Law requiring work permits to be spent in better-paying jobs may help immigrants avoid living in poverty

The working-class living conditions of tens of thousands of immigrants could be better thanks to laws that required governments to provide more housing to those with only temporary visas in order to prevent homelessness….

Law requiring work permits to be spent in better-paying jobs may help immigrants avoid living in poverty

The working-class living conditions of tens of thousands of immigrants could be better thanks to laws that required governments to provide more housing to those with only temporary visas in order to prevent homelessness. According to researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, many immigration laws stem from a lack of work visas that fail to exempt immigrants from providing decent living conditions in order to remain employed.

Most countries are required to provide at least two years of stable employment for residents to receive immigrant status. But researchers discovered that only 42 of the 137 countries that require six months of continuous employment to remain legally in the country actually require two years, leaving about 60 countries with no laws to enforce a minimum employment requirement.

“We found that countries that did not have two-year minimum-employer-compensation requirements had substantially fewer immigrants on public assistance,” said Susan Silver, one of the authors of the study. “The low minimum-employer-compensation regulations implied that countries with six-month requirements were making it as difficult as possible for immigrants to work in unskilled industries, thus reducing public assistance.”

Those countries that had laws imposing minimum wages on immigrant workers have far fewer undocumented immigrants than those that only had provisions for two years. In the United States, undocumented immigrants account for less than 1 percent of working-age adults. In Australia, more than 60 percent of households without a minimum wage are headed by immigrants.

“As long as countries don’t have two-year minimum employment requirements, it’s not possible to impose policies in the U.S. and other nations that penalize immigrants,” said Silver. “Many laws that target immigrants are based on misconceptions that they are taking advantage of taxpayers or contributing to a booming economy. Most immigrants work in unskilled industries and by themselves support themselves and their families.”

Read the full story at New York Times.

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