Steven A. Camarota's blog

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Births to Unmarried Mothers by Nativity and Education

By Steven A. Camarota, May 5, 2017

Immigrants account for a large share of births in the United States. Almost one in four births (22.6 percent) in 2015 were to foreign-born mothers. As recently as 1990 it was just 7.9 percent. As a share of all births, the figure for 2015 may be the in highest American history. In 1910, the last peak in immigration, immigrants accounted for 21.9 percent of births. The tables below examine births by the education, race, and marital status of mothers based on 2015 data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The data reflect what is shown on certifications as reported by the states to the National Center for Health Statistics. Read more...

Even Cato Agrees: A Border Wall Can Pay for Itself

By Steven A. Camarota, May 1, 2017

In a recent report published by the Center for Immigration Studies, I examined the fiscal costs of illegal immigrants who cross the border based on estimates developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). I then estimated how many illegal border-crossers a wall would have to stop or deter to pay for itself.

Last week Cato Institute authors Alex Nowrasteh and David Bier published a blog post criticizing my analysis. For the most part, their comments reflect their opinions concerning the marginal impact of things like the cost of more Border Patrol agents or whether state and local costs should count, rather than actually addressing the real cost of a wall. One interesting point they argue is that illegal immigrants are somewhat more educated than I estimated, but they do not explain how they created their estimates and I have not been able to replicate their numbers. Nonetheless, the Cato authors still find that illegal border-crossers cost $43,444 during their lifetimes, or $4.3 billion per 100,000. So, despite the Cato blog post being titled "The Border Wall Cannot Pay for Itself", their own cost estimates would simply mean that a border wall would have to stop 16 to 20 percent of those expected in the next decade to pay for itself (as opposed to 9 to 12 percent in my estimate).

Some of the specific issues with Cato's critique: Read more...

'The Case Against Immigration' in the Journal 'Foreign Affairs'

By Steven A. Camarota, March 31, 2017

From a piece by me posted today at the Foreign Affairs site:

In the United States, there is strong evidence that the national interest has not been well served by the country’s immigration policy over the last five decades. Even as levels of immigration have approached historic highs, debate on the topic has been subdued, and policymakers and opinion leaders in both parties have tended to overstate the benefits and understate or ignore the costs of immigration. It would make a great deal of sense for the country to reform its immigration policies by more vigorously enforcing existing laws, and by moving away from the current system, which primarily admits immigrants based on family relationships, toward one based on the interests of Americans.

Survey Highlights Popularity of Immigration Enforcement
Majority want legal immigration cut by half or more

By Steven A. Camarota, November 7, 2016
Majority want legal immigration cut by half or more

Using neutral language, a new poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted November 1-3 by Pulse Opinion Research for the Center for Immigration Studies shows that the public wants immigration laws enforced, and the level of legal immigration reduced. Unlike many other polls, which give the public the false choice of mass deportation or a "path to citizenship", this poll asked respondents if they support causing illegal immigrants to leave the country by enforcing the law. A majority of the public supported this approach; and a majority or plurality supported it among almost all demographic groups, including Hispanics. Moreover, a majority of Americans want a level of legal immigration significantly lower than the current level; few want the kinds of increases contained in the Gang of Eight bill from 2013. Read more...

A Look at the New Center for Migration Studies Illegal Population Estimates

By Steven A. Camarota, February 8, 2016

The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) recently released a report entitled, "US Undocumented Population Drops Below 11 Million in 2014, with Continued Declines in the Mexican Undocumented Population". The CMS write-up emphasizes a "continued decline" in the illegal population, but the change from 2012 to 2014 they report is less than 2 percent. More important, the data they use to estimate illegal immigration has a margin of error, so it is not really possible to draw the conclusion that there has been a significant change since 2012. Among the things to keep in mind when reading the CMS report are: Read more...

The Demographic, Economic, and Fiscal Impact of Immigration

By Steven A. Camarota, February 2, 2016

Below is a PowerPoint presentation I used at an event in New York City last week organized by Impact New York. The presentation deals with the demographic, economic, and fiscal impact of immigration. As I get a lot of questions about these topics, I thought this PowerPoint might be a useful overview. Anyone who wishes to do so may download it and distribute it, with attribution. Read more...

No Evidence of Labor Shortage in H-2B Occupations

By Steven A. Camarota, January 6, 2016

Buried in the omnibus spending bill was an expansion in the H-2B visa program for less-skilled seasonal workers outside of agriculture. The changes will not increase the current H-2B visa cap, but instead will exclude from the cap workers who have received an H-2B visa in the last three years. As John Miano has pointed out, the provision could theoretically quadruple the number of visas for this year, to 264,000, though the actual increase is likely to be smaller. (David North reports that last time this provision was passed, in 2007, the number more than doubled.)

In a recent radio interview, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) justified the insertion of this provision on the grounds that without it businesses would face shortages of seasonal workers of the kind covered by the program.

Is there evidence for Ryan's claim of a labor shortage? Read more...

Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children

By Steven A. Camarota, December 11, 2015

The nation's immigrant (foreign-born) population has grown considerably in recent decades. In 2014, the number stood at over 42 million based on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS). In addition to the immigrants themselves, there are also their U.S.-born children. The ACS does not ask respondents about their parents' birthplace, but the bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS) does. There are 16.7 million U.S.-born children (under age 18) with either an immigrant father or mother living in the country. The table below reports figures by sending regions and other categories. In total, 59 million immigrants and their children under age 18 live in the United States, accounting for roughly one in six U.S. residents. Read more...

Failing to Meet the Challenge of Educating Children of Immigrants

By Steven A. Camarota, December 4, 2015

After the federal government released the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress — the "Nation's Report Card" — we noted that children from poor families and from households that do not speak English continue to struggle. School quality certainly matters, but at present our school system's ability to raise the achievement level of at-risk children is limited. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on how to turn things around.

It seems very likely that immigration policy is exacerbating these challenges. Almost one in three students receiving free or reduced-priced school lunch — a common measure of poverty — is from an immigrant-headed household, as are 73 percent of children who speak a language other than English at home. Read more...

Fertility Among Immigrants Varies Significantly

By Steven A. Camarota, November 30, 2015

Fertility among immigrants varies significantly. Some groups of immigrants or those from some regions tend to have birth rates that are much higher than that of natives, while others are more similar. The table below reports the number of births per thousand for immigrant and native women based on the recently released 2014 American Community Survey. The survey asks women in their child-bearing years if they gave birth in the prior year. Read more...

The Wall Street Journal's Misguided Attack on the CIS Immigrant Welfare Study

By Steven A. Camarota, October 9, 2015

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial this week that highlighted the positive aspects of the National Research Council's mixed assessment of immigrant integration. The Journal's positive spin is unsurprising, given that its editors have been advocates of open borders for decades.

More surprising – or if not surprising, at least disappointing – is that the Journal included a deeply misguided attack on CIS's recent study of immigrant welfare usage. Our study found that 51 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one form of welfare in 2012, compared to 30 percent of native households. Here is how the Journal described that study: Read more...

Responding to a Critic of CIS's Welfare Study

By Steven A. Camarota, September 4, 2015

The Center for Immigration Studies released a report this week showing that 51 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one welfare program in 2012, compared to 30 percent of households headed by the native-born.

The report has garnered significant media attention, and along with that attention have come the inevitable attempts at rebuttals from advocates of high immigration. One of the most frenetic critics has been the Cato Institute's Alex Nowrasteh. We usually don't respond point-by-point when so many of the points are merely distractions or frankly just silly — it grants an undeserved credibility to the distractions — but for people who like bullet points, here are our responses: Read more...

Cato Institute Misses the Point on Immigrant Welfare Use — Again

By Steven A. Camarota, September 3, 2015

The Center for Immigration Studies released a new report yesterday showing that 51 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one welfare program in 2012, compared to 30 percent of native households.

The welfare use estimates are higher than in previous reports because we used the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) rather than the Current Population Survey (CPS). Although it's easier to use than the SIPP, the CPS focuses primarily on the labor market and undercounts household welfare use. Specifically designed to capture welfare use, the SIPP shows higher use — in some cases, dramatically higher use — than the CPS. Read more...

Should We Be Importing More Farm Workers?

By Steven A. Camarota, August 21, 2015

As happens every few years, there is a renewed push to bring more farm workers to the United States. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reads like a press release from the agriculture lobby. But real wages for farm workers show very modest increases in recent years — even open borders advocates agree it's less than 1 percent a year adjusted for inflation — and this is strong evidence there is no shortage. Plus, even if there is a shortage one can reasonably ask why that would be bad. A tight labor market would exert upward pressure on wages for what is very difficult, low-paying work done in the hot sun. Read more...

Each Skilled Immigrant Creates 2.5 Jobs for Natives?

By Steven A. Camarota, August 18, 2015

Immigrants with skill-based visas certainly bring some economic benefits, but one cost is the increased wage and employment competition faced by natives with similar skills. This is a not a trivial concern given that most "high-skill" H-1B immigrants are not exemplary — they're mostly run-of-the-mill college graduates who compete with middle-class natives. Read more...

Immigration Reduction Is the Mainstream Position

By Steven A. Camarota, July 28, 2015

Donald Trump's surge in the polls owes much to his willingness to talk about immigration. By focusing on issues such as border enforcement and immigrant crime, he has tapped into the public's unmet desire for a candidate who is genuinely skeptical about mass immigration.

That desire is reflected in polling data that show Americans generally prefer less immigration over more immigration. Here is a sample of polls that ask about immigration as a broad issue, from the aggregator site PollingReport.com: Read more...

Straight Talk about Immigrant Crime

By Steven A. Camarota, July 23, 2015

When he announced his candidacy for president in mid-June, Donald Trump made the provocative assertion that Mexican immigrants are “bringing crime.” The comment gained greater resonance when, two weeks after Trump’s speech, Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed in San Francisco by an illegal alien from Mexico. The alien, Francisco Sanchez, had been in local police custody back in April, and federal officials intended to deport him. But Sanchez was instead released due to San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy.

In response to the resulting outcry, some mainstream media outlets correctly noted that, although good data are hard to come by, the overall immigrant crime rate does not appear to be especially high. But then advocates of mass immigration went much further, making wild claims that Mexican immigrants have a miniscule crime rate that somehow even suppresses native crime. Only an uninformed rabble-rouser would worry about criminals crossing our borders, according to immigration enthusiasts. Read more...

New Fiscal Study of Immigration Tells Only Half the Story

By Steven A. Camarota, May 6, 2015

The fiscal impact of immigration can be felt at every level of government, straining the resources of federal, state, and local taxpayers alike. So it is frustrating that the mainstream media focus almost exclusively on the federal budgetary consequences of immigration.

For example, when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill from 2013, it analyzed only federal effects (except for a narrow set of unfunded mandates related to immigration enforcement). That analysis did not focus on the amnesty portion of the legislation; it combined some positive assumptions about future legal immigrants and came up with a slightly positive fiscal impact at the federal level. None of this stopped Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) from proclaiming that the CBO's report "proves once and for all that immigration reform is not only right to do to stay true to our nation's principles, it will also boost our economy, reduce the deficit, and create jobs." How Sen. Schumer could draw that conclusion without any estimate of the state and local effects is not clear. Read more...

There Are Possibly 36,000 Birth Tourists Annually

By Steven A. Camarota, April 28, 2015

We cannot say with a great deal of certainty how many people are taking advantage of America's citizenship laws by visiting the country to have their children. One potential source of data on "birth tourism", as it is sometimes called, is birth certificate records. But it must be emphasized that the characteristics of mothers and fathers in these records are based on self-reporting. Parents fill out forms in the hospital shortly after the baby is born and, among other questions, are asked their place of birth and their address. Read more...

FactCheck Misleads on Amnesty Costs

By Steven A. Camarota, April 17, 2015

The website FactCheck.org criticized a recent ad by Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) for calling attention to the tax refund implications of the president's administrative amnesty. In its response, FactCheck agreed with CAPS that illegal immigrants may collect $1.7 billion in tax refunds from previous years because of the president's decrees. But FactCheck goes beyond fact-checking to argue that 1) the tax refunds should be considered only as part of the overall fiscal impact of amnesty; and 2) this overall impact is positive. Both arguments are problematic. Read more...

Give Me Your Tired Arguments, Your Poor Reasoning

By Steven A. Camarota, March 30, 2015

From my March 28 article in National Review Online:

In a very one-sided recent article for the New York Times Magazine, Adam Davidson tries to make the case for massive increases in immigration. He starts out by dicussing the racial prejudice of an older relative who always thought that Hispanics "were stealing jobs." Davidson believes this man's story is illustrative of the current debate over immigration.

Washington Post Reporter Fails Her Own "Pinocchio Test"

By Steven A. Camarota, January 28, 2015

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) recently cited a study published by CIS in June while discussing jobs and immigration. Michelle Ye Hee Lee did a "fact check" of his comments for the Washington Post and gave him three out of four Pinocchios. Her article seems designed to nitpick what Santorum said rather than to judge its truthfulness. According to Lee, Santorum stated the following at the Iowa Freedom Summit: "There are fewer Americans working today who were born in this country than there were in the year 2000." Lee's main point is that Santorum is drawing from our study and that his statement only relates to the 16- to 65-year-old population. (Those over 65 have made some gains, as we reported in our study.) So one can assume that Lee would have had no problem with Santorum's statement if he had just inserted "working age" right before the word "Americans". Or perhaps if he had just added "ages 16 to 65" right after "Americans". Read more...

Less-Educated Americans Continue to Struggle

By Steven A. Camarota, December 9, 2014

Although there has been significant job growth this year, the share of less-educated Americans holding a job continues to be well below what it was in 2007 or 2000. Data from the third quarter of this year still show that less-educated natives are struggling in the labor market. This is particularly true for less-educated minorities. If we look at the share of native-born Americans 18 to 65 with no more than a high school education or those natives with less than a bachelor's degree, the share working remains at or near historic lows. Read more...

Unilateral Amnesty Scheme Could Impact the Most Vulnerable Americans

By Steven A. Camarota, November 21, 2014

President Obama's executive amnesty announced this week may well come at the expense of the most vulnerable and poorest American workers. Once given work authorization, illegal immigrants are likely to compete with Americans for better-paying jobs that are now generally off-limits because they require background checks and valid Social Security numbers. Such jobs include: security guards, screeners, janitors, grounds keepers and clerks employed in the public sector, as well as most jobs associated with interstate transport and delivery. Read more...

AFL-CIO Gets Facts Wrong on Immigration

By Steven A. Camarota, October 31, 2014

New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark S. MacKenzie released a nonsensical statement about Center for Immigration Studies research cited by Senate Candidate Scott Brown in last night's debate: Read more...

Cato Institute Rebuttal to CIS Employment Report Is a Non Sequitur

By Steven A. Camarota, September 16, 2014

Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute, which argues for open borders and amnesty, has published a posting at Cato's blog that tries to refute a report authored by Karen Zeigler and myself showing just how bad the labor market is for native-born Americans. His efforts to refute our analysis are very odd. In some places he does not seem to have read the report. Read more...

A Shortage of STEM Workers?

By Steven A. Camarota, May 23, 2014

Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute and Philip Wolgin at the Center for American Progress (CAP) each comment on, but don't really try to refute, a new report that I co-authored on the lack of a shortage of STEM workers. The American Immigration Lawyers Association's Paul McDaniel also comments on the report at the association's American Immigration Council website. Like Nowrasteh and Wolgin, McDaniel doesn't really try to refute the report. He cites Cato and CAP and also repeat a number of the points from our report. Read more...

Immigration and Health Care

By Steven A. Camarota, May 6, 2014

Download a PDF of this PowerPoint presentation.

I presented the following PowerPoint yesterday at a panel discussion on immigration and health care sponsored by the Galen Institute and the Heritage Foundation. It provides a brief overview of statistics on immigration and health care. It shows that immigration has enormous implications for the nation's health care system. Read more...

Immigration Has Little Impact on U.S. Aging: New Census projections show small effect on working-age share of population

By Steven A. Camarota, May 16, 2013

The Census Bureau has released new projections that examine the impact of different levels of immigration on the United States. The projections, analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies, show what demographers have long known: immigration has only a small impact on slowing the aging of America. Read more...