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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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My friends Gary Endelman and Cyrus Mehta have written a very thoughtful piece here on that discusses how we can accomplish many of the goals of comprehensive immigration reform within the existing immigration system framework. Sure there would be some legislative changes needed, but the ideas they are proposing don't require the monumental lift that is necessary for CIR. Gary and Cyrus use Dinesh Shenoy's idea of allowing applicants for employment-based green cards to file adjustment of status petitions before a green card number is available. This allows applicants to remain in the US and work and travel freely rather than waiting years for a visa number to become available. Gary and Cyrus suggest taking the idea farther and allowing family-based immigration applicants to have this right and to allow people to enter the US with approved immigrant visas that will allow them to have a legal status in the US while they await a green card number to become available. They also explain how the Administration could use some creative defining of the term "immediately available" to execute such a policy without Congress' blessing (though they explain that this would still be a wise move).

Another interesting idea put forth by the authors is for USCIS to aggressively use its parole authority under INA Section 212(d)(5) to allow applicants to get travel and work benefits without having to have an adjustment application pending. This would be especially helpful to applicants unable to take advantage of AC21. And this power has been used from time to time since World War II to help large populations needing a quick legal statu sin the US (such as the Hungarians after the 1956 uprising).


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  1. George Chell's Avatar
    Sounds like several good ideas. However, I am very concerned about health care costs and underserved areas. If we are serious about reducing health care costs we cannot double nurse and doctor salaries to attract them to underserved areass as it will be passed on to the insurance corporations or the patient (seniors especially), unless of course FAIR, CIS and anti-immigration groups which advocate this are willing to subsidize a substantial proportion of the increase in costs. Health expenditures as a percentage of GDP under those circumstances will reach close to 30%. Vulnerable groups will be seriously affected. I hope they make this Conrad 30 permanent and do something about nursing shortage..and no doubling salaries to attract American nurses is not an option at a time of increasing health care costs. Unless there is an emergency I do my medical check up abroad (in another advanced country), as the insurance will not pay for check up every year in this country, as the costs are very high..and I am a middle aged man, not a senior yet!
  2.'s Avatar
    One of the few positives of the economic "stimulus" plan was the provision limiting the ability TARP recipients to hire foreign workers over American workers. Drafted by Senators Bernie Sanders and Charles Grassley, the provisions require only that a good faith effort be made to hire American workers over foreign workers, but the increased government scrutiny over the recipients of federal bailout money should give pause to any employer seeking to violate the spirit of this rule. Substantial research has shown that, despite an abundance of well educated domestic talent, employers often seek to hire foreign workers in an attempt to lower labor costs.
  3. George Chell's Avatar
    "Substantial research has shown that, despite an abundance of well educated domestic talent, employers often seek to hire foreign workers in an attempt to lower labor costs."

    It is always fascinating how some Americans insist that foreign workers are hired because of lower labor costs, not because they may be better qualified. And these are the same Americans who will insist that affirmative action be abolished and the best qualified get the job. No wonder corporations want to move jobs oveseas. Abundance of educated force does not matter. If you can show that an A average domestic student was not hired over B or C average foreign student I am with you. If on the other hand, if you insist that a B or C average American should get hired over an A average foreigner, I would support corporations who want to hire the foreigner and if that is not possible due to restrictions, I will support the corporations moving that job abroad in search of better quality talent. Stop complaining about low wage foreigners and start competing!
  4. john's Avatar
    have a look at these ideas. I posted this on secretary's site in January.
    1. Please Issue a conditional green cards to all the 485 waiters (if the delay is caused due to USCIS processing). This should help legal immigrants invest more confidently start business etc and support to the economic recovery.

    2. Prioritize the adjudication strictly based on priority date. Please add a prescreening level to filter applications and ensure USCIS will meet the visa numbers every year.

    3.Recapture the green card visas using an administrative fix.

    4.US masters be eliminating from all green card cap

    4.Amend the naturalization law to allow the 485 receipt date as the begin date to count for naturalization.

  5. Another voice's Avatar
    Sounds like these ideas could help streamline the process and give cover to Obama to solve the 12 million problem by keeping his promise to make sure that the 12 million go to the back of the line.
  6. George Chell's Avatar
    "US masters be eliminating from all green card cap."


    Are US Science and Engineering Phds exempt from Greem Card Cap? I know they are exempt from H1B caps if they work for universities. But, how about Green Card Caps?
  7. George Chell's Avatar
    Wonder how much folks at FAIR and CIS are involved with these groups? That should be an assignment for SLPC...
  8. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Hi George - No, they're not exempt from the cap. They usually are in a higher preference category which means they don't have a backlog. But that's not true for Indians and Chinese because there is a per country limit of 7% which punishes high population countries who send us lots of smart professionals. Very short sighted.
  9. George Chell's Avatar
    US is loosing its competitive edge, even as Singapore gains!

    "Over all, the most innovatively competitive nation was Singapore, which embarked on a national innovation strategy years ago, investing heavily and recruiting leading scientists and technologists from around the world."

    More than increasing overall quotas they need to do away with country quotas. Otherwise countries such as Singapore will gain at out expense and corporations such as Microsoft would move the jobs to places such as Singapore, President Obama's threat not withstanding.

  10. George Chell's Avatar
    Interesting the US loss and Singapore gain took place during the past decade while the number of skilled migrants coming to the US declined and those going to Singapore increased...

    My question to the folks who say that there is an abundance of skilled Americans able to do the work of cheaper foreigners is this: How come with the decline in skilled migrants, and many leaving the country since 9/11, skilled Americans were not able to pick up the slack and advance the country during the boom years of 2004-2007..when there were fewer H1Bs than a decade earlier? How come wages for computer programmers continue to decline sharply despite reductions of H1Bs to 65,000 from over 100,000 earlier this decade? If all the problems are due to cheap foreign labor how come Americans cannot advance after declines in skilled migration since 9/11? I will give you a clue. All those folks who rant and rave about cheap foreign workers (CIS, FAIR, Roy Beck, Numbers USA) and training Americans had little or nothing to say about deep education program cuts to train Americans during this recession. If I were them, I will be raising hell. But then again they are more concerned about demographic changes than training Americans and keeping jobs in this country.
  11. good guy's Avatar
    I thougth Congress was not interested in piecemeal solution due to pressure from Hispanic lobby which supports legalisation of the 14+ million illegals in the country. So I am not sure if they will be interested in these ideas.

    But all said and done the Immigration System is broken and needs a major rehaul. Crooks who disguise as genuine employers are abusing the system. The system is far from being fair.
  12. Ryan Davis's Avatar
    While this article is interesting and provides a unique way to avoid the deadlock trap that is Congress, I do not think that with the domestic agenda laid out by Obama that this will come to fruition.

    Obama is seeking to maximize his political capital on Energy, Economy, and Healthcare. He does not want to make a mistake like the Clinton Administration did with "Dont ask, Dont tell" and open up a social issue that distracts the agenda. While those of us on this forum correctly see immigration as an "economic stimulus" the right will use this as a way to stroke the fires of the debate.

    Lou Dobbs will do a week story on how the Obama Administration is circumventing immigration caps during unemployment to steal american jobs. The GOP far right will echo these sentiments to try and rile up their remaining middle class base.

    The only area where I think this could be effective would be in healthcare, where Obama Admin could grant a "Grey Card" or some kind of advance entry for physicians, nurses, and allied health as part of an overall healthcare workforce initiative.

    Interesting Article though.
  13. Reporter's Avatar

    I am attaching a great proposal that was submitted on Immigration Voice website. It appears to be an admin fix. I would like your opinion on the feasibility of this admin fix.

    PROPOSAL: 485 Adjudication during retrogression

    Our main concern with respect to GC journey is the UNCERTAINITY! I am sure all of us worried at least one time "What happens if my 485 gets denied after all these years of waiting?" Many of us here are expecting a GC wait time of 2-12 years. So, a denial at the end would be little bit disheartening.

    The normal processing time of a 485 application ranges from 4 months to 12 months. For all the retrogressed countries, this would be 2-12 years. All of us, who are in the Adjustment of Status category, are legally allowed to stay and work here in the US. So, in no way we are additional burden to the country. So, all the shackles on the GC applicant and family during the years of retrogression period are not beneficial to anyone in this country and it is not protecting anyone's job. These shackles just inflict pain to the GC applicant and family - that's all - nobody is benefitting from this!

    So, if we can work to obtain Adjudication of all I-485s irrespective of whether the country is retrogressed or not - we have a solution. As per the INS rules, an immigrant VISA cannot be allocated outside the numerical limit. If the country is not under retrogression, the applicant will get his GC. If the applicant's country is a retrogressed one, instead of obtaining the Green Card, I-485 processing-status could be changed to a new one such as "Adjudicated - Pending Visa Allocation" (meaning: Adjudication completed, Visa allocation pending). So, in essence, when the VISA numbers are available, then only the person will get Green Card. But at the same time, the applicant and family can feel the relief - No need to worry about RFE, NOID, MTR etc, because the 485 is already approved and it is in a Pending Visa Allocation status. So, in the case of all these retrogressed countries, the actual allocation of Green Card may take 2-12 years time depending on the availability. This option will go well with the protectionists.

    If the status of the 485 application is "Adjudicated - Pending Visa Allocation" and the applicant's country is a retrogressed one, S/he should be eligible to obtain 3, 4 or 5 year EADs with travel benefits associated. Also, the applicant should be able to take any job after 1 year of the status change date of the status "Adjudicated - Pending Visa Allocation".

    I believe the above proposal is a small step in the eyes of the protectionists where as it is a big leap for all retrogressed country applicants. We may be able to achieve this using administrative fix or an action from the Executing branch, as this won't change the annual GC quota of 140000. Apart from this, this will encourage all those skilled immigrants to invest in American economy within 1-2 years of filing AOS application. At present most of us are sending our money to our home countries as our situation is so uncertain. This effort will definitely help the ailing economy and will serve as a boost to the housing market.

    Whom should we approach to get this done?

    Ans: Hillary - Yes Hillary Clinton. She is the number 1 friend of people from China and India, who is in the current administration. Her department is also in charge of the 140K Visa numbers, Travel related visas etc. If we can get support from Compete America, prominent members of Indian and Chinese communities in US, Ambassadors of China and India to US and approach Hillary, we will be successful. Hillary may be very much pleased to start an initiative to achieve this, as she has a chance to influence 700K+ Indians and Chinese immigrants in US, in a very positive way. At the same time, politically this won't create much problem - Status quo will remain the same - even after such an administrative fix. There is no net addition of immigrants to this country.

    With Hillary's support, if we approach Janet Napolitano, we may have a solution.

    Remember: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step."

    So, once we obtain this admin fix (first step), then we will work to obtain the Allocation of GC issue for all those folks who are waiting to get the GC allocated.

    Every progress starts from a dream. So, if someone would like to call this a dream, please feel free to!
  14. George Chell's Avatar
    "Lou Dobbs will do a week story on how the Obama Administration is circumventing immigration caps during unemployment to steal american jobs. The GOP far right will echo these sentiments to try and rile up their remaining middle class base."

    Have to ask Dobbs whether it is the immigration caps or outsourcing? I think outsourcing is more of a problem in recent years and that is a direct result of restrictive immigration caps. Obama's solutions seem very interesting, but then corporations have the Haliburton ace up their sleeve. It is no longer a US corporation.

  15. George Chell's Avatar
    If Dobbs would like to see more of this, he can rant and rave about immigration caps and outsourcing...

    ""At the same time they'll be avoiding U.S. taxes, I'm sure they won't stop insisting on taking their profits in cold hard U.S. cash," Leahy said."
  16. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Reporter, I actually find your proposal interesting. Here is where you can score major points - family immigration. All of a sudden, you are not India/China strong, you are India/China/Mexico/Philipines strong. Remember, people in the FB line cannot even get their I-130 (equivalent of I-140s) approved before the numbers are availble, so for them, it would mean even LESS uncertainty. And Hillary is no foe of FB immigration either.
  17. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Hi Reporter - The idea is actually not so far off one promoted by Zoe Lofgren in the house and in the STEM act that would allow people to pay a premium fee and be allowed to file an adjustment application even if a visa number is not available. It's also related to the idea discussed in this article. All good concepts which will hopefully catch on.
  18. Green Card Visa's Avatar
    It's nice to hear about these status petitions and how they are allowing the immigrants to remain in the country. I think if the system is as broken as it obviously is then people should take care of the loopholes if the system won't take care of them.
  19. eb5 investor visa's Avatar
    Another great immigration policy is the eb5 visa program. Under this program, immigrants and current U.S. citizens directly benefit. It is generally a smooth process, and can be a path to a green card faster than most other methods. The eb5 also creates jobs for Americans.
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