Rising Prices Make Housing Unaffordable for Immigrants in California Cities

The California Immigrant Policy Center recently released its annual report on the economic contributions of immigrants to California’s economy. The contributions are huge–$715 billion, or one-third of the state’s total output. And the state’s total GDP makes it the sixth largest economy in the world. Undocumented immigrants alone contribute an amount equal to the entire output of the economy of Oklahoma.

The continued ability for immigrants in California to play such a crucial role in the economy is being undermined, however, by rising inequality and housing prices that are increasingly unaffordable for immigrants at the low end of the pay spectrum.

The study takes three examples of neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Francisco that traditionally housed an immigrant population and shows that, with housing costs rising in these neighborhoods, the immigrant population has been declining.

Read more of my summary of the California Immigrant Policy Center’s study over on Immigration Impact.

Photo credit: Luke Price under Creative Commons License 2.0.

White House Ends Special Treatment for Cuban Migrants

On January 12, the White House announced it would end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy toward Cuban migrants. What this means is that, going forward, Cuban migrants who enter the U.S. without authorization will be treated the same as other undocumented immigrants.

Since the 1960’s Cuban migrants have been presumed to be fleeing political persecution, a policy enshrined in the Cuban Adjustment Act. That law gives Cubans who make it into the U.S. automatic permanent resident status after one year. There have been changes over the years. In the mid-1990’s, the Clinton Administration tried to discourage Cubans from departing for the U.S. by boat in a policy that became known as “wet-foot, dry-foot.” Cubans interdicted at sea by the U.S. Coast were returned to Cuba. But Cubans who made it to U.S. shores were “paroled” into the U.S., and became eligible for permanent residence after one year.

With the U.S. and Cuba re-establishing diplomatic ties, there has been an uptick in the number of Cuban migrants traveling overland through Central America and Mexico to the U.S.-Mexico border—out of concern that the deal offered by the Cuban Adjustment Act would soon end. With the administration’s new policy, Cubans will no longer be paroled into the U.S., closing off the opportunity for automatic permanent residence. Instead, Cubans who fear persecution upon return will have to make their case through the asylum process, just like any other migrant.

I explain more about this policy and the Cuban Adjustment Act in my post on Immigration Impact.

Photo courtesy of Coast Guard News under the Creative Commons 2.0 license.

First Look at DHS Nominee Kelly’s Immigration Views

In the Senate hearing on his nomination to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on January 10, General John Kelly had to answer questions on a wide range of issues over which the Department has jurisdiction. Some of those questions pertained to immigration.

Kelly’s responses gave us a flavor of his views on immigration on broad policy issues, though when asked questions that were about specific policies, he was generally not prepared to answer.

Overall, Kelly’s views on immigration are more nuanced than the president’s. For example, concerning the current migration flows from Central America, he understands that violence, driven by the drug trade that in turn is driven by American drug consumption, is forcing people to flee.

Concerning the “Muslim ban” that the president campaigned on, Kelly said that he doesn’t “agree with registering people based on ethnic or religion or anything like that.”

You can read more about the hearing on my blog post on Immigration Impact.

Photo courtesy of CSPAN.