Friday, June 21, 2013

Raw deal: Immigrants who paid a legal price say focus on illegals is ‘discouraging’

When Lucinda Sweazey’s family immigrated from Canada in 1999, it took seven years and an estimated $45,000 in legal, passport and visa fees for her parents and siblings to secure permanent resident status in the U.S.

“Our lawyer even mentioned to us when we were going through the process legally that it would have been easier if we came in illegally. We would have saved money, and there’s a good chance we would be citizens by now,” Ms. Sweazey said.

Now an undergraduate student at the King's College in New York City, the British Columbia native said the massive immigration overhaul working its way through the Senate could make a “mockery of legal immigration.”

If lawmakers offer a shortcut to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, she said, “it becomes rather discouraging to someone who came legally.”

Ms. Sweazey and other legal immigrants are voicing concerns that providing amnesty for those who arrived illegally will only encourage more of the same.

“We should not reward people for breaking the rules while we maintain burdensome rules for immigration,” said Liye Zhang, a software engineer in Castro Valley, Calif., who emigrated from China when he was 10.

Mr. Zhang, a strong opponent of amnesty, noted that one of his co-workers plans to obtain a master’s degree in order to get into “a slightly shorter line” for a green card — a process that ultimately will cost more than $300,000 in tuition and loss of salary.

“Giving green cards to illegal immigrants while not giving them to these people seems very much stupid and foolish,” Mr. Zhang said.

Mr. Zhang’s father secured a job in the U.S. in 1999 as a software engineer and obtained visas for his immediate family. Although they pursued citizenship as soon as they could, it took Mr. Zhang seven years to become a citizen.

“The process was long and exhausting,” he said, recalling his visits to immigration offices in San Francisco, many of which required early morning travel and long hours in lines. “It cost a great deal of money even though I am unsure how much precisely it was.”

In 2012, roughly 1 million people obtained legal permanent resident status and 750,000 received naturalization in the U.S., according to Department of Homeland Security numbers.

That is far fewer than the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally.

Of those 11 million, 1.4 million qualify as “Dreamers” — illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who have been offered a temporary reprieve from deportation by the Obama administration.

Deferral applications for the Dreamers are expected to further slow approvals for the 4.4 million people worldwide waiting for green cards, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

The backlog for those going through the process legally is expected to grow: Over the next 10 years, the immigration bill is expected to help legalize 32.5 million to 33.5 million people, including the 11 million current illegals, according to estimates by the left-wing Center for American Progress and NumbersUSA, which opposes the bill.

Looking for a solution

Supporters say the population boost will help the economy, and the path to citizenship will help solve one of the nation’s most vexing legal problems. And don’t call it amnesty, they say.

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, points to provisions in the bill that require illegal immigrants to undergo background checks, pay taxes and a fine, and wait for a probationary period before obtaining citizenship, which can take up to 15 years.

“Earned legalization is not amnesty,” he said during an immigration forum last week sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers. “I will debate anybody who tries to suggest that these ideas that are moving through Congress are amnesty. They’re not. Amnesty is wiping the slate clean and not paying any penalty for having done something wrong.”

But Luis Pozzollo, a naturalized citizen from Uruguay, said the immigration bill is “plain amnesty” because it provides benefits for illegals such as in-state tuition, does not help stem illegal immigration and provides no efficient border security.

“Coming illegally to a country and breaking every law you can, misusing and abusing all the benefits in America, is not the way to get citizenship or a green card,” said Mr. Pozzollo, a safety and operations supervisor at an auto plant. “Citizenship for immigrants is a privilege, not a handout.”

Mr. Pozzollo arrived in Lexington, Ky., in 2003 on a work visa and waited several years to apply for his green card and then for citizenship. He was naturalized last year.

Mr. Pozzollo is involved in several organizations that “support legal immigration and oppose illegal immigration.”

By considering amnesty for illegals, Congress will be taking away chances from qualified applicants and giving them to people, he said, who “failed to comply with American laws.”


CBO: Gang of Eight Bill Will Fail to Stop Illegal Immigration

Nearly 5 million new illegals and their children expected by 2023

The central purpose of the Schumer-Rubio bill (S.744) is to reduce future illegal immigration. In fact, Sen. Chuck Schumer has said that its passage would mean "Illegal immigration will be a thing of the past."

But the Center for Immigration Studies finds that the new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the legislation, S744.pdf, confirms that the bill will almost completely fail in this regard. According to CBO, if S.744 passes, "the net annual flow of unauthorized residents would decrease by 25 percent." Because S.744 fails to stem a larger portion of illegal immigration, CBO projects that nearly 5 million new illegal immigrants and their children will be living in the United States 10 years after the bill passes.

Among CBO's findings:

· CBO projects 4.8 million new illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born children will be living in the country by 2023 if the bill becomes law, compared to 6.4 million without it – a mere 25% reduction in future illegal immigration (page 23).

· CBO projections mean that in the first ten years after the passage of S.744, new illegal immigration will add nearly 500,000 illegal residents and their children to the U.S. population each year.

· CBO projects that by 2033 7.5 million new illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born children will be in the country if the bill passes, compared to 10 million without the bill, so even in the very long term S.744 only reduces illegal immigration by 25% (page 23).

· To be clear, the 4.8 million new illegal immigrants and their children in the country by 2023 and the 6.4 million by 2033 are new arrivals, plus the children they will have once here.

· One of the reasons that illegal immigration will remain so high, according to CBO, is the bill itself will encourage illegal immigration. CBO states, "aspects of the bill would probably increase the number of unauthorized residents – in particular, people overstaying their visas issued under the new programs for temporary workers"(page 23).

· None of the costs associated with the 4.8 million illegals and their children in 2023 or the 7.5 million in 2033 are considered by CBO because they are assumed to be part of the "baseline" costs that would exist anyway. CBO only "scores" changes from the baseline. Thus, the projected slight fall off in illegal immigration (25%) is scored as a positive by CBO, no matter how large the actual costs of new illegal immigrants and their children.

Explaining CBO projections of future illegal immigration

On page 23 of its report CBO projects future levels of illegal immigration. Like much in the CBO report, the discussion of future illegal immigration is not particularly clear. However, CBO does state, "the net annual flow of unauthorized residents would decrease by about 25 percent relative to what would occur under current law, resulting in a reduction in the U.S. population (including a reduction in the number of children born in the United States) relative to that benchmark of 1.6 million in 2023 and 2.5 million in 2033." Thus, according to CBO, the total new illegal immigrant population (plus children) would have been 6.4 million by 2023, but will be 4.8 million if S.744 passes, which is 25 percent (1.6 million) smaller than it otherwise would have been. By 2033 the illegal population (plus children) will be 7.5 million which is 25% (2.5 million) smaller than the 10 million it would otherwise have been.

The costs of S.744

CBO also estimates the costs of S.744. But how those costs are calculated is not clearly explained, so they are difficult to evaluate. It is the intention of the Center for Immigration Studies to evaluate these cost estimates in future publications.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820,  Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076.  Email: Contact: Marguerite Telford, 202-466-8185,  The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.  The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

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