1124deferredactionworkers

Ten ways executive action could benefit undocumented workers

By María Enchautegui  ::  November 25th, 2014

Share

On November 20, President Obama announced sweeping executive action on immigration, granting work authorization permits and relief from deportation to undocumented immigrants who have resided in the United States for at least five years and have US-born or legal permanent resident children. An estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants could be eligible for deportation relief.

Two blogs by Urban Institute researchers have addressed the implications of the president’s executive action: one about the effects on children and another about the crucial role of immigrant-serving nonprofits. In this post, I focus on what these policy changes could mean for deferred-action immigrant workers.

Here are 10 ways Obama’s executive action can benefit deferred-action workers:

  1. Higher earnings: Almost all the evidence shows that legalization increases earnings. Effects vary by data set and methodology but results point to earnings gains of 4 to 9 percent over a five-year period.
  2. Greater choices in jobs: Undocumented immigrants concentrate in a few occupations with strong network support and where detection by authorities is less likely. The executive order liberates deferred-action immigrants from these limited choices, allowing them to advance in their careers or change jobs, perhaps moving toward occupations more in tune with their preferences and skills.
  3. Access to licensed occupations: Deferred-action immigrants can now be certified by states to work in licensed occupations—for example, as electricians, construction contractors, home health aides , expanding their economic opportunities.
  4. More business owners: It is difficult for an undocumented immigrant to get a business license and become incorporated. When a business is incorporated, the owner becomes an employee of the business, but undocumented immigrants are not legally permitted to work. With the executive order, deferred-action immigrants may create incorporated businesses, expanding business growth opportunities.
  5. Increased human capital investments: Permanency of US residence has long been associated with more investments in the receiving country. Also, the costs of these investments shrink when immigrants are able to pay in-state tuition for public universities and colleges and are able to access publicly funded training programs.
  6. Improved working conditions: Undocumented immigrants are more likely than other workers to experience employment law violations. They are also more likely to be exposed to occupational health hazards. Without fear of deportation—and with a work permit—these immigrants may feel empowered to come forward and claim their rights either directly to employers or through workers’ rights intermediaries. This will improve their occupational health, reduce wage theft, and move workers from sub-minimum wage to minimum wage.
  7. Increased reward from work: Low-income, deferred-action immigrants will be able to claim the earned income tax credit, which is one of the most effective federal policies to reduce hardship among low-wage workers.
  8. Stabilized income flows: Deferred-action immigrants can get unemployment insurance, the main program to stabilize workers’ income flows and consumption during periods of unemployment.
  9. Better health through state-funded Medicaid: Undocumented immigrants are the largest group left uncovered under the Affordable Care Act. Deferred-action immigrant workers with qualifying incomes may now be covered in some states by state-funded Medicaid, improving workers’ health and productivity.
  10. Better retirement prospects: Deferred-action immigrant workers can participate fully in the Social Security system. An estimated 50 to 80 percent of undocumented immigrants pay into the Social Security system, but do not get benefits when they retire unless they become legalized. Deferred-action immigrants can now pay into the system and get benefits, improving their income in retirement.

Photo: Migrant Mexican farmworkers in Arizona. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)


1121immigrationPlan

Immigrant organizations are crucial to carrying out Obama’s executive action

By Erwin de Leon  ::  November 21st, 2014

Last night, the president laid out his long-anticipated executive action on immigration, which grants reprieve from deportation to an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants, individuals who have lived here for at least five years and have no criminal record. Now, many people will be able to work legally without fearing deportation and separation from their [...]

Read More

1121immigrantchildren

Evidence on how Obama's immigration executive action will affect children

By Julia Gelatt  ::  November 21st, 2014

Last night, President Obama unveiled his long-anticipated plan to use executive power to adjust immigration policy. Under his program, an estimated 3.7 million parents of US citizens and legal immigrants can apply for temporary relief from deportation and work authorization. Details are still emerging, and the president and Congress will continue to debate the use [...]

Read More

1120survivor

Police failure to investigate rape cases goes beyond New Orleans

By Janine Zweig  ::  November 20th, 2014

Once again, Louisiana is in the news for its poor treatment of rape victims. This time, the story is the New Orleans Police Department’s routine failure to investigate sexual assault claims. Stories in the Times-Picayune detail how investigators ignored women’s claims, didn’t submit rape kits for testing, and didn’t follow up when kits came back [...]

Read More

1119richmond

Getting creative to research gun violence

By Sam Bieler  ::  November 19th, 2014

Explore the interactive feature, “Raising the Voices of Gun Violence”.  For such a hot-button issue, the amount we don’t know about gun violence in America is startling. People are often shocked to learn how basic the gaps in our information are: we’re hazy on how many guns are in any given area, we regularly underreport [...]

Read More

1118teenagers

To gauge the health of your whole community, look to your teens

By Laudan Aron  ::  November 18th, 2014

Last week, I shared a starter list of principles that can help guide health-promoting community investments. That list was inspired by a large and growing body of research on the social determinants of health: conditions within our families, neighborhoods, and communities that shape our health and survival. That same body of research points to an important [...]

Read More

1117rentals

Three trends that signal hard times for renters in 2015

By Ellen Seidman  ::  November 18th, 2014

More than half the new households formed in the next six years will be renters rather than homeowners. Yet renter incomes are on average only 70 percent of homeowner incomes, so where will the new renters live?  Five experts in rental housing pondered these and other questions about the future of multifamily housing on November [...]

Read More

Spin Alert: DOE loans are losing money, not making profits

By Donald Marron  ::  November 17th, 2014

The Department of Energy snookered the media last week with a report that seems to show that its clean energy lending programs are profitable. “Remember Solyndra? Those loans are making money,” went a typical headline. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Taxpayers are losing money on DOE lending. Less than originally expected, and less than you would [...]

Read More

Data Dive

Urban Institute's first data dive calls for better data on domestic violence

By Jon Schwabish  ::  November 14th, 2014

Roughly 1 in 4 women is estimated to be a victim of intimate partner abuse. In certain populations, where data may be less reliable and sample sizes may be smaller, rates of domestic abuse may be even higher. For example, estimates suggest that about 1 out of every 2 women in the Asian/Pacific Islander community [...]

Read More