Profile of Immigrants Who Came to the U.S. in 2022
According to the most recent Vintage 2022 population estimates released a few days ago, net international migration added more than a million people to the U.S. population between July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022. Mexico, China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam provided most of the immigrants. During the fiscal year of 2022, just over 25,000 refugees were admitted to the United States. Foreign-born individuals now make up almost 15 percent of the U.S. population. The main reason most immigrants came to America in 2022 was for employment opportunities. Other reasons were to escape a violent conflict, deal with environmental concerns, pursue educational opportunities, or reunite with family. The immigrants who came were primarily attracted to Florida, Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina. In addition, more than 900,000 immigrants living in the U.S. became U.S. citizens in 2022, according to a Pew Research Center estimate based on government data released for the first three quarters of the year.
Profile of Undocumented Migrants In 2022
In 2022, apart from legal immigration, U.S. border authorities encountered more than 2 million migrants, some of whom repeatedly tried to cross the border, according to newly released U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. There have been 18 consecutive months of over 150,000 undocumented migrant border crossings. In regard to deportations, the most common reasons were: inadmissibility at the time of entry or later when attempting to adjust status or violation of the terms of their immigration status whether it was a green card, a nonimmigrant visa, etc.
American Support For Immigration in 2022
Overall, support for immigration remains high. Indeed, in 2022 70 percent of Americans favor immigration. Looking at immigration through party lines, however, reveals that Democrats are nearly unanimous in support of immigration while only 46 percent of Republicans support it.
Comprehensive Reform Efforts in 2022
On October 28, 2021, President Biden introduced his proposed Build Back Better Act including a new $1.75 trillion framework that called for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and a recapture of visas that were not issued in previous years. The House of Representatives passed the bill on November 19, 2021, but in early 2022 talks on the bill stalled when it failed to get the support of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin for using the reconciliation process. The bill then became the basis of further comprehensive immigration negotiations in 2022. One approach was to propose parole in place and employment authorization documents as alternative ways to deal with undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately, that failed. Also, a bipartisan effort to approve a DACA proposal that was tied to increased border security could not find sufficient support in Congress. The result was that no significant progress on comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration was achieved this year.
Unauthorized Southern U.S. Border Crossings
For most of the 2022 year, the administration resorted to Title 42 to remove aliens for unauthorized border crossings into the United States. Title 42 empowered federal health authorities to prohibit migrants from entering the country if they determined that doing so could prevent the spread of contagious diseases. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) invoked Title 42 at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, giving Border Patrol agents the authority to swiftly expel migrants trying to enter the U.S. instead of allowing them to seek asylum within the country. The Biden administration tried to terminate the policy but recently the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily upheld Title 42 for the time being.
U.S. Immigration Politics in 2022
In 2022 Gallup polls, 86 percent of Republicans said they were worried about illegal immigration, compared to only 38 percent of Democrats. Republican leaders like Governor Greg Abbott of Texas and Governor Ron De Santis of Florida started busing migrants north to register their discontent with immigration policies coming out of the White House. However, despite the fact that more Americans favor the Republican immigration policy over the Democratic one, the Democrats were able to hold the Senate although they lost their majority in the House in the midterm elections held recently.
After Abolition Of The Remain In Mexico Policy
President Biden could record one small success this year with the August abolition of the Remain in Mexico policy related to asylum claimants. As for what happens next, should Title 42 be struck down by the Supreme Court when it hears the case in 2023, the U.S. will have to return to its Title 8 provisions to deal with migrants under which the migrants can be arrested and brought before the courts for unlawful entry into the country. Immigration policy will have to evolve from there.
Restoration Of The EB-5 Investor Immigration Program
On March 15th, 2022 President Biden signed the Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 restoring the EB-5 Regional Center Program. The act further provided that an applicant may now file an application to adjust status, concurrently with, or subsequent to, filing an EB-5 immigrant petition, in situations where a visa is immediately available to the investor. What is more, the act revised the investment amounts to $800,000 for regional center projects in designated TEA areas and $ 1,050,000 in self-directed EB-5 projects. Further, it introduced integrity measures such as increasing accountability, preventing fraud, and prohibiting persons with criminal records from involvement in regional centers. While it has been a rocky road dealing with such things as restoring the status of regional centers, identifying who must register as a marketing agent on regional center projects, and clarifying how the set-aside provisions will be administered while implementing the act, still the investment community is relieved that the program is back and running.
Other Developments In 2022
There were many other developments in 2022 that merit mention as well. Efforts to improve the H1B work visa program made no headway. An attempt to alter country limits on economic visas was quashed. But USCIS efforts to speed up the processing of cases, including the expansion of the premium processing program, simplifying renewal of work visas, and introducing new technology while hiring new staff to handle backlogs were implemented. Also noteworthy was the creation of a new Uniting for Ukraine parole program to open up 100,000 places for fleeing migrants from the Russian-Ukrainian war as well as efforts to help Afghanistan refugees to migrate to America. Temporary Protective Status (TPS) programs were also renewed for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Sudan.
Looking back on the year, there was a lot of work done and much was accomplished even if much more still needs to be attended to. As we head into the New Year we can resolve to do better and improve U.S. immigration to make America better.
by Andy J. SemotiukForbes