On January 14, 2017, immigrant groups across the US will protest potential policy changes under Donald Trump’s presidency during a “Day of Action” that will feature rallies and marches in 20 states including Illinois (Washington Post, January 5, 2017). These protests are meant to stop Trump from fulfilling campaign promises to pursue mass deportations and other initiatives.
Despite all the rancor and debate, many college-educated immigrants in the US are either stuck in low-skilled work or cannot find jobs. You’ve heard stories of Indian medical doctors driving taxi cabs or Filipina nurses working as caregivers earning minimum wage. They are true. These underutilized immigrant workers impose significant costs on immigrant families, government, and the broader U.S. economy. How much? Providing the first-ever estimates of this skill under-utilization, also known as brain waste, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) researchers find the tab runs to the billions of dollars in forgone earnings and resulting unrealized tax payments for federal, state, and local governments. Shedding light on these underutilized immigrant workers will hopefully also change the stereotype that immigrant workers are drug dealers, criminals and rapists (BBC News, August 2016).