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					                               California Counts    population trends and profiles
Hans P. Johnson, editor                                                               Vo l u m e 9 N u m b e r 4 • J u n e 2 0 0 8

Immigrant Pathways to
Legal Permanent Residence
Now and Under a Merit-Based System
By Joseph M. Hayes and Laura E. Hill

                                                      The policies that determine how the foreign-born enter the United
                                                      States are some of the most complicated, least understood, and most
                                                      disliked of all federal policies. States, especially those with large
                                                      immigrant populations such as California, have good reason to be
                                                      concerned about how federal immigration policies function.
                               In this report, we examine how current federal immigration policies operate in selecting
                          which immigrants can become legal permanent residents (LPRs) in the United States and
                          in California. The process can be quite lengthy for many immigrants entering through fam-
                          ily connections, and the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants is not always clear.
                          Fewer than 40 percent of legal permanent residents are new to the United States at the time
                          they earn that status and many have been here illegally at least once. This is especially true in
                          California, where 52 percent were here illegally for at least some of the time they were in the
                          United States (33% had never entered the United States and 15% had entered or stayed only
                          legally before becoming legal permanent residents).
                               We also consider how changes to federal immigration policy proposed in spring 2007
                          (S. 1639) might alter the composition of legal immigrants in the United States.1 Although this
                          legislation failed to pass, new legislation is certain to be proposed that will likely incorporate
                          many elements of the original bill. The proposed legislation would have replaced the current
                          system for attaining legal permanent residency—which prioritizes applicants on the basis of
                          family reunification and employment—with a selection system that places a greater emphasis
    California Counts            Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

    We consider how        on employment and skills. To better understand the consequences of this
    changes to federal     merit-based system, we simulate the proposed admission categories and
    immigration policy     apply its point system to a cohort of foreign-born who became legal perma-
                           nent residents in 2003.
    proposed in spring
                               We find that under this proposal, 50 percent of 2003 LPRs would
    2007 might alter the   retain their eligibility for LPR status (without being subject to the merit-
    composition of legal   based point system) because they have relatives in the United States.
    immigrants in the      Among those subject to the point system, relatively few would earn any of
    United States.         the points allotted for family relationships.
                               Although the proposal did not establish a point threshold over which
                           applicants would secure admission, our simulation suggests that few would
                           earn very many of the 90 points possible. We find that only 25 percent
                           earn 38 points or more, and the share in California is lower still (17%).
                           Being employed in specialized scientific fields earns 20 points, and those
                           employed in such fields earn enough other points that 100 percent of them
                           earn at least 38 points. Those holding high school diplomas, on the other
                           hand, earn six points; 14 percent with only a high school diploma earn
                           total points of 38 or more.
                               As was surely the intent of the proposal, current employment experi-
                           ence in the United States is extremely important in earning high point
                           scores. Thus, the proposal would place even more importance on tem-
                           porary visa programs. These simulations inform future policy debates
                           by demonstrating who is most likely to be admitted under the proposed
                           merit-based system.

    California Counts                       Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

Introduction                          although we have fairly good entry         . . . we consider two
                                      data for some categories of the            very important and
I  mmigration reform will remain
   a high priority for the public
until Congress passes comprehen-
                                      foreign-born (legal permanent resi-
                                      dents and temporary visa holders),
                                      our data on emigration are notably
                                                                                 intersecting pieces
                                                                                 in the most recent
sive reform. Although many ele-       poor. Furthermore, we have no              reform proposal—
ments of the reform proposals in      federal data for the foreign-born          rebalancing family-
2006 and 2007 were unpopular          who violate the terms of their visas       based immigration
with the public, immigrant rights     or for those who enter the country
advocates, employers, and mem-        illegally. Thus, designing federal         and the use of a
bers of Congress on both sides of     policy to reform a poorly mea-             merit-based system.
the aisle, it is likely that future   sured system is difficult at best.
proposals will contain many of             In this study, we hope to shed
the same key components of this       some light on the complexity of the
reform effort. As with the most       existing system, and we consider
recent bill debated (S. 1639, “A      two very important and inter-
bill to provide for comprehensive     secting pieces in the most recent
immigration reform and for other      reform proposal—rebalancing
purposes,” sponsored by Senator       family-based immigration and the
Kennedy and co-sponsored by           use of a merit-based system—for          whole and in California in partic-
Senator Specter and with support      granting legal permanent residency.      ular, which serves as the home of
from President Bush), new propos-          Our current federal immigra-        a high proportion of the nation’s
als will probably address securing    tion system is extremely complex.        illegal residents and which shares
the border, employer enforce-         Data kept by the federal govern-         a border with Mexico, the primary
ment and verification, rebalancing    ment are certainly detailed, yet         origin of illegal migrants.
family-based immigration, changes     they overlook major subtleties in             Although a fundamental
to employment-based immigration       the process of becoming legal—           intent of the reform proposal was
(including the introduction of a      most notably, the possibility            to rebalance family preferences for
merit-based system), clearing the     that formerly illegal immigrants         legal permanent residency and to
backlog of applications for legal     become legal through the same            change the employment preference
permanent residency, changes in       process as those who have never          system in such a way as to reward
temporary worker programs, and        resided in the United States ille-       higher levels of skill, no prior sim-
some course of action for the esti-   gally. In this study, we explain         ulations of the policy’s effect were
mated 12 million illegal residents    how the federal system works             undertaken. Using a detailed sur-
currently in the United States, 2.5   (focusing in particular on the           vey of the cohort of 2003 entrants
million of whom are thought to        attainment of legal permanent            to legal permanent residency, we
live in California (Pew Hispanic      residency status) and highlight the      examine how the proposal might
Center, 2006a).                       diversity of immigrant experience        function. Although the 2007 pro-
     Immigration is a difficult       before attaining a “Green Card”—         posal did not pass, its potential
phenomenon to study, especially       the official identification of a legal   effects should be carefully consid-
in the United States. We do not       permanent resident. We examine           ered by policymakers in the devel-
have a federal registry system, and   experiences in the nation as a           opment of future proposals.

    California Counts                            Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

Current Immigration                        violated the terms of their bor-      workers (H-2A), and foreign
                                           der crossing cards (Pew Hispanic      diplomats. Temporary visa hold-
Policies                                   Center, 2006b).2 Some illegal         ers4 may legally extend their stay
                                           residents ultimately become legal     beyond the visa’s initial term or

T   he foreign-born residing in the
    United States can be divided
into four main categories: natu-
                                           permanent residents, as suggested
                                           in Figure 1; others may remain
                                           in the United States illegally or
                                                                                 apply to become legal permanent
                                                                                 residents, depending on the type
                                                                                 of visa, or they may emigrate.
ralized citizens, legal permanent          eventually emigrate. Temporary        Legal permanent residents are
residents, temporary visa holders,         visa holders, in the terminology of   foreign-born residents who have
and illegal residents. The potential       the United States Citizenship and     been admitted to live in the
relationships among the categories         Immigration Services (USCIS),3        United States permanently. In
are illustrated in Figure 1.               are considered “nonimmigrants”        most cases, LPRs must have a U.S.
     Illegal immigrants are those          (see the USCIS Glossary for           sponsor. Naturalized citizens are
who are here without legal status.         immigration terms and defini-         foreign-born residents who have
They either entered the United             tions). Nonimmigrants are not         lived in the United States first as
States illegally or have violated          authorized to stay permanently        LPRs and then have applied to
the conditions of a visa. Estimates        and they do not have the same         become U.S. citizens (one must
suggest that a little more than            rights as permanent residents.        be an LPR for at least five years
50 percent of those here illegally         Some common examples of non-          before naturalizing, with a few
crossed the border without autho-          immigrants are holders of student     exceptions such as spouses of citi-
rization. As many as 45 percent            and tourist visas, temporary work-    zens, who may do so after three
overstayed their visas, and the            ers including specialty occupation    years). Not all eligible LPRs have
remainder are thought to have              workers (H-1B) and agricultural       naturalized, but recent estimates
                                                                                 suggest the share is increasing, to
                                                                                 about 59 percent of all those eli-
    Figure 1. Foreign-Born Residents in the United States                        gible in 2005 (Passel, 2007).
                                                                                      The federal system for control-
                                                                                 ling the flow of each of these cat-
                       Legal permanent                           Naturalized     egories of foreign-born individuals
                           resident                                citizen
                                                                                 can be very complex. Here, we are
                                                                                 concerned with the direct routes
                                                                                 through which foreign-born indi-
                                                                                 viduals may become LPRs (below,
                                                                                 we discuss the more indirect routes
     U.S.                 visa holder                                            pursued by temporary visa holders
                                                                                 or unauthorized immigrants).
                                                                                      There are four principal ways
                                                              Not permitted
                                                                                 (categories of admission) in which
                                                              Not permitted,
                                                                                 the foreign-born may become legal
                        Illegal resident
                                                              rare exceptions    permanent residents (Table 1). The
                                                                                 first is through family sponsorship.
                                                                                 Individuals residing in the United

  California Counts                           Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

States legally and permanently
(either citizens or LPRs themselves)     Table 1. Admission Categories to Legal Permanent
can sponsor their foreign-born           Residence, FY 2006
relatives through family categories,                                                                                       Annual Total
                                                                                                                             Cap per
some without limit—the “imme-                                                      Category of Admission                    Category
diate relatives” category (581,106       Family sponsor
became LPRs in 2006)—and                 Unlimited                  U.S. citizen      Spouse, unmarried children under        None
others with caps, which are part                                                      age 21, parents
                                         Limited                    U.S. citizen      1. Unmarried adult children            226,000
of the family visa preference sys-                                           LPR      2a. Spouse and children
tem (222,229 individuals in this                                                      2b. Unmarried adult children
                                                                    U.S. citizen      3. Married children
category became LPRs in 2006).5                                     U.S. citizen      4. Brothers and sisters
Employment-based preferences             Employment                                   1. Priority worker (i.e., one of       143,949
are another category of admission                                                     extraordinary ability, such as a
(159,081 individuals in this cat-                                                     Nobel Prize winner)
                                                                                      2. Professional worker
egory became LPRs in 2006).                                                           a. Advanced degree or
     Most employment categories                                                       b. Exceptional ability
                                                                                      3. Skilled professionals without
also require sponsorship (see the                                                     advanced degree, needed unskilled
USCIS website for details on who                                                      workers
may sponsor LPR applicants and                                                        4. Special (e.g., religious, U.S.
                                                                                      government employee)
on the fees and forms applicants                                                      5. Investor
and sponsors must submit, includ-        Refugee/asylee                                                                       None
ing in some cases Affidavits of          Diversity lottery                                                                   50,000
Support). The number of foreign-
                                         Other/legalization                           Special legislation determines the      Varies
born who can become LPRs under                                                        size and type of legal permanent
the family and employment pref-                                                       residence under these programs

erence categories is also limited        Source: Jefferys (2007).
for each sending country (in FY
2006, this limit was approximately
26,000 per country, or capped at 7
percent of limited family-sponsored    mit spouses and minor children to                       applicants then must wait further
and employment-preference LPRs         accompany the person qualifying                         for the U.S. Department of State
for the year).                         for the LPR visa (“principal” in                        to issue an LPR visa.9 The annual
     Refugees and asylees account      the USCIS terminology).                                 preference and per-country caps
for another large group (221,023           Once an LPR application                             have sometimes resulted in lengthy
became LPRs in 2006).6 Other           has been filed with USCIS, pro-                         wait times for LPR applications
foreign-born individuals are           cessing can take some time (see                         with priority numbers, especially
admitted through the immigration       Wadhwa et al., 2007, for a discus-                      among certain categories of family
diversity lottery (44,471 in 2006).7   sion). Those applying under the                         preferences. Those admitted under
Approximately 40,000 others were       numerically limited family and                          family reunification preferences
admitted to LPR status through         employment preferences are given                        and given a priority number four
the “Other/legalization” category.8    a “priority” date after their appli-                    years ago are still waiting, and
Most LPR visa categories also per-     cation has been approved. These                         those from Mexico, China, and

    California Counts                        Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

    Foreign-born individuals           ing adjustment to LPR status, but      the flows of legal immigrants to
    who settle legally in the          such cases are few and this latter     California and the nation.12
                                       avenue to LPR status is not open
    United States do so in a           to most illegal residents. Some
    variety of ways.                   illegal residents are able to become   Pathways to
                                       LPRs because their illegal status
                                       is not known to USCIS, and we          Legal Permanent
                                       discuss this subject below.            Residence
                                            The numbers of individuals
                                       granted LPR status through these
                                       various categories reported by
                                       USCIS each year are the only
                                                                              F   oreign-born individuals who
                                                                                  settle legally in the United
                                                                              States do so in a variety of ways.
                                       administrative records the United      Some arrive in the country for the
                                       States keeps on permanent migra-       first time on a temporary immi-
                                       tion flows into the country.10         grant visa. Others may seek LPR
                                       According to the USCIS data,           status after spending long periods
the Philippines are likely to wait     51 percent of all 2003 LPRs            of time in this country either
many more years. For example,          were “new” immigrants, and the         legally or illegally. And for yet oth-
Mexican-born unmarried adult           remainder were adjusted from           ers, legalization may be the latest
children of U.S. citizens (family      another status (temporary visa         step in a series of trips between the
preference category 1) whose appli-    holder or illegal immigrant) (Jef-     United States and their country
cations were approved 15 years ago     ferys, 2007).11 However, using data    of origin.13 Immigrants’ country
are now being granted LPR status,      from the New Immigrant Survey          of origin, occupation, age, educa-
and Philippines-born siblings of       (NIS), which interviewed immi-         tion, and family status all affect
U.S. citizens (category 4) who were    grants who became legal perma-         the opportunities open to them
given a priority number 22 years       nent residents in 2003, we find that   and the choices they make about
ago are currently being granted        the story is more complex. These       how, and whether, to settle perma-
LPR status (U.S. Department of         data provide a much richer portrait    nently in this country. The 2003
State, 2007). There are also wait      of our nation’s and state’s legal      NIS allows a detailed investiga-
times for some categories and          immigrants than can be gleaned         tion of each respondent’s complete
countries of origin for employment-    from administrative data or            migration history. In this section,
based LPR admissions, but these        national surveys (such as the Cen-     we introduce the system we use
wait times are typically much          sus, Current Population Survey, or     for categorizing these migration
shorter, and some individuals are      American Community Survey).            histories and examine the charac-
granted LPR visas immediately               In the next section, we explore   teristics of recently legalized immi-
after application processing.          the complexity of the pathways         grants based on the pathways to
     Some awaiting LPR status          through which the 2003 cohort          residency they have taken.
reside in the United States legally    of LPRs gained admission to the             Each of the current policy
(as temporary visa holders), and       United States. Further, we can         preference categories admitted
others are illegal residents and are   use the same cohort of LPRs to         immigrants in the 2003 cohort
known by the USCIS to be living        explore how changes in federal         with a different mix of U.S. experi-
in the United States while await-      immigration policy might affect        ence. Figure 2 shows each category

  California Counts                                      Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

as a bar consisting of proportions               four percent were new arrivals,         Immigrants’ country
of immigrants with each type of                  nearly one-third had at least some      of origin, occupation,
experience. For instance, among                  prior illegal experience, and the
those entering under the unlim-                  remaining 6 percent had legally
                                                                                         age, education, and
ited “immediate family” category,                visited the United States.              family status all affect
32 percent had never visited this                     Not surprisingly, nearly half      the opportunities open
country, 43 percent had visited                  admitted under employment pref-         to them and the choices
illegally, and 25 percent had visited            erences had spent time only legally     they make about how,
only legally. We cannot observe                  in this country—the highest per-
when a family sponsor became a                   centage of any group. Roughly one-      and whether, to settle
U.S. citizen, but the high percent-              third had prior illegal trips, and      permanently in this
age of sponsored immigrants with                 only 20 percent were new arrivals.      country.
prior illegal experience suggests                     Winners of the immigration
that many arrived in or visited this             diversity lottery were overwhelm-
country illegally before their rela-             ingly new arrivals (79%), whereas
tive became a U.S. citizen or while              almost all of those legalizing from
waiting for their LPR application                another status had some prior ille-   gees and asylees must spend at
to be processed.                                 gal experience.                       least one year as temporary visa
     The profile for those admitted                   Those admitted from refugee      holders, after which time they
under numerically limited family                 status (including asylees) have a     may apply for LPR status. Data
preferences is very different. Sixty-            unique set of experiences. Refu-      from the NIS suggest that 48
                                                                                       percent of refugees had only legal
                                                                                       U.S. experience, an almost equal
                                                                                       share had an illegal U.S. trip,
   Figure 2. Visa Category, by Pathway: U.S. Sample from                               and 7 percent had no prior U.S.
   the 2003 NIS                                                                        experience.
   Immediate family: 48%                                                                   In the next section, we more
                                                                                       thoroughly explore the pre-LPR
                                                                                       experiences of these immigrants
                            Family preferences: 10%
                                                                                       and, in particular, their prior legal
                     Employment preferences: 10%                                       and illegal trips.
                                        Diversity: 8%

      No prior U.S. trip
      Prior illegal U.S. trip(s)
                                     Legalization: 8%
                                                                                       Pathway Definitions
      Prior legal U.S. trip(s)

                                                                                       F   ollowing Massey and Malone
                                           Refugee: 7%

                                          Other: 9%
                                                                                           (2002), we define seven types
                                                                                       of migration histories, referred to
  Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
                                                                                       as pathways, leading to the NIS
  Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.                                          respondents’ eventual establishment
  a is is the number of LPRs admitted between May FY 2003 and November FY 2004.
  It will not match published USCIS annual figures.
                                                                                       as LPRs (Table 2). These definitions
                                                                                       are based on USCIS records, as

    California Counts                             Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

well as on immigrants’ self-reported
experiences—most importantly,             Table 2. Distribution of Pathways from the 2003 NIS:
their accounts of previous trips to       United States and California
the United States: the visas (if any)                                 United          U.S. Sample          California         California
                                          Pathway                   States (%)            Size                (%)            Sample Size
they used to gain entry, the dura-
                                          New arrival                   37.6              3,598                32.8               782
tion of each trip, and U.S. work
                                          Illegal border crosser        20.1              1,456                34.5               722
experience gained along the way.
     The first pathway, referred to       Visa abuser                   21.5              1,742                17.5               387

as new arrivals, comprises those          Student/exchange               5.1                473                 3.1                67

respondents reporting no U.S.             Refugee/asylee                 2.2                175                 1.6                39

visits (longer than 60 days) before       Nonresident visitor           11.4                875                 8.3               171
admission as LPRs. The second             Nonresident worker             2.2                254                 2.2                55
pathway, illegal border crossers,         Total                        100.0              8,573              100.0              2,223
refers to those who report having         Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
entered the United States at any          Notes: Estimates are based on weighted data. Columns may not sum to totals because of rounding.

point without documents or with
fraudulent documents.14 The path-
way defined as visa abusers consists    to the United States on visas that                   in the United States), it is possible
of those who reported making at         did not authorize work and who                       for a single respondent to qualify
least one prior trip to the United      report no employment for pay                         for more than one pathway, as each
States using a valid visa, but who      on any of those visits. The latter                   is defined here. For this reason, we
then violated the terms of that         refers to those who entered the                      follow the taxonomy of Massey
visa—most commonly by overstay-         United States at least once in the                   and Malone, placing each immi-
ing a tourist visa or working for       past on a visa authorizing tempo-                    grant in the first of these ordered
pay while visiting on a visa that       rary work (whether or not these                      pathways for which he or she quali-
did not authorize employment.15         respondents reported undertaking                     fies. Thus, a respondent with at
     The fourth pathway, student/       any such work).                                      least one instance of entering the
exchange visitors, includes those            Compared with the United                        country with fraudulent documents
respondents who entered the             States overall, California shows a                   is classified as an illegal border
United States on a student or           slightly lower percentage of new                     crosser and is never put into any
training visa—for study at an           arrivals, visa abusers, and nonresi-                 other pathway category. Likewise,
academic institution or vocational      dent visitors. The most striking                     someone who never crossed the
institution—or on a cultural            difference that emerges is the pre-                  border illegally but once overstayed
exchange visa. The fifth pathway,       ponderance of illegal border cross-                  a tourist visa is classified as a visa
refugees/asylees, comprises those       ers in California—they constitute                    abuser, irrespective of the circum-
immigrants in the United States         over one-third of those legalizing,                  stances of any other U.S. trip.
as refugees or asylees who success-     compared with just one-fifth for                          In the case of illegal border
fully apply for LPR status.             the country as a whole.                              crossers, this categorization rule
     The last two categories are             Given the complicated migra-                    appears to reflect most respondents’
nonresident visitors and nonresi-       tion histories gathered by the NIS                   entire reported migration history.
dent workers. The former refers         (many respondents report multiple                    Only 5 percent of those classified
to people who report prior visits       trips to, work visas for, and/or jobs                as illegal border crossers report

  California Counts                                Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

more than one U.S. trip, so this         The concentration of new LPRs                          Latin America and
pathway’s representation would           from these two regions was even                        Asia were the
not change appreciably even if we        more pronounced for California—
had considered multiple categoriza-      Latin America and the Caribbean
                                                                                                dominant sending
tions. Further, in the case of those     alone accounted for over half of                       regions for immigrants
who overstayed tourist visas, we         those admitted, and Asia and the                       admitted to the United
find that only 1 percent overstayed      Pacific provided nearly another                        States in 2003.
by less than one month and only          one-third. All of the other regions
9 percent by less than six months.       are less well represented in Cali-
Finally, we cannot identify any-         fornia than in the country as a
one classified as illegal by USCIS       whole. Note the very high per-
because of clerical errors or other      centage of California LPRs from
administrative missteps—small            Mexico (18% in the United States
lapses in student or work visas are      and 30% in California). Although
unlikely to be captured in our data.     the Mexican-born make up a high
     This classification strategy is a   percentage of illegal immigrants,
necessary oversimplification, and        they also constitute the largest
it serves to capture the maximum
possible illegal activity reported by
the respondents, at the expense of
recording some respondents’ legal          Table 3. Percentage Distribution of LPRs in the United
activities. We also adhere to this         States and California, by Country of Nationality
taxonomy for ease of clarification         Region of Origin                                     United States            California
and because of significant concern         Latin America and the Caribbean                           43.9                   52.9
among the public about illegal
                                             Mexico                                                  17.5                   30.1
immigration, however strictly
                                             El Salvador                                              6.1                   11.9
defined. This is a major improve-
                                             Guatemala                                                2.4                    5.5
ment over federal administrative
                                           East Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific                    28.4                   32.6
data which, for the most part,
                                             India                                                    7.0                    4.7
are completely unable to measure
prior illegal activity.                      Philippines                                              5.4                    8.8
                                             China                                                    5.0                    6.2
                                             Vietnam                                                  2.9                    4.4

Geographical                               Europe and Central Asia                                   13.7                    6.9
                                           Sub-Saharan Africa                                         6.4                    1.5
Representation of                          Middle East and North Africa                               4.4                    3.9

LPRs                                       Canada                                                     1.8                    1.3
                                           Oceania/other North America/Arctic region/unknown          1.4                    1.0

L   atin America and Asia were
    the dominant sending regions
for immigrants admitted to the
                                           Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
                                                                                                   100.0                   100.0

                                           Notes: Estimates are based on weighted data. Columns may not sum to 100 percent because of
United States in 2003 (Table 3).

  California Counts                          Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

     California has a                  with 38 percent overall (Table 4).     stays. Among Asia/Pacific respon-
     higher-than-average               Likewise, Africans and Middle          dents, only 3 percent were illegal
                                       Easterners are overrepresented in      border crossers—the same as at
     incidence of illegal              this category, whereas Canadians       the national level.
     border crossers and               and Latin Americans are underrep-          Visa abuse is relatively com-
     immigrants from                   resented. Latin Americans are the      mon among the 2003 LPRs: 21
     Latin America,                    group most likely to have crossed      percent overall. Among the major
     contributing heavily              the U.S. border illicitly at least     sending regions, the Europe/
                                       once—41 percent of the 2003            Central Asia region stands out
     to the national totals.           cohort reported having done so,        as having the highest rate of visa
                                       compared with 20 percent overall.      abusers—those who entered the
                                       All of the other well-represented      United States on a valid visa but
                                       regions are far below this average,    then overstayed or otherwise vio-
                                       in particular Asia and the Pacific,    lated its terms.
                                       whose representatives fall into this       A more detailed breakdown
country group among legal per-         category only 3 percent of the         of the pathway composition of
manent residents.                      time. Seventeen percent of LPRs        each immigration visa category
    India (7%), El Salvador (6%),      from Canada, however, were illegal     as was seen in Figure 2 is shown
the Philippines (5%), and China        border crossers (although the num-     in Table A.1 of the technical
(5%) follow. The composition           ber of Canadians in the survey is      appendix at
of California’s new immigrants         quite small—158 in total, so the       content/other/608JHCC_technical_
is different—nearly one-third of       percentage who crossed the border      appendix.pdf.
the state’s LPR cohort came from       illegally may range between 11
Mexico, and nearly one-eighth          and 23).
came from El Salvador. The Phil-            As noted above, California has    Demographic
ippines, China, Guatemala, India,      a higher-than-average incidence of
and Vietnam round out the list         illegal border crossers and immi-      Characterization
of the state’s most important indi-    grants from Latin America, con-        of Pathways
vidual sending countries.              tributing heavily to the national
                                       totals. In California, 62 percent
                                       of Latin American and Caribbean
                                       LPRs were illegal border crossers
                                                                              A    brief look at the demographic
                                                                                   characteristics of LPRs reveals
                                                                              further differences between the var-
Characterization of                    (not shown). Among Mexicans,           ious pathways (Table 5). Women
LPRs, by Pathway                       this figure is 56 percent. Given       constitute slightly more than half
                                       its shared border with Mexico,         of the NIS respondents and most

T   he pathways that immigrants
    take toward establishing LPR
status differ significantly by their
                                       California has a long history as a
                                       receiving state for Mexican immi-
                                       grants. California remains an
                                                                              of the pathways except for illegal
                                                                              border crossers (50%), nonresident
                                                                              visitors (72%), and nonresident
home country. Those legalizing         attractive destination for legal and   workers (47%). That we find nearly
from Asia and the Pacific are much     illegal immigrants and the over-       half of all illegal border crossers
more likely than average to be new     lapping set of immigrants with         to be women (among those who
arrivals—53 percent, compared          both legal and illegal entries or      later become LPRs) is perhaps not

California Counts                                                  Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

Table 4. Percentage Distribution of Pathways to LPR, by Region of Origin: U.S. Totals
                          No Prior
                          U.S. Trip         Prior Illegal U.S. Trip                                 Prior Legal U.S. Trip
                           New               Illegal           Visa            Student/          Refugee/      Nonresident      Nonresident                       Sample
Region of Origin          Arrival        Border Crosser       Abuser           Exchange           Asylee         Visitor          Worker              Total        Size
Latin America/
Caribbean                    26                41                21               2                 1                8                 1              100           3,136
Asia/Pacific                 53                 3                17               8                 1               16                 4              100           2,655
Europe/Central Asia          37                 3                27               9                10               12                 2              100           1,366
Sub-Saharan Africa           52                 2                24               7                 3                9                 3              100            745
Mideast/North Africa         47                 3                31               4                 4               10                 2              100            397
Canada                       23                17                20               7                 0               24                 9              100            158
Oceania/other                19                14                40              12                 2                8                 4              100                116
All regions of origin        38                20                21               5                 2               11                 2              100          8,573
Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
Notes: Estimates are based on weighted data. Totals may not sum to 100 percent because of rounding.

Table 5. Demographic Characteristics, by Pathway: U.S. Sample
                             No Prior
                             U.S. Trip              Prior Illegal U.S. Trip                                 Prior Legal U.S. Trip
                               New           Illegal Border            Visa           Student/           Refugee/        Nonresident       Nonresident
Characteristic                Arrival            Crosser              Abuser          Exchange            Asylee           Visitor           Worker           All Pathways
% female                          57.1              49.7               54.8               55.2              51.8             72.2              47.0              56.4
% currently married               71.0              76.0               79.4               88.7              71.1             82.7             89.0                76.5
Mean age                          40.8              36.3               39.8               31.5              40.3             38.5             36.6               38.8
Mean years of education           11.8               9.4               13.2               17.5              12.1             13.1              15.4               12.1
% speaking English well
or very well                      33.8              38.6               55.0               87.8              35.5             49.8             80.2               44.9
% now working for pay             39.9              72.0               66.2               79.4              63.1             46.8             72.5               56.0
Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.

  California Counts                          Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

     In May and June                   educational levels. Illegal border      resurface in future attempts at
     2007, the U.S. Senate             crossers, with an average of nine       immigration reform. We focus in
                                       years of education, are significantly   particular on the portion of the bill
     considered reforming              less educated than average. Not         that proposed changing the criteria
     federal immigration               surprisingly, students and exchange     for earning Green Cards. The pro-
     policy. The Senate’s              visitors have much more education       posal suggested a radical reform in
     subsequent bill . . .             (17.5 years on average), as do non-     immigration policy—reducing the
     aimed to . . . change             resident workers (15 years).            group defined as immediate fam-
                                            Fewer than half of all respon-     ily, eliminating some categories of
     the admissions criteria           dents report speaking English well      family preference, eliminating the
     for legal permanent               or very well (45%), and the per-        employment preference categories,
     residency.                        centage differs widely by pathway.      eliminating the diversity program,
                                       Nearly all students (88%) and           and introducing, instead, a merit-
                                       the vast majority of nonresident        based point system. We apply the
                                       workers (80%) speak English at          merit-based point system to the
                                       least well. Notwithstanding their       members of the 2003 LPR cohort
                                       lack of education and English lan-      who would no longer be eligible for
                                       guage skills, illegal border crossers   preferences or the diversity program
surprising—not long ago it was         have among the highest rates of         to see how the outcome might
accepted knowledge that women          employment, along with nonresi-         change if the new system were
were rare among border crossers,       dent workers and students. These        implemented. We then examine the
but reports that women are mak-        three pathways show employment          distribution of points among differ-
ing the crossing are increasing.       levels in the 70 percent range—far      ent subsets of 2003 LPRs, such as
Three-quarters of respondents are      higher than the overall average of      country of origin, pathway to entry,
married, but marriage rates are dra-   56 percent. New arrivals (40%)          educational attainment, and occu-
matically higher for those in some     and nonresident visitors (47%)          pational category.
pathways, notably among students/      have the lowest employment levels.
exchange visitors and nonresident                                              Details of the Proposed
visitors and workers. Wadhwa et al.                                            System
(2007) find that many student and      Changes to                              In May and June 2007, the U.S.
H-1B visa holders ultimately gain                                              Senate considered reforming
LPR admission by marrying a U.S.       Immigration Under a                     federal immigration policy. The
citizen, so perhaps their high mar-    Merit-Based System                      Senate’s subsequent bill, S. 1639
riage rates are not surprising.                                                (sponsored by Senator Kennedy
     LPRs’ varied qualifications are
also reflected in the pathways they
take to achieving LPR status. The
                                       T    he previous sections demon-
                                            strate the complexity of our
                                       current federal immigration system.
                                                                               and co-sponsored by Senator
                                                                               Specter), aimed to both eliminate
                                                                               unauthorized immigration and
mean age in the U.S. sample is         Here, we investigate a proposal         change the admissions criteria for
39 years—slightly higher for new       considered by the U.S. Senate in        legal permanent residency (among
arrivals and considerably lower for    spring 2007. Although the pro-          other proposed changes to the
students and exchange visitors.        posal never left the Senate, some       federal system; see the text of
More evident is the difference in      of its key elements are certain to      S. 1639 for details).

  California Counts                            Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

     Currently, federal immi-            ment preferences to 10 percent of       Currently, federal
gration law gives preference to          the total admitted in the new sys-      immigration law gives
potential immigrants seeking to          tem.17 At the time of the proposal,
reunite with family members in           the number of points required to
                                                                                 preference to potential
the United States (who are either        gain admission was not stated.          immigrants seeking
LPRs or citizens) and to those in             The United States is not the       to reunite with family
particular employment categories,        first country to propose a point        members in the United
as described in Table 1.                 system that heavily weights high-       States and to those in
     As under the current system,        skill occupations and high levels
the spouses and unmarried chil-          of educational attainment in            particular employment
dren (younger than age 21) of U.S.       determining immigrant admis-            categories.
citizens will be admitted without        sions. Canada and Australia are
limit. (Refugees and asylees would       two notable examples of this prac-
continue to be admitted as well.)        tice. Indeed, a point system for
Two other categories of family           immigrant admission was consid-
preference would be permitted            ered by the U.S. Select Commit-
entry, but subject to limits: (1) U.S.   tee on Immigration and Refugee
citizen–sponsored parents (U.S.          Policy of 1979–1981 (Jasso, 1988).
citizen must be at least age 21 to       When proposed again in 2007, it       that could be altered only by
sponsor) and (2) the spouse and          was very unpopular with immi-         Congress would not be sufficiently
minor children of LPRs. All other        grant rights groups and employers.    responsive to the changing needs
sponsorship categories (both fam-             The way in which Green           of the economy. Many employers
ily and employer) and the diversity      Cards are distributed has not         were further dissatisfied, argu-
lottery would be eliminated.             changed appreciably since 1965        ing that increasing the number
     As proposed in Title V of           and many observers were under-        of highly skilled workers among
S. 1639, the new point system            standably concerned about the         those admitted to LPR status
would assign points to applicants        policy’s effect on the mix of immi-   might not result in the right can-
based on U.S. employment in              grants who would be admitted.         didates for their open positions.
particular occupations, employer         Immigrant rights and advocacy
endorsement, age, education, Eng-        groups argued that the change         Who Would Be Admitted
lish language ability, and knowl-        would unfairly disadvantage           Under the Point System?
edge of U.S. civics. The proposal        immigrants from countries where       Until now, concerns about the
called for limiting the total number     educational attainment is lower.      composition of LPRs admitted
of LPRs admitted each year to the        They were especially concerned        under the proposed system have
same number as had been admitted         about the foreign-born who had        been largely untested.18 Here, we
through family and employment            an expectation under the cur-         examine those who were admit-
preferences in 2005 at least for the     rent policy that they would be        ted to LPR status in 2003 (using
first five years after enactment.16      able to reunite with their families   the 2003 NIS) and apply the pro-
Per-country limits would still apply     (although there were provisions       posed point system to them. In
but would be raised from their cur-      in the bill to clear the backlog of   so doing, we are able to approxi-
rent 7 percent of the total admitted     current LPR applicants). Other        mate how the new proposal
under limited family and employ-         critics noted that a point system     might change the future mix of

  California Counts                           Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

legal permanent residents in the
United States. However, we can-          Table 6. 2003 LPR Cohort Under 2007 Proposed
not approximate the short-term           Immigrant Visa Allocation
changes in the composition of                                                                  Percentage of 2003 Cohort

LPRs after reform because of the                                                       United States                 California
need to clear the backlog of appli-      Exempt from points (family and refugee)            42.9                        38.2
                                         Limited family preferences                         14.4                        18.0
cants awaiting admission, nor can        Subject to points                                  42.8                        43.8
we approximate the effect of giv-        Total                                             100.0                       100.0
ing illegal immigrants a pathway         Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
toward legalization. In addition,        Notes: Estimates are based on weighted data. Columns may not sum to 100 percent because of
should a merit-based point system
ultimately cause the skill and edu-
cation levels of those admitted to
rise (by either admitting fewer of
the types of applicants who used       subject to the point system were                        Most points are derived
to apply or increasing the number      S. 1639 to be enacted. In Califor-                 from employment and educa-
of highly skilled applicants), as it   nia, the 2003 LPRs are somewhat                    tion, although not all points are
appears the system intended to         less likely to be exempt (38%,                     awarded from high-skill employ-
do, the education of applicants        compared with 43% in the nation                    ment—the 16 points available
who are admitted through fam-          as a whole), and slightly more                     for high-demand occupations are
ily exemption and numerically          California LPRs could petition                     available to those employed in a
limited family preferences may         for admission through relatives,                   variety of low-skill positions as
rise as well. This will happen as      although per-country caps could                    well, such as janitors, waiters and
the highly skilled LPRs eventu-        still result in long wait times.                   waitresses, and groundskeepers.
ally naturalize and are then able           To understand how the merit-                  However, the only way to earn the
to sponsor their highly skilled        based point system might screen                    maximum occupational points is
spouses and family members.            future LPR applicants, we can                      to be employed in a STEM (sci-
     To examine how the proposed       simulate point scores for those we                 ence, technology, engineering, and
system might work for individuals      predict would be subject to them.                  mathematics) specialty occupation,
when applied to the 2003 cohort        The 2003 NIS includes enough                       such as in a computer-related or
of LPRs, we divide the cohort into     detail on occupation, educational                  math or physical sciences occupa-
those who would be exempt from         attainment, employment history,                    tion (8 + 20 points).
points because of their immediate      and self-reported English language                      Figure 3 shows the distribution
family connections or their refu-      ability to allow us to approximate                 of points earned by those subject
gee status, those who would still      a point score for each adult who                   to points.19 The line shows the per-
be able to be sponsored under lim-     was granted his or her Green Card                  centage of LPRs in the subgroup
ited family preferences, and those     in 2003. The proposed merit-based                  who have point scores equal to or
subject to the proposed point sys-     system is presented in Table 7.                    higher than the number on the
tem (Table 6).                         The first column lists the type of                 horizontal axis. Because the poten-
     Similar shares of 2003 LPRs in    points being awarded, and the sec-                 tial 10 points for family are earned
California and the United States       ond column displays the possible                   only if an applicant earns more
(slightly more than 40%) would be      point values available.                            than 55 points, and are applied

California Counts                                               Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

                                                                                                    only as a tie breaker, we do not
Table 7. Proposed Point System                                                                      consider them in Figure 3.20
                                                                              Maximum Points            Although S. 1639 did not
Employment                                                                           47             propose a particular point score
U.S. employment in specialty occupationa or                                          20
U.S. employment in largest 10-year job growth (high-demand occupation)b              16
                                                                                                    that would ensure that applicants
U.S. employment in health or STEM occupation                                          8             gained admission, it is useful to
U.S. employer endorsementc                                                            6             consider a few point thresholds.
Years of work for a U.S. firm (two points/year)                                      10
Worker’s age between 25 and 39                                                        3             In particular, the legislation stipu-
Education                                                                            28             lated that applicants with scores of
M.D., M.B.A., graduate degree or                                                     20             55 or more would be able to earn
B.A. or                                                                              16
A.A. or                                                                              10
                                                                                                    additional points for certain cat-
High school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma                                    6             egories of family relationship (see
Completed certified Perkins Vocational Education programd or                          5             Table 7). We find that few in
Completed Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeshipe or                           8
Degree in STEM field (A.A. and higher)f                                               8             the United States—and fewer in
English language and civicsg                                                         15
                                                                                                    California—would be eligible to
Native speaker of English or                                                         15             earn these extra points (10% and
TOEFL score of 75+ or                                                                15             6%, respectively). California’s
TOEFL score of 60–74 or                                                              10
Pass USCIS citizenship test in English and civics                                     6             overall point scores are lower than
Family (applies only to those with 55+ points) h                                     10             those for the 2003 LPRs in the
Adult (age 21+) child of U.S. citizen or                                              8             nation as a whole.
Adult (age 21+) child of LPRe or                                                      6
Siblings of U.S. citizen or LPR                                                       4
                                                                                                        Using the distribution of
Applied for above family visa after 5-1-05e                                           2             point scores plotted in Figure 3,
                                                                                    100             we establish relationships between
Sources: S. 1639 and authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS. U.S. employment data for the         admission thresholds and point
largest projected 10-year job growth (high-demand) occupations are from Hecker (2005).
a Specialty occupations are defined by the Department of Labor and USCIS as those occupations
                                                                                                    scores (the distribution for Cali-
held by H-1B visa holders. We used the occupations held by H-1B visa holders in 2003 (Office        fornia is not shown). Half of all
of Immigration Statistics, 2004) and considered anyone employed in those occupations with           U.S. LPR applicants would be
at least a B.A. to have earned the 20 points.
bThese jobs include home health aides, retail salespersons, and child care workers, among others.   admitted with point scores of 26
cEndorsement means that an employer willing to pay 50 percent of the LPR fee either offers a
job or attests for the employee. We gave points to immigrants with employer-sponsored LPR
                                                                                                    or higher, and the same is true
applications.                                                                                       for 23 percent of California LPR
dWe allocate these points to anyone who is reported to have a vocational degree.
eNot available in the 2003 NIS.                                                                     applicants (Table 8). If 10 percent
f We allocate these points to anyone with an A.A. and above who is currently employed in a          of California’s LPRs who would
STEM occupation. We do not observe the field in which the degree was earned, thus we likely
underestimate the number of STEM degrees.                                                           be subject to the point system
gThose who are native speakers of English and those who reported speaking and comprehend-
                                                                                                    were to be admitted, the point
ing English “very well” received full points. We approximated Test of English as a Foreign
Language (TOEFL) scores of 60–74 by self-reported English comprehension as at least “well”          threshold would have to be set as
and speaking English at least “well.” USCIS passage is approximated by correct answers to each      low as 46 points.
of the four questions related to U.S. civics in the NIS. Currently, LPRs are not required to have
any knowledge of U.S. civics at the time of admission, but anyone who wishes to become a                To imagine how such a system
naturalized citizen must pass an exam administered by USCIS.                                        might work for an individual, we
hUsed only to break ties between those with the same point totals.
                                                                                                    consider a few examples (Table 9).
                                                                                                    “Paul” is 35 years old and applies
                                                                                                    from abroad for LPR status. He is
                                                                                                    highly skilled (he has a Ph.D. in a

  California Counts                                             Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

                                                                                                           “Mary” is employed as a maid
     Figure 3. Percentage with Merit Point Scores Equal to or
                                                                                                      (a high-demand occupation =
     Higher Than Shown on the Horizontal Axis, Among 2003
                                                                                                      16 points), has worked for five
     LPRs Subject to Points
                                                                                                      years in the United States (10
               100                                                                                    points), and is 30 years old (three
                90                                                                                    points). She has the equivalent of
                80                                                                                    a high school diploma (six points)
                70                                                                                    and has English language abil-
                                                                                                      ity that earns her 10 points for a

                50                                                                                    total of 45 points. She also has a
                                                                                                      sister who is a U.S. citizen, but
                                                                                                      her family relationship does not
                                                                                                      count toward her admission sta-
                                                                                                      tus because her other points total
                                                                                                      fewer than 55. To increase her
                     0   5   10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90                       score, Mary might take a job in
                                               Merit points
                                                                                                      a high-demand occupation that
  Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
  Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.                                                         is also in health, such as a home
                                                                                                      health aide (original 16 plus addi-
                                                                                                      tional eight points), and improve
                                                                                                      her English to the highest point
                                                                                                      value (an additional five points).
     Table 8. Point Scores for Various Admission Rates                                                This would raise her total score to
                                                               Point Score Required                   58, in which case the four points
     Admission Threshold                          U.S. Distribution         California Distribution   she has for her family connections
     10% admitted                                         55                          46              would be considered if she were to
     25% admitted                                         38                          32              be compared with another poten-
     50% admitted                                         26                          23
     75% admitted                                         14                          11
                                                                                                      tial immigrant with 58 points
     Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
                                                                                                      (and her score would be higher
     Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.                                                      than all but 9 percent of all other
                                                                                                      LPR applicants subject to points).
                                                                                                           “Bob,” with the longest tenure
                                                                                                      in the United States, has worked
STEM field) and is fluent in Eng-                        enough to accrue any family points.          in agriculture and other low-skill
lish. He wants to move to Califor-                       Even an employer job offer is not            jobs. He has no degree and poor
nia, where he has a brother who is                       enough to earn him those points. If          English skills. His age and work
a U.S. citizen. Because he has never                     he worked in the United States on an         experience earn him 14 points,
worked in the United States, he                          H-1B visa before applying, his point         and 75 percent of applicants have
scores only 46 points out of a pos-                      score would increase to 82, enough           scores higher than his. Improving
sible 90. This score is higher than                      to earn the family points (and his           his English earns him a total of 29
all but 16 percent of other LPR                          score would be higher than that of           points (leaving 42% of LPR appli-
applicants’ scores, but it is not high                   all but 3 percent of applicants).            cants ahead of him).

  California Counts                                         Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

  Table 9. Merit Point Scenarios
                                                                                                                            % of Applicants
                        Employment                  Education           English                              Family            with Equal
                         = 47 max                   = 28 max           = 15 max       Total Points          = 10 max        or Higher Score
  Paul, age 35   No U.S. employment             Ph.D. in engineering   TOEFL 75+
                 =3                             = 28                   = 15              = 46                =0                    16
                 Job offer
                 =9                                                                      = 52                =0                    12
                 H-1B (specialty occupation),                                                                U.S. citizen
                 1 year                                                                                      sibling
                 = 39                                                                    = 82                =4                     3
  Mary, age 30   U.S. employment as a maid                             TOEFL
                 (high demand) for 5 years      High school diploma    60–74
                 = 29                           =6                     = 10              = 45                =0                    18
                 Job switch to home health                                                                   Child of
                 aide                                                  TOEFL 75+                             U.S. citizen
                 = 37                                                  = 15              = 58                =8                     9
  Bob, age 30    Worked in U.S. agriculture
                 for 8 years, employer offer    No degree              Poor English
                 = 14                           =0                     =0                = 14                =0                   75
                                                                       TOEFL 75+
                                                                       = 15              = 29                =0                   42

    Whether or not Paul, Mary,                    specific canceled admission cat-                   school diploma, have point scores
and Bob are admitted as LPR                       egories whose applicants would                     close to, but above, those of family
applicants would depend on (1)                    now be subject to points, and then                 and “other” 2003 LPRs.
the point threshold approved in                   by pathway.                                            We find that admission rates
the year they apply, (2) the point                     Not surprisingly, those 2003                  to LPR status under the proposed
scores of other applicants in that                LPRs who entered through                           system differ considerably when
year, and (3) the number of appli-                employment preferences have the                    we examine the 2003 cohort by
cants with higher scores from                     highest point scores, and those                    pathway. Recall that “New arriv-
their own country (recall that per-               entering on canceled family pref-                  als” are LPRs who have never
country limits would still be in                  erences have the lowest (see Figure                before entered the United States
place under this proposal).                       4). Indeed, only 1 percent of this                 (or at least never for a trip longer
                                                  group would actually be eligible to                than 60 days). The remainder of
Point Scores for the 2003                         earn the family points. Employ-                    the 2003 LPRs are divided into
LPR Cohort                                        ment immigrants, on the other                      those who ever came to the United
The proposed reform could have                    hand, are the most likely of all to                States illegally and those who have
a dramatic effect on the admis-                   score 55 points or higher (40%).                   had only legal U.S. trips.
sion rates of the 2003 LPR cohort                 Diversity immigrants, who by and                       When considering the way
discussed above. Here, we first                   large have no U.S. experience,                     that the proposed reform may
examine the point scores by the                   but typically have at least a high                 change admissions to LPR, it is

  California Counts                                         Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

                                                                                             naturalization rates for Mexicans
     Figure 4. Percentage with Merit Point Scores Equal to or
                                                                                             (35%) and California immigrants
     Higher Than Shown on the Horizontal Axis, Among 2003
                                                                                             in general (54%) compared with
     LPRs Subject to Points, by 2003 Admission Category
                                                                                             the national average of 59 percent
               100                                                                           among the eligible (Passel, 2007).
                90                                           Employment                      Illegal immigrants in California
                                                             Diversity                       (who are mostly Mexican) are less
                                                             Family without preference
                70                                           Other                           likely than illegal immigrants in
                                                                                             other states to have citizen family

                50                                                                           members sponsor them.
                                                                                             Admission and Points, by
                                                                                             Demographic Characteristics
                                                                                             Table 11 illustrates differing likeli-
                                                                                             hoods of admission to LPR status,
                     0   5   10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90              by sending country. We focus on
                                               Merit points
                                                                                             just those countries currently expe-
  Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
  Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.                                                riencing admission backlogs because
                                                                                             of the annual per-country caps.
                                                                                                 Twenty-three percent of the
                                                                                             2003 LPRs from Mexico would
important to recall that some will                    U.S. employment to earn more           be subject to points—the lowest
be admitted without being subject                     than 52 points (see Table 7; the       figure from any of the countries
to the point system. We find, for                     maximum possible is six points         currently experiencing migration
example, that students are prob-                      for a potential U.S. employer’s        backlogs. So, although their point
ably the most likely to retain                        endorsement, three points for          scores may be low, Mexican LPRs
their LPR admission status in our                     age, and the maximum points for        appear to be the least likely to be
simulation. Because relatively few                    education (28) and English/civics      excluded by the system when we
(35%) are subject to points, and                      (15)). Illegal border crossers would   consider the cohort admitted in
those subject to points have high                     also be likely to be admitted to       2003. Roughly half of the 2003
point scores, we expect that many                     the United States at a very low        LPRs from China and the Philip-
students would still qualify for                      rate should the merit-based point      pines and nearly two-thirds of
admission (Table 10).                                 system be implemented. Differ-         those from India would be subject
     New arrivals appear to be the                    ences between the nation and Cal-      to points. We see that the vari-
least likely to be admitted under                     ifornia are significant—52 percent     ous countries’ point distributions
the proposed system—fewer have                        of illegal border crossers retain an   are dramatically different. LPRs
relatives who might sponsor them                      ability to petition for admission      from Mexico are clustered toward
(i.e., 55% are subject to points)                     through family preferences at the      the bottom of the point scores,
and, by definition, do not have                       national level, but only 42 percent    whereas those from the Philip-
U.S. work experience (the primary                     are able to do so in California.       pines are clustered toward the
way to earn points). In fact, it is                   Lower exemption rates in Cali-         middle. LPRs from China have
impossible for those without prior                    fornia may result from the low         a bifurcated point distribution—

  California Counts                                          Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

  Table 10. Point Scores for Various Admission Rates, by Pathway
                                                                                     Point Scores Required for:
                                 % Subject to Points         75% Admitted       50% Admitted           25% Admitted      10% Admitted
  New arrival                            55%                      10                 20                       30              39
  Prior illegal trip
     Illegal border crosser              48%                      14                 25                       32              43
     Visa abuser                         31%                      22                 32                       46              65
  Prior legal trip
     Student                             35%                      47                 67                       83              89
     Nonresident visitor                 24%                      34                 44                       65              82
     Nonresident worker                  48%                      45                 67                       80              87
  Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
  Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.

  Table 11. Point Scores for Various Admission Rates, by Country of Origin
                                                                                     Point Scores Required for:
                                 % Subject to Points        75% Admitted       50% Admitted            25% Admitted     10% Admitted
  Mexico                                 23%                      13                 21                       31              42
  China (PRC)                            45%                       8                 19                      46               79
  India                                  65%                      20                 38                       67              84
  Philippines                            49%                      22                 35                      54               60
  Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
  Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.

many applicants are clustered at                       China would be much higher (84               detail, see Table 2 of the technical
the bottom of the distribution                         and 79, respectively).                       appendix at
(eight points would exclude only                           We find that LPR applicants              content/other/608JHCC_technical_
25% of applicants) but many oth-                       admitted without numerical limita-           appendix.pdf).
ers are at the top (79 points gains                    tion are almost as skilled as those
entry for 10% of applicants). If                       screened through the merit system.           Relation of Skill and
just 10 percent of each nation’s                       For example, roughly equal per-              Education to Point Scores
applicants were to be admitted,                        centages have B.A. degrees, and 9            In this section, we consider the
we see that a point score as low                       percent of those admitted without            point scores for individuals with
as 42 would earn an LPR slot for                       numerical limitation have graduate           various levels of employment his-
those from Mexico. The point                           degrees, compared with 13 percent            tory and skill, educational attain-
scores for those from India and                        of those subject to points (for more         ment, and English language ability

  California Counts                                   Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

     Some employed                    finally those in STEM occupations                     point distributions. Clearly, those
     in high-demand                   (which can include specialty or                       in specialty occupations also pos-
                                      high-demand occupations). Those                       sess high educational attainment
     occupations earn few             not working and those employed                        and probably English language
     other points besides             in occupations not specifically                       skills as well (this group consti-
     the 16 points for their          rewarded by points have the lowest                    tutes 5% of all LPRs subject to
     jobs.                            overall scores (Figure 5).                            points). STEM/health occupations
                                           Some employed in high-                           (which are worth eight points)
                                      demand occupations earn few                           overlap to a high degree with spe-
                                      other points besides the 16 points                    cialty occupations.
                                      for their jobs. Recall that high-                          When we examine the
                                      demand occupations do include                         threshold for earning the family
                                      some low-skill jobs, such as maids,                   points, we find that none of those
                                      janitors, food preparation work-                      who are not currently employed
                                      ers, and waiters. LPRs working in                     reach 55 points, compared with
                                      these occupations account for 22                      4 percent working in nonpoint
                                      percent of LPRs subject to points.                    occupations, 18 percent of those
                                      The 20 points earned by specialty                     in high-demand occupations, 91
                                      occupation workers do not in                          percent of those in STEM/health
                                      themselves explain the distance                       jobs, and 96 percent of those in
(the skills explicitly rewarded by    between the two occupational                          specialty occupations.
the proposed merit-based point
system). In this way, we can
understand the interactions of all
                                           Figure 5. Percentage with Merit Point Scores Equal to or
the categories for which points are
                                           Higher Than Shown on the Horizontal Axis, Among 2003
awarded. For example, we know
                                           LPRs Subject to Points, by Employment
that working in a high-demand
occupation earns 16 points, but                      100
how does this figure into the over-                   90
all point score for the individuals                   80
who work in these occupations?                        70
     First, we consider the various                                                           Occupation

employment categories. Recall                         50                                           STEM/health
that the employment category is                       40
the one in which the most points                      30
can be earned (47) (see Table 7).                     20
                                                               Not working

We consider the point distribu-                       10
tions for those who are not work-
ing, those working in occupations                          0   5   10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90
                                                                                     Merit points
not rewarded by points, those in
                                        Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
high-demand occupations, those          Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.
in specialty occupations, and

  California Counts                                         Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

     An applicant can earn a                          few points (fewer than 52 in all        Ph.D.s from abroad
maximum of 28 points from edu-                        cases). However, if a point thresh-     with no prior work
cational attainment. Naturally,                       old were established that allowed
higher levels of educational attain-                  25 percent of the entire 2003 LPR
                                                                                              experience in the
ment result in higher point score                     cohort to be admitted (i.e., 38         United States would
distributions (Figure 6).                             points), 72 percent of those with a     earn relatively few
     However, the higher scores                       graduate degree would be admit-         points.
reflected in high-attainment cat-                     ted, compared with 45 percent of
egories are not due to education                      those with a bachelor’s degree and
alone—higher levels of education                      14 percent of those with a high
are also associated with points-rich                  school diploma.
occupations and English language                          Finally, strong English lan-
ability. And finally, having a grad-                  guage skills alone are not closely
uate degree does not necessarily                      related to high point scores, cap-
translate into a high point score.                    ping out at a maximum of 15
Only 44 percent of those with                         points (results not shown). We
graduate degrees earn enough                          estimate that 27 percent of those
points to qualify for any family                      earning the maximum points for
points. Ph.D.s from abroad with                       English language ability would
no prior work experience in the                       also earn enough other points to
United States would earn relatively                   arrive at the threshold for point     credits through family relations.
                                                                                            For those earning 10 points
                                                                                            (“good” English language ability),
                                                                                            we estimate that just 12 percent
     Figure 6. Percentage with Merit Point Scores Equal to or
                                                                                            would earn 55 points or more.
     Higher Than Shown on the Horizontal Axis, Among 2003
     LPRs Subject to Points, by Educational Attainment
               100                                                                          Conclusions
                                                                 Graduate degree
                                                                 Bachelor’s degree          and Policy
                                                                 High school diploma
                70                                               No degree/certificate       Considerations

                                                                                            C    ategorizing immigrants by
                                                                                                 their pathways to legal per-
                                                                                            manent residence allows us to see
                                                                                            important differences in immi-
                                                                                            grant groups. Among the 2003
                                                                                            cohort, California has fewer newly
                     0   5   10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90             arriving LPRs than does the
                                               Merit points                                 nation as a whole but many more
  Source: Authors’ calculations using the 2003 NIS.
  Note: Estimates are based on weighted data.                                               illegal border crossers. This situa-
                                                                                            tion arises because of California’s

  California Counts                           Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

     Some of the apparent               unlimited family preferences, and       enough other points to arrive at
     goals of the proposed              refugees had a much more varied         the threshold of 55 points that
                                        set of experiences, including new       would entitle them to favorable
     merit-based point                  arrivals and those with legal and       consideration through family con-
     system may not be                  illegal prior U.S. entries or stays.    nections. The proposal does appear
     met in practice.                        Most clearly, we saw that educa-   to function well as a way for those
                                        tion, language skills, and employ-      employed in some high-skill occu-
                                        ment rates differed significantly by    pations (specialty occupations
                                        pathway—variables that matter in        or STEM occupations) to gain
                                        our analysis of the proposed point-     LPR status. If the point threshold
                                        based admission system.                 were set so that 25 percent of the
                                             In that analysis, we found that    entire LPR cohort were admitted,
                                        many 2003 LPRs would still be           99 percent of all STEM/health
                                        admitted without being subject          employment and 100 percent of all
                                        to the proposed point system. We        specialty occupation 2003 LPRs
                                        found that many among those who         would be admitted.
                                        would still be admitted because              If we shift to the merit-based
                                        they had an immediate family            point system as described in
concentration of LPRs from Latin        member in the United States have        S. 1639, the population of those
America, particularly neighboring       skill sets similar to those screened    admitted to LPR status—and
Mexico (representing one-third          by the point system—for example,        of those who ultimately become
of the state’s total) and El Salva-     a roughly similar share had at least    U.S. citizens—has the potential
dor (one-eighth). At the national       a bachelor’s degree.                    to become increasingly highly
level, 44 percent of the LPRs from           Roughly 43 percent of the          skilled. This would occur if the
Mexico were former illegal border       2003 cohort in both California          point threshold were set high
crossers. Mexico is by no means         and the United States would have        enough to exclude many of the
the only country with a high per-       their employment, education, and        types of applicants who would
centage of 2003 LPRs with prior         English language skills scrutinized     have been admitted under the
illegal entries or stays. We estimate   by the system, and we found in our      old system and if the skill level of
that more than one-third of those       simulation that point scores in these   applicants rose as a result. The rel-
from Canada and 30 percent of           areas differ by country of origin,      atives that these new naturalized
those from Europe/Central Asia          current LPR admission category,         U.S. citizens might sponsor might
had prior illegal entries or stays.     and pathway to immigration.             also be highly skilled. Thus, the
     The profiles of immigrants              Some of the apparent goals         distinction between those admit-
differed widely by the preference       of the proposed merit-based point       ted by way of family connections
categories under which they were        system may not be met in practice.      and those admitted via the merit-
admitted. Numerically limited           In particular, the points earned by     based system has the potential to
family preferences and diversity        applicants in high-demand occu-         blur over time.
lottery winners were heavily            pations (which often involve low             Depending on where the point
populated by new arrivals (those        skills) are given to a large number     threshold is drawn, it is possible
with no prior U.S. trips), whereas      of those in the 2003 cohort of          that temporary employment visas
employment-based preferences,           LPRs, but only 18 percent earn          will be the key to LPR status for

  California Counts                             Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

most admitted under a merit-             ment visas would be of critical              Depending on where
based system. Under this proposal,       importance and essentially deter-            the point threshold is
the maximum number of points             mine who would constitute the
one can earn without some prior          pool of immigrants entering this
                                                                                      drawn, it is possible
U.S.-based employment is 52,             country as legal permanent resi-             that temporary
which is not enough for any fam-         dents. Prior work experience is not          employment visas
ily points to count and which            a requirement of Canada’s point              will be the key to
excludes 88 percent of the 2003          system—applicants must actually              LPR status for most
LPR cohort subject to points. If a       reside outside Canada until they
point threshold were established at      meet the minimum point thresh-               admitted under a
53 or higher, federal reform rules       old (Senate Republican Policy                merit-based system.
surrounding temporary employ-            Committee, 2007).

   The New Immigrant Survey

    The New Immigrant Survey aims to provide a nationally representative public-use dataset on adults and
    their families who have recently gained legal permanent residence in the United States. The NIS takes as
    its sampling frame the USCIS administrative records of all foreign-born persons admitted to LPR status.
    From this universe, a stratified sample is drawn and detailed interviews are conducted.
         The first full cohort surveyed as part of this project (in 2003) used a target population of 289,478 adult
    immigrants receiving LPR status between May and November of 2003 (Jasso et al., 2006). Our analysis
    focuses on the sample of 8,573 completed interviews.
         According to the “2006 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics” (Office of Immigration Statistics, 2007),
    immigrants admitted as legal permanent residents in 2003 were generally similar to those admitted in the
    years immediately preceding and following 2003.21 Whereas the 2003 NIS is designed to be representative
    at the national level, the California sample (29% of the weighted sample) is large enough for us to compute
    separate analyses for the state in some cases.22
         The 2003 NIS gathered standard socioeconomic information from respondents (for example, educa-
    tional attainment, self-reported English language ability, marital status, and household status). Interviews
    were conducted in the language of the respondent’s choice (see Jasso et al., 2005b) and the interview instru-
    ments were translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
         The 2003 NIS asked about every international trip of 60 days or more that each immigrant took since
    leaving his or her home country for the first time. For each of these trips, information was collected on
    whether a visa was used for entry and, if so, what kind of visa it was. Other lines of questioning gathered
    details about current employment (dates, occupation, industry, social connections used to procure work),
    U.S. jobs held before admission to LPR, and work authorization attained.
         In sum, the dataset makes it possible not only to determine how much time a respondent has spent in
    the United States but also to tally the number of trips and, in some cases, the fraction of each trip that was
    spent without proper authorization.

  California Counts                         Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

     Two important questions          those selected on the basis of their   ining rates of English language
remain. First, will the proposal      skills be able to find jobs appro-     acquisition, economic progress, and
be good or bad for the national       priate to their skill sets and forge   the net contributions of each to the
and California economies? The         family and community connections       economy, among other measures.
answer is that this will depend on    that are important in permanent        This would help policymakers learn
whether employers are able to fill    assimilation and progress? When        if screening potential immigrants
their open positions with the right   the follow-up wave of the 2003 NIS     on skill and education at admission
employees through this system.        becomes available, we could exam-      is an effective way to also screen for
     Second, how will these skill-    ine the socioeconomic outcomes for     immigrants who will fare well in
selected immigrants integrate? Will   each of these three groups, exam-      this country. ◆

    California Counts                                    Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

1 For the text of Senate Bill 1639, see          10 Data on temporary visa holders are also      19We include principals and any nonprin-           kept, but we have only estimates for the        cipal spouses. Robustness checks where we
z?d110:S.1639:.                                  numbers of illegal immigrants.                  included only the principals resulted in point
                                                                                                 distributions that were nearly identical—at
2 These estimates differ over time and by        11 Of the past 10 years for which data are      only a few point scores do the percentiles
source.                                          published, in only three (1998, 1999, and       differ by more than 1 percent.
                                                 2003) were there more new LPRs than
3 Formerly the Immigration and Naturaliza-       adjusting LPRs, which has been attributed       20 Because points for apprenticeships certi-
tion Service. USCIS is a part of the Depart-     to large processing backlogs in those years     fied by the Department of Labor cannot be
ment of Homeland Security (DHS).                 (Wadhwa et al., 2007).                          allocated because of data limitations (see
                                                                                                 Table 7), we allocate these points to those
4 For the sake of clarity, we use the term       12 The New Immigrant Survey is described        individuals who might be eligible (eight
“temporary visa holder” rather than the term     in the textbox on page 23.                      points are granted to those with no educa-
“nonimmigrant” throughout the remainder                                                          tional attainment, three more for those who
of this report.                                   We borrow the term “pathway” from
                                                 13                                              already have five points from a vocational
                                                 Massey and Malone (2002).                       certification). We found that the curves
5 These figures may differ from the stated                                                       shift only slightly, and those results are not
caps because unused LPR visas from other         14 We call those crossing the border without    shown here.
categories may be applied to elevate the lim-    authorization “illegal border crossers,” but
its (Jefferys, 2007).                            USCIS and DHS refer to these illegal resi-      21 There are two notable differences. One is
                                                 dents as having “entered without inspection.”   the decline in the percentage of those born
6 The number of refugees who can enter                                                           in Mexico (at 21% in 2000, 16% in 2003,
the United States every year is set by the       15 We find a similar percentage of all 2003     and 14% in 2006). This decline is likely
President. Refugees must spend one year          LPRs had been illegal border crossers as        due to a decrease in the number of eligible
in refugee status before they can apply to       Massey and Malone (2002) who used 1996          Mexican-born immigrants legalized under
become legal permanent residents. There          data. However, a much higher percentage in      the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
are no limits to the number of refugees who      the 2003 data are found to be visa abusers      There is a similar decline in the proportion
can transition into LPR status in a given        (22% compared with 11%) than in the 1996        of all legal immigrants who are family spon-
year. Aslyees may also apply for LPR status      data, largely because the newer data allow      sored, numerically limited immigrants (28%
after one year, and there is no limit on the     more visa abuse to be detected.                 in 2000, 23% in 2003, and 18% in 2006).
number who can be admitted to LPR status.                                                        The second notable difference is the lower
However, before 2005, the number of asylees      16 The 2005 limit is reported to be 247,000     percentage of adjustees, mentioned above in
admitted to LPR status in any year was lim-      (see AILA InfoNet, June 2007a, June             the Current Immigration Policies section.
ited to 10,000.                                  2007b).
                                                                                                 22 The 2003 NIS California sample of LPRs
7 The diversity lottery was established in       17 This cap does not include backlog reduc-     is slightly older than the California popula-
1990 to give potential immigrants from           tion specifications (see the text of S. 1639    tion of LPRs measured by the USCIS in
nations underrepresented in the U.S. popula-     and AILA InfoNet, June 2007a, June              2003 and 2004 (26% are ages 35–44, com-
tion a chance to enter, even if they do not      2007b).                                         pared with 23% in the USCIS data). The
have family ties to U.S. residents. The 50,000                                                   California 2003 NIS sample is also slightly
spots in 2006 were filled by random lottery      18 Others (Migration Policy Institute, 2007)    less likely to be single (19% compared with
winners from the 6.4 million applicants, and     have attempted to describe how the mix          22% in the USCIS data).
the vast majority of these spots were success-   of legal permanent residents might change
fully used to obtain Green Cards.                should a point system be enacted, but our
                                                 data have significant advantages. Researchers
8 The Other/legalization category included,      at the Migration Policy Institute examined
among others, illegal residents who qualified    the foreign-born who arrived within the past
to have their deportation orders canceled        15 years, as documented in the American
or who qualified for legalization under the      Community Survey (which includes a mix
Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central Ameri-         of naturalized citizens, legal permanent
can Relief Act of 1997.                          residents, nonmigrant visa holders, and the
                                                 unauthorized), whereas we examine legal
9Applications for LPR are filed with USCIS.      permanent residents in the year in which
LPR visas are issued by the U.S. Department      they were granted that status.
of State.

  California Counts                                     Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

AILA InfoNet, “Summary of Senate ‘Grand         Jasso, Guillermina, Douglas S. Massey,           Pew Hispanic Center, Fact Sheet: Estimates
Bargain,’” Doc. No. 07051768 (posted May        Mark R. Rosenzweig, and James P. Smith,          of the Unauthorized Migrant Population for
17, 2007), available at    “The New Immigrant Survey 2003 Round 1           States Based on the March 2005 CPS, Wash-
content/default.aspx?docid=22365.               (NIS-2003-1) Public Release Data,” March         ington, D.C., April 26, 2006a.
                                                2006, available at
AILA InfoNet, “Summary of Key Business                                                           Pew Hispanic Center, Fact Sheet: Modes of
Immigration Provisions in S. 1639,”             Jefferys, Kelly, “U.S. Legal Permanent Resi-     Entry for the Unauthorized Migrant Popula-
Doc. No. 07062167 (posted June 21, 2007a),      dents: 2006,” Annual Flow Report, Office of      tion, Washington, D.C., May 22, 2006b.
available at       Immigration Statistics, Policy Directorate,
default.aspx?bc=6712|8846|22704.                Department of Homeland Security, Wash-           Senate Republican Policy Committee, RPC
                                                ington, D.C., March 2007.                        Backgrounder: Merit-Based Permanent Immi-
AILA InfoNet, “Summary of Key Family                                                             gration: A Look at Canada’s Point System,
Immigration Provisions in S. 1639,” Doc.        Massey, D., and N. Malone, “Pathways to          Washington, D.C., May 22, 2007.
No. 07062165 (posted June 21, 2007b),           Legal Immigration,” Population Research
available at       and Policy Review, Vol. 21, No. 6, December      Terrell, Nicholas, “STEM Occupations,”
default.aspx?bc=6712|8846|22702.                2002.                                            Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2007.

Broder, Tanya, Overview of Immigrant Eligi-     Migration Policy Institute, “Migration Policy    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
bility for Federal Programs, National Immi-     Institute Proposed Point System and Its          “A Guide to Naturalization,” n.d., available
gration Law Center, Los Angeles, California,    Likely Impact on Prospective Immigrants,”        at
July 2007.                                      Immigration Backgrounder, No. 4, May 2007.       pdf.

Hecker, Daniel E., “Occupational Employ-        National Immigration Law Center, “Major          U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
ment Projections to 2014,” Monthly Labor        Benefit Programs Available to Immigrants in      “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for
Review, Table 3, November 2005.                 California,” Los Angeles, California, January    New Immigrants,” n.d., available at http://
Jasso, Guillermina, “Whom Shall We Wel-                                                          pdf.
come? Elite Judgments of the Criteria for the   Office of Immigration Statistics, Character-
Selection of Immigrants,” American Sociologi-   istics of Specialty Occupation Workers (H-1B):   U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
cal Review, Vol. 53, No. 6, December 1988,      Fiscal Year 2003, Department of Homeland         a glossary of terms related to immigration,
pp. 919–932.                                    Security, Washington, D.C., November 2004.       n.d., available at
Jasso, Guillermina, Douglas S. Massey, Mark     Office of Immigration Statistics, “2005 Year-    6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=b328194d3e88d010
R. Rosenzweig, and James P. Smith, “The         book of Immigration Statistics,” Department      VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextch
New Immigrant Survey Pilot (NIS-P) Public       of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.,          annel=b328194d3e88d010VgnVCM1000004
Release Data,” March 2005a, available at        November 2006.                                   8f3d6a1RCRD.
                                                Office of Immigration Statistics, “2006 Year-    U.S. Department of State, Visa Bulletin, Vol.
Jasso, Guillermina, Douglas S. Massey,          book of Immigration Statistics,” Department      8, No. 113, Washington, D.C., December
Mark R. Rosenzweig, and James P. Smith,         of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.,          2007, available at
“The U.S. New Immigrant Survey: Over-           September 2007.                                  frvi/bulletin/bulletin_3841.html.
view and Preliminary Results Based on the
New-Immigrant Cohorts of 1996 and 2003,”        Papademetriou, Demetrios G.,“Selecting           Wadhwa, Vivek, Guillermina Jasso, Ben
2005b, available at   Economic Stream Immigrants Through               Rissing, Gary Gereffi, and Richard Free-
downloads/nis_2003/JMRS_IRSS-NIS-               Points Systems,” Migration Policy Institute,     man, “Intellectual Property, the Immigration
Overview-2005.pdf.                              Migration Information Source, Washington,        Backlog, and a Reverse Brain-Drain: Amer-
                                                D.C., May 18, 2007, available at www.            ica’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part
Jasso, Guillermina, Douglas S. Massey, Mark          III,” Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation,
R. Rosenzweig, and James P. Smith, “Immi-       cfm?ID=602.                                      Kansas City, Missouri, August 2007.
gration, Health, and New York City: Early
Results Based on the U.S. New Immigrant         Passel, Jeffrey S., Growing Share of Immi-
Cohort of 2003,” Federal Reserve Bank of        grants Choosing Naturalization, Pew Hispanic
New York, Economic Policy Review, Decem-        Center, Washington, D.C., March 28, 2007.
ber 2005c.

  California Counts                                                Immigrant Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence

About the Authors                                                                                   The Public Policy Institute of California
                                                                                                    is dedicated to informing and improving
Joseph M. Hayes is a research associate at the Public Policy Institute of California.
                                                                                                    public policy in California through
                                                                                                    independent, objective, nonpartisan research
Laura E. Hill is a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.
                                                                                                    on major economic, social, and political
                                                                                                    issues. The institute’s goal is to raise public
                                                                                                    awareness and to give elected representatives
                                                                                                    and other decisionmakers a more informed
Contributors                                                                                        basis for developing policies and programs.

                                                                                                    The institute’s research focuses on the
The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments of Guillermina Jasso, Mark Silverman,
                                                                                                    underlying forces shaping California’s
Steven Camarota, Sabina Ohri, Hans Johnson, Deborah Reed, Gary Bjork, Michele Waslin, Monica
                                                                                                    future, cutting across a wide range of
Higgins, Jennifer Martin, Pat Bedrosian, and Edward Kissam.
                                                                                                    public policy concerns, including economic
                                                                                                    development, education, environment and
                                                                                                    resources, governance, population, public
                                                                                                    finance, and social and health policy.

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