丹佛邮报:移民對科羅拉多州和美國經濟都至關重要
2017-03-31 03:27:26
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移民對科羅拉多州和美國經濟都至關重要 (中英对照)

(来源:科州华报  中译审校 梁应权)

Luis Estrada是來自墨西哥的美國公民,最初他將特朗普總統對移民的態度看作只是一种政治姿態,是用來贏取更多支持者的拉票手段。

但是,當他的一個沒有合法身份的朋友最近來請求他擔任其小兒子的監護人,预防如果哪天这位朋友突然被遣送回墨西哥。這個時候他對特朗普的移民政策似乎表現出一種較為負面的態度。

Estrada 說:“沒有合法身份居住在美國的人,他們不知道接下來會發生什麼事情。”近期報道,在特朗普發出迅速驅逐非法移民出境指令後,移民局和海關對非法移民進行強制執法。在這些不確定因素的情況下,他們如何計畫在美國開展自己的事業以及为創建規劃做預算?

Estrada是一個經過培訓做事乾淨利索,說話得體的會計師,他在丹佛一家景觀美化公司,從一名普通員工做到公司主管。他說他現在已經不看電視新聞了,以避免聽到詆毀移民的言論,越來越多人添油加醋地談論移民和越來越多的人視移民為國家的不利因素。

根據Pew研究中心的資料顯示,政治話題主要集中于非法移民。非法移民主要來自墨西哥,於2007年達到頂峰。一些當地的移民擔心越來越多的美國人會帶著有色眼鏡看待所有非美國本土出生的人,而不管他們是否有合法身份。

移民為美國提供迫切急需的工人,因為美国嬰兒潮一代退出勞動力市場。許多移民工人從事著美國本土人不願意或不能填補的工作。移民和他們的孩子也是創新和創業的重要來源,也是全國幾個支柱公司的背後力量。

以下是對中國移民,Volcano 餐廳老總鄭傑的採訪。

“這個國家發展到今天這般盛況,成为世界领袖,移民和全球大融合功不可沒。”鄭傑說。鄭傑來自中國,已經在美國生活了25年。

鄭傑努力了三年才拿到學生簽證,得以前来美國留學。他原計劃是學成歸國的,但是正好趕上90年代初的彩色印刷革命,市場在化學人才方面需求量大。由於鄭傑在聚合物化學方面的出色表現,他得到了一份高薪職業,而且該企業幫助他申請了工作簽證,又幫他申請了綠卡。最後,他考取了美國公民。

他先後在 Xerox, StorageTech and Sun Microsystems工作後,逐漸意識到運用他的人際交往能力能使他獲得更大的滿足感。所以他開始從事輔導亚裔美國高管的工作,最終開了餐館,取名Volcano Asian Cuisine,促進中西文化交流。

鄭傑說,現在回過頭看,當時中國發展迅速,他的很多朋友留在中國發展也很好。如果认真考慮到更有發展空間的工作機會,他會選擇回中國。不過那时他工作的Xerox公司使他選擇紮根美國。

根據新美國經濟(由紐約市市長 Michael Bloomberg 創立的移民改革聯盟)最近的一份報告顯示,十分之一的科羅拉多州居民,或者說大約533,000的人口像鄭傑一样,出生在其他國家。

如此多的移民意味著他们消費額達到108億美元,繳稅金額達33億美元;在2015年,科羅拉多州移民拥有超過32,000家企業,雇員超過83,000人。

“由於他們的偉大貢獻,才使我們州繁榮昌盛。”科羅大多州財政研究所一位經濟政治分析師Thamanna Vasan說道。“很多人對移民在國家經濟發展中所扮演的角色的認知上存在誤解。”

新美國經濟是美國政治和商業領袖聯盟,該聯盟支持加強邊界安全和減少非法移民。目前,科羅拉多州總約有16.3萬非法移民。該聯盟還支持給遵守法律,積極納稅和學習英語的無證移民創造得到合法身份的途徑。

該聯盟支持改革,允許最優秀和最聰明的外國學生留下來。同時也宣導精簡簽證計畫,讓外籍人士能夠從事難以填補的工作。

Estrada 最初是持H-2B簽證來美國的,這類簽證計劃頗受季節性招人的雇主的喜愛,如滑雪勝地和景觀美化公司。允許來自全國各地的66,000多名工作人員在僱主顧不到當地員工的情況下來填補整個美國的工作空缺。

他目前的雇主CoCal Landsape有可能得不到該計畫的分配名額。 CoCal全年固定員工約127人,但需要額外僱用160人才能應付春季和夏季的工作激增。

該公司的創始人J. Chuey Medrano說,儘管在奧巴馬政府的推動下,此類臨时填補工作的工資已經從每小時少於11美元提升到接近每小時14美元,但是填補工作在當地依然很難招到員工。

“我們要與建築和石油行業競爭,他們付的薪水高很多”他說。 去年,由於工人短缺,公司的收入損失了100萬美元。

今年的情況看起來更加糟糕。去年底,The Adams County公司在第一輪申請中申請了33,000份簽證,但一個都沒有申請下來。該公司在1月份再次申請,但有可能只能申請到季節性工作的工人,其中有些人自2000年以來每年在科羅拉多州工作六個月。申請狀況看起來並不樂觀。

“這些工作人員對科羅拉多州各轄區來說至關重要,特別是在我們的旅遊和戶外休閒行業。 一個確實有效的方案來改善簽證計畫將有利於科羅拉多州的經濟發展”星期二,Sen. Michael Bennet寫信給國土安全局部長 John Kelly,信的內容是關於H-2B簽證上限問題。

一个問題是關於簽證的供不應求。由於簽證的稀缺使得一些公司提交申請的簽證比他們實際所需要的多很多,而重新分配未使用的簽證變得複雜。

Medrano 說:“工人繳納稅款,支付租金以及購買食物。 他們的工作很辛苦,本地工人甚至都不會申請這樣的工作。 當景觀美化季節高峰期結束後,他們不要求失業救濟金,而是回國。

在20世紀70年代初,Medrano未持簽證非法跨越加州邊界來到美國,那時候還沒有抓得那麼嚴,所以他入境並不是很困難。入境後,他申請合法居留身份,然後申請公民身份。他努力工作,成為了一名經理,並刻苦钻研如何管理運營一家成功的公司。

最後,他搬到了科羅拉多州,開了自己的美化公司。 作為業主,Medrano表示,特朗普總統的一些競選觀點,如降低稅收和減少監管,與他產生共鳴。

但是,談到移民問題,他认为,政府正在走錯路。

“每個人都從自己的立场看问题,但我們是勤勞的人,而且我們很多人都是企業家。”Medrano說。

許多移民,無論是合法的或者不合法的,從事著農業,建築業,製造業,專業服務業,接待和食品服務業。

根據新美國經濟,約有11%的外國移民在科羅拉多州是個體經營者。 科羅拉多州的移民公司已經占有17.2%的建設行業,10.1%的零售行業和10.5%的接待或餐飲服務行業。

約占移民創業公司五分之一的最大的行業是專業和商務服務 - 幫助其他企業經營的企業。

“人們對移民有誤解,他們認為移民都是低技能和低工資的工人。但是移民也有可能是專業人士。他們推進經濟持續發展。”財政研究所的Vasan說。

去年,特朗普總統最親密的顧問中的兩位,Steven Bannon 和 Stephen Miller表示擔憂,自1970年以來,美國的移民人口已翻了四番。在科羅拉多州,移民人口自2000年以來上升了45.1%。

反移民方認為,國家已經過了“开放”移民的階段,进入長期“关闭”移民階段,現在是“關閉”移民的時候了。

但是,怎麼說明“關閉”移民時期就能使經濟更快增長,達成新政府的目標?

按照目前的移民率, Pew 研究中心估計,在2015年,勞動適齡人口是1.73億,到2035年將上升到1.83億。但如果没有移民,劳动人口将下降到1.66億。

尽管譴責那些正在退休的嬰兒潮一代的人口大幅增長。 但沒有移民,國家將走下坡路,重蹈造成日本經濟停滯的人口老龄化的道路,那里,成年人的尿布卖得比嬰兒的尿布多。

科羅拉多州大約73.3%的移民年齡在25至64歲,占本地人口的52.1%。 移民占25歲以下人口的15.4%,65歲以上人口的11.4%。 包括移民子女在內的當地人占35歲以下的總人口的35%,和占65歲以上的人口有12.9%。

深入分析GDP增長的因素,發現勞動力的增加對提高GDP是至關重要的,但是隨著人口的停滯或下降,這並不容易實現。另一個驅動因素是提高生產力,或加強培訓和運用科技來提高人均產力。

說到科技方面,移民做了巨大的貢獻,開創了Google,eBay和 Tesla等突破性的公司。 “財富”500強中約有40%的公司是由移民或其子女創立的。

新美國經濟研究總監Angela Marek Zeitlin說,在科羅拉多州,移民開的公司包括CH2MHill,Ball Corp.和 Level 3 Communications。

鄭傑讚同那些认为非法移民問題有待解決觀點的人,但同時也擔心,在讨论中忽視了合法移民對整個國家的貢獻。現在是競爭全球化時代,而且不會改變。 他說:“美國需要融入这个世界,而不是脫離這個世界。”

“你需要移民給你帶來新的想法。”他說,“或者世界將會抛开你。”

鄭回憶說,他女兒在中學寫了一篇文章,提到了一面小旗,那是他從2008年的公民宣誓儀式中帶回來的,现在爛在了角落裏。

“這不完美, 美國並不完美。 但依舊是我的國家。”她寫道。


Denver Post Report

How immigrants are vital to the Colorado and U.S. economy

Chuy Medrano, owner of CoCal Landscaping, left, and account manager Luis Estrada, right, pose for a portrait at the company headquarters on March 1, 2017 in Denver.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post Chuy Medrano, owner of CoCal Landscaping, left, and account manager Luis Estrada, right, pose for a portrait at the company headquarters on March 1, 2017 in Denver.

By ALDO SVALDI | asvaldi@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

PUBLISHED: March 11, 2017 at 10:03 pm | UPDATED: March 13, 2017 at 1:20 pm

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As a Mexican native and U.S. citizen, Luis Estrada initially viewed President Trump’s stance on immigration as political posturing, an effort to score points with his base of supporters.

But he glimpsed a darker attitude toward immigrants when a friend without legal status asked him to serve as guardian of his young son if the time came he were suddenly deported to Mexico.

“They don’t know what is going to happen to them,” Estrada said of people living in the U.S. without proper documentation. Reports of recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids followed by quick deportations have left immigrants without legal status on edge. How do they plan to stock their businesses and create their budgets when living with such uncertainties?

Estrada, a clean-cut and soft-spoken accountant by training, worked his way up from a laborer to a supervisor at a Denver-area landscaping firm. He said he has stopped watching TV news to avoid getting even more discouraged about dialogue that increasingly paints immigrants and immigration as bad for the country.

The political discourse centers mostly on illegal immigration, primarily from Mexico, which peaked in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center. Some local immigrants worry an increasing number of Americans are turning a jaundiced eye on anyone who wasn’t born in the United States, regardless of their legal status to live in the country.

Nationally, immigrants provide workers the U.S. will desperately need as baby boomers retire from the workforce. Many immigrant workers take jobs that natives either don’t want or aren’t available to fill. Immigrants and their children also represent an important source of innovation and entrepreneurship, and are behind several of the country’s signature companies.

“This country evolved into the leader we are today because of immigration, because of the global melting pot,” said Jie Zheng, a native of China who has lived in the country for 25 years.

Zheng tried for three years to get a student visa so he could leave China to study in the U.S. He initially intended to return, but his advanced skills in polymer chemistry put him in high demand during the color printing revolution of the early 1990s.

Those skills made Zheng a high priority for a work visa and green card. Eventually, that led to U.S. citizenship.

After a career spent at Xerox, StorageTech and Sun Microsystems, Zheng realized using his people skills was more satisfying. He began mentoring Asian-American executives and eventually started his own restaurant, Volcano Asian Cuisine, where he could promote cross-cultural exchange.

Looking back, Zheng said many of his friends who stayed behind in China did very well, given the growth that country experienced. When the opportunity came up to pursue a more lucrative career path with Xerox that took him back to China, he chose to keep his feet firmly planted in this country.

Jie Zheng, owner of Volcano Asian ...Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostJie Zheng, owner of Volcano Asian Cuisine, is pictured inside his restaurant on March 2, 2017 in Centennial.

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One in 10 Colorado residents, or just under 533,000 people, were, like Zheng, born in another country, according to a recent report from the New American Economy, an immigrant reform coalition founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Those immigrants represented $10.8 billion in spending power, paid $3.3 billion in taxes, and own more than 32,000 businesses employing more than 83,000 people in Colorado in 2015.

“We have a thriving community and state because of their contributions,” said Thamanna Vasan, an economic policy analyst with the Colorado Fiscal Institute. “There is a lot of misconception about the role that immigrants play in our economy.”

The New American Economy, a coalition of political and business leaders from across the U.S., supports more secure borders and a reduction in illegal immigration, which totals about 163,000 people in Colorado. It also supports creating a path for undocumented immigrants who obey the law, pay taxes and learn English to achieve legal status.

The group supports reforms that allow the best and brightest foreign students to remain in the country, while also advocating for the streamlining of visa programs to allow foreign workers to take hard-to-fill jobs.

Estrada initially came to the U.S. under the H-2B visa program, which is popular with seasonal employers, like ski resorts and landscaping firms, and permits up to 66,000 workers from outside the country to fill jobs across the U.S. after local hiring efforts fail.

His current employer, CoCal Landsape, is at risk of not getting an allocation under the program. CoCal employs about 127 workers year-round, but needs another 160 to handle the surge in work that comes each spring and summer.

Despite creative recruiting efforts and a boost in hourly pay from less than $11 to nearly $14 an hour, something the Obama administration promoted, filling the jobs has been a tough sell locally, said J. Chuey Medrano, the company’s founder.

“We compete with construction and oil and they pay a whole lot more,” he said. Last year, the company lost $1 million in revenues due to worker shortages.

Things are looking more dire this year. The Adams County company applied late last year under the first round of 33,000 visas, but didn’t get any. The company applied again in January, but the chances it can bring back its seasonal workers, some of whom have worked six months a year in Colorado since 2000, don’t look promising.

“These workers are vital to communities across Colorado, especially in our tourism and outdoor recreation industries. Determining efficient ways to improve the visa program will benefit Colorado’s economy,” Sen. Michael Bennet wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Tuesday regarding the cap on H-2B visas.

Part of the problem is that there aren’t enough visas given the demand. That scarcity causes some companies to request more visas than they need, and re-allocating the unused visas can get complicated.

“The workers pay taxes, they pay rent, they buy food,” Medrano said. They take physically intense jobs that local workers won’t even apply for. And when the peak landscaping season ends, they don’t claim unemployment benefits, but return home.

Medrano came to the United States without a visa in the early 1970s, a time when crossing the California border didn’t involve as much effort or risk. He pursued legal status and then citizenship. He worked hard, became a manager and studied what it took to run a successful business.

Eventually, he moved to Colorado and started his own landscaping firm. As a business owner, Medrano said some of President Trump’s campaign points, such as lower taxes and less regulation, resonate with him.

But when it comes to immigration, the administration is going down the wrong path, he argues.

“Everybody sees it from their side of the table, but we are hard-working people, and a lot of us are entrepreneurs” Medrano said.

Many immigrants, legal or not, work in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, professional services, hospitality and food service.

About 11 percent of foreign-born immigrants in Colorado are self-employed, according to the New American Economy. Of the Colorado firms immigrants have started, 17.2 percent are in construction, 10.1 percent in retail, and 10.5 percent in hospitality or food service.

The biggest sector, accounting for about one out of five immigrant-founded firms, is professional and businesses services — businesses that help other businesses operate.

“The misconception is that immigrants are low-skilled and low-wage workers only. They are as likely to be professionals. They keep our economy going,” said the Fiscal Institute’s Vasan.

Last year, Steven Bannon and Stephen Miller, two of President Trump’s closest advisers, expressed concern the country’s immigrant population has quadrupled since 1970. In Colorado, the immigrant population has risen by 45.1 percent since 2000.

The anti-immigration camp argues that the country has gone through immigration “on” periods followed by long immigration “off” periods, and that the time has come to “turn off” immigration.

But what would an immigration off period mean for faster economic growth, a signature goal of the new administration?

At current rates of immigration, the Pew Research Center estimates the number of working-age adults, at 173 million in 2015, will rise to 183 million by 2035. But remove immigration, and the number of working-age adults drops to 166 million by 2035, Pew estimates.

Blame the big demographic bulge of baby boomers who are retiring in ever larger numbers. Without immigration, the country moves down the path of demographic stagnation that has plagued Japan’s economy, where adult diapers outsell baby diapers.

About 73.3 percent of Colorado’s foreign-born residents are age 25 to 64, versus 52.1 percent of the native-born population. Immigrants represent 15.4 percent of the population younger than 25 and 11.4 percent of the population age 65 plus. Natives, which include the children of immigrants, are 35 percent of the total residents younger than 25 and 12.9 percent of those older than 65.

When tearing apart the math that allows for GDP gains, a growing labor force is vital, and that doesn’t happen easily with a stagnant or declining population. Another driver is increasing productivity, or the use of training and technology to generate more output from each worker.

When it comes to technology, immigrants have made a huge contribution, launching Google, eBay and Tesla, among other groundbreaking firms. About 40 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 were founded by immigrants or their children.

In Colorado, that group includes CH2MHill, Ball Corp. and Level 3 Communications, said Angela Marek Zeitlin, research director with the New American Economy.

Zheng agrees with those who say that illegal immigration needs to be addressed, but worries that the contributions legal immigrants play is getting lost in the conversation. Competition is global now, and that isn’t going to change. The U.S. needs to engage the world, not pull away from it, he said.

“You need to have immigration to bring in fresh ideas,” he said. “Or the world is going to go around you.”

Zheng recalls an essay his daughter wrote in middle school in which she mentioned a small flag, damaged in the corner, that he had saved from his citizenship ceremony in 2008.

“It is not perfect. America is not perfect. It is still my country,” she wrote.

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