Immigration

Our economy is very dependent on foreign labor. Indeed, most of our workforce growth since 1990 has come from immigration, a trend that is expected to continue for at least the next 20 years. How these workers are employed, therefore, will have important implications for American economic health, as well as for national unity and social stability.

America’s employment-based immigration system is broken. The programs for admitting foreign workers for temporary and permanent jobs are rigid, cumbersome, and inefficient; do too little to protect the wages and working conditions of workers (foreign or domestic); do not respond very well to employers’ needs; and give almost no attention to adapting the number and characteristics of foreign workers to domestic labor shortages. The United States could benefit enormously from an immigration system that is more responsive to broader economic conditions.

 

Publications

A Matter of Justice: The Cost Savings of Universal Immigrant Legal Representation

Due process—the right to fair and equal treatment under the law—is one of the most fundamental values of the US legal system. Unfortunately, immigration proceedings are one area of that system where due process and the justice it affords is lacking. Immigration proceedings are the only part of the US legal system where there is no automatic right to be represented by an attorney in court.

Our latest report shows that a statewide legal defense fund, similar to one established by the City and County of Denver, would give due process to many immigrants who are not currently afforded it. In addition to allowing us to better live up to the values of our legal system, it would also result in millions of dollars in savings for workers, families, employers, and the state.

Making PA’s Undocumented Immigrants Mobile: Enacting Driver’s License Expansion Policy That Works for Everyone

Driving is such an essential part of basic mobility that most of us take it for granted. Many of us see no risk in simply getting in our cars and driving to a doctor’s appointment or to pick up groceries for our families. The right to free mobility, however, is not afforded to our undocumented immigrant population. In Pennsylvania, proof of legal residency is required for a driver’s license.

This policy is problematic in multiple ways. First, it makes it difficult for immigrant families to freely navigate their day-to-day activities and chores, secure employment, and provide for their families. Second, it hurts our state’s economy by making it difficult for undocumented immigrants to fill jobs for which they have the appropriate skills that might otherwise go unfilled. The undocumented immigrant population makes an important contribution to our economy and could make an even greater one if these residents were allowed access to driver’s licenses. Third, allowing undocumented immigrants to secure driver’s licenses would lead to safer streets and more insured drivers, which would reduce auto insurance costs. Finally, expanding access to driver’s licenses would not only be free for the state, but it would lead to increased state revenue from both sales taxes on auto-related purchases and driver’s license processing fees.

Connecticut Voices for Children’s Issue Briefing Book 2020-2022

Connecticut Voices for Children released their Issue Briefing Book 2020-2022.  Versions of this document have been developed throughout the 25 years of the organization’s history. As the state experiences the convergence of a health crisis, an economic recession due to that crisis, and a contentious and long-overdue conversation on race, the “Book” has been refreshed given Voices’ new, strategic aim toward economic justice and these unprecedented times. The Issue Briefing Book 2020-2022 is designed to be a starting point for shared knowledge around the research and recommendations that are fundamental to family economic security and the undergirding fiscal and economics, with the hope of advancing shared action.

Abridged Brief | Full Brief

The State of Working West Virginia 2019: The State of WV’s Immigrants

West Virginia’s immigrants come from all over the world and while a small share of the populations, they are broadly represented throughout the state’s workforce and economy. Read PDF of report.

But a fuller conversation about immigrants tends to be overshadowed by the controversy in the U.S. around immigration reform. This conversation all too often tends to paint immigrants as a homogenous group. The conversation ought to reflect an informed understanding of this dynamic population, its diverse contributions to the economy and the challenges immigrants face.

This report attempts to have that deeper conversation, reflecting on the history of immigrants in West Virginia, the challenges they have faced, how they’ve become enmeshed in the fabric of the state, and their role in the state today.