In this blog, we look at the economic implications of immigration in general as well as the impact employment has on immigration and that immigration has on employment.

Special attribution for figures identified below with an * is given to the YouTube podcast video titled “What Would Happen if All Immigration to the US Stopped?”. This podcast was moderated by Rodolfo (Rudy) Rivera, Chief International Counsel for Fidelity National Financial and Adjunct Professor at Washington University, School of Law. Participating in the panel were Melissa Dearing and Chris Schulte, both immigration attorneys with Smith Gambrelle & Russell.

To understand the issue of immigration in general, it is important that all aspects are considered from the human impact to the economic impact. This blog includes selected information in addition to that from the podcast from the Center for Immigration Studies at (CIS). Below is a small sampling of the various statistics available.

As of November 25, 2022, the United States resident population was 333.314,658 with one “international migrant (net) every 126 seconds” and a net gain of one person every 41 seconds. At the end of the third quarter there were 1,699,636 pending immigration court cases with 504.026 initial receipts and 205.164 completions which represents an ongoing backlog growth.

The most recent available statistics yearbook from EOIR (U.S. Department of Justice) which is responsible for adjudicating immigration cases is 2018. In 2018, there were over 52,000 Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests regarding immigration made of the U.S. Department of Justice. The pending caseload at that time was 789,258 representing a substantial interest in the topic of immigration.

The most recent foreign labor certification annual report is dated 2016 though statistics in different forms are available for periods after that date. The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) provides information about employment-based immigration programs administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Its mission is to help U.S. employers fill jobs while protecting U.S. and foreign workers.  In FY 2016, OFLC processed 775.979 applications for 1.699.957 positions for temporary and permanent labor certification, the top states filing being California, Texas, and New York and PERM being the predominate employer need expressed through these applications.

According to the Migration Data Portal the total number of international migrants at mid-year 2020 was 50.6 million which equated to 15.3% of the population. The total number of emigrants was 3 million and the estimated net migration in 2022 was 561.600.

*Turning to the podcast we learn that while this is no cap on the H-2A agricultural program which has grown as people crossing illegally into the United States has decreased. However, the H-2B program which is capped was unable to admit those qualified and needed by employees in the United States because of quotas. The cap is about 85.000 and the USCIS received over 300,000 registrations. In March and September of 2021 over 1.2 million IT sector positions were unfilled, and the U.S. needs H-1B workers to fill those positions while quotas do not permit additional admissions.

*The National Academies of Science and Engineering and Medicine reported that immigrants added 2 trillion dollars to the U.S. gross domestic product GDP in 2016 in addition to state and local and federal taxes collected on earnings, including contributions to Social Security. These figures include both documented and undocumented workers.

According to the American Immigration Council (AIC) the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) suggests that at least 50 percent of undocumented immigrant households file income tax returns, and many who do not file still have deductions for taxes taken from their checks.

According to ITEP’s estimates, undocumented immigrants paid $11.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2013, excluding federal taxes.  It estimates that if all undocumented immigrants were granted legal permanent resident status state and local contributions alone would increase over $2 billion. AIC goes onto to estimate that in the first three years following legalization, the “higher earning power of newly legalized workers…would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue at the federal level, quoting a 2010 study from the North American Integration and Development (NAID Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Such revenue would be expected to increase as workers would be able to be moved into managerial positions earning more money and replacement workers hired.

There are thousands of pieces of data and statistics for immigration. In general, the data is difficult to do comparative analysis because of the delay in some data from certain government sectors. It appears that when you look at whether immigration processes have been expedited, in general they have not. For example, lines to check-in for immigration status in New York for confirmed appointments are close to 24 hours wait as reported in late November 2022. Many various processing points are over-capacity, the court system is over-capacity, the processing times are delayed, the requirements of the immigrants are sometimes impossible to meet (such as proof of who they are when potentially refugees), and the willingness and ability of immigration and the U.S, Congress to increase quotas and reduce burdensome requirements as a whole to fill the needs of employers is not apparent.

Immigration Restrictionism, reflected in the data in the United States, is not a new concept, nor has it ever disappeared. The United States uses various methods to restrict immigration from quotas to background requirements to medical screenings to sponsorship requirements to physical barriers to migrant protection protocols for entry. The U.S. Congress has not been able to pass a new comprehensive immigration bill even though it is expressed its intent to do so. Immigration processes are a series of executive band-aids and policies coupled without the resources to smoothly implement the initiatives.