Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Business

PolitiFact: Employment-based green card claim mostly true, but needs more data

The statement

Of 1 million green cards issued a year, "almost none of those green cards are based on job skills or demonstrated economic needs."

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Feb. 7 in a Fox News interview

The ruling

As Cotton said, the United States issues about 1 million green cards a year, allowing recipients to permanently live and work in the country. The majority of people who become legal permanent residents annually already live in the country and receive their green card as a result of an adjustment of status. The rest are new arrivals.

The majority of green cards, about two-thirds, are given to individuals who have a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, in a 2013 post said the employment rate for family-based immigrants is 54 percent, excluding parents and minor children of U.S. citizens who are less likely to be of working age.

Caroline Rabbitt, Cotton's communications director, told us that when speaking about legal immigration reform, Cotton typically says only 1 out of every 15 immigrants come to the United States on a skills or employment-based visa and that his statement of "almost none" on Fox News was a modified turn of phrase.

"Only 1 out of every 15 immigrant is coming here for employment reasons. If we really needed all of these people because of their skills, because they help the economy grow, they'd be coming here on say an EB1 or EB2 visa, but they are not," Cotton said in a news conference Feb. 7, the same day of his Fox News interview.

Rabbitt presented us with a table noting the total number of green cards issued a year and the number and percentage of those that were skills-based (from 2001 to 2015). The calculations exclude green cards given to accompanying spouses and minor children.

Nowrasteh, from the Cato Institute, told us it's fair to exclude spouses and children in this tabulation, "after all, they aren't the ones who are supposed to work and they could have any level of skill, although the spouses are usually highly skilled."

On average, 6.73 percent of green cards issued went to someone who came to the United States because of their skills, based on Cotton's calculation using DHS data. That's on par with a similar 2013 claim from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who then said 6.5 percent of immigrants come here based on labor and skill. Rubio's statement was based on a 2011 policy brief from the Brookings Institution. The report was the best approximation of conflicting numbers, the brief's author, Darrell West, told us then.

West, who is vice president and director of Governance Studies and director of the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings Institution, told PolitiFact that individuals coming in through family connections also work, pay taxes and contribute to the overall economy.

"Focusing just on those who enter through employment-based preferences ignores the economic contributions of other visa categories," West said, adding that many immigrants work in areas where there are employee shortages.

Cotton's statement is accurate, but needs additional information. We rate it Mostly True.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

Comments
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severs contract with CareerSource Pinellas

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severs contract with CareerSource Pinellas

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severed his agency’s contract with CareerSource Pinellas on Monday after learning that the jobs center told the state it helped 624 sheriff’s employees get hired since 2014.The sheriff said he has no record of CareerSou...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Water Street Tampa sketches vision for Marriott Waterside (with video)

Water Street Tampa sketches vision for Marriott Waterside (with video)

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa developers outlined some broad goals for their planned $40 million renovation of the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina in a video posted to social media on Monday.In short, they want a hotel that feels inclusive, not ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Solar industry on edge as Trump weighs tariffs on panels

Solar industry on edge as Trump weighs tariffs on panels

Associated PressDALLAS — Some in the U.S. solar-power industry are hoping a decision this week by President Donald Trump doesn’t bring on an eclipse. Companies that install solar-power systems for homeowners and utilities are bracing for Trump’s call...
Published: 01/22/18
Tampa Bay ranks No. 5 for top moving destinations

Tampa Bay ranks No. 5 for top moving destinations

TAMPA — Tampa Bay was the No. 5 moving destination in 2017. Penske Truck Rental’s annual list ranks metro areas based on the number of one-way moving truck rentals to them.The Tampa Bay region, which includes Sarasota, held its position from 2016. It...
Published: 01/22/18
Free clinics respond as more people head to the ER with dental problems (w/video)

Free clinics respond as more people head to the ER with dental problems (w/video)

Charles Lee had been dealing with an excruciating toothache for days. The pain made it hard to eat or sleep or focus on work. But Lee, 54, didn’t have dental insurance. His job as a delivery truck driver offered only a supplemental policy that was to...
Published: 01/22/18
Fur and fury at 40,000 feet as more people bring animals on planes

Fur and fury at 40,000 feet as more people bring animals on planes

When Marlin Jackson arrived at his row on a Delta flight from Atlanta to San Diego in June, the middle seat was already occupied by a man with a sizable dog on his lap. Jackson squeezed by them to his window seat, and the Labrador mix lunged at his f...
Published: 01/22/18
Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier - up to a point, new research shows

Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier - up to a point, new research shows

In recent months, Silicon Valley executives have been speaking out about the purposely addictive designs of smartphones and social media, which make them hard to put down for anyone, but particularly teenagers. Now, a new report puts numbers to the w...
Published: 01/22/18
Sirata Beach Resort is getting a $15-million facelift

Sirata Beach Resort is getting a $15-million facelift

ST. PETE BEACH — A year ago, the longtime owners of the Sirata Beach Resort & Conference Center acknowledged they couldn’t afford the improvements it needed. They sold the 382-room hotel to a Texas company.Now the new owner has launched a $15 million...
Published: 01/22/18
This is how MoviePass hopes to make money off your low-cost subscription

This is how MoviePass hopes to make money off your low-cost subscription

MoviePass is a film nerd’s dream. The subscription service allows users to see one movie a day at a theater for a single monthly cost. The service isn’t new, but it’s become popular among a lot more than movie buffs in the past few months.During its ...
Published: 01/22/18
Florida pump prices jump 10 cents, highest in four years

Florida pump prices jump 10 cents, highest in four years

Gas is off to an expensive start this year — the most expensive start since 2014. Florida pump prices jumped 10 cents in the past week to hit $2.54 per gallon Monday, 18 cents more than last month, according to AAA The Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay gas ...
Published: 01/22/18