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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tween the nonimmigrant and the permanent immigrant categories
in terms of employment, and we received testimony which we are
doing further analysis on about the way in which some of our tem-
porary worker and student categories serve as a bridge into the
permanent worker categories. In some cases employers hire people
on a trial basis, get a temporary visa for them, decide that they're
a good worker, and put in for a permanent labor certification.

Mr. Gallegly. Has the Commission done any research in coming
up with any kind of numbers as it relates percentagewise to those
that have entered this country under that classification, and how
many have actually returned to their homeland? Or, let's face it,
does the overwhelming majority remain in this country even
though that requirement is no longer met?

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes. What you're raising, and the reason it's
very, very difficult to answer that question, is another issue that
we've actually had some discussion on in this committee that draw
off of the Commission's 1994 report, and that's the problem we
have in terms of the lack of exit controls; that is, it is very, very
difficult to identify if any individual who enters on a temporary
visa, whether it's as a tourist or a temporary worker or a foreign
student, has left the country at the end of that process. And with-
out having that t3T)e of ability to know who has left, it's very dif-
ficult. We only know who comes up through the legal means and
the people who apply for legal permanent residence and receive it.
What we don't know are how many people who stay in some-

Mr. Gallegly. And the exit control is obviously a key element.

Ms. Susan Martin. That's correct.

Mr. Gallegly. Jumping back to the issue of family unification,
is the number about 70 percent of those that are legally entering
this country are through the family program?

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes. That number, as of 1994, it was 500,000
out of 800,000.


Mr. Gallegly. So let's say 60 percent or some

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes.

Mr. Gallegly [continuing]. Whatever, which means the over-
whelming majority of those entering this country are coming in on
this program. Now that being the case, is it not also a requirement
through this process that the family member sign a document
guaranteeing financial responsibility for that family member? Is
that not correct?

Ms. Susan Martin. That is correct. If the — but only under cir-
cumstances where the immigrant would fail the test and would be
determined to be a public charge without that

Mr. Gallegly. So, in any event, the requirement is that the im-
migrant coming in, the 60 percent of those that are coming in ei-
ther have to show proof that they can care for themselves, would
not be a responsibility of the Government to care for them through
welfare or other means, and in the absence of their ability to prove
that they can take care of themselves, the family member signs a
statement of financial responsibility?

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes.

Mr. Gallegly. To your knowledge — and, also, I believe that the
document says, in the event there is some question about the mem-
ber's ability to sign such a document, in some cases a bond may
even be required; is that not correct?

Ms. Susan Martin. Correct.

Mr. Gallegly. To your knowledge or the Commission — has the
Commission looked at the fact that there's never been a bond re-
quired or a bond called or a family member ever held accountable
for the financial responsibility other than driving that family mem-
ber to the welfare office?

Ms. Susan Martin. In the Commission's report that we issued
in September we recommended that the affidavit of support be le-
gally enforceable and a contractually-binding arrangement and also
urged the State Department and the Immigration Service that they
determine when an affidavit will be used to develop criteria that
would better be able to make the judgment as to whether the fam-
ily is capable of providing the support and is, in fact, giving what
it is that the family has agreed to. So we are very, very much sup-
portive of making sure that we tighten that provision.

Mr. Gallegly. I can't tell you how impressed I've been with the
Jordan Commission and the work you folks have done over there.
On this particular issue, in three different letters to our Commis-
sioner, Doris Meissner, and talking with Chris Sales in hearings in
this room, I tried to get an answer to this question for a period of
basically 4 months: are we enforcing this? And I could never get
an answer until finally the response I got is the document that
we're using is unenforceable. And, quite frankly, that wasn't a very
good answer, but I appreciate the fact that you've recognized that
in the Commission and obviously this is an area that needs to be
focused on a great deal more.

One of the issues you mentioned is that there are fewer parents
coming in now?

Ms. Susan Martin. There was a slight drop of about 6,000 last

Mr. Gallegly. So it's relatively insignificant?


Ms. Susan Martin. From 60,000 to about 50

Mr. Gallegly. So it's been about 10 percent

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes.

Mr. Gallegly [continuing]. Decrease there?

Ms. Susan Martin. Decrease.

Mr. Gallegly. Could any of this be because there's a concern
that the financial responsibility might be more enforceable? Is
there any correlation there?

Ms. Susan Martin. I think it's probably too soon to really know
about that because much of the discussion of the enforceable affida-
vit occurred after most of the people were en route in 1994,

Mr. Gallegly. Thank you very much, Dr. Martin, and I look for-
ward to continuing to work with you and Barbara Jordan.

Ms. Susan Martin. Thank you.

Mr. Smith. The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Bryant.

Mr. Bryant of Tennessee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Dr. Martin, welcome, and, again, let me add my appreciation for
the work that the Commission is doing. Is the Commission working
from the presupposition that there is a particular number of immi-
grants that should be admitted each year and then determining
who should fill this quota?

Ms. Susan Martin. No, actually, the Commission, as I've men-
tioned, is doing more of the ground-up review, looking at every cat-
egory and saying: Is the national interest served by this category?
Are we implementing that in a fashion that ensures that it's doing
no harm to already resident U.S. population? And then we'll derive
numbers, a recommendation on numbers, from that type of analy-
sis. Obviously, if, having done that review, the numbers don't ap-
pear to be credible in terms of overall levels, then they will start
to look at some of the tradeoff issues, but they wanted to look very,
very carefully at each specific part of the immigration system and
then see how they interrelate with the others.

Mr. Bryant of Tennessee. Assuming that your Commission pro-
gresses with some reform to the legal immigration system, will it
be making recommendations on how to make the transition from
the current system to the reform proposal?

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes, the options of the Commission are con-
sidering right now include various different proposals for dealing
with the transition period. So, yes, they will be making those rec-

Mr. Bryant of Tennessee. One final question: In reading some
of the background material — and you may have alluded to this al-
ready — I see that there is a backlog problem in some of the legal
immigration situations; particularly, I think you mentioned maybe
in category two. Maybe I misunderstood that, but will the Commis-
sion be making recommendations on how to reform — address this
problem, if at all, of the current backlog of preference systems?

Ms. Susan Martin. Yes, it's a major aspect of the Commission's
deliberations right now.

Mr. Bryant of Tennessee. OK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Smith The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Frank, is

Mr. Frank. No questions.

Mr. Smith. No questions. Great.

Dr. Martin, we thank you. We appreciate your being here, and
we'll look forward to your report the 1st of June, the 1st or 2d of

Ms. Susan Martin. Right. We'll see you then.

Mr. Smith Thank you.

Would our second panel come forward, and I'll introduce you as
you all take your seats. Mr. Peter Brimelow is the author of "Alien
Nation," a recent book that is in the front windows of many book-
stores today. It's recently been released. Peter Skerry is from the
Wilson Center and has appeared before the subcommittee before.

Welcome back, Mr. Skerry. Mr. Brimelow, welcome as well.

And we will start with Peter Brimelow and give you the 7 min-
utes that I referred to earlier.


Mr. Brimelow. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I don't have a copy, complete copy, of my testi-
mony here. I believe that the staff was going to t3rpe it up for me.

Mr. Smith. OK.

Mr. Brimelow. If they have one, I'd like to have it to hand

Mr. Smith. We have a copy for you since we have copies our-

Mr. Brimelow. Thanks so much. Thanks so much.

My name — thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Peter
Brimelow. I'm the senior editor of Forbes magazine and of National
Review and the author of this book that you referred to, "Alien Na-
tion: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster."

As you see, I'm part of America's immigration disaster myself.
But it's not unusual that immigrants worry about immigration. In
fact, in the book I reproduce a poll I show that among the most
worried are Mexican immigrants. They are significantly more wor-
ried about immigration than the native-bom.

The problem of illegal immigration is a disease of the skin. The
problem of legal immigration is a disease of the heart. What I
mean by that is that the laws are already in place to stop illegal
immigration — they're just not being enforced — whereas it needs
statutory reaction to sort out the legal immigration problem.

Second, the numbers right now are significantly more driven by
legal immigration than illegal immigration. There are maybe
300,000 to 500,000 illegal immigrants net, but in recent years there
have been close to just under a million legal immigrants a year,
counting the asylees and the refugees, as I believe we should.

There's a curious difference between this very high level of legal
immigration that we see now and the similar level that existed at
the turn of the century. That is that net legal immigration is much
higher. In the early years of this century, about 30 to 40 percent
of the people coming in went back. Now it appears that only a very
small fraction of them go back. Net legal immigration is estimated
as being twice what it was at the turn of the century.

I believe that speaks to the welfare state. This country's had ex-
periences of mass immigration. It's had experience of the welfare
state. But it's never had experience of the two of them together. We
see now that immigrants are about 9 percent into welfare as op-
posed to 5 percent for native-born whites. The effect of this sub-

29 ,

stantial Government transfer program has been to stop the filter-
ing process that used to go on with legal immigration, and to in-
crease its impact.

When the 1965 act was passed, Senator Kennedy, who was its
floor manager, of course, in the Senate made a very explicit state-
ment about what it would do, which I would like to read to you.
He said, "First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immi-
grants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immi-
gration remains substantially the same. Second, the ethnic mix of
the country will not be upset. Contrary to charges in some quar-
ters, the bill will not inundate America with immigrants from any
one country or area. In the final analysis, the ethnic part of immi-
gration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as
sharply as the critics seem to think."

Now, obviously, this didn't happen. I'm not reading this to make
a monkey out of Senator Keijnedy, but just because it gives you
some indication of what he then considered to be a reasonable goal
for the immigration policy. The act that he put through then, be-
cause of its emphasis on family unification, made inevitable the un-
dermining of the goals that he laid out there.

First of all, because close family members can come in over and
above any cap, the numbers are much higher than we expected.
Second, because the immigrants are no longer really being accepted
on the basis of skills, the skill levels have gone down. So that for
the first time we see skill levels of immigrants significantly lower
than those of the native-bom. That's quite new in American his-
tory. All this stufl* about the huddled masses that was added to the
Statue of Liberty is just not accurate historically.

Third, of course, it's allowed just 15 countries in the world to
capture the great bulk of the legal immigrant inflow, about 75 per-
cent of the legal immigrants inflow. They're the ones that were able
to get their immigrants in first. Then chain migration started, and
they were able to shoulder-aside all other possible sources of immi-

I'm an economic journalist. I find the economic arguments about
immigration compelling. I was fascinated to find, when I was re-
searching this book, "Alien Nation," that there's a consensus among
economists that immigration is not particularly necessary to the
United States. It doesn't do anjrthing for the Americans that they
couldn't do for themselves.

The leading scholar in the field right now is, in fact, another im-
migrant, Greorge Borjas, an economist at the University of Califor-
nia at San Diego. And he's done a standard applied economics-t3rpe
calculation, which shows basically that the presence of 9 percent of
foreigners in the work force benefits the native-bom by less than
one-tenth of 1 percent of GDP. It is probably wiped out by the wel-
fare loss — ^because he calculates also that there is a net welfare

If we had skilled immigration, it would benefit the native-bom
more, but not a great deal more. Immigration is really a luxury for
the United States; it's not a necessity.

However, Borjas does find that there's a significant redistribution
of income within the native-bom community as a result of immi-
gration. Borjas calculates 2 percent of GDP transferred from labor

21-911 - 96 - 2


to capital. And I'm afraid for that reason, the fact that immigration
is essentially a class issue in this country — it benefits the upper
middle classes and disadvantages the unskilled and the lower
skilled generally — is why I've had so much difficulty beating some
sense on this issue into my fellow conservatives. There's a class
motive behind a lot of this discussion of immigration.

If you look at the economic discussion on displacement, you find
that nobody has actually ever seriously argued that displacement
does not take place. Economists say immigrants make jobs as well
as take them, but they make them in aggregate. It still means that
specific groups are displaced, and there's no guarantee that the
ones who are displaced are the ones who are going to benefit from
the increased output.

Immigration is one of the reasons for the trouble we see in the
black community since the late sixties. It's not the only reason, but
the great influx of unskilled competition I believe has had some
negative consequences for blacks, because they tend to be less

Immigration, as you know, is extremely unpopular with Amer-
ican people. For more than 40 years not more than 13 percent —
13 percent — have wanted to see immigration increased, and yet in
that time it's been virtually quintupled.

I think that if this legal immigration is left alone, if the argu-
ments for moderate reform are not heeded, there will ultimately be
a radical and a ruthless cutoff, as there was in the 1920's. And a
lot of people will suffer.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Brimelow follows:]

Prepared Statement of Peter Brimelow, Author, "Auen Nation"

Mr. Chadrman, members of the subcommittee, ladies and gentlemen:

My name is Peter Brimelow. I am a senior editor of both Forbes Magazine and
National Review Magazine and author of a book, Alien Nation: Common Sense
About America's Immigration Disaster. I'd like to thank you for inviting me here
to testify today.

As you can tell from my accent, I am part of America's immigration disaster my-
self I first came here as a student 25 years ago and I am now an American citizen.
As it happens, there is a long tradition of immigrants worrying about immigration,
probably because they know something about it, that dates back as least as far as
Major Pierce Butler, who argued at the Constitution Convention for a 14-year resi-
dency requirement for the U.S. Senate, although he himself had openly been in the
country since 1773. Secondly, I am afraid the ship is going to sink.

Everyone knows that illegal immigration, perhaps 300,000-500,000 net, is out of
control. But people don't seem to know that legal immigration is larger — recently
just under a million a year — and is out of control too, this is because of the peculiar
workings of the 1965 Immigration Act which triggered renewed immigration again
after a 40-year lull.

The 1965 act elevated the principle of so-called family reunification above skills
and acceptability to American employers. In effect, the framers of the 1965 act
treated immigration as an imitation civil right, extended to a randomly-selected
class of foreigners — those who happened to have relatives here. This resulted in an
influx that was vastly larger than anyone anticipated, basically because close family
is not subject to ceilings. Much more skewed to a small number of countries ( 15 pro-
vide about three quarters of legal immigration) because these countries were first
through the door and able to establish chain migrations that shouldered aside late-
comers; and less skilled, because immigrants were not selected on the basis of skills.
In recent years, up to 45 percent of the influx hasn't even had high school degrees —
something clearly related to the fact that 9 percent of immigrants are on welfare
today, as opposed to 5 percent for native-bom whites.


It's worth comparing this reaUty to the promises made by Senator Kennedy when
he was piloting the 1965 bill through the Senate.

First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the
proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same . . .
Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset . . . Contrary to the
charges in some quarters, [the Bill] will not inundate America with immigrants
from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa
and Asia. ... In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the
proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.
[Emphasis, needless to say, added by me.]

Immigration is now at an all-time high in the United States, as you can see from
referring to my first chart [from pages 30-31 attached]. This is particularly the case
when you compare it to the native-bom population growth, as a demographer would.
Birth rates were much higher in the early years of the century. Now Americans of
all races have brought down their family sizes to the point where the Census Bu-
reau projects that the population will stabilize at 250-260 million. But with contin-
ued immigration, the Census Bureau projects, the population will reach some 390
million by 2050, of whom over 130 million will be post- 1970 immigrants and their
descendants, [see chart 8 attached]

And because the countries that have captured the legal immigration inflow are
mostly third world, the Census Bureau is projecting a shift of the racial balance in
the United States that is without precedent in the history of the world, [see chart
12 attached]

It's very difficult in the current intellectual climate to discuss this development,
although it is entirely a matter of the public record. It's common to hear the ques-
tion, "What's wrong with this shift?" But the point is that this shift is entirely pro-
duced by public policy and would not occvir without it. The Government is causing
the shift by in effect choosing to let some people in and not others. So it is incum-
bent on the supporters of this policy to explain what their motive is. Why do they
want to transform America?

The motive is certainly not economic necessity. I was surprised in researching
"Alien Nation" to find that no economists maintain that immigration is necessary
for the United States — particularly unskilled immigration. It does nothing for Amer-
icans that they could not achieve for themselves.

I'm appending my comments on the work of Professor George Borjas of University
of California-San Diego, himself a Cuban immigrant, who uses standard applied eco-
nomic techniques to estimate that the benefit to the native-bom Americans from the
current immigrant presence is nugatory, maybe 0. 1 percent of gross domestic prod-
uct (GDP), which is probably outweighed by the welfare loss, [see appendix five at-

However, Boijas also shows that immigration causes a substantial redistribution
of income within the native-bom community, shifting about 2 percent of GDP from
labor to capital. Immigration is a class issue. If anyone benefits, it is the upper
classes and the owners of capital. The losers are the unskilled — particularly the

I think it's clear that the post- 1965 unskilled immigrant influx is one reason for
the intensified problems of the black community since then. I'm appending my dis-
cussion of this, and the historical evidence about the effect of immigration policy on
blacks, [see pages 173-175 attached]

There is also evidence that the new wave of immigrants are not assimilating.
About 40 percent of them tell the Census Bureau that they do not speak English
well, although presumably supporting themselves somehow. The census has also re-
ported the existence of a completely new category of Americans — native-bom Ameri-
cans who don't speak English. Moreover, as you can see by the map I append [see
attached] immigrants are not only forming enclaves, native-bom Americans of all
races are moving away from them on a contingent-wide scale. The question must
be asked: Is this one Nation indivisible?

Let me stress: I believe that the people who have come in since 1965 can be as-
similated. The American assimilative mechanism is one of the wonders of the world
and could probably assimilate martians. But it takes time. And it has never worked
in the past without substantial pauses in the inflow, some of them many decades
long. No such pause is on the horizon now because of the demographic structure
of the third world. One will have to be legislated.

There should be an immigration moratorium for several years to get the situation
under control. This doesn't mean no immigration. It means no net immigration —
an inflow of say 200,000 a year, which would take care of hardship cases and need-
ed skills.


(But I don't think even close family reunification should be inviolate. Thus, I
think native-born citizens marrying foreigners have a superior claim than immi-
grant citizens. Nor do I exempt so-called refugees, perhaps the most disastrous part
of current policy. This immigrant flow had degenerated into an expedited, sub-
sidized program for politically powerful groups, and the welfare participation rates
of refugees are uniformly high, sometimes up to 50 percent.)

Thereafter immigration could be resumed, at low levels, with an emphasis on
skills and assimilability — if Americans desire it.

And this brings me to my final point. Immigration is intenstely unpopular with
Americans. For more than 40 years, no opinion poll has ever shown that more than
13 percent of Americans wanted to see immigration increased; unusually 60-70 per-
cent want it diminished. Yet in that time it has quintupled. I don't believe that
kind of public opinion can be abused indefinitely. Uxiless there is reasonable reform
now, there will be unreasonable reform later — a radical and ruthless cut-off to
which not even the most deserving exceptions will be made, exactly as happened
in reaction to the last great wave of immigrants in the 1920's.

Thank you very much.



Chart 8



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 5 of 30)