United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Legal immigration reform proposals : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, May 17, 1995 online

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tics of legal immigrants through FT 1993, as gathered by the U.S. Immigration and
Naturalization Service. Data on l^al admissions are summarized for those who ar-
rived during the 1980s, the 2-year period immediately before IMMACT took effect
(FYs 1990-1991), and the 2-year period after IMMACT took effect (FYs 1992-1993).


Aliens granted permanent resident status under the provisions of IRCA are treated
separately. Their characteristics are pertinent to understanding future immigration
trends, because their relatives account for a large share of the family backlog.


Asia and North America, principally Mexico, continued to be the two largest
source regions of legal immigrants, with 41.7 and 30.7 percent of the toted immi-
grants admitted during FYs 1992-1993, respectively. The percentage admitted from
these two regions decUned slightly from 72.9 in FYs 1990-1991 to 72.4 in 1992-
1993. The increases in the overall limits under IMMACT, however, have allowed for
increased numbers of immigrants from all the regions of the world. North America
and, especially Mexico, had the largest average annual increase between the two
two-year periods (68,022 or 36% increase), while Oceania had the smallest increase
(472 or 11% increase).

The countries with the largest increases in the number of immigrants admitted
between 1990-1991 and 1992-1993 were primarily countries that were major
sources during the 1980s: Mexico; Mainland China; Vietnam; and the Dominican
Republic. Other countries had large increases, both in terms of numbers and per-
cent: Poland; El Salvador; the United Kingdom; Ireland; and Japan.

The elimination of the per-country limit for 75 percent of the FB-2A spouses and
children of permanent residents allowed for increased immigration from countries
with large backlogs, such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Mexican immigra-
tion also increased due to the temporary category added under IMMACT allowing
for the immigration of spouses and children of legalization dependents — nearly
three-quarters of all legalization dependents were bom in Mexico and El Salvador.

The country with the largest increase in employment-based immigration was
Mainland China, which increased from an average of 2,585 a year before IMMACT
to 24,800 after IMMACT. More than one-half of the increase was due to the Chinese
Student Protection Act, which allowed certain Chinese persons in the United States
to ac^just status under the EB-3 category. Other countries with a large average an-
nual increase in employment-based immigration after IMMACT were: India; the
Philippines; Canada; the United Kingdom; and Taiwan. Immigrants from El Sal-
vador, who previously had been the largest group entering under the old 6th pref-
erence, decUned an average of 800 over the two two-year periods, a decline largely
due to the reduction in the number of visas available for unskilled workers.

Of the 120,000 transitional diversity visas issued in FYs 1992-1994, 40 percent
were legislated to go to natives of Ireland. During the first two years of the pro-
gram, Ireland accounted for 33.1 percent of the arrivals, second to Poland with 35.9
percent. The number of Irish immigrants entering the United States did not reach
40 percent because of a lack of demand. The transitional diversity program was
largely responsible for the significant increases in immigration from these two coun-
tries. Other countries accounting for a large number of diversity immigrants during
FYs 1992-1993 were the United Kingdom (8.6 percent) and Japan (8.3).


The median age of immigrants admitted in FY 1992 and FY 1993 was twenty-
eight years, no cUfferent than immigrants admitted in FYs 1990-1991, and only a
slight increase (from twenty-seven) for immigrants admitted during FYs 1982-1989.
Even though the median ages did not change significantly between the two-year pe-
riods beginning in 1990 and 1992, the data indicate a long-term trend towards a
more even distribution of immigrants by age. Although the largest number of enter-
ing immigrants are t)rpically in their twenties, recently the percentage of immi-
grants who enter in iJieir twenties has dechned and the percentage of immigrants
who enter in their forties and fifties has increased. It is difficult to draw any conclu-
sions from these data on the impact of IMMACT, as the change appears to predate
IMMACT. IRCA immigrants were much older than other immigrants at their time
of adjustment; however, many have been in the United States for more than ten
years and, thus, were yoimger at the time of their entry.

Nearly 54 percent of the immigrants admitted in FYs 1992 and 1993 were female.
By contrast, during the 1980s, men and women were equally represented. The trend
toward more women admitted as legal immigrants began prior to IMMACT. It is
likely to be reinforced, however, by tilie entry of the family members of aliens legal-
ized under IRCA. Very high proportions of young adult legalized aliens were men,
many of whom have already petitioned for their wives and children.



Immigration follows much the same pattern as in the 1980s regarding intended
residence. Approximately 70 percent of the immigrants intend to live in the six
states of California (28.7 percent), New York (17.2), Texas (7.1), Florida (6.5), New
Jersey (5.7), and Illinois (4.7). Many immigrants settle in large urban areas; more
than 25 percent intend to live either in New York City or Los Angeles. Other metro-
politan areas with significant immigrant arrivals are Chicago, Miami, Washington,
D.C., and San Francisco.

The pattern of residence of the IRCA immigrants is different than other legal im-
migrants. Although the top six states are the same for IRCA immigrants as for
other immigrants, IRCA immigrants are more concentrated. More than 85 percent
of IRCA immigrants live in the top six states and more than 50 percent live in Cali-
fornia. The family members of the legalized aliens who immigrate in the fiiture
should further increase the proportion of legal immigrants residing in California
and Texas.


The increase in the employment-based preference limit from approximately 54,000
in 1991 to 140,000 in 1992 could have the most impact on the occupational charac-
teristics of new immigrants. Beyond increasing overall admissions, IMMACT re-
duced the number of unskilled immigrants and their family members from 27,000
to 10,000, while raising the number of highly skilled immigrants aUowed to enter
from 27,000 to approximately 110,000.

The reported occupations of immigrants of working age changed only slightly after
IMMACT. (All but about 6 percent of adult immigrants report an occupation or re-
port that they are homemakers, students, unemployed, or retired. What is reported
may be either their last job in their home country or, if entering under the employ-
ment-based preferences or adjusting in the U.S., the job they are or will be perform-
ing in the United States.) The percentage of immigrants who reported they were
professionals or executives increased from 15.0 percent in the two-year period before
IMMACT to 17.0 percent after IMMACT. Every other occupation group declined, ex-
cept for operators, fabricators, and laborers, which increased from 9.2 to 9.7 percent.
The shift in occupational characteristics is consistent for both males and females.


The Commission is now engaged in a systematic examination of the effects of
legal immigration in order to develop interim recommendations this year and
longer-term recommendations in our final report to Congress. Among the areas
under review are:


U.S. immigration policy is based mainly on family reunification. The Commis-
sion's mandate includes an explicit requirement to assess the impact that the estab-
lishment of a national level of immigration has upon the availability and priority
of family preference visas, including examination of: the role of family reunification
in the integration of new immigrants into U.S. society; the effects of IMMACT on
the numbers of individuals admitted for family reunification; the effects of IMMACT
on the waiting period for family-sponsored preferences; the effects of different family
reunification policies on future demand for visas; the extent to which extended wait-
ing periods for the admission of spouses and children contribute to unlawful immi-
gration; the priority to be given to the admission of individuals of different family
ties (that is, spouses, minor children, adult children, siblings); and other issues. The
Commission is paying particularly close attention to the effects of legahzation on
family admissions and backlogs.



Both the long- and short-term effects of immigration on the labor market need to
be understood in formulating sound policy. The evolving international context of the
U.S. economy must be a part of this analysis along with the U.S. economic restruc-
turing that has led to more U.S. workers finding different kinds and amounts of em-
ployment in service — as opposed to manufacturing — industries. More specifically,
the Commission is examining: the characteristics of immigrants and nonimmigrants
(hereinafter "migrants") entering the U.S. under different categories as they relate
to U.S. labor market considerations — education, skill level, occupation, employment


experience, etc.; having entered, their labor force participation rate, emplojonent,
wages/income and job mobility experience by different categories of immigration; the
impact of migrants in different categories on the labor force participation rate, em-
ployment and earnings of domestic workers (by race, ethnicity, citizenship); the im-
pact of migrants in different categories on the working conditions and benefits of
domestic workers; the effects of migrants on specific industries; the extent to which
migrants admitted under different employment-based provisions continue to work in
the jobs for which they were admitted or in jobs in similar occupations or industries;
the type and impact of entrepreneurial activities in which migrants engage; and the
impact of various immigrant categories on the generation of jobs for U.S. workers.
The Commission has sought preliminary data on these issues for our interim re-
port. For our final report, we have contracted with the National Academy of
Sciences to form an expert panel that will include labor economists, sociologists, de-
mographers and others concerned with changing labor force and economic effects of


Immigrants have historically brought to the United States different cultural, reli-
gious, and political backgrounds. Over the last few decades, our new immigrant pop-
ulation has shifted fit>m predominantly European to largely Asian and Latin Amer-
ican. Unhke earlier periods of immigration, admissions are not dominated by a
small nimiber of countries. At the turn of the century, the top five source countries
accounted for 75 percent of new legal arrivals. During the 1990s the top fift^een
countries account for fewer than 70 percent. These top sending countries include
such diverse nations (in terms of economic status, political systems, religious back-
grounds, and racial makeup) as Mexico, China, Philippines, Vietnam, the former So-
viet Union, and the United Kingdom. The Commission inquires about the effects of
our immigrant population on social and community relations, as well as the effects
of our immigrant population on social and community relations, as well as the ef-
fects of American life on immigrants. Further the Commission is looking at the civic
integration of immigrants, including participation in local, state, and national politi-
cal affairs, development of poUtical constituencies, and other manifestations oi civic
involvement. The Commission plans to issue recommendations on naturalization as
part of its interim report in June.


There are well over 20 million refugees and at least another 25 miUion internally
displaced people who have fled from violence and persecution but have not crossed
an international border. The U.S. plays an important role in refiigee affairs as the
principal donor to international refugee programs, a principal supporter of durable
solutions to refugee crises, and a major receiver of refugees for resettlement. The
Refugee Act of 1980 adopted the international definition of refugees, rejecting the
earlier U.S. definition that specified that refugees were individuals fleeing Com-
munist countries. Yet, refugees from (former) communist countries continue to ac-
count for the vast majority of those admitted to the U.S. as refiigees. The Commis-
sion is examining questions about: what role refugee resettlement should play in the
post-Cold War era, what factors should replace Cold War criteria in deciding who
should be given priority for resettlement, and what size program makes sense in
light of these changing standards and of the continued numbers of refugees in need
of the assistance and protection that the U.S. has traditionally provided. The Com-
mission is examining these issues in conjunction with its analyses of the U.S. capac-
ity to respond to migration emergencies headed directly for the United States.


To date, the Commission has held expert consultations on family-based admis-
sions, emplojmient-based admissions, refugee resettlement and other humanitarian
admissions, and the demographic effects of immigration policy. We have held field
hearings and consultations on legal immigration policy in: Chicago, Illinois, with a
particiUar focus on naturalization; Lowell, Massachusetts, looking especially at the
effects of immigration on a small city; New York, New York, with its heterogeneous
immigrant population; Central Texas, with particular focus on immigration in high-
tech industries; and Phoenix, Arizona, with a pairticular focus on land use and other
effects of increased population.

The Commission continues to undertake research aimed at clairifying the effects
of legal immigration on U.S. society and economy. We have testified to you pre-
viously that the Commission is not satisfied with the reliability of immigration data.


As noted above, the Commission is working with the National Academy of Sciences
to establish an expert panel that will present its conclusions on the demographic,
labor market, fiscal and other economic effects of immigration. The panel will in-
clude a wide range of expertise not only on the literature directly related to the ef-
fects of immigration but also on the various areas in which immigration's impact
is felt, so that we can get beyond disputes about data that ought to be matters of

The Commissioners have engaged in extensive discussions about the national in-
terests to be served by immigration, the extent to which current policies serve these
national interests, the extent to which immigration benefits or harms the already
resident U.S. population, and the advantages and disadvantages of various options
to correct problems identified through this process. As in the Commission's 1994 re-
port to Congress, the aim of this year's recommendations is to suggest ways that
U.S. immigration policy may best meet high standards of credibility in its formula-
tion and its implementation.

As I stated at the outset of this testimony. Professor Jordan looks forward to shar-
ing the Commission's recommendations with you next month. In the meantime, I
would be pleased to answer questions you may have about the data presented in
our 1994 report or our activities in preparation for our forthcoming recommenda-


Change 1993-94

Category of admission






Total, excluding IRCA legalization 810,635

Subject to the numerical cap 655,541

Family-sponsored immigrants 502,995

Family-sponsored preferences 213,123

Unmarried sons/daugtiters of U.S. citizens 12,486

Spouses of alien residents 118,247

Married sons/daughters of U.S. citizens 22,195

Siblings of U.S. citizens 60,195

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens 235,484

Spouses 128,396

Parents 64,764

Children 42,324

Children born abroad to alien residents 2,116

Legalization dependents 52,272

Employment-based immigrants 116,198

Prionty workers 5,456

Professionals w/degree or of advanced ability 58,401

Skilled, professionals, unskilled 47,568

Chinese Student Protection Act X

Others 47,568

Special immigrants 4,063

Investors 59

Pre-1992 preferences 651

Diversity programs 36,348

Diversity transition 33,911

Nationals of adversely affected countries 1.557

Natives of underrepresented countries 880

Not subject to the numerical cap 155,094

Amerasians 17 253

Cuban/Haitian entrants 99

Parolees. Soviet and Indochineese 13,661

Refugees and asylees 117.037

Refugee adjustments 106,379

Asylee adjustments 10 658

Registered nurses 3,572

Registry, entered prior to 1/1/72 1,293

Suspension of deportation 1,013

Other 1,166

880,014 798,394 -81,620
































- 5,295








- 6,058





























































- 100.0












-74 6











- 5,909

















-28 9











Category ot admission




Change 1993-94



IRCA legalization ..












Note. — X=Not applicable. NA=Not available.

Source: Statistics Division. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service

Mr. Smith. Dr. Martin, thank you, and I'm glad to hear that
we'll have your recommendations by early June. That fits in with
our time table.

You've made several references today to the national interest and
the principles, guiding principles, that have helped the Commis-
sion. Can you enumerate — or where are you in the process of defin-
ing what the national interests are? Are there any national inter-
ests that you can mention today that the Commission has con-
cluded are appropriate?

Ms. Susan Martin. Right. The Commission in its 1994 report set
out that the basic framework of current immigration policy that
does give value to family ties, to economic needs, to the protection
of U.S. workers, and to our international commitments on refugee
and humanitarian aims provide a credible framework for thinking
through immigration, legal immigration, policy. What we're doing
now is looking at the tradeoffs amongst these interests and wheth-
er the specifics within those, within our immigration categories, are
doing the best job possible in serving any given interest or the

Mr. Smith. In your research, have you found — and if so, where
have you found — any particular displacement of American workers
by immigrants?

Ms. Susan Martin. We're still in the process of evaluating that
issue and assessing it. We will have some interim things to say on
that in this report, but our basic thrust in this particular area, be-
cause we consider it such an important one, is that we have estab-
lished an expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences — it's in
the process of being formulated right now — which will include
economists, labor economists, other economists, demographers, soci-
ologists who have looked at work force issues. And what we're try-
ing to do is combine a group that includes a lot of immigration ex-
pertise, but also expertise on the things that are affected by immi-
gration within the labor market in terms of our fiscal impact. So
we are asking this panel to develop a consensus for us as to the
best — what the best research minds in the country say on —

Mr. Smith. Is another subject that you all are evaluating the suc-
cess or lack of success at assimilation by current immigrants, as-
similation and naturalization?

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes, that's also a part of it.

Mr. Smith. OK. You've mentioned in your testimony that there
was a slight dip in legal immigration numbers between 1993 and
1994. What was the reason for that dip, and do you expect that to
continue or not?


Ms. Susan Martin. We haven't gotten the 1995 data yet, al-
though our preUminary look at admissions in the first half of 1995,
our preliminary look at the visa trends and labor certifications in-
dicate that that trend is probably going to continue, that the num-
bers will probably be at about the levels^ but this is still a wild

Mr. Smith. 1995 at the 1994 level perhaps?

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes, that's what it looks like, but, again, this
is extremely preliminary because a number of the areas aren't real-
ly in yet in terms of the data.

There are a couple of trends that we're looking at closely. One
is that there's been a modest decrease in the number of parents of
U.S. citizens who have been admitted, and for certain countries it's
been a larger decrease. We're trying to get a better sense of what's
caused that.

There have been some major decreases in terms of some of the
employment-based categories, particularly the second preference
for those professionals with advanced degrees. It looks as if in 1992
and 1993 we admitted most of the people who were on the backlog
from the previous law and are now into a situation of seeing what
the current demand is. That's another large area where there's a

Mr. Smith. Right. As I mentioned in my opening statement, 70
percent of our legal immigrants are now coming in under the broad
category of family reunification, and within that category, two-
fifths are not spouses and not minor children, but the more ex-
tended members of the family. How is the Commission evaluating
two different comparisons? One is the preference that might be
given to different types of family members, and the second is the
comparison that might be made between the preferences that
should be given to family reunification versus the economic needs
of employers in the country?

Ms. Susan Martin. Right. The Commission held 2 days of con-
sultations on exactly that issue, where we combined our discus-
sions but also did some sequencing of discussions on family and
employment. We began with a session of researchers who reported
to us on what they saw to be the economic impacts of both the fam-
ily and the emplo3rment-based categories to get a sense, and it ap-
. pears that some of the research there is evolving in terms of just
what those effects are, and we're still trying to sort through some
of them. We then went on to the specific categories.

In terms of our own thinking as to where the Commission will
eventually come out in terms of its recommendations, the Commis-
sioners have been going through a process of prioritizing the var-
ious family categories in order to be able to look at them both in
relationship to the connection to the anchor relative here and the
closeness of that connection and also the extent to which that con-
nection, the person in this country, is a citizen or a permanent resi-
dent, and are now weighing and going back and forth between the
extent to which the closeness of the family relationship should be

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JLegal immigration reform proposals : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, May 17, 1995 → online text (page 3 of 30)