Ohio Lags in Number of Immigrant Workers, While the State's Public Opinion May Oppose New Immigration Policies

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Immigrants and advocates for immigrants’ employment rights have had several victories in recent weeks, with many challenges remaining. First, the Obama administration announced a policy of “deferred action” for young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and meet certain criteria for education or military service. Qualifying immigrants may obtain work authorization if the government approves an application for deferred action. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Arizona v. United States last week overturning several employment provisions in Arizona’s immigration law. One provision struck down by the court would have made it a state crime for an immigrant to work without authorization. The court held that this infringed on the federal government’s authority to regulate immigration. Now, a recent study suggests that the state of Ohio lags behind the rest of the country in its immigrant workforce, but that the state could benefit from more immigration. At the same time, some surveys suggest that public opinion is turning against further immigration.

A recent survey of immigration and employment statistics by the Dayton Daily News reportedly found that the rate of growth of immigrant groups in Ohio is slower than in other states. The rate of growth appears explosive over the past twenty years, with the total number of immigrant workers in the state doubling and an increase of over sixty percent in the number of immigrants owning small businesses. The rate of growth of the immigrant worker population, however, places Ohio in forty-second place nationally. Between 1990 and 2010, immigrant workers went from 2.5 percent of Ohio’s workforce to 4.7 percent, but the national average is sixteen percent. In terms of immigrant small business owners, Ohio’s growth rate puts it in thirty-seventh place among the thirty-nine states with available data.

Slow-to-stagnant economic growth in Ohio probably accounts for much of the slow growth in immigrant populations. Geography plays an obvious role, since Ohio is not located on either border. Still, Ohio’s two biggest immigrant populations reportedly come from Mexico and India. In many communities around the country, the diversity brought by immigration can improve local economies by bringing in different types of businesses, jobs, and opportunities. The city of Dayton decided last year to promote this sort of diversity by declaring itself an “immigrant-friendly” city.

At the same time, at least one public opinion poll from Quinnipiac University suggests that recent immigration reforms, specifically the Obama administration’s deferred action policy, has made people in Ohio less likely to support the president. When asked about the new policy, twenty-seven percent of Ohio respondents said it made them less likely to support Obama, while only eleven percent said it made them more likely to support him. This is not the same as saying that the respondents oppose immigration reform. At most, it shows that public opinion is very divided on immigration. It is not clear how much of this is opposition to the specific policy, how much is opposition to looser immigration regulations, or how much is opposition to the president himself.

The United States immigration system is often complicated and confusing. For a confidential consultation with a skilled and experienced Ohio immigration visa lawyer, contact Gus Shihab online or at (800) 625-3404 today.

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Arizona SB1070 Immigration Law: News Media Incorrectly Reports Supreme Court Decision, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, June 29, 2012
Immigrant Small Business Owners Contributing More to U.S. Economy, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, June 18, 2012
Tech Companies Promote Immigration Reform in Meetings with Congress, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, April 24, 2012
Photo credit: ‘Curly3’ by Jdorwin at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.