Weekend Reading: Highlights from this week’s immigration news (Feb 13-Feb 19)

New York becomes the first city in the country to launch a program (NYT) that will offer foreign-born entrepreneurs a cap-exempt H1-B visa, in exchange for their collaboration with professors and students on City University of New York campuses.

Americans have been increasingly concerned about immigration in the past two months, as the percentage of Americans who name immigration as the top issue facing the country doubled, according to recent Gallup polls. Republicans are almost twice as likely as Democrats and independents to name immigration as the county’s most important problem.

State legislatures (NPR) are stepping up in the absence of federal reform. The number of immigration-related laws passed by states—covering issues including education, employment, and law enforcement—increased by 26 percent last year with 216 laws enacted. Alaska was the only state that did not take any immigration-related legislative actions.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass with 200,000 people in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez, calling forced migration a “human tragedy” and urging compassion for immigrants worldwide. “This crisis, which can be measured in numbers and statistics, we want instead to measure with names, stories, families,” he said during the Mass.

The Dallas Morning News tells the story of Jeong-Seok Kang, who went to live in Texas years ago from South Korea. Despite his wife’s green card, he was put into deportation proceedings after his visa expired. His lawyer argued for a “derivative” legal status, but Kang would have to wait for a ruling for two years, which is the average waiting time for immigration cases. Due to an exploding number of cases, judge shortages, and lack of interpreters for rare languages, the backlog in U.S. immigration courts reached a record high of about 474,000 cases, almost tripling the number from ten years ago.

In case you missed it…

To commemorate President’s Day, PNAE reflects on how the smash-hit Broadway musical Hamilton highlights the important role immigrants played in founding the early republic, with a cast of mostly African-American and Hispanic actors. The show reminds us the immigrant roots of all America’s founding fathers and the vision of America Hamilton espoused, where “even orphan immigrants can leave their fingerprints and rise up,” as Hamilton sings just before his death in the musical.

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…