for international students, which were implemented in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, have dampened the demand for student visas. The number of F-1 student-visa applications submitted each year dropped by nearly 100,000 between Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 and FY 2004, particularly among students from Middle Eastern, North African, and some Southeast Asian countries. Australia, Canada, South Korea, and many European countries have been actively recruiting foreign talent in order to alleviate labor shortages in skill-intensive sectors of their economies, stimulate research and development, and increase their access to foreign markets. To attract students from abroad, these nations use a combination of American-style educational programs, free or subsidized tuition for foreign students, and eased routes for permanent immigration for foreign students after graduation. While foreign students' share of the total student population barely changed in the United States between 1998 and 2003, it increased by nearly half in Australia, more than tripled in New Zealand, and almost doubled in Sweden. China and India, which together account for 25 percent of all foreign students and about 28 percent of all international scholars in the United States, are committing significant resources to boosting their own innovative and educational capacities in order to aid their economic development and better meet the educational needs of their rapidly growing populations.

Building a Competitive Workforce: Immigration and the U.S. Manufacturing Sector

July 31, 2006

Shortages of skilled labor constitute the foremost challenge confronting U.S. manufacturers who face growing competition from manufacturers in Asia, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere. Demand for professionals with university degrees is rising as manufacturing becomes increasingly high tech. But the U.S. educational system is not producing enough highly educated native-born manufacturing workers to meet this growing demand. Moreover, the pending retirements of Baby Boom generation workers will further constrain the growth of the manufacturing labor force. Bridging this gap between the supply and demand for skilled workers requires new investments in the U.S. educational system and the formulation of immigration policies that respond to the labor needs of the U.S. economy. Yet current immigration policies, especially since 9/11, have made it more difficult for highly skilled professionals from abroad to enter the United States. Among the findings of this report:In 2005, 90 percent of manufacturers surveyed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reported "moderate to severe" shortages of skilled production workers, while 65 percent indicated "moderate to severe" shortages of scientists and engineers.In order to hedge against worker shortages, and in response to mounting global competition, American manufacturers are boosting investments in industrial automation, robotics, and other labor-saving equipment that requires a high level of skill to operate. These developments are raising demand for highly educated manufacturing workers.Even during the 2000-02 recession, during which 2.8 million manufacturing jobs disappeared, high-salaried positions for machinists, tool and die makers, and welders went unfilled owing to a paucity of qualified applicants. NAM estimates that U.S. manufacturers will face a deficit of 10 million skilled workers by 2020 if these trends go unchecked.In 2004, immigrants represented large shares of advanced degree holders in technology-intensive manufacturing industries: machinery (65.4 percent), measurement/control instruments (48.2 percent), electronic components (44.6 percent), computers/peripherals (44.4 percent), communications equipment (39.8 percent), and medical equipment (37.3 percent).Between 2001 and 2004, the number of foreignborn workers with advanced degrees rose in 7 industries (machinery, electronic components, aircraft, computers/peripherals, measurement/control instruments, motor vehicles, and aerospace) and declined in 3 (pharmaceuticals, communication equipment, and medical equipment).