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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS TURN UP THE RHETORIC ON IMMIGRATION

Rating: 14 votes, 5.00 average.

Hopes by some supporters of GOP presidential candidate John McCain that Republican members of Congress would tone down efforts to make immigration a wedge issue in the lead up to the November election are being dashed. McCain is hoping to avoid the defection of large numbers of Hispanic voters to the Democrats and has hoped to convince those voters that the GOP is not an anti-immigration/anti-Hispanic party. 40% of Hispanics voted for President Bush in 2004, but recent polls suggest that as few as 10% of the 18 million Hispanic voters in the country plan on voting Republican this fall, a margin large enough to change the outcome in several states with large Hispanic populations.



Congress Daily (sorry, I can't provide a link because a subscription is required) reports that House Republicans are pushing to bring up the Shuler SAVE Act, a tough immigration enforcement bill, through an unusual legislative measure - a "discharge". The bill contains no measures to fix the broken legal immigration system or to deal with the large population of unlawfully present immigrants. The bill has not been brought up for a vote in the House Immigration Subcommittee and Republicans are hoping to bypass through a discharge petition that involves collecting signatures from the majority of House members (218) to force the bill to be voted on by the entire House. GOP members hope to get 170 signatures from there own party and 48 "Blue Dog" conservative Democrats. The odds of succeeding are not great since even some of the Democratic co-sponsors of the bill say they won't sign the discharge petition. Also, many Democrats are discussing potentially adding pro-immigration provisions as amendments if the bill moves forward.



McCain campaign officials have indicated they are supportive of the discharge, but Congress Daily reports that Republican leaders are trying to reach McCain to personally weigh in.



In the Senate, a group of mostly Southern members have formed a new Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus to ratchet up the rhetoric. The group introduced a series of a dozen new bills yesterday, almost all of which focus on immigration enforcement.



The measures introduced are varied. One would punish countries that refuse to accept their deported citizens. Senator Alexander's very good bill on facilitating English language learning that was introduced as an amendment to last year's comprehensive bill is also in there. Harsher bills have been introduced by the most anti-immigration members of the Senates - DeMint (R-SC), Sessions (R-AL), Vitter (R-LA) and Coburn (R-OK). Some are English-only measures that don't have anything to do with illegal immigration. Others punish cities where police don't try and turn unlawfully present immigrants over to ICE. And others are focused on employer sanctions.

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  1. Another voice's Avatar
    Based on this report I guess these House Republicans do want to concede the Hispanic vote completely to the democrats and take it away from McCain. I do not see how this would help them at all other than political red meat for their own constituency. But maybe it will prompt democrats to do what Greg had brought up to revive the 2006 CIR bill to force McCain to defend his Bill.
  2. George Chell's Avatar
    Only way any comprehensive reform passes is a crushing victory by the Democrats in the Senate. They have to take VA, NH, NM, CO and MN...Cook Political Report says that Ted Stevens's seat is a toss-up but unfortunately a McCain landslide in AK might keep that seat in GOP hands.
  3. Ren's Avatar
    Why all this bickering and wastage of precious time and money of the tax payers? Senators who do this should be ashamed of themselves. They are almost barking dogs that bark at everything and every one with no sense of purpose. They never want to solve the issue at hand nor would they allow any one else to do.
  4. Another voice's Avatar
    "They never want to solve the issue at hand nor would they allow any one else to do."

    That is Washington for you, they will not do anything that does not yield immediate political gain or cover.
  5. R. Lawson's Avatar
    Interesting story: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/06/MNPJVEV3S.DTL

    California's GOP fired the H-1b worker it hired as a campaign consultant. The reason is that he took on another job, in violation of H-1b laws. San Diego hired him also (apparently they aren't as concerned about obeying immigration laws - or the laws are so complicated that they just don't understand them).

    This is yet another example of how the H-1b creates second class workers - those able to work on the free market and those prevented from taking on side jobs.

    The bottom line is that immigration should not serve as a labor subsidy. The H-1b should not limit workers in their ability to work on the free market. Yet it does - creating defacto endentured servants.

    The silence from Greg Siskind publicly on this issue is deafening. Why no criticism of the H-1b program publicly?
  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Roy - If you're going to make condemning the H-1B program your life's work, at least educate yourself on the law. Working in a side job is perfectly permissible through a process called "concurrent filing". You can have multiple H-1B approvals for multiple employers and work for several at the same time or move back and forth. Sounds like the GOP employee in trouble here broke the rules as well as the second employer. The law is there Roy. If a violation has occurred, then enforce the law.

    But that's not what this is about. It's about your interest in expelling foreign workers from the country.
  7. Sid's Avatar
    Roy, in this instance, the guy violated the visa laws by working on both TN (he's a Canadian citizen) and H-1B visas. Why is your ire directed only towards the H-1B visa program, why not the TN visa program as well? AFAIK, TN visa holders cannot even apply for EB GCs so that should satisfy your requirement for whining about indentured servitude. Why is it ok for Canadians and Mexicans to work in the US as indentured slaves but not Indians and Chinese?
  8. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Sid - I wouldn't assume he was on a TN. TNs are only available to people working in a very limited occupation list and the closest occupation I can figure here is "management consultant", something not easy to obtain. I would bet the reporter is correct in saying he's on an H-1B visa.
  9. R. Lawson's Avatar
    "But that's not what this is about. It's about your interest in expelling foreign workers from the country. "

    Which is why I want to give them Green Cards instead of H-1b visas. And you want them to remain on the indentured servant visa program. Your last comment makes no sense Greg - and ignores everything I have been saying for the last three years.

    "Why is it ok for Canadians and Mexicans to work in the US as indentured slaves but not Indians and Chinese?"

    It's not. As I have long said, everyone working in this country should be on equal footing. We shouldn't be creating second class citizens. One group who can bargain for better working conditions, and another group who cannot.

    Despite your attempts to make this an issue of race and anti-immigration which it is not, I've decided to answer your question.

    One solution is simple - mine - and it gives immigrants equal rights. Another solution is complicated - and it keeps corporations happy. Simplify the process - give out Green Cards instead of about a dozen different types of temporary visas. Since we have a limited number of GCs have a competitive process.

    I'm just glad that we may get a chance to debate this issue again this year. Even BusinessWeek has acknowledged that this program is mostly used by offshore outsourcing firms. Looks like the house of cards built by Greg and friends is finally falling down.
  10. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Roy - You always say you want to give them green cards, but always defend the folks who want to expel. You can't have it both ways.
  11. Sid's Avatar
    Greg, he used both the visa types - H1-B and TN. That was the main issue here. Here are the relevant bits.

    " Matthews, a Canadian citizen, was hired last year as deputy political director for the California Republican Party,"

    " The state party applied last year for an H-1B visa on behalf of Matthews, saying he would fill the job of political consultant."

    " But Federal Election Commission records show that Matthews also had earned nearly $6,000 this year working for a different employer - the San Diego Republican Party."

    " Jonathan Buettner, spokesman for the San Diego GOP, said Matthews was a legal employee under a TN visa "

    " Officials from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, however, said immigration law prohibits such dual visa arrangements."
  12. Ren's Avatar
    Roy,

    Giving green cards and eliminating others like H1-B, L-1 is flawed idea. Why? Green card is to ask someone be here permanently, and the country and the corporation cannot afford to keep all of them permanently. The needs are temporary, so the stay is temporary and thus those visas.

    I hope you agree with just the business for someone to hire for a burning need and then after the need is fulfilled, have the person return back or find something else unburdening the employer itself. Thats only fair to the corporation, very simple concept of consulting/contracting. That generally is the basic premise.

    This implementation of the basic premise does get exploited by some sick minded corporations by paying low, slaving them and what not but that number is certainly low, not the norm.

    Your idea seems noble but it may not be a workable idea. Now, the most disgusting part about the whole piece of the puzzle is the lack of concern for the candidate itself. Corporations can let go of him/her once the need is done, the country can enforce to help him leave but does not provide any flexibility to this ambitious soul of working where-ever he wants. I mean, allow 65K or lesser, I don't care, but keep in mind of providing professional flexibility.

    For the most cases, the candidate who gets here is in his late 20's or early 30's, the most productive age of his life time. The candidate leaves his country to make a better living, achieve greatness in his profession but to chain him to an employee is morally wrong. The green card is a moving target and for Indians/Chinese, very badly implemented. Whenever I pose this question, people say, you should have known this before you came here.

    All I say to them is that does not make that right. USA is an awesome country with some good and bad immigration laws. Now, only if you could point some flaws in this, I would be glad to stand corrected.
  13. Sid's Avatar
    "It's not. As I have long said, everyone working in this country should be on equal footing. We shouldn't be creating second class citizens. One group who can bargain for better working conditions, and another group who cannot."

    Tell me something Roy - How many times have you complained about the TN or E-3 visa program? The fact is that there are several such visa programs but you have always targeted the H-1B program.

    "Despite your attempts to make this an issue of race and anti-immigration which it is not, I've decided to answer your question."

    I'm not saying that it is a race issue - more like discrimination based on the country of origin. There are many Canadian or Australian citizens of Indian and Chinese descent who come to work on TN/E-3 visas, so this is not about race.

    Have I heard you or anyone else complain about these visas? No.

    Neither is this about anti-immigration. When you've 500K immigrants sneaking in through the border or overstaying every year, the H-1B visa should not be the main target.

    This is about simple economics. Competition in the labor market is hurting American techies who are either in low-end tech jobs or are competing against outsourcing companies in the services area. The H-1B visa was perfectly acceptable to almost everyone till 2000, before the big bust happened. It's only because of the dual threat of outsourcing and increased competition in the labor market that American techies have suddenly realized that competition is not good for them. It's time to form unions and lobby against foreign competitors.
  14. USC's Avatar
    "American techies have suddenly realized that competition is not good for them."

    Therein lies the flaw. Competition is GOOD for everyone in the long run. You shield someone from competition by erecting artificial barriers you lay the seeds for them to go the way of the dinosaur.

    By establishing quotas whether it be for the H1b or the EB program you in effect give the protected workers a labor subsidy and this comes at the expense of the American consumer or the American shareholder. Of course, RL falls for the PG line that the corporations are the ones receiving a labor subsidy.
  15. AD's Avatar
    "Giving green cards and eliminating others like H1-B, L-1 is flawed idea."

    I have to take Roy's side on this. The anti-immigration movement above all is concerned about maintaining the existing political balance of power. With this perspective, the H1-B and L-1 visa's are a dream come true for the anti-immigration movement as people on these visas have no political rights whatsoever.

    The H1B or L1 would be unnecessary if we had a speedy and predictable green card process. Sure, some fraction of people will not be interested in staying on in the US, but this fraction can always surrender their green card on their way out of the US.
  16. there is a way's Avatar

    the two ideas have a common ground.
    give temporarry green cards instead of visas. that allows flexibility and better living standards for the employee. after 4 years IF the applicant can show employment with appropriate wages (for the profession) and productivity (including paying taxes) and crime free living, then make the GC permanent. this could apply to all levels of workers. it would be akin to the UK HSMP program in basic concept.
  17. there is a way's Avatar

    and there can be additional points if either an employer agrees to sponsor you or you have opened a legitimate enterprise of your own- that gives employers a role.
  18. there is a way's Avatar

    companies could still sponsor workers for temporary assignments on temporary visas. these would be term (number and occupation) limited and not be able to transition to a GC unless certain points criteria were met to prove eligibility. this again would allow corporations to fill temporary needs but leave the option of getting longer term employees in on a longer term arrangement.
  19. Ren's Avatar
    The temp idea of a GC on a conditional basis makes sense, at least that would not create a second class citizen who has no say in the matter.
  20. R. Lawson's Avatar
    Thanks for the comments - both pro and against my position. I'll give you guys the last word.
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