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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As the H-2B visa program grows, the need for reforms that protect workers is greater than ever

August 18, 2022

What this report finds: The H-2B program—which allows U.S. employers to hire migrant workers for temporary and seasonal jobs—is growing and will reach its largest size ever in 2022. At the same time, mass violations of wage and hour laws are being committed in the industries that employ H-2B workers. Department of Labor data show that nearly $1.8 billion was stolen from workers employed in the main H-2B industries (which includes both U.S. and migrant workers) between 2000 and 2021.Why it matters: The Biden administration has been increasing the size of the H-2B program while H-2B workers are in a vulnerable situation. Their precarious immigration status makes it difficult for them to complain when their employers break the law. This report is timely because the Biden administration is currently considering new changes to the H-2B program.What can be done about it: The Biden administration can issue new regulations that protect H-2B workers and that screen out and prohibit employers from hiring through H-2B if they have a track record of violating wage and hour and labor laws. The administration can also issue new rules to protect workers from employer retaliation and can issue better wage rules.

Economic Experience of Afghans Who Arrived Through Operation Allies Welcome

August 11, 2022

The Economic Empowerment Team for U.S. Programs at the IRC worked on this report to illustrate the economic experiences and potential projected impact of Afghans who arrived through Operations Allies Welcome. This study revealed that Afghan parolees in the United States could contribute up to $200 million in taxes and $1.4 billion in earnings in their first year of employment alone. 

The Fairness for Farm Workers Act: It’s Time to End Discrimination against Farmworkers

June 29, 2022

This fact sheet examines the Fairness for Farm Workers Act, legislation to update the nation's labor laws to ensure farm workers receive fair wages and compensation. The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide overtime and additional minimum wage protections for farm workers.

Migrant Workers

Rampant Violations of Workers’ Rights Reveal Flaws of H-2A Visa Program

June 16, 2022

This fact sheet describes frequent violations of workers' rights and the need for reform in the H-2A visa program.

Migrant Workers

National Agricultural Workers Survey 2019-2020 Selected Statisticsdraft title

June 15, 2022

This fact sheet summarizes key findings from the recently released 2019-20 results of the U.S. Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS).

Migrant Workers

Climbing the Ladder: Roadblocks Faced by Immigrants in the New York City Construction Industry

May 23, 2022

As of 2021, immigrants comprised a larger share of the construction workforce than of any other sector in New York City (Office of the New York State Comptroller 2021). Between 2015 and 2019, immigrants comprised just 37 percent of the total New York City population, but 44 percent of the city's labor force and 63 percent of all its construction workers (Ruggles et al. 2021). The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) estimates that in this time period, 41 percent of the immigrant construction workforce was undocumented.Economic exploitation and safety hazards are prevalent across the entire construction industry. However, despite the essential role immigrants play in the construction industry in New York City and the United States, immigrant construction workers are especially vulnerable to exploitation and dangerous conditions. Lack of employment authorization, social safety nets, English proficiency, credentials recognition, and training opportunities, as well as discrimination place immigrants at a stark disadvantage as they try to enter, negotiate, and advance in this industry. For this report, the CMS research team interviewed 16 immigrant construction workers from 10 countries and 10 other experts in this industry, including business representatives, union organizers, and representatives of community-based organizations (CBOs). Five of these representatives were immigrants and former construction workers. With research assistance from the New York-based consulting firm Locker Associates, Inc., CMS used these interviews, together with several other data sources, to examine how construction workers in New York City find employment, their work arrangements, and barriers and conditions that endanger their health, safety, and economic well-being.

The Economic Benefits of the Empire State Licensing Act: Immigrants in New York State’s Workforce

May 16, 2022

New research from the American Immigration Council highlights the crucial role of immigrants and refugees in New York's workforce, as well as the need to reduce barriers to professional and occupational licenses for all New York residents. New York law currently prohibits many immigrants from obtaining state occupational and professional licenses, certificates, and registrations solely due to their immigration status. The Empire State Licensing Act would remove such barriers, expanding economic opportunities to all residents and in the process, help meet the state's pressing workforce needs.

The Climate Crisis and Its Impacts on Farmworkers

May 5, 2022

This Issue brief was prepared for Farmworker Justice's Environmental Justice Symposium (May 17 & 18th, 2022) addressing the impacts of the climate crisis on farmworkers in the areas of heat stress, pesticide exposure, food security, and water access.

Migrant Workers

Pathways to digital skills development for Latino workers

May 5, 2022

UpSkill America -- an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program -- and the Latinos and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, with support from Google.org, launched the Digital Skills and the Latino Workforce research project to better understand the challenges and opportunities that Latino workers and Latino business owners face to succeed in the digital economy. This report presents findings from a nationwide survey and in-depth interviews with employers of Latino frontline workers and workforce development organizations. The publication also identifies promising business practices and ecosystem approaches to developing the digital skills of the Latino workforce. Finally, the report concludes with a call-to-action for employers and workforce organizations to get involved in the planning process around the Digital Equity Act programs, to start in Summer 2022.

Amid Rising Inflation, Immigrant Workers Help Ease Labor Shortages

May 4, 2022

The U.S. finds itself grappling with the highest levels of inflation since the 1980s, caused largely by an imbalance between the demand and supply of both labor and goods and services. As labor makes up around two-thirds of the total production costs of private businesses, economists now worry that with the U.S. economy reaching full employment, without more workers, wage increases could push prices—and inflation—even higher.The U.S. labor force was already facing an aging crisis before the pandemic. Then COVID-19 discouraged even more people from working. On top of this, there has been record turnover among active workers, with many looking for better pay and working conditions in what is being called the Great Resignation.This leaves no clear way of meeting current labor demands domestically or filling the millions of new jobs that will be created over the next decade. While many jobs will be taken on by young people entering the workforce, demographic trends suggest that the labor market will still need immigrant workers to make up the shortfall.Using employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), data on job openings from Burning Glass, and data from the American Community Survey, we explore how immigration can help meet labor demands and steer the economy back to a sustainable growth path.

The Growing Demand for Physicians in Colorado

April 6, 2022

New research from the American Immigration Council highlights the crucial role immigrants and refugees in Colorado are playing to help address critical physician shortages. To meet the growing healthcare needs of the Centennial State, especially in rural counties, the state will need to implement policies that attract and retain immigrant talent that is complementary to the U.S.-born workforce, and that also builds career pathways for immigrants who already call the state home.

The Growing Demand for Healthcare Workers in Illinois

March 24, 2022

New research from the American Immigration Council highlights the crucial role immigrants in Illinois are playing to help address critical workforce shortages in the healthcare field. To meet the growing need for physicians and nurses, especially in rural counties, the state will need to implement policies that not only attract and retain immigrant talent that is complementary to the U.S.-born workforce, but that also build career pathways for the immigrants who already call the state home. This research brief highlights the growing demand for healthcare workers in the state and the need to reduce barriers for internationally trained professionals.