May 6, 2019

Weekly Brief: Three Migration Takeaways



#1: Last week, I published a new Niskanen Policy Brief exploring the challenges and opportunities of refugee resettlement in the Trump era. Despite new evidence that refugees assimilate and integrate into American society and a clear case in favor of resettlement in the national interest, the Trump administration has undermined the refugee program at every turn since its first week in office.

Congress has limited authority over refugee admissions, but it does possess an important oversight function that leaders from both parties should wield more forcefully. Check out the brief here for more on resettlement trends, an overview of the vetting process, and a few policy recommendations for program improvement moving forward.

Takeaway: A new animating vision for U.S. refugee protection is needed to sustain a resettlement apparatus that is crumbling both at home and abroad.

#2: A new report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects that America’s physician shortage could reach between 46,900-121,900 physicians by 2032. A primary driver behind the doctor shortfall is America’s aging baby boomer population. The report stresses the need for immediate action as it can take up to 10 years to train new doctors.

A separate AAMC report finds that international medical graduates have been a key part of alleviating the nation’s doctor shortages. According to data from 2017, internationally trained physicians comprise about one-fourth of the U.S. physician workforce and over half of the country’s geriatricians.

One solution that AAMC recommends to alleviate the physician shortfall is to strengthen the Conrad 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program. The program allows states to recruit a maximum of 30 foreign doctors that completed their medical residency in the United States through the J-1 visa to practice in an underserved area for at least three years. Physicians who complete the program are waived of the J-1 visa requirement to return to their home country for at least two years before they can adjust their visa status.

Takeaway: The U.S. faces serious healthcare worker shortages that will only worsen as the nation’s boomers get older. We should use immigration policy to recruit, retain, and capitalize on foreign medical professionals who can mitigate these shortages.

#3: Richard Lugar, former U.S. Senator from Indiana that served from 1977 to 2013, passed away last weekend at the age of 87. In an era of extreme political polarization, the news of Mr. Lugar’s passing was met with a bipartisan chorus of statements from former Senate colleagues and lawmakers applauding his pragmatism, leadership, and political courage.

In 2015, the Lugar Center in conjunction with Georgetown University launched the Bipartisan Index which ranked all members of Congress based on bipartisanship. The Index serves as an important measure of the type of cooperation needed to find compromise, pass legislation, and ultimately govern effectively. On the website, Lugar penned an introduction to the index writing:

“What we are measuring in this Index is not so much the quality of legislation but rather the efforts of legislators to broaden the appeal of their sponsored legislation, to entertain a wider range of ideas, and to prioritize governance over posturing…What this means is that at the beginning of the legislative process, when effective governance would argue for broadening a new bill’s appeal, too often the opposite is happening. Bills are being written not to maximize their chances of passage, but to serve as legislative talking points. Taking a position is not the same thing as governing.”

Takeaway: The U.S. Congress has failed to pass legislation reforming the U.S. immigration system for decades. Too often the opportunity to score political points has outweighed the desire to pass legislation. Mr. Lugar’s pragmatic and bipartisan legacy—and the scoring of the Bipartisan Index crafted by the Lugar Center—should remind lawmakers their primary task is, in the words of Richard Lugar, “prioritize governance over posturing.”

Recommended Weekend Reading:

Dana Leigh Marks: I’m an Immigration Judge. Here’s How We Can Fix Our Courts.

Jonathan Haggerty & Arthur Rizer: One Year Later, Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Border Policy is Threatening Public Safety

Jeremy L. Neufeld: When Foreign Graduates of U.S. Schools Stay in the Country, We All Benefit

Jonathan Blitzer: The Unlawful Ambitions of Donald Trump’s Immigration Policy

Nick Miroff & Tim Meko: A Snapshot of Where Migrants Go After Release into the U.S.