tv [untitled] October 5, 2016 6:21pm-8:00pm EDT
you're looking sort of after we spent this three years doing this, what we think sort of optimal policy for immigration would be, you'll be a little disappointed. partly we were tasked with sort of laying out information and helping inform people to make those decisions. we make recommendations, but they're mainly about the need for better data, which is -- i shouldn't make light of it, it would actually be incredibly useful for us to know more information about sort of who that second generation is. but i think a lot of what you're saying is valid, and i think those are interesting questions and policy debates we should be having as a country sort of about whether and how we want to change immigration policy, and if there is some level. but we don't really get into those things. i don't know if you guys have. >> i do want to follow up a little bit. so the one key thing to know is that the benefit of immigration comes from immigrants being different from the natives. at least if you put aside the
innovation and the spillover questions, issues. so if we had an influx of immigrants to the u.s. where basically a twin of every person already in the u.s. came in, you would actually expect that in the end, it would just be a bigger u.s. with everything the same otherwise, same wages, same prices, because the benefit comes when the immigrants are different and it allows for greater specialization. one of the advantages of having lower skilled immigrants is in some cases they're offering services you don't get in europe because the immigrants are not sufficiently low skilled that these services are offered. that's one almost impossible to measure benefit of the low skilled immigrants. you need to add that. you need to add the fiscal side. >> so the demography, the
demographic differences are actually sort of driving a lot of when we talk about the fact that having immigrants coming in. >> the point is that the report doesn't offer these policy prescriptions. it's a 500-page report put on the table as a buffet for you to choose from and for us to argue about later. because it really does feed a lot of ideas. >> just to finish, you need to add the specialization, the fiscal, and the lowering the native wages all together. when you make your decision, there are three things about low skilled immigrants. >> immigration policy is a balancing act. you have to balance all these objectives. we need more data and insights to put into the balancing question. >> any other questions? yes. >> good morning. amanda bergson-chillcot.
thank you so much. my question has to do with the difference between the national economic picture and the state and local economic picture. this is clearly an evidence-based report. what data do you think is in the report that would be of most interest to a state level policy maker who is trying health issues at the state level rather than the sort of 30,000-foot national level of these issues? >> chapter 9. which i did a lot of the work on. but basically what we do and what is different than what was done before, and partly because i thought it was really important for us to do, is in that chapter we actually break out sort of the fiscal costs and benefits for state and local governments, state by state. and so a lot of this comes down to both the characteristics of the different populations, so the different groups, and also the decisions that states are making in terms of the level of
spending on education and the tax systems they have in place. and so -- but if you're a state, you know, budget person, or if you're just a state legislator, they're going to basically go to that charter and look at sort of what things look like in california versus texas. so part of that is to sort of break out how much this varies. the thing i hope they take away from this, because we do find in general that immigrants cost more than they contribute, is that second generation, where we're actually seeing this return, even to many states. the problem is, because people are mobile, and because state tax systems are less progressive and less based on income, it means that the returns aren't necessarily as clear for the states that have to make that investment in education, for what benefits the country as a whole. for state folks i think there's
going to be a lot of delving over those tables, and hope it helps. >> time for one last question. you're straining there. >> hi, i'm heather stewart from the association of international educators. i want to speak to higher education for international students. can you speak to the spillover effect of international students on campuses in the u.s., and also to, after they graduate, some portion of them would like to remain and work in the united states, what effects does that have on our economy and our communities? thank you. >> that's a very good question. and there's only a little bit in the report on that, which i think reflects partly the literature is not quite as big as you would think. i'm trying to think -- we did have a couple of papers in there that we discuss that
look at how the choice of field of natives is affected by the arrival of the immigrants. but that's only a little part of your question. we can talk after and i can tell you a bit more about what i think i know that's not in the report. we don't have a good understanding. there's a very limited amount in the report. >> it's kind of amazing, given that it's a 500-page report, how much is not necessarily in there. that keeps coming up. >> you now have approximately a minute and a half each for a bon mot that summarizes the 500 words. what is the takeaway here? or what do you want to add? let's go across this way. >> so one thing that we haven't mentioned yet, i do when i talk about these things stress what the impact on natives is because i find that's what natives are most interested in.
but we haven't mentioned that immigration is very, very beneficial to immigrants. one thing we have in the paper, it's a very crude calculation, extremely crude, but we calculate that the size of the economy, of gdp, is about 11% larger because of immigration. that's in itself something that some people are interested in, just the size, per capita, most of that benefit does actually go to the immigrants, but chalk that up as a good thing. so to summarize, what we show in the paper is that as we would expect theoretically but we find empirically, immigration raises the income of natives as well as the immigrants. but there are winners and losers amongst the natives. on average, no effect on the wages of natives, no effect on the employment of natives.
but some negative impact on the, as kim stressed, the small group by now of very unskilled natives. and yes, i'll leave it at that. >> i would just:00 with two broad point. one being that we cannot evaluate immigration in a static way, at a moment in time. it's impossible, because the investments or the costs of immigrants are at one point in time and the payoffs are later. if we don't look over time, we're not able to make any decision at all that's at all reasonable. and at the same time, the native-born population over time is also evolving. we're all evolving through time. the aging baby boomers in particular will be the dominant factor for the next 20 years, impacting the fiscal state of america. and so that's just inescapable. fortunately, children grow up. and children become the new taxpayers and the new workers and the new home buyers.
so we have to keep both those things looking forward in time. i'll stop there. >> and i think we've covered a lot of what i think is important in the report. i think the points about the fiscal stuff is really important. one of the things that we do cover that we didn't get into as much is the fact that immigrants are actually moving into a larger set of communities. so there is more geographic dispersion. and i think that's sort of an issue that, you know, warrants more study. so i would like to think rather than this being the last word on these topics is sort of an opening way of sort of putting some information out there that we can then build on and sort of expand what we know and what we need to know about the topic. >> absolutely. as i said at the onset, this report, it opens a chapter of study and debate that will take a long time to digest, add to, and expand on, much the way new americans produced volumes
following it, this really seeds our study. and if there's a really, really simple bottom line to this, is it's not simple. and be wary of anybody on any side of the argument who tries to convince you that it's simple. thank you. [ applause ] >> that was just terrific. so as we're bringing this panel off and we're going to move the next one on directly, if you need to stretch your legs, let me encourage you to do that in place, if we can, because we're going to go straight into the next discussion without a break. but it was really a wonderful chance to have three people who were part of three years of deliberation dig into and explain for us the information. and we're going to move from this discussion immediately into a discussion about the lived experience, and the ways in which the broader trends that we
were talking about are playing themselves out at the state and at the local level. and while our next panel is getting miked, i wanted to also just thank those of you who are participating in a very robust social media conversation about this discussion. i really want to -- it's interesting to see what people are pulling out from the panels and highlighting online. and i think those are areas that we can explore some more. i will say that the urban and usc are very excited about trying to dig into some of these consequences in our work together that's going to happen in the next chapter. so we will have our panel miked in just about 15 more seconds, and we'll move right ahead. so urban institute senior fellow
audrey singer will moderate this next discussion. and are we good to go? all right. thank you, audrey. >> thank you. welcome to the starting point. we're bringing it down to the state and local level. i'm audrey singer, a senior fellow in the metropolitan communities and housing policy center here at the urban institute. we're delighted to have you in the room with us and those of you who are watching on the webcast, welcome as well. before i introduce our panelists, i just want to say a word about the picture that we have behind us. when i saw that picture, i e-mailed kim rubin, asking her if that was two members of the study panel when they received the final report, jumping for joy.
she wrote back saying, no, there would be 500 pages a book in her hand, not just one page. so this is a naturalization ceremony with a certificate, i believe. so we're really excited today to have a stellar set of speakers from several communities around the country. next to me is renato soto, the co-founder and executive director of connection americas in nashville, which has one of the nation's fastest growing immigrant populations among all metropolitan areas. connection is a nonprofit that serves primarily latino families in the nashville area, with programs to support immigrants in buying a home, learning english and supporting the
educational success of children and otherwise helping immigrants integrate into nashville. next to her is sonia lynn, general counsel and policy director of the new york city mayor's office of immigrant affairs. moia is an agency that work to ensure the wellbeing of immigrants and supports their economic, social, and civic integration. and many, there are numerous programs and policies i'm going to ask her to talk about those in a bit, but sonia, her main responsibilities, she leads programs that promote access to justice by connecting immigrants to free and safe immigration legal services and also citizenship support. and they do that in a variety of ways, often through trusted community-based organizations and libraries across the city. senator moises dennis is a state senator from nevada. i should say nevada, i spent
some time there, i know better, but i'm from the east coast. he's been a member of the legislature since 2011. mo is also the co-chair of the national conference of state legislatures task force on immigration. he works with other state senators from around the country to focus attention on state level concerns around immigration issues and to help ncsl influence policy and legislation at the national level on a range of issues. i really want to congratulate nas and the study panel experts for this report. it says a lot about a lot of things, as we've just heard. and it's much harder to characterize things at the state and local level, the lived experiences of immigrants and the communities in which they live and work and go to school and worship and shop in. and of course it's -- we were
going to use that as a frame to have a much fuller discussion about what it's like in various communities around the country. and i should point out that of course immigrants are not evenly distributed around communities in the country. and their costs and their contributions also really vary widely cross places. neither are there investments in immigrant communities made by municipal many governments. housing markets, labor markets and the opportunities that they offer also vary widely. different places attract different kinds of immigrants. that's kind of thing we'll be talking about here today. while the federal government is responsible for creating national laws and policies around immigration, most of the policies and the programs and the practices that affect immigrants and their families are operating at the city and the county and the state level. so it's the nashvilles and the new yorks and the nevadas and
the las vegases that are the places that face the practicalities of integrating immigrants. they and other places around the country have choices in how to invest in immigrants and their children, and they do so in varying degrees. some places, especially those with a long history and identity as immigrants gateways, have been involved in the integration of immigrants into the social, political, and economic fabric of those places. they're more likely to have well developed organizations that reach out to immigrants. often they have nonprofits and community based organizations that have been started by immigrant newcomers, that carry on this nongovernmental role of being in between immigrants and the institutions and the communities in which they're integrating into. other places where immigration is a newer phenomenon, shall we
say are somewhat less excited about immigrant newcomers coming into their midst and often places over time have developed policies that serve to deflect or exclude immigrants, often aimed at those who are undocumented, but as we know, the undocumented and legal immigrants and u.s. citizens are all wrapped up, sometimes in the same families and households and certainly in the same communities. those policies tend to affect a larger group of people. so i'm going to start with renata. nashville is currently the home of about 150,000 immigrants. it's doubled in size since 2000. and immigrants now make up about 8% of the population. and i would like to talk to you about connection a bit. tell us a bit about the organization, its work and its goals, and what kinds of issues moved you to start the organization. >> it's great to be here.
i would say i'm one of the 40 million in the report. i came to the u.s. when i was 21, with the opportunity to finish college and stay here because of marriage. nashville is one of the many places that you describe, where many nashvillians did not know someone who spoke a foreign language and came from somewhere else in a very clear and tangible way until 20, 25 years ago. connection americas is a response not only to the growth of latino families who are coming to places like nashville or atlanta, georgia, or charlotte, north carolina, or dalton, georgia too, but also a response to recognize that as those families are looking to become part of the community and start a business and buy a house and pursue the american dream, that also the nashville community was grasping a change
that some welcomed more than others. we are a support network for those families that are arriving and also a place to have conversation with native nashvillians about why in the first place mexicans come to nashville, why are central americans arriving, what are the conditions we leave behind and what are the challenges and opportunities we're seeking in our community. we've been around now 14 years. our focus has been promoting the social, economic, and civic integration of families. it's a two-way street, immigrants are trying to learn a new language, new system, new customs, but we're deliberately understanding that nashvillians also have to adapt in reciprocal ways, and that we are a more diverse community, but that nashville will be only inclusive if we take the steps to make sure that those immigrants have
opportunities and tools to succeed, and nashville as a whole will reap the benefits of their contributions. we are an organization that at a very basic level, to break it down, helps families buy houses by accessing financial products that meet their needs. we help entrepreneurs find, pursue an idea, and turn it into a successful business, including a culinary incubator that pretty much highlights the conversation in the earlier panel of people that are coming with family recipes and with amazing creativity and skills, and are turning that into successful businesses, catering companies, wholesalers, and creating jobs for others, not just for themselves. we are also very invested in the point of making sure that the second generation is also
fulfilling what the report says, primarily focusing on ensuring that the children of immigrants or immigrant kids who are already a growing percentage of our school system in nashville have the opportunity to succeed in high school and become the first in their families to graduate from high school and go to college, through a national program developed by the national council of larasa. we're one of 20 organizations across the country who implement that. i'll talk more about how that connects to what we heard in the report. certainly we understand that immigrants are not just workers who want a good job, but are people full of aspirations and needs and assets and dreams. and we try to be a support at every point of their life in nashville, and hoping that we're also a voice for bringing nashvillens and immigrants together, to understand how our presence benefits our city. >> if you would like to say
something about the second generation, i think it's of great interest, certainly in the report. it spends a lot of time talking about not just the short term but the long term benefits of this population. i don't know if you can elaborate on how the second generation is doing as they become adults, as they enter the workforce, are they staying in nashville, what's going on around that? >> so nashville, you know, even in our 14-year history we already can see the change of our community. 14 years ago when we started connection americas, we were mostly exclusively thinking about the resources, tools, aspirations, challenges, and assets of the first arriving parent. usually the dad who came to nashville for a construction job when nashville was in the middle of a construction boom, building a stadium for football and an arena and other big infrastructure investments.
i love to hear the story from a priest in our community, the neighborhood we're located, that says how in the early 1990s, his church changed by the number of single men that showed up to church. and then three years later, his church changed again because those men now were bringing their wives and kids who they had sent home now that nashville became a place where they saw a future and a place to call home permanently. so in that same way, at connection americas we see not only those adults who are the first arriving, learning english, being employed in service industry, hospitality. tourism is a very important industry in nashville, and certainly the immigrant work force is propelling the vitality of industry in big ways. but then also we started seeing the shift of our school systems.
and actually for us, it's more important to see what the school system is looking like, what the census tells us about how many immigrants are in our community. that's like the more real snapshot about what was happening in nashville. already 25% of our children in kindergarten are latino. and 30% of the students in nashville come from homes where english is not the primary language. and that continues to grow every year. we have a system of about almost 90,000 children. and so what we see now is both the children that came with their parents as immigrants but also the children being born in nashville who are already in kindergarten and now graduating from high school. and a few years ago, precisely recognizing that change in the clamor from parents to also have resources to help their kids succeed in school, we brought the nclr program to nashville, an intense afterschool program to help them succeed.
what i can tell you is that we are in front of that american dream of the parents who might be employed at what you call low skilled jobs, although i would argue that many people in this room could not build some of the brick beautiful walls and things that we see around, and i find it very, very skillful. but certainly their children are this group of people that have not only this expectation from their parents but this eagerness to make sure that they will be the ones in their family who will change the trajectory, who will make it to college. and that is great. we're trying to make sure that they have the supports to do that. however, we are also competing with our own self-interest in tennessee in that -- and in many places in the country. many of these kids who are undocumented are not seen as the tennesseeans who they are and
for them college is more expensive, having to pay sometimes three times the amount of money as it would cost a tennessee student. while our state and governor is pushing a plan called drive through 55, meaning that in the next 20 years, tennessee will achieve that mark where at least 55% of our citizens will have graduated from high school and have some kind of secondary education, because only 25% of tennesseans do now, because we understand the economic investment that having a more educated workforce will mean to our economy in tennessee. so on one hand, our governor and our system is pushing that we reach 55%, everybody let's get a secondary education somewhere. but on the other hand, we have about 14,000 students in tennessee who would benefit from in-state tuition rates that are already saying, i want to go to
college, i want to be a doctor, i want to be a teacher, i want to be an engineer. we're making their work harder and we're making the path more expensive. and sometimes we're easily tempting them to go to another route in which they will not pursue further education. and so we see what the report says in two ways. the energy of those kids, what is propelling them, and the parents that are propelling them to achieve that, the eagerness to become the first in their families to go to college, to break that and achieve an educational level that many of their parents do not have. but yet in our state we're still grasping this sort of reverse policy that is against our interests when we're not making that possible for 14,000 kids and others behind them. >> thank you.
so new york, well, everybody knows new york is the place with the largest number of immigrants in the united states. it has a long history of receiving immigrants. receiving immigrants. it has the statue of liberty. there are nearly 6 million foreign born people in the metropolitan area there, which is a huge metropolitan area. more than half of them live in the city of new york. and as a place with a history as a continuous place of settlement sets it apart from many places. so new york is really ahead of things in a lot of ways and it's kind of unfair to other places, but they are able to present options and opportunities that other places can't. and so what i'm interested in hearing from sonia about is how a municipal level infrastructure works, how the city government
works and invests in these communities, and their interactions not only with immigrant communities but with the nonprofit sector, various other city agencies, and what it's like to be in a place with a well-developed, well-funded infrastructure to support immigrants. so talk to us about what you guys do at moia and why the city invests so much. >> great. thanks, audrey. and thank you all for coming here today, thank you so much to the urban institute for hosting this really important conversation. i'm really excited to keep talking about these issues and to really dive into the report in the days and months to come. moia in new york city, as audrey mentioned, we have this broad mandate which i think is a fantastic one, which is to promote the well-being of new york city immigrants and support
their social, civic, economic integration. we at moia are in the city charter. we're within the mayor's office. we recommend policies to, you know, pursue our mandate. we conduct outreach throughout the city and immigrant communities in the five boroughs. we help immigrants navigate the city government, new york city generally. under the leadership of mayor de blasio and commissioner agerwal, which we focus on a few strategies at moia in this administration. one, to really realize a vision that we have of inclusive government, an equitable city, a government for all new yorkers including the 3 million foreign born new yorkers, and make sure that these immigrant new yorkers have access to city services to
pursue their dreams, fulfill their potential. another focus that we have, as audrey mentioned, is supporting immigrants in accessing justice. for us that means making sure that we can connect people to immigration legal services, support them on their path to citizenship. we've done some research with the urban institute actually that shows the economic benefits of naturalization for immigrants, a rise in wages, in employment rates, it's good for immigrants, it's good for their families, it's good for us in the city as well. so access to justice is a big deal for us. and then advocacy on behalf of new york city immigrants at the local, state, and federal levels. and in doing this work, you know, we work with a really broad range of people. we're a small unit within the mayor's office.
it's not our job to serve all new york city immigrants. we do it in partnership with our sister agencies in the new york city government, with the really rich and broad kind of community of community-based organizations in new york, faith, labor, business. you know, we work with all kinds of stakeholders and partners who see the benefit in supporting new york city immigrants. and then i think another sort of key to our success is thinking about, you know, testing innovative policies and programs, new approaches for delivering services, connecting to immigrants. we -- i think probably the best known program that we've launched in this administration is the idnyc program, new york city's municipal i.d. card which was launched at the beginning of 2015, so less than two years
later, one in ten new yorkers has a municipal i.d. card. it's just been tremendously successful. i'm happy to talk about it more. i think it's been a really great learning experience for us. the partnerships and collaborations that need to happen, and how to design programs so that they're useful and beneficial to immigrant new yorkers and to all new yorkers. i think we've learned that that's a real necessary ingredient for a program's success. >> from what i know, it sounds like the nycid is one of those kinds of things that benefits not just immigrants that didn't come out of your office, right, or did it come out of your office? >> we were definitely one of the agencies involved. >> so the idea is that if you have one of these i.d.s, that you have access to a bunch of things, and it provides city agencies and other organizations
i.d. but i guess you've got one in ten now. do you have a sense of how well people are using this, what share are immigrants or foreign born people, what they're using it to access? i again want to stress, new york really is a laboratory for other places. and because they're a little bit ahead in terms of how they view immigrants and the money that they have to spend on them, these are lessons for other places. there are many other places around the country, cities in particular, that have municipal i.d.s and have had them over a while. we're learning a lot about how populations use them. i wonder if you can tell us more about new yorkers. >> absolutely. definitely we were not the first
city to create a municipal i.d. program. new haven, san francisco, other cities had these programs. and we are talking to sort of jurisdictions all the time that are interested in starting municipal i.d. programs. in new york, you know, i think sort of to answer one of your questions, audrey, but how are people using the i.d., you know, what benefit does it have to them. we actually did a study with a third party evaluation firm that came out last month to really dive into this question of, is it working, do people like it, what are they using it for, are immigrants actually using it? definitely immigrant new yorkers were a key population that we had in mind in designing and implementing the program. they were not the only population by any means. this is a card for all new yorkers. i mean, we wanted it to be broadly appealing in scope because we did not want it to be a card that stigmatized card holders. we wanted it to really be
something that signaled kind of the most precious identity of all, which is that of being a new yorker, you know, in my opinion. the valuation was interesting. we confirmed the card is popular throughout the city, so we have card holders in all zip codes across all five boroughs. you know, definitely higher rates of enrollment in immigrant dense neighborhoods and populations. we don't ask about immigration status, by the way, so we don't know who's undocumented, who's documented, people's citizenship status. it is really do we know who you are, do we know that you live in new york city. those are the questions that we ask when people enroll. other things that we learned in the study are that the
immigrants who had a card, who self-identified as immigrants, responded to the survey, about 66 perseus it as their primary i.d. about 36% have it as their only form of u.s.-based id. people use it for all kinds of things. using it exactly as we hoped for very kind of quotidian things, like entering city buildings, going to pick up their kids at school when oftentimes you need to show id, using it to open a bank or a credit union account with a participating financial institution, using it -- when we were designing the program, we worked with a wide range of cultural institutions throughout new york city who agreed, who were really excited actually, about offering free one-year memberships to their institutions for card holders, and that's been a really popular benefit for the card and i think
has drawn a really diverse cross section of new yorkers to the program. they're using it. the museums, the concert halls, the other cultural institutions are really thrilled to see new populations come through their doors, enjoy what they have to offer. we just announced new benefits this week where new york road runners, which is a recreational racing club, running club, has offered memberships to card holders and sporting goods stores offering discounts. you can get prescription discounts. it's kind of a key to the city for new yorkers. it's in their wallet. you can use it and enjoy everything the city has to offer. what i think is kind of the most powerful statistic that came from the evaluation was the really high rate, i think, over
70% of respondents to the survey who talked about having the new york id increased their sense of belonging in the city and confirmed their status of new yorker, which i think says a lot about the power this bureaucratic piece of plastic can have. >> that's very interesting. i definitely see both the membership benefits but also, going back to our theme of this session, the economic benefits. it'll be interesting to watch that over the long term and to see what happens in new york and in other places as well. so most of nevada's half a million immigrants are in las vegas. immigrants have been drawn to jobs there in the hospitality sector, in the construction sector when there was a recent boom, although they've been around since mid 20th century in
some numbers. things really took off during the growth of the late 1990s when a lot of immigrant workers flocked to nevada and helped build a lot of the growth we've seen. and so now 22% of las vegas' and nevada's total population is foreign born, but the great recession also hit las vegas very hard. and vegas is one of those places that is used to having boom and bust economies, but where immigrants tend to work, the effects tend to go pretty deep in many communities. so if you could talk about both sides of what you do, kind of what you do for the state and also what you do as a member of this national task force on immigration, that would be great to hear about. >> so i'm the son of cuban
immigrants. i was actually born in brooklyn, but we moved to vegas when i was 6. a lot of cubans back then were coming from -- even though my parents had come before castro, a lot of cubans were coming from that era of castro and they were literally going from casinos in havana to casinos in las vegas. in fact, yesterday i was at the circus, circus hotel which is one of the older hotels in las vegas. and we tend to tear things down and build them new and bigger. we're kind of going through that right now where we're tearing down some stuff and building new things. and from the national counsel state legislature, we've had this task force for about ten years.
i've actually been in legislatures since 2004, which right after that is when i became part of this task force. we've actually been to nashville to your facility and the wonderful things you're doing there. we've been to new york and the fed and looking at the economic benefits. we've been all over the country. we've been to the borders, including washington state, down in arizona, we've been down in california, and we've been to mexico city to talk to their folks about immigration, to their federal folks. we've had this opportunity to look at all these things and kind of suggest some policies. some of the things i've seen across the country are amazing what they're doing with immigrants. in nevada, we've -- probably one of the biggest challenges is education. one thing that's different about nevada than a lot of states is we don't have a state income tax. all the money we get comes from sales tax and property tax. regardless of your immigration
status, everybody in nevada pays taxes because you have to live somewhere and you have to buy things. our economic studies in the past have shown that our immigrant population actually puts back $2 billion which is greater than the population as a whole, so it's been a great boom for us. but as you mentioned, we're boom or bust. when the hotels are doing well, everything else, construction, all those other jobs. the other thing we see from immigrants is a lot of the smaller business, the micro businesses, those kinds of things are doing very well. in fact, i remember seeing the ones, the culinary ones you have in nashville, that give you a facility until you have the opportunity to have your own. i've seen a similar thing in minneapolis. in nevada, we have similar things.
as a legislator, one of the big challenges we had, since the federal folks haven't put in place some type of immigration policy that will work, we see a lot of different states doing different things. in nevada, one of the things that we did that took me eight years but we finally got it through is a driver's authorization card. it's similar to a driver's license but it's not an i.d. it allows people to drive, be able to get their kids to school, go to the doctor. we already know they were driving. this way it gives them an opportunity to take the test and makes the road safer, gives them the opportunity to do insurance and those kinds of things. but we started that program, i think, three years ago. we now have 32,000 individuals that have applied for the card and use it. we have in our education system just in clark county in the las
vegas area, which is about 80% of the population in nevada, we have over -- i think it's over 80 -- i could be wrong. it could be more than that. there's at least 80 different languages that the school district has to deal with. of course hispanic being a large one. tagalog being another large one. there's a lot of challenges there. we don't fund anywhere near the national average as far as education. with all that growth, at our heyday at the peak we were building a new school every 20 days in the las vegas area, opening up a new school. over a period of eight years, we built i think 16 high schools, 32 middle schools, and 60 something elementary schools. we were having kids going to different schools every year and not moving. we have put some more investment, especially more recently in the last four years, into the english language learner program.
which as a state we didn't do that, we were using federal money for that. but now we have invested and we're seeing great results. there's a program called zoom schools that provides english language learner population schools, that provides for pre-k, it provides for smaller classes, kindergarten, reading help, summer school. we've seen some amazing results there. we have doubled that effort this last legislative session, and now we're looking at actually changing the way we fund schools, the funding formula, to actually reflect the need for liberia language learners for special education and those kinds of things. but one of the things -- we talked about the lower skilled jobs, but we considered construction a skilled job because somebody has to train them how to do that. fortunately, when they come from wherever country they're coming from, they're already coming skilled. while it costs us to educate
their children, we didn't have to educate the parents. there's a cost benefit there even though it's expensive. now what we see is these same parents that came because they want to make their lives better for their kids and work in hotels, their kids are not going to school and becoming the doctors and lawyers and engineers. in nevada, we don't have the issue of in state/out of state tuition based on your citizenship, so our kids are able to go to college. although the cost is still prohibitive in some cases and we're working on some of those things to try to bring down the cost, especially of community colleges. >> i think that's a really important point. this sort of non-quantifiable -- it goes back to the discussion of our panelists of what immigrants bring with them already and the fact that lower skilled people have skills that are valuable and fit into the
labor market in certain ways. not to put you too much on the spot, but as a state legislator, from what you heard on the panel -- and i'm sure you read the whole report on the way here. came on the red eye, so a lot of reading going on. but no. from what you've heard, does anything about either the state analyses or anything in there really resonate with you as a leader concerned with these things in the state of nevada? >> the one thing i know for sure is when you have these types of reports -- and we've had a few other ones come out this year. they're very helpful to us as policymakers because you can look at that. while there's some -- in politics, you're always going to have some folks it doesn't matter what you present to them. they already know the answer before you've even -- even though it's completely wrong. but for the most part, what i've seen -- because the ncsl is
bipartisan because i'm a co-chair, so we have democrat and republican that are co-chairs and the membership of the committee are that way. we work together to come up with policies that work. when we see these kinds of reports and specifically this one, i think it will be very helpful and it does look at the issue of the national versus the local. and as i mentioned earlier, depends on which date you're from, the kind of impacts, especially fiscally and economically that you have. i've seen that as we have gone across the country and seen different states and the challenges that they have and how they fund things, so having that information is important. we have some folks from georgia and other places, washington state, where there's a lot of agricultural needs in many parts and the whole center part of the plains states where they have different challenges with
immigrants. what we've seen is many states have kind of -- they're piecemealing immigration policies that benefit them. so moving forward what we would hope to see is that something will get resolved and will get updated with immigration policy, but that will also give states the opportunity to be able to customize our individual needs so that it's not one cookie cutter thing for every state, but it will allow us to look at -- if we need this type of worker -- and nevada is a great example. while tourism is our bread and butter, we still have mining. we're the number three producer of gold in the world behind australia and south africa. we need people for those types of industries, but we've always attracted a company that is going to build electric cars
outside of las vegas. we have tesla that is going to be building the biggest battery factory in the world in northern nevada. we need workers for those industries and we have technology companies coming in. when you talk about hotels and hospitality, we don't think of those as technology companies, but everything they do now is technology with the gaming. we have that need in nevada to be able to attract those kinds of workers and to be able to educate the ones that we do have. >> well, you mentioned -- you phrased it very nicely. i think you said -- now i'm going to forget -- updated immigration policy. so since you went there, i think we'll talk about that. we're in a moment right now where immigration is really top of mind, top of the agenda, of a lot of policy discussions taking
place nationally with this presidential campaign season and just -- it's opened up a lot of discussions across communities, and i'm wondering if you could all talk about some of the challenges that you have on the ground dealing with issues that arise as they arise. renata, you talked about bringing nashvillians together, resident nashvillians. i guess it's fair to say tennessee for most of its 20th century history was biracial, had native born blacks and whites. then as immigrants started arriving, they kind of intersected this society there and the economy in ways that may or may not have
been comfortable. and now we're in a moment where it is sort of the age of inequality. we're talking a lot more about race. we're talking a lot more about immigration and how all of these things intersect. so on the ground, what does it feel like in each of your communities to have these conversations within these contexts and ultimately whether you have the right facts, study facts, some facts that you like, it does often come back to economic issues, so i was hoping you could all offer some comments. >> as the previous panelist said, it's not a simple answer. certainly tennessee even though you might think and certainly wonder, latinos in tennessee, right? and you also think it's a very conservative state. it's not a black and white story.
i'll give you a couple of examples. i would say if you ask any immigrant in nashville overall about how they feel about life in nashville that's why we've grown so much. and why people brought their families later, it seems a welcoming place with a decent quality of life, better cost of living. many latino immigrants we have in nashville come both from their countries of origin, but many of them actually are moving from other part, particularly like california, places where the cost of living is higher or where job opportunities are not as available or perceived to be as available as in nashville. nashville is a place that's been tested maybe like no other places. in 2007 to 2009, we fought an english only referendum. we were the first city of our size that took it to the ballot and to the voters. nashvillians defeated that by sending a message saying that's not who we were or the kind of
community we were building. certainly nashville -- i think that the fact that connection americas exists and a non-profit that brings together ten non-profits under one roof that is funded by individuals is testament that nashvillians believe in the importance of investing in organizations like ours. in efforts like hours to offer tools and resources to our newest neighbors. now, you get out of nashville, then you get into rural communities are people have perceive that change and welcome it in different ways. up until three or four years ago, at the state legislature we were fighting anti-immigrant bills. often 65 of them at a time. they were often a reflection of just making life harder for immigrants who were coming to tennessee in the sense that tennessee was way too attractive, because we were
offering driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. or we were not a community were only legal immigrants were welcome. interestingly enough, three years ago that changed. in a way for the first time we were able to be for something and not be just defending our community against bad things. to me, that's maybe a thermometer that the conversation might change. even more so, we for the last two years have been working -- and our colleagues, one of our partners in the coalition in the state has led the effort on tuition equality so undocumented kids can go to our schools, our public schools, paying us tennesseeans. in other states it's taken five years or more to get there. in tennessee, we're not there yet, but the first time we proposed it we lost that bill for only one vote which was amazing in its own way.
i have to tell you that actually the cosponsors of the bill were two republicans not from nashville, but one from chattanooga to our east and one from memphis to our west side. that is also a reflection of the understanding of people of all parties that it's in their best interests and the economic interest of that community. in one of the cases, the senator from chattanooga it was the realization of who was in his community and employers bringing to him the fact that we needed to make this potential workforce that we were educated already more integrated into the economic future of chattanooga. i think that certainly, unfortunately, in tennessee also, like in many places, we're competing to see who can be more unwelcoming, often. certainly the last year the effect of the rhetoric from
trump has affected our community too. and if we move forward in the last two years on this discussion on tuition equality as a one place where maybe tennesseeans were moving forward thinking that was a wise investment, that it was in the interests of families and the economic interests of the state, certainly we feel these last few months we have taken many, many steps back. and actually we're feeling very concerned about the likelihood of this year when we bring this issue for the third time to the legislative session. how much are we going to move forward? and i can tell you that it is an interesting tale of people like the congressman in chattanooga making the case for why we need to open these policies and open the opportunity for these kids to go to college, but then on the other hand we're also making sure that tennessee was not welcoming to muslim refugees. we were one of the states that
said please don't send us any syrians. so i think that sounded like many places. we are schizophrenic about our view of who we want in our community at what point. and i think the work of organizations like ours and elected officials and the partnerships among them is the only way -- and sustained effort -- is going to make sure that people understand on a personal level and then also at a community level why all these things matter. i think that in nashville in particular, often we feel a little bit complacent, that we are a welcoming community. but in fact i have to say that when you were describing the work, for example, in new york city, an immigrant city then a place like nashville, i have to
say i'm more hopeful because i think it is unexpected for many people in the audience to believe we have sophisticated networks of support by the nonprofit sector and the local government in how we have responded to the demographic change in the last 20 years. the fact that your task force came to nashville to see the work of connection americas to see the work. >> i didn't mean to diss you. >> no, no, no, no. that's why i'm here. the reality is that there are more -- i am hopeful that in places like nashville is where we're going to -- where we're testing like what americans believe about what it means to be an american. i think that in new york you probably feel tested in so many ways, but that's sort of like our golden aspiration.
that we would be a community where people believe that that's who we are at the most essential way. i think in places like nashville is where we're testing that definition of what it means to be an american by how we are changed by new people that come to us. while it's really hard to be hopeful in today's world and in this electoral time, the response of nashvillians, both elected officials, citizens, and the nonprofits that have grown to respond to that, give me hope that maybe we'll get it right. >> so before we move to q&a, which we're going to do in a minute, i'm going to ask if you would like to briefly make a few more comments. >> i would. >> yes, absolutely. >> i'm going to try to be brief. i have so many things to say. but i'm going to try to be brief because i think renata brought up some really interesting things.
new york is different. i think in reflecting on the last panel, i guess maybe new york is the future. we have 3 million immigrants. about 40% of the population is foreign born. 60% of the population are immigrants or the children of immigrants. 50% of the workforce is foreign born. half of the small business owners. immigrants are taxpayers. they're workers. they're employers. they're consumers. you know, if we're not going to have a functioning city government, we have to have an immigrant inclusion strategy and we know that. it's not like a walk in the park. it's the most diverse immigrant population in the country probably, and so it means that we have to be smart and strategic and tailored in our delivery of services in light of the population in the city. but you know, it's not as controversial of an approach as it might be in other parts of the country, right? diversity is just kind of who we are.
we're proud of our immigrant story in the city. the one thing that's really interesting though is we are increasingly talking more to our counterparts, like other moias throughout the country about best practices, strategies, sharing ideas and innovative programs and policies, and joining together in advocacy in seeking reforms at the national level. in the last two years, we've helped spearhead the development of a coalition of localities, cities for action, that has, i think, over 100 mayors and county leaders now who have joined on. we have monthly calls. we share updates with each other. and then we work together to support the kind of national change that we all really want to see.
foremost of which is immigration reform, but we've also come together to urge the president to accept more refugees speaking from the local government perspective. we've come together to oppose efforts to defund sanctuary cities. we see that our interest is really in a robust national reform for immigrants, and we want to bring that perspective and that voice to the conversation. so i do think increasingly there's that recognition. and i'm really excited to get to the weeds of the report and sort of figure out what is in there from the sort of local perspective that will give us more insight into what we're doing. >> so i think i'll just quickly talk about -- as we look to change policies, one of the things that's changed in the last few years -- when i got elected, i was the only latino
in the nevada assembly. two years later -- so i'm the son of an immigrant. two years later, an immigrant got elected. so two of us were the hispanic caucus. that state stayed that way for another four years. then we went from two to eight. and we went from being just members to all of a sudden now i was the majority leader of the senate. and we've got committee chairmen. a lot of the policies have changed because people knew they had to pay attention, but i think more important than even that was that we went from, i think, the immigrant population participation in elections back then to what it is today has changed and people are paying attention to those kinds of things. so we're seeing some changes because the immigrants themselves are becoming more engaged in what's going on, and i think that people -- as the
immigrants do so, i think others are seeing these reports that come out. they actually get to know families that are immigrant families and see the type of things that are going on, so that's all been very helpful in this whole process. so i foresee that that will become even more so and we'll be able to get better policies. when i first got elected, it was really hard to pass anything that was trying to help the immigrant community. it took eight years, but when we got to the eighth year doing the driver's license was much easier because i had a lot more people that had been elected and we had the opportunity. of course, i was the majority leader. that helped. but the community as a whole turned out and did things, so that's a real important part of this whole mix. >> yeah, i think leadership, what you're all speaking to, is the role of state and local
leaders in opening up these discussions no matter how controversial and having the right tone. and it seems like there's a lot going on in the places that you live in and work in. so i wanted to open up to the floor any questions, and we have maybe about, i don't know, time for two or three. we've got one right here. >> good morning. i wanted to ask you sort of an obvious question because it is always good to hear that immigrants are contributing in successful and constructive ways to the growth of the country, and you have many examples particularly in new york and nevada. but the id topic is certainly huge and we know why, because
there's always the potential for abuse and using it in some way that it shouldn't be used. can you tell me a little bit more about how you go about -- it's now harder, for instance, to get a renewal of an id here in d.c. now you have to have your birth certificate where you didn't have to actually have that before. so have you found there have been problems with that? have there been more forgeries with birth certificates or any other issues with people trying to access this card because this card can obviously get you to a lot of places? >> thank you for that question. i think it's a really good one. when we were designing the program during the legislative process and the implementation process for the card, security of the card was really foremost in mind because we wanted it to be a robust card that would be widely accepted and could be used as somebody's primary id.
we knew that being able to ensure the integrity of the card, the integrity of the program, would be necessary for that acceptance. one of our main partners in the design implementation process was the new york police department, who worked with us really closely to set up the kind of protocols that we would need to be sure we did know who somebody was when they were applying for a card, that we could confirm their address so that when we put that information on the card we could do so with confidence. and we've been really pleased with kind of the safety and the security of the card. nearly two years in, we have a really strong integrity team that has really, you know, secure procedures for issuing the cards. we have not found them to be a sort of weaker standard than comparable ids. when i say comparable ids, i
mean state ids as our peers. gist thinking about the size of new york city, the number of new york city residents who don't have a driver's license, we wanted the i.d. to be able to serve that purpose, at least in the city. >> in nevada, we're not there yet when it comes to an id. even the driver's authorization card specifically says on it not to be used for id purposes. even though some businesses could, we can't limit businesses from doing that. the other issue, too, with the drivers issues was the real id act. you have to do it in compliance with that. so our card is the alternative. if you don't want a real id, you can get this drivers authorization card. many businesses still allow for that. the other thing is that the mexican government with their card has increased their security measures, so those can
be used where now in the past it was a little harder to use that. some of the other central american, south american countries, their consular card are a little better now. we've been able to use some of those for id purposes, especially when you're applying for the driver's license and other things. >> any other questions? we have one right here. >> national association of hispanic real estate professionals. renata, this is primarily for you. you probably would appreciate this. most people do not know there are 400,000 fewer homeowners who are from white households from 15 years ago. 400,000 fewer white owner households today. at the same time, there's been an increase of nearly 3 million
hispanic homeowner households. to some measure, you have done this in nashville with your organization. at the same time, latinos have driven employment growth in the country by more than 2/3 during the last 15 years. the same has occurred in educational gains. there's a lower dropout rate. more latino kids are attending college and same thing in business. latina women are coming up with new businesses at a much higher rate than the rest of the population, which goes to my question. i had asked jason furman, who is the chairman of the council of economic advisers, conservatives tend to criticize the level of employment right now claiming it is false.
that even though we're closer to full employment, that the real problem lies with labor force participation rates. it just so happens if latinos have had a larger labor force participation rate since the year 2000, 69%, as opposed to 6% -- 66% which was for the rest of the population. even today that same gap continues. it's at an all-time low level, 62 for the country, but it's 66 for latinos. and the question i asked mr. furman is do you think that the reduction that has occurred among latinos in labor force participation is due in part to the fact as it is reported in the report there's been a net wash, and in fact some years where we have actually lost immigrants that have come -- >> is your question -- the
question you asked to jason furman, one of our leading economists, you're going to ask to renata. >> i had hoped to ask cecilia also that same question. the other question is -- >> i don't understand the question. >> labor force participation reduction rates particularly for hispanics -- >> what rate -- >> i'm about to finish. have been lowered because more kids are attending school and staying in school, so that's actually a plus. it's an investment like you said in the future. so my question for korina and especially for cecilia is are you looking at the impact of latinos on the overall labor force participation rates because this is important for people who think employment is not where it should be. >> i will just briefly say
without being able to respond to your macro question that at a local level in nashville labor participation among latinos and immigrants is pretty high. i don't know for other communities. our concern is more underemployment. we know a lot of people are working two or three jobs because there's no full-time jobs. and underemployment is our concern. it is not participation in the labor force. >> yeah, i think there's a lot of fodder in the report that addresses these issues either directly or indirectly. are there any questions from the floor from over here? there's one back there. yeah. actually, i'm told we have got to end. so maybe we can talk at the end, but we've got to stop because we have our next -- our keynote has just arrived. i want to thank our panelists
for hanging with us on this topic and this very serious and thick report. thanks for being with us. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> this has been a really extraordinary morning, and i am particularly pleased that we've gone from, what was it, a plethora of economists who bring a lot of insight of a kind and then to be able to hear what's happening in three of america's most dynamic cities and the ways in which that work is playing itself out on the ground in the ways which local economies have benefitted has been really nice. and we're going to close our program today probably with the most fitting possible way we could have to end this discussion.
i have the great pleasure and honor of introducing the director of the domestic policy council, assistant to the president. cecilia munoz. cecilia coordinates the domestic policy making process in the white house. if you think about that sentence for a second, you get a sense of the breadth of responsibilities that cecilia has had. that means education. that means health care and energy and climate change among so many other things, but there's probably no other issue that's been more central to her work and her life than the one we have talked about today. she has also relevant to this discussion played a role previously in helping to manage the white house's relationship with governors, mayors, and other local leaders. again, understands the national impact and local government. prior to joining the administration, cecilia was at nclr where she was senior vice president in the office of research, advocacy, and legislation.
as i'm sure you all know, that's the nation's largest latino civil rights organization. there she worked on employment, education, housing, and of course immigrant policy. whether it's been from the state level, the city level, looking at the advocate perspective and now representing the president of the united states in the formulation of his immigration policy in a larger national context, some of the most fraught and divisive times, the president could probably have had no better adviser at his side than cecilia. the macarthur foundation if anyone was watching your news yesterday may have saw they announced its fellowships. they don't like -- i'm not sure if they like to call them or not the genius awards, but they are in fact inspiring young leaders.
cecilia's career suggests to us their great insight in suggesting back in 2000, so 16 years ago, that she was one of the macarthur foundation's fellows. we're really lucky to have her close out today. please join me in welcoming cecilia munoz. [ applause ] >> thank you, sarah. what a lovely introduction, one that will be very hard to live up to. i'm really excited that you're doing this, that you're having this conversation at the urban institute. i'm thrilled both to see the conversation about the economic benefits of immigrants, which are at some level well-known, but it's an incredibly important piece of the conversation, but to also dig into the local work that's happening, the work of integrating immigrants. we get an awful lot, an awful lot, without being nearly deliberate enough. one of the things this administration has been doing which i'm really proud of -- and
i've lost track of my colleague felice escobar who is standing back there who works at the domestic policy council, who is leading the charge. we're actually aligning the federal agencies on this question of immigrant integration to make sure that we're doing our part along with the likes of the folks you just saw on your last panel. that's a tremendously important effort, and we are connected to this welcoming movement as a way of lifting it up and strengthening it, because for all that we get, which i know you've been talking about all morning, economically as well as different ways from the immigrant community, we can do better and we should. i'm really grateful both for that work, but also for your lifting it up and very grateful to be part of this conversation today. so this is a timely topic. in preparing my remarks and thinking about it and
reflecting, he have been doing this work in this town for 30 years, it's never not been a timely topic. it seems we are always in the thick of debate on immigrants and their value to this country, their potential with competing with the rest of us, and on the necessity of immigration reform. clearly, we're in the thick of such a debate now -- and i should say at the outset if folks are interested in or hoping i would comment on the current public debate i'm afraid i'll have to disappoint you. i'm a government official. we're not commenting on things related to campaigns tempting though it might be, but i am in a policy making role. i can comment on the administration's policy views, on the really interesting and important contributions of the study you've been discussing today. it's a very important contribution. it confirms what's been clear for a long time, well over a decade, and some may say that it is well clear over a century. and that is that by and large the economic contributions of
immigrants are critical to our national wellbeing, that fears about competition within the workforce are vastly overblown. that with the exception of children, who are expensive, immigrants or not, because we educate them, because it's the right thing to do. that with that notable exception, the contributions of immigrants, and their offspring who we are taking pains to educate, they are well established and very vital to our well being and our future. we know this. the study we've been talking about today provides vital updated analysis and depth that reconfirms it, so there's room for honest debate here, but really there's no serious argument that immigration is anything but a net positive for our economy. so we also know if we were to fix what everybody acknowledges what is broken about our immigration system, we could do even better than we're doing economically. when the senate passed its immigration reform proposal most recently in 2013, the congressional budget office
found that that proposal would grow the economy by an additional 5.4% compared to the status quo, reduce the federal budget deficit by nearly $850 billion over the next 20 years, reduce the federal debt by three percentage points, in 2023 add to the social security trust fund, strengthen the housing market. there's a whole host of good things that are now documented that would have resulted at least from the immigration reform that passed the senate in 2013. now i have spent the last eight years working alongside the national economic council during a period of epic economic downturn and pretty epic recovery. and i've learned that the arsenal of tools that we have to spur economic growth, especially in the short term, is pretty limited. and frankly, we used every lever that we could get our hands on to come out of the economic recovery.
this is the lever that we missed, that we, as a nation, a tool that we left on the table that could have provided additional economic growth at a time in which the country was clamoring for it because congress failed to enact an immigration reform. the census data shows us we've made huge progress, but the point is that we could have done more with this tool that we left on the table and the tool is obviously still very much on the table. even the president's proposed executive actions, which are much more limited than the congress can do, had we been able to enact them, but i "we" i mean the president's council of advisers, would boost economic input by $200 billion, increase the size of the workforce at a time when we need to be doing that, and even get a modest increase in the wages of u.s. citizens and natives of the u.s. so we have probably the most robust documentation of the economic impact and the
potential economic benefits of immigration reform than at any point maybe in our history. yet the obstacles of doing what's right for the country and for the economy remain considerable. the debate over this particular round of immigration reform has been going on for over 15 years, and it's not yet clear how long it will continue, so i can't dig in at this moment to the political problem that keeps this debate stuck, but i do want to point out another aspect of its stuckness, if that's a word, which i don't think is getting enough policy attention. one day hopefully soon, we're going to get back to the legislative debate about immigration reform. and we run the very serious risk of repeating the same basic elements of the debate we've been having for 20 to 30 years, and that includes and appropriately so what goes on at the u.s.-mexico border. but the border and who crosses the border is not what it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. and we're having a policy debate
that attempts to solve the problem with the '80s or the '90s or the oughts, but not the border we find ourselves with now in 2016 and beyond. there are two things that are different. the number of people crossing and the nature of migration. this is not the border of the bush administration or the clinton administration. quickly, first numbers. the number of people who cross every year is relatively low. it's near its lowest point from over the last 40 years. one indicator of that is the number of people apprehended at the border, which is low. but the second is the number of undocumented people living in the united states. that number has stabilized. that was just documented this week. the undocumented population stopped growing in the united states during this administration. that's new. fewer people are coming. which is not to say that we don't have substantial challenges at the border because we do, which gets to the second thing which is different right now and that is the nature of migration at the u.s.-mexico border. it remains -- the challenge
remains apprehending people who are trying to give us the slip, particularly from mexico, but that's a much smaller challenge proportionally than has been before, and the border patrol is now facing and managing people who come across and turn themselves in. that's also new. it's an entirely new phenomenon and it's happening from mostly central america. to a certain extent from haiti and other points in the americas. as an administration, we've grappled with this by doing four basic things. by sheltering, doing a better job of sheltering unaccompanied minors who cross the border, by increasing resources when congress is cooperative for legal representation for immigration, by investing resources and in this case congress did cooperate, particularly in central america, to address the reasons people are migrating in the first place, and by setting up new programs in the region to process people who qualify as refugees directly from the
communities that they come from and providing places for them to go. most recently costa rica made this announcement to go to a safe place if they face danger. safety if they face immediate danger. this is again, new. so these are new strategies. with the exception of the $750 million we got from congress to help address the situation in central america, we are frequently executing these new strategies with funds that we find under the proverbial sofa cushions. i raise this because what you're doing here today contributes very importantly to the debate that we hope to have soon to address our immigration challenges. and if we're going to have a serious debate and capitalize on the economic opportunity that comes with immigration reform, it would be really helpful to have a debate about the border which we are actually facing right now, a debate that actually addresses the challenges that we see rather than the ones we faced 10, 20,
and 30 years ago when the rhetoric kind of locked itself in. the issues are different. the conversations should be different, too. so the bottom line here is that like too many debates in this town, this one gets rooted in a lot of mythology, a lot of emotion. the economic facts, even by eminent scholars are frequently ignored or disbelieved as are the facts about what happens on the border, but as a policymaker i don't sit in the room with myths, even not with emotions so much. we do our best to address the actual challenges that we are facing. we document them. we quantify them, and we even dare to measure the results. and when congress gets back to addressing this issue in a serious way, it's worth insisting that they do the same thing. so, with that, i thank you so much for taking on this conversation, for engaging in it in what i hope will be a sustained way because the contributions of thinkers and
doers are incredibly important. thank you for letting me be a part of it, and i'm happy to take a few questions. >> thank you. everyone, please join me in thanking cecilia. there's another cecilia munoz on twitter. we're going to take just a couple. >> @cecilia44. >> that's right. not the one i just used a few minutes ago. yes. sorry. i'll get there. >> cecilia, you might remember me from 100 years ago. i was interested in the other issue of the border, our northern border. i know we both come from michigan. the question for me is, why are
we so concerned with only the southern border when we have a basically totally open border with canada, and nobody seems to be concerned about immigration coming from there? >> so it's a fair question. i will say that at least speaking for the agency, for dhs, they are concerned about and work on both borders. the mass of personnel is obviously on the southern border, the u.s./mexico border. numerically speaking, personnel is there because that's where the biggest challenges are, but that's not to say that there aren't challenges and issues at the northern border. i grew up near the border with canada in detroit. as a policy matter, we deal with both. you're right that the debate tends to focus on one, and we do have challenges there that are reasonable to debate. >> i'm going to ask two people to make a comment and then you can respond to the themes from those two.
why don't we start there, and then we'll go there? get the mike here. i apologize for pointing. >> rachel. i'm a graduate student specializing on immigration policy at gw. thank you for the talk. i'm one of those comedians that you should worry about. >> there you go. >> you talked about how the border is changing, and there's some haitians coming. can you elaborate on that? because haiti is on the other end of the world, so why are they coming through the mexico border? >> this actually just hit the news yesterday. so there are folks who left haiti and went to brazil. brazil has provided visas for haitians since the earthquake, which was six years ago. and for reasons that are still a little bit mysterious. some number have come all the way from there to san diego. and so what got announced yesterday by dhs was essentially a renewed effort to apply the
same rules and policies to that population that we apply to anybody else who crosses the border and to frankly send a clear message to folks as we have with central americans that the border is not open. obviously, if folks have asylum claims and other humanitarian concerns, we take those seriously and address them, but dhs announced yesterday it will detain and remove the folks that they find unless those humanitarian considerations apply. >> i think i agree dealing with -- but i don't agree they deal with emotions. i have met immigrants. i found there is a pain that
needs to be healed. they need to practice humanity to find a solution to the problem. practicing humanity needs emotion. >> sure. that's a fair point. i guess i would draw the distinction in a slightly different way, but i don't think it means that we disagree with each other. when i say the debate gets emotional, part of what i mean is that we drive away from the facts, from what we know, from what the economic evidence shows, for example. and some of this debate gets driven by fear. when i say we don't necessarily bring emotion into the policy making process, that's not to say we don't bring our values into the policy making process. that's where i think you and i are probably more aligned than not. look, we are -- and i can never be as eloquent as my boss. we're a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. we balance those things and
we -- neither the president nor i believe that those things have to be in conflict. we are who we are because of this history, and that's also our future. it's part of what makes us unique on the planet. it's part of what makes us strong. that we absolutely bring into the policy making process. that informed our work on immigration reform. it informs our work on the border, it informed the enforcement priorities that the president put forward. it certainly informed our work in creating for the first time in working with others refugee processing in the hemisphere because there's an incredibly dangerous situation in central america. so i agree with you that we have to apply values. i guess with respect to policy making, as again the conversation today richly shows, there's just a very big gulf between what we know, what the evidence shows, and the direction that the debate often takes. you know, this isn't the only debate in which we struggle hard to make sure that the facts actually drive policy making.
i think that's tremendously important. >> so i think i'm going to try to bring it to a close, and i just wanted to kind of knit a comment that you made in an earlier discussion today and talk about the work we all want to do going forward. you talked about the administration's efforts to encourage the welcoming cities and the immigrant integration. we heard this morning from the panel about the values of economic -- to economic growth that bring and also some of the challenges for communities as they are deal with the impact of immigrant populations in their communities in the near term. but we also understand there are ways in which we can help to -- ensure that we achieve some of the economic benefits and barriers that we can remove to increase and enrich our capacity to get the value of immigrant integration. so one of the things i know my
colleagues at usc and urban are interested in exploring are figuring out, what are the things that work. and what are are the things that help to ensure the immigrants who come here are able to take advantage of the richness of this and are able to contribute back to our economy and to the communities that they live in. and particularly, by looking at that in places i think and sort of looking at it in cities by city and state by state and finding where those best practices are where we're able to help make sure the potential described in the report is achieved and that some -- we can avoid some of the costs that so many people seem to see there. i want to thank everyone for spending your patience this morning. i hope you found it as extraordinary a conversation as i did. thank you cecilia, for your participation n encouragement in this work and for everyone who worked three years hard on the