How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Illegal immigration from Mexico is down, but legal immigration isn't

Photo by Nathan Gibbs/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A family looks north into the United States from Playas de Tijuana, January 2009

Photo by Nathan Gibbs/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A family looks north into the United States from Playas de Tijuana, January 2009

In a short piece in The Atlantic today, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Shannon K. O'Neill points out that as net migration to the U.S. from Mexico has dropped sharply in recent years, there's an interesting wrinkle to the northbound migration that continues.

While illegal immigration from Mexico to the U.S. has decreased, legal immigration from Mexico is holding steady. And compared with the level of unauthorized vs. authorized migration from Mexico a decade ago, the percentage of those coming legally is way up. O'Neill writes:

Another migratory change has also occurred: of the Mexicans that still come to the United States, many more do so legally. At the start of the twenty-first century, less than 10 percent came with papers. A decade later, it is 50 percent.

What the piece links to is a lengthy U.S. State Department


After 20 years of the H-1B visa, a mixed legacy

Photo by MoDOT Photos/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A worker at the keyboard, June 2010

Does anyone know that it's the 20th anniversary of the H-1B visa? The tech reporters at Computerworld do. The magazine has produced a special report on the temporary work visa used to bring over highly skilled foreign workers, many employed in the technology industry.

The report is educational and at times critical of the visa program, which its detractors have blamed for the displacement of native-born professionals and linked to the offshore outsourcing of U.S. jobs. From the introductory news analysis:

Over the years, supporters of the visa have included Microsoft's Bill Gates and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who in 2009 told Congress that the annual visa cap of 85,000 is "too small to meet the need" and that protecting U.S. IT workers from global competition creates a "privileged elite."

Groups like the Economic Policy Institute have begged to differ. In a report released just last month by EPI researcher Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, he argues that the H-1B along with the L-1 visa, which is used by multinational firms to transfer employees for temporary work, allow employers to bypass U.S. workers "when recruiting for open positions and even [to] replace outright existing American workers" with visa-holding foreigners.

The H-1B's wage requirements are too low, according to the report, and because visas are held by employers, not workers, the H-1B promotes a relationship "akin to indentured servitude."