Texas Refuses To Consent to Refugee Resettlement

On January 10, Governor Greg Abbott (Rep.) sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo announcing his state’s refusal to consent to refugee resettlement. His letter said, ““Texas has carried more than its share in assisting the refugee resettlement process and appreciates that other states are available to help with these efforts. Since FY2010, more refugees have been received in Texas than in any other state. In fact, over that decade, roughly 10% of all refugees resettled in the United States have been placed in Texas.” He added, “Texas has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system.” He also cited the recent surge in migrants crossing the southwestern border last year as a reason for turning away refugees now. [1]

This refusal was contrary to the desires of major cities in the state—San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. The Mayor of Houston reacted with these words: “Regardless of where someone is from, who they are or what they believe, there is a home for them in Houston. Our welcoming spirit has led to our city becoming the national leader in refugee resettlement.” Negative words also came from these groups:

  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: “This is a deeply disappointing decision – although not surprising given Texas’ previous but unsuccessful opposition to refugee resettlement a few years ago. This is precisely why we filed a lawsuit against President Trump’s unlawful executive order, and we are confident that justice will be served — allowing children and families who have been waiting in desperation for years to be reunited with their family in Texas.” The Service added, “Nearly 2,500 refugees started to rebuild their lives in Texas last year, many of whom have additional family members in harm’s way seeking to join them in safety. These families have been torn apart by violence, war and persecution — but we never thought they would be needlessly separated by a U.S. state official.”
  • The International Rescue Committee: “In addition to making refugees’ lives harder, Texas now forfeits the opportunity for a growing business community that depends on refugees. It forfeits the cultural contributions, the growth, and ingenuity the state has come to enjoy through resettling refugees.”

The Texas decision leaves 40 consenting states (22 Democratic and 18 Republican) and 9 publicly not committed (7 Republican (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Vermont and Wyoming) and two Democratic (Hawaii and New York)). Remember that failure to respond before the deadline, which might be January 21, 2020, will be treated as a refusal to consent.[2]

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[1] Kanno-Youngs, Texas Governor Shuts Gate to Refugees, Using New Power Granted by Trump, N.Y. Times (Jan. 10, 2020); Romo, Gov. Greg Abbott Says New Refugees Won’t Be Allowed To Settle in Texas. NPR (Jan. 10, 2020); Thebault, Texas is rejecting new refugees under Trump executive order, Wash. Post (Jan. 10,2020); Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Profoundly Disappointed by Texas Governor’s Decision To Opt Out of Refugee Resettlement (Jan. 10, 2020).

[2] See the following posts to dwkcommentaries about previous states’ consents: Latest U.S. Struggle Over Refugees (Dec. 11, 2019); Minnesota and Minneapolis Say “Yes” to Refugees (Dec. 14, 2019); Tennessee Consents to Refugee Resettlement (Dec. 20, 2019); Another Update on Consents to Refugee Resettlement (Dec. 30, 2019); Five More States Have Consented to Refugee Resettlement (Jan. 7, 2020): Alaska Says “Yes” to Refugee Resettlement (Jan.8, 2020).

 

 

 

Another Report About U.S. Need for More Immigrants

A New York Times article uses the need for employees in Miami’s restaurants to illustrate the U.S. need for more immigrants.[1]

“More immigrants have streamed into South Florida than to most American cities, and for decades, employers have relied on them to wash dishes, put up drywall and care for grandmothers. Still, there are not enough to fill Miami’s relentless boomtown demand for [restaurant] workers.”

“As unemployment rates nationwide have sunk to record lows, filching workers — from kitchens and construction sites, warehouses and Walmarts, truck cabs and nursing homes — has become routine. In cities like Miami that are magnets for immigrants, newcomers have filled some job openings, but employers across several industries and states insist that many more are needed for their businesses to function, let alone grow.”

“[M]ost economists say . . . that there is plenty of room [for immigrants]. Immigrants make the country richer, they argue. For example, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office who has advised Republican presidential candidates and now leads the conservative American Action Forum, says, “Without immigration, we shrink as a nation. . . .That’s because growth is driven by two ingredients: the size of the work force and how efficiently those workers produce things. And both are creeping well behind the postwar average.”

A key reason in this analysis is “Americans are having fewer babies. Birth rates fell last year to a three-decade low, ensuring that the next generation of native-born Americans will be smaller than the current one.”

Moreover, “using census data, the investment company the Blackstone Group estimates that without immigration, the working-age population between 25 and 64 years old would drop by 17 million by 2035. [Its Vice chairman of Private Wealth Solutions says,]“We really need immigrants. If we have a shrinking population, it’s going to be tough to have rising G.D.P.,” or gross domestic product.”

“At the moment, there are 7.3 million job openings nationwide and six million people unemployed. That gap is expected to widen as the number of retirees grows faster than the number of new workers.”

While some immigrants may take jobs from U.S. citizens, “they also help create jobs — by generating demand for goods and services like groceries, haircuts and homes.” In addition, “immigrants complement American workers. More educated women, for example, may decide to work if the availability of immigrants makes child care more affordable.”

This positive economic impact is seen in Dallas, Texas where 32.2% of all businesses are owned by immigrants while generating 55,000 jobs and nearly $495 million of business income. A study concluded that “immigrants tend to be more able, ambitious, aggressive and entrepreneurial than those who chose to stay in their place of origin.” [2]

Overhanging businesses, especially restaurants, in finding and hiring more workers is the legal risk of hiring undocumented individuals. In March and April of this year “the Social Security Administration sent letters to hundreds of thousands of business owners, notifying them that the names of some employees did not match the Social Security numbers on their tax forms.” In response some employers are planning to fire their undocumented workers or adopt more stringent hiring procedures such as using the E-Verify program to check the new hires’ documents. If, however, the employers ignore these “no-match” letters, a subsequent immigration audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement could conclude that they had “constructive knowledge” of their employees’ immigration status and thereby expose the employer to hefty fines and possible criminal charges. [3]

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[1] Cohen, Is Immigration at Its Limit? Not for Employers, N.Y.Times (Aug. 22, 2019). This blog consistently has argued that the U.S. needs more immigrants. See, for example, these 2019 posts to dwkcommentaries.com: More Warnings of the Problems Facing U.S. Aging, Declining Population (Aug. 14, 2019); Additional Support for U.S. Needing More Immigrants (May 18, 2019); Trump Erroneously Says U.S. Is “Full,” (April 9, 2019); U.S. Construction Industry Needs More Immigrants (April 3, 2019); Businesses Need More Immigrants (Mar. 24, 2019);“America’s Farms Need Immigrants” (Mar. 22, 2019).

[2] Vizcaino, ‘What do you lose if you don’t have anything?–Why 1 in 3 Dallas businesses are owned by immigrants, Dallas Morning News (Aug. 16, 2019)

[3] Yaffe-Bellany, Hiring Is Very Hard for Restaurants These Days. Now They May Have to Fire, N.Y. Times (Aug. 23, 2019).