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Recommendations Without This chapter brings together the recommendations made by the panel throughout the report. They are organized here by the body or agency to which they are directed. The discussion of and justification for each recommendation is included in the chapter indicated in parentheses beside the recommendation. Most of our recommendations are general in nature, concerned with process rather than the particular, and intentionally so. It is the panel's belief, after extensive study of the present situation and how it has arisen, that superficial local patching will not solve the problem. __ major changes in direction from the top policy-making levels and focused interest within the key agencies, the immigration statistics system will never produce reliable, accurate, and timely statistics that permit rational decision making concerning immigration policy. Even the few specific recommendations made by the panel in order to fill particularly important gaps in the statistical picture require that they be implemented in a new context in order to be effective, one in which quality and timely statistics are seen as priority functions of agencies involved with aliens and foreign-born residents. Establishing this new context requires profound and basic changes of attitude in both the legislative and executive branches of government. The panel recommends that Congress: 0 Strongly affirm the importance of reliable, accurate, and timely statistical information on immigration to the needs of the Congress and direct the Attorney General to reexamine the organizational structure of the Immigration and Naturalization Service as it relates to statistics, with a view to placing greater priority on this important task; 0 Require that the Attorney General prepare and submit by June 30 each year an annual report to the President and the Congress, presenting data on aliens admitted or excluded, naturalizations, asylees, and refugees' describing their characteristics, and containing an analysis of significant developments during the preceding year in the field of immigration and emigration; and o Mandate that a study be initiated and conducted among new · e Immigrants over a 5-year period' in order to develop information for policy guidance on the adjustment experience of families and individuals 143 (4) (4)
144 to the labor market, use of educational and health facilities, reliance on social programs, mobility experience, and income history. (8) The panel recommends that the Attorney General: o Issue a strong policy directive asserting the importance of reliable, accurate, and timely statistical information on immigration to the mission of the INS and unequivocally committing the agency to improving its existing capabilities. The panel recommends that the commissioner of the INS: o Issue an explicit statement clearly setting forth that the collection, cumulation, and tabulation of reliable, accurate, and timely statistical information on immigration is a basic responsibility of and inherent in the mission of the agency; o Establish a Division of Immigration Statistics, reporting directly to an associate commissioner or an equivalent level, with overall responsibility: --for ensuring the use of appropriate statistical standards and procedures in the collection of data throughout the agency; --for ensuring the timely publication of a variety of statistical and analytic reports; --for providing statistical assistance to all parts of the Service to help in carrying out their mission; --for directing statistical activities throughout the agency; 0 Direct and implement the recruitment of a full complement of competent, trained professionals with statistical capabilities and subject-area expertise; o Initiate a review of all data-gathering activities to eliminate duplication, minimize burden and waste, review specific data item needs and uses, improve question wording and format design, standardize definitions and concepts, document methodologies, introduce statistical standards and procedures, and promote ef ficiencies in the use of staff and resources; o Establish an advisory committee composed of experts in the use and production of immigration-related data to advise the associate commissioner and the proposed Division of Immigration Statistics of needs for new or different types of data; to review existing data and data collection methodology; to advise on the statistical implications and potential of ADP plans; and to provide the agency with independent evaluation of its statistical products, plans, and performance; o Establish formal liaison with other federal and state agencies involved in the collection or analysis of immigration-related data; o Establish both a program to enhance and stimulate research into the various effects of immigration and a fellows program, which would bring to the agency for a period not to exceed 2 years outstanding scholars and experts to undertake original research using published or unpublished data from the INS or other sources; (4) (4) (4) (4) (4) (4) (4) (4)
145 o Authorize the proposed Division of Immigration Statistics to initiate a program of contract research. This research, which may be either extramural or intramural, should be focused on the evaluation of data production and data quality; 0 Strengthen the annual report, presenting data on immigrants, nonimmigrants, naturalizations, a~ylees, parolees, and refugees, describing their characteristics, and analyzing significant developments during the previous fiscal year. The report should be published annually by June 30; o Establish a process ensuring adequate discussion and consideration both within and outside the agency of changes in forms and data collection procedures; o Institute such other activities as are necessary and desirable to ensure: --understanding at all levels of the agency of the commissioner's commitment to high-guality, timely statistical data; --agreement with, and support for, the commissioner's policy directive; and o Initiate the planning for and establish a longitudinal study of aliens to be conducted for a minimum 5-year period, to guide and assist future amendment of legislation and for continuing administration of programs. Data would be collected from a sample of: --persons admitted legally under the regular immigrant preferences --persons granted entry visas as nonimmigrants --aliens given legal status under any amnesty program and would focus on: --the geographical dispersion and subsequent migration --income and labor market experience --program participation and service use. The panel recommends that the director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB): o Ensure that OMB exercise its responsibilities to monitor and review statistical activities and budgets concerning statistics on immigration and emigration, and particularly those of the INS, to minimize duplication and ensure that appropriate procedures are used, standards met, and priorities observed in the collection, production, and publication of such data; 0 Require and establish an interagency review group responsible for direction and coordination in the field of immigration and emigration data; the group would examine consistency and comparability in concepts and definitions used by individual organizations in the collection of such information including due regard for the recommendations of the United Nations in this field; and oversee the introduction and use of standardized approaches; and (4) (4) (4) (4) (8) (4,5,8) (4,5,8)
146 0 Actively encourage and support the timely publication and dissemination of data on immigration, emigration, and refugees, the ready availability of fully documented public-use data tapes, including, when feasible, samples of individual records (with identifiers removed) conforming to the requirements of the Privacy Act, and data summaries. The panel recommends that the U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs: o Establish an interagency task force, representing all federal offices responsible for or concerned with refugee issues. The task force, supplemented by persons with appropriate statistical and data processing competence, would undertake to review the statistical program for refugees and asylees and provide recommendations: --on maximizing the utility of data currently being collected; --on establishing standard definitions and resolving existing contradictions on the data; --on a priority ranking of data needs and where responsibility for each should be placed; --on which data items or series should be deleted; --for institutionalizing coordination among the participants in the area of data compilation; and --on resources and time required to Implement control and other appropriate statistical methods designed to ensure the maintenance of a data base of adequate quality. Regarding other government and nongovernment sources of immigration data, the panel recommends that: o The State Department become an active participant in interagency discussions on improving immigration statistics, in order to enhance its own understanding of the need for and uses of such information; o The State Department establish its own review group to assess the statistical potential of its programs, to review such actions as it might take to improve its statistical performance, and to make appropriate recommendations to the department; 0 The Department of Labor collect and publish summary information for employers who petition for the admission of foreign workers, including those requested under the H-2 provisions; o The Census Bureau restore a question on place of birth of parents to the 1990 census form; o The Census Bureau make every effort to maintain consistency in question wording and tabulation detail froth. one decennial census to the next in areas relating to the foreign-born, so that immigrant cohorts recorded in successive censuses can be linked or compared on a consistent and common basis in order to assess adjustment experience; o The Census Bureau initiate a program of research leading to improved estimates of emigration. As one approach, the panel strongly endorses the testing of an emigration module involving the collection of information on the residence of close relatives, as a supplement to the Current Population Survey; (4,5,8) (7) (5,7) (5, 7) (5) (5) (5) (5)
147 o The U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration explore alternative data collection approaches for the measurement of tourism in order to obtain more reliable information; o The Social Security Administration (SSA) incorporate data on nativity, country of birth, and, when possible, citizenship and visa status into its series of tabulations on workers and beneficiaries; 0 SSA develop a program of special tabulations to be available on a cost-reimbursable basis to support analyses of the integration of immigrant groups into domestic economic and social sectors; 0 SSA develop appropriate mechanisms for evaluating and, if necessary, improving the quality of data on country of birth and legal residence status that are captured in its statistical system; o SSA explore with the Statistical Policy Office of OMB approaches to permit the sharing of Continuous Work History Sample files with researchers and analysts outside SSA; o The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) initiate the coding of the country of birth for vital events; o NCHS routinely prepare analyses and publish tabulations of vital events for immigrant populations; 0 NCHS institute a program to evaluate and improve the quality of data on place of birth; and o All the agencies and organizations involved with statistics on immigration undertake a review of their data-gathering efforts in order to: --minimize duplication and burden and maximize quality and utility of the collected inflation; --develop approaches leading to timely publication and dissemination of such data including, where appropriate, the preparation and release of fully documented micro-data public-use tapes; and --establish and maintain formal liaison with other federal agencies involved in the collection or analyses of immigration related data; (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) 0 Insofar as is feasible, official government data on immigrants and refugees should be made available to researchers outside the government; (6) o The proposed Division of Immigration Statistics in the INS identify and consult with the user community and keep it informed about the availability of data and changes in procedures. This recommendation also applies to all other agencies that produce data; and o Government agencies that provide funds for research should be encouraged to give particular attention to the need for well-done studies of immigration. (6) (6) In making its recommendations, the panel has been mindful of costs. Many of its recommendations fall within the scope and margin of administrative discretion, and, if they require additional funds, the amounts are relatively small. Two of the panel's major recommendations will require new funding, but in both cases implementation will be gradual, with expenditures spread over a number of years. The major
148 recommendation for change in administrative structure concerns the establishment of a Division of Immigration Statistics within the INS, which will have increased authority, responsibility, and professional staff. We expect, however, that a period of 3-5 years will be required for the full development of such a division, in order to locate and integrate new staff and to acquire new responsibilities and demonstrate capability on a step-by-step basis. Thus, the initial cost implications are modest and the cost increments can be viewed in the light of some initial accomplishments. The major recommendation for a new data collection initiative, the longitudinal survey of immigrants, also requires new funding but, again, the estimated cost will be spread over a number of years and is amply justified in the view of the panel.