20 March 2019

Asylum Seekers

Welcome back. Let me guess. You don’t want to read another word about migrants, refugees, immigration or asylum seekers, legal or illegal, and here I am adding a blog post on the topic. I promise not to mention anyone in the White House or Congress. Instead, I’ll just review the status, polls of American attitudes and a research study whose results may surprise you. Feel free to stop reading at any time.
Immigration word collage--“asylum seeker” should
be added
(from revitalizationnews.com/).
U.S. Immigration
OK, first, let’s get the count straight. The World Factbook estimates the net immigration rate of the U.S. in 2017--the number of persons entering the country minus those leaving--was 3.9 per 1,000 persons. Somehow, that doesn’t sound like much of an invasion.

Two Mexican nationals found in
car trunk at border checkpoint

As for illegal immigrants, a Washington Post article highlighted the small contribution of illegal border crossings, citing Department of Homeland Security and Institute for Defense Analyses data: 170,000 illegal crossings occurred beyond southwest border checkpoints in 2016--that’s down about 90% since 2000--and an estimated 10% to 20% more entered illegally at the checkpoints.

Despite the emphasis on border control, the data also estimate that at least three times more people were in the U.S. illegally in 2016 because they overstayed their visas.

Americans View of Immigration

A 2018 Gallup Poll found 75% of Americans think immigration is a good thing. When the survey question stated legal immigration instead of just immigration, the percentage increased to 84%.

While Americans are strongly in favor of immigration, another 2018 Gallup Poll found 14% of Americans identified immigration as the most important problem facing the country. Given the controversies regarding policy and separation of immigrant children from parents, the concern about immigration now ranks second only to concerns about government leadership. (Nearly one in five Americans, 19%, say the government is the most important problem.)

U.S. Immigrants from Latin America
The Pew Research Center estimated there were 11.7 million immigrants from Mexico living in the U.S. in 2014. Although about half were living in the U.S. illegally, the number fell by over 1 million after 2007. By 2014, 78% of the illegal immigrants had lived in the U.S. for 10 years or longer.

Border Patrol officer at
border wall
In contrast to the drop in Mexican immigrants, the Pew Research Center estimated the number of legal and illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras rose by 25% from 2007 to 2015. Possible causes for the increase include high homicide rates, gang activity and other violence in those countries, as well as the same attractions for other migrants--economic opportunity and family ties.

Effect of Asylum Seekers on Economy
A study by collaborating researchers from France’s Paris School of Economics, University Clermont Auvergne and University Paris Nanterre examined the economic and fiscal effects of inflows of asylum seekers into 15 Western European countries from 1985 to 2015.

The researchers relied on an empirical methodology that is widely used to estimate the macroeconomic effects of structural shocks, such as natural disasters. To assess nations’ economic well-being, they measured average incomes over the years by dividing a country’s gross domestic product by its population. They also calculated the fiscal balance, which subtracts the amount of money a country spent on public programs, such as welfare, from the amount of money raised through taxes.

The investigators looked separately at the effects of migrants, who are legally allowed to settle in a country, and asylum seekers, who reside temporarily in a nation while their applications for refugee status are processed.

Wrap Up

The study findings refute the notion that migrants and asylum seekers pose a financial burden on the countries. Modeling showed refugees and migrants benefit their host nations’ economies within five years, while the economic benefits of asylum seekers can take longer--from 3 to 7 years--and be less obvious. Asylum seekers often face restrictions on working and must move to another country if permanent residency is denied.

Illegal immigration should be stopped by defining and focusing on the problem, not the politics. Asylum seekers must be heard. Thanks for stopping by.

World Fact Book net migration rates: www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2112rank.html
Washington Post article on immigrants: www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/25/most-immigrants-who-enter-the-country-do-so-legally-federal-data-show/
Gallop polls on immigration:
Pew Research Center surveys of Latin American immigration:
Study of economic effects of migrants and asylum seekers in western Europe in Science Advances journal and article on study in Nature:
Fact Sheet on asylum in U.S.: www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/asylum-united-states

A version of this blog post appeared earlier on www.warrensnotice.com.

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