Industries Stress that Immigrants Can Ease U.S. Labor Shortage
This week some of the hardest hit industries criticized the U.S. government for not passing meaningful immigration reform to help tackle the labor shortage.
Experts have long argued that restrictive immigration policies have contributed to the U.S. labor shortage, and increasing the number of foreign-born workers would help fill millions of open positions. As of July 2022, there were 11.2 million job openings, but fewer than 6 million unemployed people to fill them.
In the agricultural sector, farmers and farming advocates are pushing the Senate to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would create a path to citizenship for foreign workers, grant legal status to undocumented laborers, and allow seasonal workers to legally remain in the country for longer.
The hospice sector relies heavily on immigrant workers, but hospices say the complex U.S. immigration process is making it difficult to hire and retain enough workers.
Meanwhile, the American trucking industry is short 80,000 truck drivers, a number that’s expected to increase to 160,000 by 2030. Foreign workers could be the answer to fill the gap. Canada has a similar problem, and plans to launch a visa program specifically aimed at foreign truck drivers, a model America could follow.
Or it could look to Australia. To ease its labor shortage, the Australian government announced last week it would increase its intake of permanent residents to 195,000, up by 35,000.
Unless the U.S. makes more work visas available, the worker shortage could double over the next decade. To learn more about how immigration impacts the U.S. economy, read our article on how immigration could help lower inflation, and our report on immigrant income, spending power, and taxation.
Biden Administration Ends Humanitarian Parole for Afghan Refugees
Beginning October 1st, 2022, Afghan nationals will no longer be able to enter the U.S. using the humanitarian parole process, marking a significant change in the U.S. government’s approach to resettlement of Afghan evacuees following the collapse of the Afghan government and takeover by the Taliban in August 2021.
Prior to this change, Afghan evacuees were typically admitted to the U.S. through a process known as parole. Of the approximately 86,000 Afghans who have been resettled in the U.S. since August 2021, roughly 90% were admitted via parole. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) clarified that the shift away from the use of parole will not impact applications that have already been filed.
The government’s main focus in the future will be to resettle three groups of Afghan evacuees: who qualify for permanent residence under specific immigration programs — immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, residents and Afghans already in the U.S.; Special Immigrant Visa holders; and the “most vulnerable” refugee applicants.
DHS Unveils Final Public Charge Rule
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its final version of the “public charge rule,” part ongoing efforts to dismantle a Trump-era policy that immigrant and civil rights advocates widely decried as a discriminatory wealth test for green card and visa applicants.
The final rule formalizes long-standing guidance within DHS that immigration officers use to decide whether an applicant is “likely at any time to become a public charge.”
That guidance, which has been in place since 1999, defined a public charge as someone who is “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” which was evidenced by either the use of public cash assistance to supplement the applicant’s income, or institutionalization of the applicant for long-term care at government expense.
The rule is scheduled to take effect on December 23, 2022.
October Visa Bulletin October Retrogresses for Some Indian Applicants
The U.S. Department of State released the Visa Bulletin for October 2022. While other countries saw no change, India EB-2 and EB-5 categories saw a regression of about 2 years and 10 months.
Though DHS managed to issue all available employment-based green cards for fiscal year 2022, which ends on September 30, the government estimates that it failed to use about 60,000 family-based green cards. Those family-based green cards are lost, and instead will be added to the employment-based category beginning October 1, the first day of FY2023.
Attempted Border Crossing Numbers Not as High as Early and Mid-2000s
Increased migrant arrivals to the U.S.-Mexico border are due in part to the fact that more people are arriving from certain countries, such as Cuba and Venezuela. However, it is also the result of migrants attempting to enter the U.S. multiple times after being turned away at the border.
Despite recent headlines, by some measurements the latest migration wave is not unprecedented and we saw more unlawful entries in the early and mid 2000s.