What is the Economic Cost–or Benefit—of Sanctuary Cities?

In the past election cycle, the term “sanctuary cities” was used quite a bit, often without defining it or providing an objective view of the advantages or disadvantages of adopting these policies. Cities considering adopting these policies should consider both their values and the economic costs or benefits of implementing sanctuary policies and what is entailed in enforcing immigration policy on a local level.

In 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, began a program called Secure Communities, which encouraged local law enforcement organizations to send arrested persons’ fingerprints to ICE to check for a record of illegal immigration. If there is a match, ICE issues a detainer against the jailed individual, so that they can be held in jail, even if they are not found to have committed a crime, while ICE decides if they should be deported. Continue reading “What is the Economic Cost–or Benefit—of Sanctuary Cities?”

Inside International Immigration in Pittsburgh: A look at High-Skilled High-Paying Occupations

Pittsburgh-ImmigrationRecently we were working on a grant about how to better prepare our workforce for the jobs available to them. During this process, I was asked to investigate H1-B Visa applications. What I found altered my perception about the nature of the highly-skilled, highly-paid immigrant worker population in Pittsburgh. Between October 2012 and March 2013, one thousand five hundred and twenty-four (1,524) immigrant visa applications were approved through the Department of Labor. All 1,524 H1-B Visa are for highly-skilled, highly-paid, and hard-to-fill positions. The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Continue reading “Inside International Immigration in Pittsburgh: A look at High-Skilled High-Paying Occupations”

Numbers Behind the News: 2,764

This is not exactly a “Number Behind the News” as we have traditionally used it in this series, but it should be.  2,764 is the number of immigrant investors admitted to the U.S. in 2011.  In 2002 that number was 51, so we have seen an incredible increase in these “job creators.”  Much of the boost is a result of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program.  Fourth Economy has been very excited by the prospect of this new tool for development and the potential it has to inject both new capital and new energy into regional development activities.

Continue reading “Numbers Behind the News: 2,764”

Thank You, Dayton

In an period where we seem to have forgotten how we all got here, Dayton has decided to swim against the stream of anti-immigrant fervor.  Tough new laws in Alabama and Georgia are proving effective in driving away undocumented immigrants and even more effective at slashing agricultural production.  Even though all those juicy farm worker jobs are there for the picking (sorry), American workers have not picked up the slack and these states are turning to ex-cons and chain gangs to pick the produce before it rots on the vine.

We have traded a group of workers we have labeled criminal because of their overwhelming desire to be in this country for a group of workers that became criminals despite their status as full-fledged American citizens.  It is ironic, but I am sure the humor is lost on both groups.

In this climate, Dayton has decided to go another way.  They are embracing immigration and even the immigrants that are a necessary part of it.  The Welcome Dayton plan hopes to use the economic and entrepreneurial energy of immigrants to grow its economy.  They have developed a comprehensive plan that covers business development, the justice system, culture, education, health and social services.  It is a model for other cities that want to return to America’s fundamental roots as a melting pot of people and ideas.