Report

Report

Climbing the Ladder: Roadblocks Faced by Immigrants in the New York City Construction Industry

Economic exploitation and safety hazards are prevalent across the entire construction industry. However, despite the essential role immigrants play in the construction industry in New York City and the United States, immigrant construction workers are especially vulnerable to exploitation and dangerous conditions. Lack of employment authorization, social safety nets, English proficiency, credentials recognition, and training opportunities, as well as discrimination place immigrants at a stark disadvantage as they try to enter, negotiate, and advance in this industry.

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Immigrants’ Use of New York City Programs, Services, and Benefits: Examining the Impact of Fear and Other Barriers to Access

New York City is a “welcoming city” that encourages “all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status” to access the public benefits and services for which they qualify (NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs or “MOIA” 2021a). Moreover, it invests significant resources in educating immigrant communities on this core commitment and its lack of participation in federal immigration enforcement activities. However, this report by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) finds that immigrants in New York City still face significant barriers to accessing public benefits and services.  

The report is based on CMS research that examined immigrant fear and other barriers in three general areas: the use of public benefits, with a particular focus on the public charge rule; the use of public health services; and access to law enforcement and the courts. The report documents how Trump-era immigration policies perpetuated fear among immigrant communities, in the context of other barriers to accessing services and benefits, and why its detrimental impacts have persisted and outlived the Trump administration.

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Ready to Stay: A Comprehensive Analysis of the US Foreign-Born Populations Eligible for Special Legal Status Programs and for Legalization under Pending Bills

This report offers estimates of US foreign-born populations that are eligible for special legal status programs and those that would be eligible for permanent residence (legalization) under pending bills. It seeks to provide policymakers, government agencies, community-based organizations (CBOs), researchers, and others with a unique tool to assess the potential impact, implement, and analyze the success of these programs. The report views timely, comprehensive data on targeted immigrant populations as an essential pillar of legalization preparedness, implementation, and evaluation. The report and the exhaustive estimates that underlie it, represent a first attempt to provide a detailed statistical profile of beneficiaries of proposed major US legalization programs and special, large-scale legal status programs.

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The CRISIS Survey: The Catholic Church’s Work with Immigrants in the  United States in a Period of Crisis

The CRISIS Survey documents the reach, diversity, and productivity of Catholic institutions that work with immigrants and refugees during a pandemic that has particularly devastated their communities and an administration whose policies and rhetoric made their work far more difficult. At a time of rampant “Catholic decline” narratives, the survey also documents the reach, vitality, and relevance of Catholic immigrant-serving institutions. It identifies the obstacles encountered by immigrants in accessing Catholic programs and ministries – both organizational (funding, staffing, and siting) and exogenous (federal policies, the pandemic, and community opposition). It underscores the threat posed by US immigration policies to immigrants and to the work of Catholic institutions.

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Making Citizenship an Organizing Principle of the US Immigration System

This paper proposes that the United States treat naturalization not as the culmination of a long and uncertain individual process, but as an organizing principle of the US immigration system and its expectation for new Americans. It comes at a historic inflection point, following the chaotic departure of one of the most nativist administrations in US history and in the early months of a new administration whose executive orders, administrative actions, and legislative proposals augur an entirely different view of immigrants and immigration.

The paper examines two main ways that the Biden-Harris administration’s immigration agenda can be realized – by expanding access to permanent residence and by increasing naturalization numbers and rates. First, it proposes administrative and, to a lesser degree, legislative measures that would expand the pool of eligible-to-naturalize immigrants. Second, it identifies three underlying factors – financial resources, English language proficiency, and education – that strongly influence naturalization rates. It argues that these factors must be addressed, in large part, outside of and prior to the naturalization process. In addition, it provides detailed estimates of populations with large eligible-to-naturalize numbers, populations that naturalize at low rates, and populations with increasing naturalization rates. It argues that the administration’s immigration strategy should prioritize all three groups for naturalization.

The paper endorses the provisions of the US Citizenship Act that would place undocumented and temporary residents on a path to permanent residence and citizenship, would reduce
family- and employment-based visa backlogs, and would eliminate disincentives and barriers to permanent residence. It supports the Biden-Harris administration’s early executive actions and proposes additional measures to increase access to permanent residence and naturalization. It also endorses and seeks to inform the administration’s plan to improve and expedite the naturalization process and to promote naturalization.

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Charting a Course to Rebuild and Strengthen the US Refugee Admissions Program

This report analyzes the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), leveraging data from a national survey of resettlement stakeholders conducted in 2020. The survey examined USRAP from the time that refugees arrive in the United States. Its design and questionnaire were informed by three community gatherings organized by Refugee Council USA in the fall and winter of 2019, extensive input from an expert advisory group, and a literature review.

This study finds that USRAP serves important purposes, enjoys extensive community support, and offers a variety of effective services. Overall, the survey finds a high degree of consensus on the US resettlement program’s strengths and objectives, and close alignment between its services and the needs of refugees at different stages of their settlement and integration. Because its infrastructure and community-based resettlement networks have been decimated in recent years, the main challenges of subsequent administrations, Congresses, and USRAP stakeholders will be to rebuild, revitalize, and regain broad and bipartisan support for the program. This article also recommends specific ways that USRAP’s programs and services can be strengthened.

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Mapping Key Determinants of Immigrants’ Health in Brooklyn and Queens

This study maps the determinants of immigrant health in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. In doing so, it seeks to enable healthcare providers, government agencies, and non-profit immigrant-serving entities – including faith-based entities – to identify gaps in their services to immigrant populations, and to help meet the need – healthcare and other – of diverse immigrant communities at heightened risk of adverse health outcomes.

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Charting a Course to Rebuild and Strengthen the US Refugee Admissions Program

This report analyzes the US refugee resettlement program – known as “USRAP” (the US Refugee Admissions Program) – leveraging data from a national survey of resettlement stakeholders conducted in 2020. The survey examined USRAP from the time that refugees arrive in the United States. The survey’s design and questionnaire were informed by three community gatherings organized by Refugee Council USA in the fall and winter of 2019, extensive input from an expert advisory group, and a literature review.

This report finds that USRAP serves important purposes, enjoys extensive community support, and offers a variety of effective services. Overall, the survey finds a high degree of consensus on the US resettlement program’s strengths and objectives, and close alignment between its services and the needs of refugees at different stages of their settlement and integration. Because USRAP’s infrastructure and community-based resettlement networks have been decimated in recent years, the Biden administration’s main challenges will be to rebuild and revitalize the program, educate the public on it, and try to regain broad, bi-partisan support for it. The report also points to specific ways in which USRAP’s programs and services should be strengthened.

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Improving the U.S. Immigration System in the First Year of the Biden Administration

The Biden administration will face substantial challenges in putting immigration and refugee policy back on track—not just reversing ill-advised policies of the past four years but also improving a system that was in need of reform well before the current administration took office. In this paper, T. Alexander Aleinikoff and Donald Kerwin highlight a number of reforms that should be prioritized by the Biden administration in its first year.

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US Foreign-Born Essential Workers by Status and State, and the Global Pandemic

This paper provides comprehensive estimates on immigrant (foreign-born) workers in the United States, employed in “essential critical infrastructure” categories, as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security. It finds that immigrants in the labor force and age 16 and over, work at disproportionate rates in “essential critical infrastructure” jobs. In particular, 69 percent of all immigrants in the labor force and 74 percent of undocumented workers are essential infrastructure workers, compared to 65 percent of the native-born labor force

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