This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Friday, December 29, 2017

National Academies Press Top Ten Highlights Demography Connections

It has always been my contention that demography is related to everything going on in the world. Sometimes distantly, I admit, but still connected. I had exactly that thought as I went down the list of the Top Ten of the most downloaded publications of 2017 from the National Academies Press. Keep in mind that all of these publications from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine are free to download in PDF format--they only charge if you want a hard copy or an e-book copy. So, there is no price barrier to downloading and reading these reports. Here is the Top Ten and my evaluation of their connection to demography, even if no demographers were involved in the committees that wrote the report.

1. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. You might think that this is only about getting high, but there are clearly demonstrated medicinal uses for marijuana which may not keep you alive longer, but may allow you to enjoy life a bit more. Of course, as with almost anything of this nature, too much may kill you (and others) earlier than expected.

2. Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda In this era where the lessons of science, including demographic science, seem often to be under attack, it is important that we figure out how to get the messages out there successfully.

3. The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration I blogged about this when it came out: http://weekspopulation.blogspot.com/2016/09/costs-and-benefits-of-immigration.html

4. Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance Human genome editing is one of the ways in which we may be able to forestall death and/or improve health as we age, so this can affect mortality and the aging process.

5. Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity Once again the theme is on health care, in this case the issue of getting rid of major inequalities in death rates and causes of death.

6. Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward This deals with our ability to function as we age. Success in this area could greatly diminish the cost to families and society in general of our staying alive longer.

7. Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom Again the issue is making sure that science is separated from fiction as children learn how the world works.

8. Valuing Climate Damages: Updating Estimation of the Social Cost of Carbon Dioxide The growing population, and our growing use of resources to sustain and improve people's lives have consequences and understanding and mitigating those costs is crucial to the future of human existence on this planet.

9. Information Technology and the U.S. Workforce: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here? A key demographic in any part of the world is the set of livelihoods of the population. The Industrial Revolution created a whole new set of jobs in the world and the Information Technology Revolution is doing the same.

10. Review of the Draft Climate Science Special Report The Trump administration may not be interested in climate change, but American scientists continue to monitor the damage that we humans are doing to the planet--and more specifically our own country--as we grow in numbers.

Of course, I have to admit that my obviously selfish all time favorite read from the National Academies Press is this one:  Tools and Methods for Estimating Populations at Risk from Natural Disasters and Complex Humanitarian Crises (2007).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Is There a Mormon Influence on State Growth Rates in the US? UPDATED

Just before Christmas the U.S. Census Bureau put out its latest estimates of population growth by state in this country. It was a big enough deal that the day of the release actually showed up on the weekly calendar that the CBS Sunday Morning program always posts right at the end of its program. You may already have seen in various media that Idaho got the prize for growing at the fastest rate of any state between 201 and 2017.
“Domestic migration drove change in the two fastest-growing states, Idaho and Nevada, while an excess of births over deaths played a major part in the growth of the third fastest-growing state, Utah,” said Luke Rogers, Chief of the Population Estimates Branch.
Idaho and Nevada are, of course, contiguous to Utah--the home base of the nation's Mormon population--so it may be that internal migration into those states is influenced also by the growth of the Mormon population as it spreads out from its base. A Wikipedia page with data purported to be official membership data of the Church of Latter Day Saints shows that 68% of Utah's population is Mormon, and the next highest percentages are all in the states neighboring Utah--Idaho (26%), Wyoming (12%), Nevada (6%) and Arizona (6%). [See map below.]  Of some interest, though, is the fact that Wyoming actually had the highest percentage drop in population between 2016 and 2017. Maybe they went to Idaho and Nevada? This is hard to know, of course, since the U.S. government does not track religion as one of the demographic variables collected in the census or surveys.



If we look at the absolute change in population by state, the picture is quite different. Texas added more people than any other state, followed closely by Florida, and then California (which houses more Mormons in absolute terms than any other state outside of Utah). Keep in mind that these estimates are from mid-year 2016 to mid-year 2017, so they don't take this Fall's hurricanes into account. We'll have to wait another year for that news from the Census Bureau.

UPDATE: Today's Washington Post carries a story comparing the population growth rates in Idaho (nation's highest as noted above) with its next-door neighbor Wyoming (nation's lowest--indeed it is negative as noted above). Andrew Van Dam has crunched some numbers and concludes that Wyoming is suffering from a declining demand for and price in coal, which is the state's main economic engine. On the other hand, Idaho has shifted over the years from mining to agriculture to manufacturing, technology, and services. He does not, however, mention Mormons in his story...

Friday, December 22, 2017

Undocumented Migration into the US is NOT Going Up

You will recall that two of the top ten migration stories of 2017 as put together by the Migration Policy Institute related to the Trump administration's attempts to limit immigration (both legal--story #1; and undocumented--story #4). The latest attempt to scare people from trying to come to the U.S. is reported by the NYTimes and outlines a new policy being considered by the Trump administration to separate family members when they are arrested upon arrival. 
Under current policy, families are kept intact while awaiting a decision on whether they will be deported; they are either held in special family detention centers or released with a court date. The policy under discussion would send parents to adult detention facilities, while their children would be placed in shelters designed for juveniles or with a “sponsor,” who could be a relative in the United States, though the administration may also tighten rules on sponsors.
It seems that the motivation for doing this is the idea that, as the NYTimes says, "The debate comes as the administration faces an influx of people crossing the southern United States border illegally." Really? Well, that is what a recent report posted on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website says:
CBP has seen an uptick in individuals month-to-month apprehended while trying to enter the country illegally in between the established ports of entry, and an increase in those presenting themselves for entry, without proper documentation, along our Southwest border. The majority of these individuals are single adults, while the largest percentage increases come from family units and unaccompanied children who increased 45 percent and 26 percent respectively compared with the previous month.
But if you look at the graph on that page (see below) you come away with a very different impression. What you actually see is that October and November of this year had fewer arrests than either of the previous two years. Furthermore, the past several years have seen consistently fewer than half a million border apprehensions compared to 1.6 million in 2000, and 1.2 million in 2005. Indeed, 2009 was the most recent year in which there were as many as 500,000 apprehensions of undocumented immigrants. 



So, the story is really not that we are facing some new "influx" of immigrants. That is just an excuse for them to do what they want to do. Sad!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

U.S. Life Expectancy Drops Yet Again

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (part of CDC) has just released a report showing that for the second year in a row the life expectancy at birth has gone down in this country. Wrong direction! The likely culprit is the opioid epidemic, which also took the blame last year when the mortality statistics took a turn for the worse, as I noted a year ago. CNN took a close look at the numbers.
Life expectancy in the United States has dropped again following last year's decline, which marked the first downturn in more than two decades.
On average, Americans can now expect to live 78.6 years, a statistically significant drop of 0.1 year, according to a report on 2016 data published Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. Women can now expect to live a full five years longer than men: 81.1 years vs. 76.1 years.
The last time the agency recorded a multiyear drop was in 1962 and 1963.
The graph below illustrates the changes, which are small but important. Keep in mind for comparative purposes that the PRB's World Population Data Sheet shows that in Switzerland life expectancy at birth for women is 85 (4 years higher than the U.S.) and 81 for men (5 years higher than the U.S.), whereas in Mexico life expectancy for women is 79 (only two years lower than in the U.S.) and for men it is 75 (only a year less than in the U.S.). In other words, life expectancy in the U.S. is closer to Mexico than it is to Switzerland. I'm guessing that geography is not the explanation...


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Trump Effort to Limit Immigration to U.S. is Top Migration Story of 2017

The Migration Information Source of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, DC is indeed the migration information source. It has become over the years the go-to place for global migration issues. Today they came out with their Top Ten list of migration stories for this past year. If you click on each separate link you will find the details:
  1. Under Trump Administration, United States Takes Steps to Narrow Legal Immigration
  2. Surge in Violence Against Myanmar's Rohingya Spurs World's Fastest-Growing Refugee Crisis
  3. European Leaders Pursue Migration Deals with North African Countries, Sparking Concerns about Human Costs
  4. Trump Administration Makes Down Payment on Campaign Pledges to Address Illegal Immigration
  5. As Displacement Becomes Long-Term, Refugee Hosts Grapple with New Normal
  6. In Wake of Cuts to U.S. Refugee Program, Global Resettlement Falls Short
  7. Increased Focus on Forced Return of Migrants and Asylum Seekers Puts Many in Peril
  8. Despite Progress on Brexit Negotiations, Fate of Millions of EU and UK Nationals Still Hangs in the Balance
  9. Nativism Goes Mainstream, Moving the Needle on Migration Policy
  10. In Latin America, Spike in Migrant Arrivals Prompts Flurry of Responses
I have blogged about the top three on the list, but not so much on the other seven. Time to get caught up!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

More Troubling Signs for Census 2020

The 2020 Census in the U.S. is in dire straits, as I've noted many times over the past couple of years, including the recent comment about the impending use of the internet as a platform for responding to the census. Other countries do this, and it may well help with the response rate, but of course only among those with internet access. 

A blog post today from the Census Project points out that rural counties, in particular, are prevalent among the hard to count (HTC) places in the country. The source of their information is a report from William O'Hare, who is one of the world's foremost applied demographers.
In a new report issued this week, demographer Bill O’Hare says “little has been written about the special challenges that will make some rural areas and populations difficult to enumerate accurately.” 
Dr. O’Hare’s report notes five particular regions or populations in rural America that will be particularly hard to count in the 2020 Census: 
Blacks in the South
Hispanics in the rural Southwest
American Indians living on reservations and Alaska Natives
Residents of deep Appalachia
Migrant and seasonal farmworkers 
O’Hare’s report says a majority of Hard-To-Count (HTC) counties (79 percent) in the U.S. are rural areas. Overall, 16 percent of all the most rural counties fall into the HTC category.
Unfortunately, there is nothing going on in Congress at the moment that can offer any hope that these problems will be worked out in time to provide us with a good census count scarcely two years from now.

Monday, December 18, 2017

What Lies Ahead Demographically?

The end of one year and the start of the next are traditional times for taking stock of where we are where we're headed. Joseph Chamie, former director of the UN's Population Division, has done a nice job of setting the table for us demographically--not just for the coming year, but for the next several decades. Here is his top ten list:

1. Larger world population
2. Population growth concentrated in developing regions
3. Population decline in many countries
4. More urbanization and larger cities
5. Lower mortality and higher life expectancies
6. Lower fertility and more countries below replacement
7. Population aging and increased longevity
8. Progress in women's equality
9. Changing family composition and household structure
10. Increased international migration

He provides numbers and other facts about these trends in his article, and I encourage you to read these details. Of course, you could write a whole book about these. Oh, wait a minute--I already did that!!

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Rich Keep Getting Richer

The latest version of the World Inequality Report shows the unmistakable fact that the rich just keep getting richer. This is true not just in the U.S., but in most of the world. The Guardian has a summary of findings.
The richest 0.1% of the world’s population have increased their combined wealth by as much as the poorest 50% – or 3.8 billion people – since 1980, according to a report detailing the widening gap between the very rich and poor.
The World Inequality Report, published on Thursday by French economist Thomas Piketty, warned that inequality had ballooned to “extreme levels” in some countries and said the problem would only get worse unless governments took coordinated action to increase taxes and prevent tax avoidance.
As I noted yesterday, the general consensus is that the tax bill that Congress is now considering will contribute to ever more inequality in the U.S., pushing the global trend in income and wealth inequality, as the graph below illustrates.


The economists said wealth inequality had become “extreme” in Russia and the US. The US’s richest 1% accounted for 39% of the nation’s wealth in 2014 [the latest year available], up from 22% in 1980. The researchers noted that “most of that increase in inequality was due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth owners”.
While inequality was high in north America and Europe, the researchers warned that the problem was even more acute in Africa, Brazil and the Middle East, where they said “inequality has remained relatively stable at extremely high levels in recent decades”.
“The top 10% receives about 55% of total income in Brazil and sub-Saharan Africa, and in the Middle East, the top 10% income share is typically over 60%,” the report said. “These three regions never went through the postwar egalitarian regime and have always been at the world’s high-inequality frontier.”
The current tax bill shows us that there is not yet a movement afoot to worry about much of anybody except the very wealthy. This is not a good thing.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Paul Ryan Thinks That Raising the Birthrate is What the US Economy Needs

It is no secret that the tax plan about to be voted on by Congress will massively increase the federal debt, despite the Republican Party's historical aversion to higher national debt. It also seems well established that in a few years Congress will push to lower the debt by slashing government benefits such as Medicare and Social Security. If we are to listen to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, this could be avoided if only Americans had more babies. Here is the report of his press conference today, courtesy of TheHill:
“This is going to be the new economic challenge for America: people. Baby boomers are retiring — I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country,” Ryan, a father of three, told reporters as he riffed on how Republicans will tackle entitlement and welfare reform in 2018. “Baby boomers are retiring and we have fewer people following them in the workforce.
The comment came at least partly in response to the news last summer that the birth rate had dropped a bit in the U.S., as I noted at the time. Of course, a big problem with the idea that babies will bail out the tax reform is that the tax plan will in fact make it harder to have kids, as elitedaily.com reported today:
As having and raising children becomes increasingly more expensive in the United States, year over year, many of Ryan's legislative proposals would compound that difficulty by slashing social programs and raising taxes on average Americans. So, even aside from the fact that women's bodies are not factories to be used to pump out productive workers and taxpayers, Ryan is actually de-incentivizing what he says is one of the key factors to keeping the American economy afloat. 
During his Dec. 14 press conference, Ryan was discussing entitlement programs like Social Security when he told reporters that the American economy will only function properly if the nation's birth rate increases.
The reality is that if Congress passes the current tax reform bill that is being considered, the economy is very unlikely to get better. The rich will get richer, but the economy will not get better. That scenario is not going to be affected by the birth rate. On the other hand, passage of the bill may push the birth rate even lower.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

India Says No to Condoms and Yes to Abortion

The New York Times reports today that India has banned condom ads from prime-time TV, saying that they are not appropriate for children.
Conservative groups were outraged by recent ads, including one that featured a former porn star undressing piece by piece, and they pressured the government to step in.
But progressive social groups said it was a bad move. India, they argue, desperately needs more condom use, not less. “We need to reach out to more people with more and more advertising, not less,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India, a private organization. ‘‘Condoms are one of the few methods of birth control which prevent H.I.V. and unwanted pregnancies. And they have no side effects.”
The NYTimes piece refers to a recent Deutsche Welle article about the unpopularity of condoms in India.  
While European countries have an overall 30 percent condom usage, India has less than six percent, even when it ranks third in the number of HIV cases worldwide.
Abortion, on the other hand, is very widely used in India as a means of fertility limitation, according to a paper just published in Lancet Global Health. 
We estimate that 15·6 million abortions (14·1 million–17·3 million) occurred in India in 2015. The abortion rate was 47·0 abortions (42·2–52·1) per 1000 women aged 15–49 years. 3·4 million abortions (22%) were obtained in health facilities, 11·5 million (73%) abortions were medication abortions done outside of health facilities, and 0·8 million (5%) abortions were done outside of health facilities using methods other than medication abortion. Overall, 12·7 million (81%) abortions were medication abortions, 2·2 million (14%) abortions were surgical, and 0·8 million (5%) abortions were done through other methods that were probably unsafe. We estimated 48·1 million pregnancies, a rate of 144·7 pregnancies per 1000 women aged 15–49 years, and a rate of 70·1 unintended pregnancies per 1000 women aged 15–49 years. Abortions accounted for one third of all pregnancies, and nearly half of pregnancies were unintended.
The authors conclude that the demand for abortion currently exceeds the capacity of the health system to provide safe abortion services. Of course, if more people used condoms, this problem would be lessened.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Can We Save the Census? Part Two

The problems surrounding the upcoming 2020 census came under additional scrutiny in today's NYTimes. Michael Wines has a lengthy piece covering the issues I mentioned a couple of days ago, but going into even greater depth than had the previous articles. In particular, he discusses some of the planned changes to the administration of the census that could be problematic if there is too little money to go around, especially if that were to be coupled with an inexperienced person at the helm.
The bureau has been working on the 2020 count since the 2010 census was completed. The complete overhaul now underway seeks to shrink the count’s costliest and toughest task: sending hundreds of thousands of enumerators to find and interview the millions of people who fail to fill out their census forms.
An online head count, the reasoning goes, should reach more households more efficiently than mailed forms. The enumerators who track down those who do not respond (in 2010, almost 3 in 10 households) will use smartphone apps that instantly send data to the bureau’s computers and track the canvassers’ progress.
The bureau also hopes to mine federal databases and even satellite images for information that could reduce wasted trips by enumerators — to vacant buildings, for example — and automatically fill in personal data like addresses and ages.
The consequences of a flawed census are, of course, enormous and the Times article points out a scary political scenario:
A marked undercount, especially one that appeared driven by partisanship, could spark an unsettling battle between the census’s political winners and losers. There is precedent: Article 1 of the Constitution requires a decennial census for reapportionment purposes. But after Republicans took control of Congress and the White House in 1920, the House of Representatives refused to allow reapportionment of House seats, fearing that the rapid urbanization the census had documented would shift political power from rural areas to cities.
The last word in the article goes to one of the very best directors that the Census Bureau has ever had:
“The record of the census in counting people from all income groups, all racial and ethnic groups, is really extraordinary,” said Steve H. Murdock, a Rice University sociologist who led the Census Bureau under President George W. Bush. “Once you break that belief in the activity, it’s hard to replace.”

Saturday, December 9, 2017

More Evidence That Contraception is a Good Thing

With reproductive rights generally under assault by the Trump administration, it is helpful that a new study just came out highlighting the importance of having contraception available to young women. This week's Economist reports on a working paper (presumably about to be published) by researchers at Stanford University.
Few tasks in developing countries are as tricky—or as important—as convincing parents to keep their daughters in school longer. One way of doing so is to make contraceptives available, concludes a new working paper by Kimberly Singer Babiarz at Stanford University and four other researchers.
Conducted in Malaysia, the study used a happy coincidence of surveys going back decades and family-planning programmes rolled out in a way that made it possible to measure their effect. Starting in the 1960s, these programmes were introduced in some areas a few years earlier than in others. So researchers could compare what happened to girls in areas where contraceptives became available when they were very young with girls from the same cohorts in areas with no contraceptives.
It turns out that girls in the areas with higher contraceptive availability stayed in school longer, had better jobs when they left school and were more likely to invite their parents rather than the in-laws to live with them. Of course, you could argue that correlation is not necessarily causation, but the impact of family planning programs is something that this group of researchers has been working. Check out the article published last year in Population and Development Review. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Can We Save the 2020 Census in the U.S.?

Ever since the Republicans took control of both houses of Congress there have been concerns about funding for the 2020 census in this country. A poorly funded census will be a lower quality census which will be troublesome for research of all kinds, including for businesses who rely heavily on that information. Remember, though, that the Constitutional mandate for a census is that those data are the basis for forming Congressional Districts. Thus, the census is inherently political, even as we demographers view it as a key source of data about the country. The Census Bureau has been without a director for several months now, following the resignation of John Thompson. The Director and Deputy Director positions have gone unfilled in the meantime, but there is growing concern that the Trump administration is going to put a possibly biased and almost certainly unqualified person in charge of census operations. 

Today's Washington Post has a detailed story about this:
This week the Population Association of America and the Association of Population Research Centers, whose members include over 3,000 scientists and over 40 federally-funded organizations, sounded an alarm bell about one of their most sacred cows: the United States Census Bureau.
Reports had surfaced saying the White House planned to install as the bureau’s deputy director Thomas Brunell, a political science professor with scant managerial experience who is best known for his testimony as an expert witness on behalf of Republican redistricting plans and a book that argues against competitive electoral districts.
News of the appointment, which sources close to the bureau say is imminent, sparked handwringing among statisticians, former bureau directors, and civil rights leaders.
The appointment would “undermine the credibility” of the traditionally nonpartisan bureau, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement. Brunell “appears to lack the necessary management and statistical agency experience, and may be viewed by many to have a very political perspective,” the president of the American Statistical Association wrote.
In a recent letter to Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce (which houses the Census Bureau), the Population Association of America urged him "to promptly submit to the United States Senate a qualified nominee to serve as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau and to reserve the agency’s Deputy Director position for a qualified candidate who can help lead the agency during these critical years leading up to the 2020 Census." We should all be writing a similar letter.



Monday, December 4, 2017

Europe and Africa Struggling With Migrant Issues

I recently blogged about the horrific situation in which African migrants trying to reach Europe wound up in slave markets in Libya. A video of a slave market was shown on CNN and that helped to galvanize the world's attention. In particular it was a top item on the agenda of last week's meeting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, between the European Union and the African Union. But, as Abu Daoud pointed out to me a couple of days ago, the result was disappointing. CNBCAfrica had a very mundane view of the proceedings:
Most of the discussion at the summit was about migration, with a horrific recent video of a slave auction in Libya at the forefront of delegates’ minds. The summit agreed on the formation of a special task force to protect migrants’ and refugees’ lives, including in Libya.
There was also much talk of how Europe might help African countries to build their economies in such a way that fewer Africans seek to migrate. The speeches on the subject were generic and general, but did show, we think, a widely shared will to do something to address the iniquities and deterioration in living conditions that make people flee their homes.
On the other hand, Deutsche Welle reports that while the UNHCR was very enthusiastic about the discussion, the German chapter of Amnesty International was, shall we say, less than enthusiastic:
The plan to evacuate refugees stuck in Libya's camps will not work in practice, says Franziska Vilmar of the German branch of Amnesty International. It has only been designed to help the EU shirk its responsibilities.
An even more dire view of the meeting was reported by the right-leaning gatestoneinstitute, which has a rather dire view of the proceedings:
The African Union-European Union (AU-EU) summit, held in in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, on November 29-30, 2017, has ended in abject failure after the 55 African and 28 European leaders attending the event were unable to agree on even basic measures to prevent potentially tens of millions of African migrants from flooding Europe.
Despite high expectations and grand statements, the only concrete decision to come out of Abidjan was the promise to evacuate 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya.
The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said that Europe is "underestimating" the scale and severity of the migration crisis and that "millions of Africans" will flood the continent in the next few years unless urgent action is taken.
The bottom line here is that population growth in Africa is higher than local economies can absorb, and so people are looking around to see what the other options might be. Given the low birth rate in Europe, it seems as though the European economies beckon. At the moment, however, the European people are doing less beckoning at the same time that they are not willing to invest in African economies (which would indirectly encourage a lower birth rate), and so the problem is compounding. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

U.S. Pulls Out of Global Compact on Migration

Thanks to Rubèn Rumbaut for pointing me to the sad story that the United States has pulled out of the United Nations Global Compact on Migration. This was a non-binding political declaration agreed to a little more than a year ago by all 193 member states of the United Nations. The Telegraph in the U.K. notes that the motivation behind the agreement was that migration (especially forced migration) is a growing global issue and success in dealing with this is probably greater if all nations can help "to to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education and
jobs."

The withdrawal by the U.S. comes the day before the start of a UN-sponsored meeting on global migration to be held this week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Although the Compact on Migration is voluntary, CNN notes that a statement from the U.S. State Department indicates that it "undermines the nation's sovereignty."

"While we will continue to engage on a number of fronts at the United Nations," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement Sunday, "in this case, we simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders." 
The US supports "international cooperation on migration issues," the statement added, "but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal."
Of some interest is a report by Foreign Policy magazine that U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was opposed to pulling out:
White House chief of staff John Kelly, who previously led the Department of Homeland Security’s crackdown on illegal immigrants, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions strongly backed a pullout, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the deliberations. The State Department initially opposed the withdrawal, but its policy planning chief, Brian Hook, who represented Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the principals’ meeting, reversed course and recommended ditching the negotiations.
The meeting ended in deadlock, with Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, expressing the lone dissent. Haley had argued that the United States would have a better shot at influencing the outcome of the negotiations if it participated in the process.
She was ultimately overruled by the president, according to diplomatic sources.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

It Isn't Easy Being an "Undocumented Immigrant" in Beijing

Yesterday's NYTimes had a lengthy story about neighborhoods of migrant workers in Beijing being destroyed by the government [see the photo below]. You may recall that China has a household registration system that is designed especially to keep rural villagers in their rural villages, rather than respond to the demand for workers in the city. But, of course, people do move to the cities where the jobs are and they become illegal migrants in the process. 

The city government says they are being pushed out for their own safety, after a recent deadly fire in a migrant settlement. But many migrants say the government is using the fire as an excuse to ramp up efforts to drive them out and ease pressures in a city whose population has already soared beyond 20 million people.
Beijing has set a goal of limiting its population to 23 million residents by 2020, while also making room to attract more higher-paid, university-educated professionals. 
Despite such efforts, officials have so far failed to deter migrants from settling in the city, largely because Beijing still relies on them to be its cooks, couriers and cleaners.
This is exactly the situation that the U.S. faces with undocumented immigrants. The economy is very reliant on them, and an increase in deportations would have very negative effects not just on the migrants themselves, but on local communities whose businesses would be suddenly shorn of needed workers. China, like the U.S., has to come to grips with the idea that you can't need undocumented immigrants and want to destroy their lives at the same time.