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In the past week, the blogosphere has been full of comments about remarks by two House Democratic leaders, Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Steve Israel (NY), suggesting that Republican racism may have something to do with the GOP's opposition to immigration reform.
Surprise, surprise! Who knew?
Could the same party which rammed the harsh anti-immigrant IIRIRA though Congress without debate in 1996 by attaching it to a veto-proof appropriations bill just before a presidential election, and which, in 2005, tried to criminalize the entire immigration system by passing the House "Sensenbrenner" immigration bill; and which killed immigration reform in 2010 and again in July, 2013 and supported "self-deportation" in the 2012 election possibly be motivated by anti-Latino and anti-minority racism?
How could anyone think such a thing?
Well, here is some news for you. People who are actually the most affected by the GOP's racism against Latino and other brown immigrants have been saying the same thing for a long time - but more directly and openly than our Congressional leaders are finally beginning to do.
One of the most eloquent voices I have found on the Internet is that of a blogger who calls herself Dee. She wrote an article that was posted more than a year ago, on February 21, 2013, when the debate over last year's failed immigration reform bill (and it has failed - we may not see a reform bill again until after the 2016 presidential election) was just beginning to heat up.
In her profile, Dee states that she is a Texas-based Mexican-American whose parents, grandparents and great grandparents were all born in the US. She is married to an Irish-American.
The following are some extracts from her article: Immigration Talk with a Mexican American: Tea Party Racists Scream Violence, Guns and Mass Deportation at John McCain's Town Hall Meeting
"I think we all knew it was only a matter of time before the Republican teaparty base would rebel against Comprehensive Immigration Reform. It is just as I predicted. Republicans are coming out of their closets and speaking out against Immigration Reform that includes and type of legalization for the 11M here, including for the Dreamers."
She goes on to describe Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as the Republicans' "token Latino", whom they lifted up on their shoulders to try to get the Hispanic vote by supporting immigration reform.
"Racist callers on Talk Radio started calling in, demanding "Racial Profiling" BORDER SECURITY be the 1st step. The next thing you know, the Talk Radio Pundits start talking about "Border Security" 1st. Then their Golden Boy Rubio starts demanding "Border Security" first...
Now the HATERS are starting to headline Talk Radio. Yesterday, I heard Mark Krikorian on Bill Bennett's radio show. Krikorian is an Infamous Right Wing Racist Extremist who often talks about Mass Deportation and the "Rule of Law". Bennett and Krikorian were talking about Latinos being "born takers" and most wouldn't vote for the Republicans anyway...He warned that another "amnesty" would destroy America."
"I almost feel sorry for the Republicans. They are a party against themselves. The teapartiers are motivated by the KKK of the past. They are motivated by ther White Supremacists of the previous century. They have nowhere to go but to face their own demise. They neither want to know nor do they want to understand that our Country is EVOLVING into a Beautiful Multicultural Society." (Emphasis added.)
14 months after the above was written, knowing what we now know about how the Tea Party controlled House Republicans have killed immigration reform despite the attempt of the bipartisan Senate Gang of Eight to bend over backwards to accommodate Republican right wingers on Border Security to the tune of a $46 billion boondoggle for defense contractors at taxpayers' expense, can anyone say that this outspoken Mexican-American commentator was wrong?
Let us hope that Reps. Pelosi's and Israel's comments about Republican racism as the main obstacle to immigration reform will only be the beginning. The man behind the desk where the buck stops in the Oval Office also needs to speak out more strongly, and to take stronger action to stop the deportations - and to end the vendetta being carried out on the part of some USCIS Service Center officials against H-1B, O-1 and other educated, professional immigrants whose skills, dedication and hard work bring such great benefit to America's economy - and society.
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping professional, business and family based immigrants overcome the obstacles of our complex immigration system for more than 30 years. His practice includes H-1B and O-1 work visas, as well as green cards through labor certification, extraordinary ability and opposite or same sex marriage, among other immigration and citizenship cases. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 04-16-2014 at 11:44 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
In my last post, I suggested that the H-1B visa shortage is related to wider right wing paranoia and fear of a "huge wave" of immigration inundating the US. Senator Rend Paul (R-KY) reflected these sentiments on a Sunday talk show on April 13 when he made the inflammatory statement that America "can't invite the whole world" to immigrate here. (See Huffington Post, updated April 14, 2014)
For a long time, anti-immigrant groups such as NumbersUSA, FAIR and Center for Immigration Studies have been trying to present the immigration issue in terms of the argument that America simply has no room or "resources" for more people, regardless of where they are from.
However, an April 13 article in the Huffington Post entitled A Study on the Changing Racial Makeup of "The Next America" shows that this contention is nothing but hypocritical nonsense.
(Sorry, I do not have a link. Google should be able to bring up the article in a few seconds.)
This article states:
"However, our changing racial makeup is due to a shift in immigrants' countries of origin: while 88 percent in 1900 were from Europe, Europeans only comprise 12 per cent of the immigrant population today. Conversely, immigration from Hispanic countries is on the rise, with over 50 per cent of all immigrants to the US today hailing from Latin America. So while the Hispanic population of the US had been increasing, the influx of white Americans has been decreasing."
The article goes on to state that according to studies by Northwestern University, "white Americans may feel threatened by the prospect of becoming a racial minority " and that when faced with this prospect, "they tended to endorse more conservative political policies ".
Opposition to immigration, of course, is high on the list of "more conservative political policies".
The article continues:
"This has some people worried that we'll see a deepening divide between whites and other racial groups;"
The above conclusion be an understatement; we are already seeing a serious racial divide over immigration, whether concerning white attitudes toward unskilled immigrants from Latin America or toward highly educated IT professionals from Asia.
(It is not my intention to engage in stereotypes, however: there are also many well educated professionals from Latin America in this country, as well as unskilled, less educated Asian immigrants.)
But the racial divide is here and may be growing as America's demographics change. Can anyone seriously think that this has nothing to do with this country's seeming inability to remedy the chronic H-1B shortage, which makes a mockery of America's ideals and reputation as a country of opportunity that places a premium on education, special skills and hard work?
In my next post, I will suggest a partial remedy for the H-1B visa shortage without Congressional action. This would involve expanding the F-1 Optional Practical Training program, something which is already being used to remedy some of the hardship and injustice caused by Congress' refusal to increase the number of H-1 visas, and which has withstood a challenge by immigration opponents in a important federal circuit court decision.
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping professional, business and family immigration clients overcome the obstacles of our complex immigration system for more than 30 years. His email address is email@example.com
Updated 04-14-2014 at 09:14 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
The news that USCIS has received 172,500 H-1B cap petitions for Fiscal Year 2015 has touched off a storm of outrage and handwringing over the fact that, this year, only one third of the cap subject H-1B petitions on behalf of bachelor degree holders will be accepted for filing this year, and the other two-thirds will be rejected for lack of available visas.
For US master degree holders, the odds will be only slightly better - about 50 percent can expect to have their petitions accepted for filing; the rest will be rejected.
The anger and frustration over the stubborn refusal of Congress over the past decade to make enough visas available was well expressed in Cyrus D. Mehta's April 11 article in Immigration Daily, and there is little that anyone could add to his comments.
However, wringing our hands and blaming Congress alone will not produce any solution. As Mr. Mehta points out, even enactment of the Senate CIR bill, S. 744 into law would not have solved that problem. That bill makes more visas available, but at the cost of coming very close to killing the whole H-1B program.
It reminds one of the Biblical story of the woman who asked King Solomon to double the baby's number of mothers from one to two, (just as S. 744 would about double the number of H-1B visas), by cutting the baby in half and giving one half to each woman who claimed to be the baby's real mother. (1 Kings 3:16-28)
This post will explore the question why it is so difficult to get Congress to pass an increase in the number of H-1B visas. Future posts in this three part series will rebut the mistaken assumption that the administration has no power to remedy the shortage on its own, absent Congressional action - something that is almost as big a myth as the idea that the president has no power to halt deportations.
My posts will also delve into the issue of the many meritorious H-1B petitions that attract unwarranted USCIS Service Center RFE's or denials because of an Agency policy of pursuing anti-immigrant ideology instead of following the law - something that the California Service Center, in particular, is notorious for and has developed almost into an art form.
To begin with the question of why Congress seem to be unable to to anything about the H-1B crisis, it might be useful to start with the John Birch Society.
What - the John Birch Society? Does anyone under sixty even know who they were? Or are, since to my surprise, they still seem to be around?
To take a look back into history, the John Birch Society was made up the right wing crazies who were calling Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower a "Communist Tool" back in the 1950's. They were the ones who were shouting that the UN was also a Communist plot to destroy American sovereignty.
Their right wing views were so extreme that, according to Wikipedia, even William F. Buckley, then editor of the National Review and one of the leading conservative voices of that period, was worried that the John Birch Society might be turning into a quasi-fascist group.
Well, the John Birch Society is still around. I don't know if they have ever accepted the fact that President Eisenhower was not zctually a Communist in the mid-20th century, but there is one thing that we do know about them now. In the second decade of the 21st century, this far right organization doesn't like the idea of immigration reform.
In their publication The New American, the John Birch Society is running an article dated April 10 appears with the title: Obama Administration Weakens Illegal Immigration Enforcement.
Even though the article's main focus is illegal immigration, it also includes legal immigration in its typical right wing paranoia about how America is about to be inundated by an "overwhelming wave" of immigrants "taxing our nation's resources" and "racing north" because of "changes in the economies of Latin America and the US."
The article quotes the Migration Policy Institute, a respected non-partisan Washington think tank as saying:
"There will be more pressure for immigrants - both legal and illegal- to come to the United States."
It is a far cry from this to the "overwhelming" wave, especially coming from Mexico, where net immigration to the US is currently estimated as zero, according to the latest reports.
But not to worry. The familiar right wing "heroes" Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are in there manning the barricades against "amnesty", which seems to have replaced "Communist" as the John Birch Society's favorite bugaboo. more than a half century after its attacks against President Eisenhower.
What does all this have to with the H-1B visa shortage? The answer, in my view, is everything. As the above article makes clear, America's right wing is not only opposed to illegal immigration, but to all immigration.
immigration opponents are not interested in distinguishing between an unskilled agricultural or restaurant worker who may have come across the Mexican border without authorization and someone for India or China who has a US master degree in Engineering or Computer Science and whose skills are badly needed by a major high tech US corporation.
In the view of organizations like the far right extremist John Birch Society, as well as its direct successor, the Tea Party, all foreign workers, especially those who do not happen to be white, are mortal threats to America.
As long as our politicians in both parties continue to grovel in obeisance to the Lamar Smiths, the Jeff Sessions' and the Ted Cruz's among us (I am surprised that the above article doesn't mention Rep. Steve King - R-Iowa - is his overt racism too much even for the John Birch Society?) no one should be surprised as the shortage of H-1B visas grows even more irrational and intolerable.
Roger Algase is a New York Lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping professional, business and family immigration clients overcome the obstacles of our complex immigration system for more than 30 years. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 04-14-2014 at 06:55 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Today, the USCIS announced that they received approximately 172,500 H-1b cap petitions. The lottery was completed today and 85,000 lucky petitions were selected for further processing. The remaining 87,500 rejected petitions will be returned. We expect to start receiving receipts and rejections in the next week. Premium processing of cases is expected to start no later than April 28th. Earlier this week, President Obama made a speech declaring how important it is for U.S. economic growth to keep the best and the brightest in the U.S. and to encourage entrepreneurship. With today's announcement that over 50% of the best and brightest, as selected by U.S. employers, are being rejected for jobs in the U.S., it may provide the impetus for House Speaker Boehner and the Republicans in the House to stop holding CIR hostage and give appropriate consideration to the Senate bill which was passed in the summer of 2013 with wide bi-partisan support but, has not even been considered in the House. This post by Mike Hammond originally appeared on the HLG Views blog http://www.hammondlawgroup.com/blog/
Update, April 11, 3:30 pm:
Andrianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Poat, is also blasting away at Obama's deportation policy:
The Huffpost reports her as telling Fusion host Mariana Atencio:
"I feel that when it comes to deportations it's been very inhumane...I feel this is very un-American and if it had been done by a Republican we would have been much more up in arms."
Which is worse? Republicans blocking immigration reform because of anti-minority racism, or the Obama administration deporting the same minority immigrants at the fastest rate in history in order to accommodate Republican racism?
To the two million people whose lives have been destroyed by Obama's deportations, it does not make much difference.
My initial post follows:
In a late breaking news story, POLITICO reports that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is accusing the Republicans of not bringing immigration reform up for a vote in the House because of racial issues.
In its April 10 story: Nancy Pelosi: Republicans won't push immigration because of race, POLITICO quotes her as saying:
"I think race has something to do with the fact that they are not bringing up an immigration bill."
House speaker John Boehner's response was the same old tired argument that a president who has deported 2 million people since he took office cannot be trusted "to enforce the law as written."
I have two questions:
1) What took Nancy Pelosi so long to say what has been obvious ever since last June, if not long before, and which i have been contending countless times in this space?
2) Where is President Obama's leadership in the biggest racial issue facing America since the civil rights era 50 years ago?
How can America's first non-white president keep going ahead with the deportations of 400,000 brown people each year? How can any president do this in good conscience?
What kind of place in our history does Barack Obama wish to create for himself?
Updated 04-11-2014 at 02:48 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs