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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

No Time to Forget Skilled Workers

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This has been one of the most eventful months in immigration in many years. For some, the news has been promising. For those focused on aiding the undocumented, the President's announcement on deferred action and the Supreme Court ruling in the Arizona case are largely good developments. But this has also been a month that reminds us how poorly our skilled immigration system is working. The H-1B cap was hit in early June, nearly a half year ahead of last year. Employers now face a 15 month black out bringing on critical workers even if they can document a strong need for them. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, we have backlogs in the EB-2 category for advance degree workers and complete unavailabilty for workers from India and China for at least several months.


A report being released today by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the non-profit group co-founded by NY Mayor Bloomberg, showing that immigrants played a role in nearly 3/4 of patent applications filed at the nation's elite universities is just more evidence that the country needs these talent workers if we are to remain competitive. This should be the low hanging fruit in the immigration debate. The President has spoken out in favor of liberalizing immigration rules for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). So has Mitt Romney. And there are numerous bipartisan proposals in Congress focusing on STEM workers. We've also seen the House pass by a ten to one margin the 3012 bill that removes discriminatory per country quotas and moves the immigration system to a fair first come, first serve system.


Yet nothing seems to be moving. I've heard in the last few days of a deal on 3012 but one that comes at a steep price. The protectionist Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) has insisted on adding provisions giving new and extraordinary powers to the Department of Labor in the H-1B process, something that should be deeply troubling to those who already are concerned that the Department of Labor's immigration enforcement officers are playing a destructive role in helping America's businesses remain globally competitive. In many cases, their actions actually cost American workers jobs as companies not able to find key workers end up delaying and even abandoning projects that employ Americans alongside foreign workers.


And that also makes me wonder why one Senator gets to have so much power in the Senate, particularly a Senator from the minority party and a Senator whose positions directly contradict many in his own party. A hold by a Senator is a way to delay a bill, but if the leadership wants to move a bill through normal channels, then a hold should eventually fail. With such overwhelming support for 3012, Grassley's hold should not have been enough to stop the bill from eventually passing.


There is no legitimate reason we can't see one of the several very good STEM bills pass this session. We just need good leadership from both parties.

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  1. Cross's Avatar
    President Obama's Executive Order to provide relief for children who are not at fault just feels like an open pandering for the Latino vote. Or else why would it come just in time for the election? Because at the bottom if this, all they get is a work permit and not any legal status meaning if they go out of the country they cannot come back in. The truth of the matter is both parties have been so busy mud slinging each other over economic policies and the jobs situation that they have forgotten other issues. Now when the time is at hand to get boots on the ground moving toward the polling centers, an order is issued to pull voters into the fold. And once the election is over and the President is in the office, attention will turn back to the economy and jobs... until the mid-term elections that is.
  2. gg's Avatar
    @Cross - President Obama has not issued any executive order to provide relief for Dreamers. His administration just chose to use one of the tools ("deferred action") that is given by the Congress. Here is the listing of EO issued by the president.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders


    As for Grassley I am not sure what extraordinary powers he is trying to get for the Department of Labor in the H1B process but I think there is need to bring H1B workers on par with US workers. Currently they are treated differently. If a US worker makes a wage related complaint against his/her employer with the DOL and the DOL upholds the complaint after investigation, then DOL can go after the personal assets of the employer if they are unable to pay. However in case of a H1B worker the employer can simply chose to walk away by closing his shop under similar circumstances. There is no fear of DOL going after the employers personal assets. Strengthening this part of the law will eliminate whatever remaining abusing H1B employers and H1B workers will be treated fairly. While DOL website shows banned H1B employers every year, what it does not show is how many of those actually closed their shops and ran away leaving their H1B workers high and dry.
  3. Alex's Avatar
    Mr. Siskind,

    HR 3012 is anything but fair bill. Although I understand your involvement with IV, I think you should focus on the detrimental effect this bill would have on all ROW applicants.
    One would expect that an immigration attorney would work for the benefit of all groups through really meaningful proposals like recapturing unused numbers from previous years, excluding spouses from the quota, etc. But instead, what we observe is a blatant attempt to facilitate Indian fraud, destroy diversity of immigration and professional pools, and gutting of the H1B program. And all that for the benefit of one immigrant group that is proven to commit fraud and abuse the system. Shame.
  4. Greg's Avatar
    Alex - If you want to address fraud, that's fine. But let's not kid ourselves. Claiming that our current system of institutionalized discrimination based on nationality is needed for fraud prevention is itself a fraud. Those complaining about the bill are typically those who benefit from the discrimination. And rationalizing the discrimination by saying it's about fraud prevention is original on your part, but hardly honest. I do think we need to have a transition period so people currently depending on the law as it now stands won't be hurt as much. But we need to move to a system that is blind to nationality. I've got clients that will win under this and clients who will lose. But I'd rather operate under a system which is at least fair.
  5. Alex's Avatar
    Mr. Siskind,
    I feel obliged to send a reply.
    There is no discrimination at the moment-every country is allowed the maximum of 7% of the annual quota. It is nobody's fault that India and China are oversubscribed. This is a result of massive fraud committed by Indian consulting companies that hire these employees and use up to 80% of the h1B allowance. I don't need to direct your attention to countless articles in the media describing their practices.
    When ROW applicants have filed their applications, they were informed of specific rules and regulations and approximate wait times. By introducing HR 3012, the rules of the game change for these people midway and suddenly, they have to increase their wait time 5-6 years in order to benefit India which has brought record number of applicants from one occupation working exclusively for Indian fraud committing companies.
    Therefore, tell me who is the dishonest one in this situation?
    A transition period of 1 year and 10% quota will not solve the issue of the broken immigration system and serve all groups.
    There are more and better ways to tackle the problems that don't involve the narrow interests of a single group. HR 3012 is a discriminatory law against ROW.
  6. Paul W's Avatar
    @Alex

    It is particularly bad for Philippine nurses who are waiting to do consular processing in the following weeks and months. If HR 3012 passes, the EB-3 dates will retrogress 5-6 years for them, their employers won't be willing to wait, and they will lose their job offers. It's not just about the inconvenience of waiting 5-6 more years on EAD/AP. The consequences of HR 3012 are much worse than many people think.

  7. Paul W's Avatar
    >> If HR 3012 passes, the EB-3 dates will retrogress 5-6 years for them,


    I need to make a correction. What I meant to say was that the wait for people in EB-3 ROW waiting to get their visas in the following months will become 5-6 years. The cut-off date will probably go 2-3 years back, somewhere in 2003, but it will continue advancing by about 2 weeks at a time, thus making the distance between 2003 and 2006 (where it is now) twice as longer. The end result is the same: no employer will wait 5-6 years to get their hires, and the severe shortage will surely affect the health-care industry.
  8. Greg's Avatar
    I'm sorry, but giving Monaco the same number of visas as India is discrimination. Giving the Bahamas the same number as China is discrimination. What rational reason do we have for making some people wait years longer than others simply because they were born on one side of a line rather than the other? I understand that if the quotas were immediately lifted, that would cause problems for many and that's why I'd be in favor of modifying 3012 to phase it in over a longer period of time so people that would otherwise be finished within the next couple of years remain unaffected. Or, even better, adjust the green card numbers for the next few years so no one is adversely affected who has already applied.
  9. Sa's Avatar
    I thought Mr. Grassley's amendment specifically deals with fraud by H1B companies. I am not sure why the people who complain about fraud are opposed to this bill.
  10. Alex's Avatar
    No, Mr. Siskind,
    I'm sorry but what makes you think India should have preferential treatment over Monaco? Or the Bahamas? The very essence of discrimination is preferential treatment.
    And yes, I would understand the efforts of IV if they were channeled for the good of all(increasing the overall visa numbers), but this is not the case. What we see, is overreach by a certain immigration group and its supporters to receive benefits and unfair advantage over everyone else.
  11. Greg's Avatar
    Because I was taught to believe we are all created as equals and that one is not a more worthy person because they were born on one side of a line versus another. People immigrate, not countries. Let's compare to tax dollars. Here's an analogy - let's say that the President discovers a vast treasure under the White House that's worth a trillion dollars. He decides to sell the loot and pay out the proceeds to all Americans. But he decides to distribute an equal amount to each state to be split between the people of each state. Do you think it would be fair for the 568,000 people in Wyoming to get the same amount to split amongst themselves as the 37,000,000 people in California? By the way, that's also why I have a problem with the US Senate getting two Senators per state. But that's another debate.
  12. Alex's Avatar
    Mr. Siskind,

    I will answer to your analogy with the principle on which the US law-creating institutions are based. The reason why every state is represented by 2 senators stems from the same reason over which the 7% country quota is allowed in the immigration law-equality and protection of minorities. If the population numbers is all that mattered, then only the Congress would create laws proportionally representing the population of every state. But since some states are dense in population, that would create unfair advantage in the decision making over the smaller states. Therefore the creation of the Senate ensured equal representation of every state disregarding its size and population. So every decision should be passed from both Congress and Senate to guarantee no group takes precedence over another based on population. This is fundamental principle and I don't understand how anyone can be confused about its merit.
  13. USC's Avatar
    "By the way, that's also why I have a problem with the US Senate getting two Senators per state. But that's another debate."

    I agree. Thank you for making this point.

  14. Sa's Avatar
    "The reason why every state is represented by 2 senators stems from the same reason over which the 7% country quota is allowed in the immigration law-equality and protection of minorities"

    Both are lousy and we need reforms in the senate as well as the country quotas.
  15. Greg's Avatar
    Civil rights laws in the country require government agencies providing a rationale for discrimination. I disagree with what you've said regarding why Wyoming citizens are entitled to greater representation than Californians. However, you've at least provided a rationale. I've yet to see a rationale for why the citizens of Monaco or the Bahamas deserve more visas in proportion to their population. As for why we have the system we have in the US, like much of what we have, it was a bargain struck 225 years ago to get the small states to agree to the Constitution. It had nothing to do with any great public policy benefit we get by giving small population states an equal voice. It was a power play, just as in this debate.
  16. Alex's Avatar
    Please bear in mind that I did not say Monaco deserves more visas than India. They receive equal numbers now as it should be.
    You claimed India deserves more than Monaco and the Bahamas because the last two countries are not as populous. And this is a very weak reason to say the least.

    As for the Constitution, it works. I don't care if it was created 500 years ago. The mere fact is, there is no reason why a big state should have more leverage than a small one. Going through with this logic, why don't we just disfranchise Rhode Island, Delaware, and Alabama etc since their votes will never override those of California due to size and population, for example. This is sheer discrimination, not the Senate equal representation.
  17. Cross's Avatar
    @Alex "Therefore the creation of the Senate ensured equal representation of every state disregarding its size and population."

    Do you honestly believe groups of 37,000,000 people and 568,000 should both be represented by 2 Senators? That is the very definition of unequal representation.

    To further emphasize my point, just have a look at this graph:

    http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/gsp_newsrelease.htm

    and this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP

    Please compare California and Wyoming for yourself.
  18. SAM's Avatar
    I think it is too late to stop HR 3012. Based on views of Greg someone can work on phase out period so that Row will not have sudden impact. So Row persons need to explain impact on them to Senators and congressmen to introduce an amendment to have a reasonable phaseout. Infact they can talk to Immigration voice also to express their concerns and work on phase out period. Also fraud need to be addressed. I am pretty sure that fraud is mostly by Indian consulting companies in H1b and L1. If that is minimised that can improve the waiting time.
  19. Alex's Avatar
    @Cross

    The Congress already represents the states and their populations proportionally. The upper body-The Senate- represents them equally so there are checks and balances. Guys, this is basic, please.
  20. Sa's Avatar
    "The Congress already represents the states and their populations proportionally"
    So , What is the equivalent of house of representatives in immigration if Country caps are similar to the Senate?
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