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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

MODEST CORNYN EMPLOYMENT IMMIGRATION AMENDMENT FAILS BY 5 VOTES

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Wanted to blog on this earlier today, but I've been driving through the great states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida today. But here goes -



An attempt by Senator Cornyn (R-TX) to attach a relatively small employment immigration amendment to to a student loan bill fell just short of the needed 60 votes to have waive the Budget Act and proceed with a vote on the measure. The Cornyn amendment would have allocated 61,000 green cards that went unused in prior years to Schedule A nurses (who lack a non-immigrant visa category and can only enter the US with green cards) and the remainder to other EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 workers. The bill would also have provided for a one year hike of the H-1B quota to 115,000.



While the news that the measure failed is disappointing, there is some good news here. The measure did secure 55 votes and it stands to reason that the bill might have a shot if it is introduced as a standalone measure where only a majority of the 100 Senators is required.



It's also interesting who voted for and against the measure. Senator Durbin has been emerging in recent months as one of the Senate's chief foes of legal immigration. He's certainly emerged as the most fierce opponent of legal immigrants on the Democratic side of the aisle with his support of extreme measures designed to kill the H-1B visa program (such as his support for the Sanders Amendment $20,000 tax on H-1Bs passed as an amendment to the CIR bill) and his relentless opposition to nursing immigration (despite overwhelming evidence of a nurse shortage expected to last at least 20 years and rise to a need for an additional million nurses by the end of the next decade). Durbin managed to get 38 Democrats to join him in opposing the measure. The sole Republican - no surprise - was Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama who emerged in the CIR debate as Senator Nativist and may have done more to tar the Republican Party with an anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic image than anyone else in Congress.



The number of Democrats who supported Durbin was a bit of a surprise and it may be because Durbin is so powerful in the Democratic leadership and also simply to be partisan and not hand a victory to a Republican. Both are sorry reasons to vote for a measure that would deliver vital health care personnel to Americans who need those folks right now and also to provide for a modest increase in the H-1B cap for a single year when the H-1B lottery from last April shows that the demand for H-1Bs is far in excess of what is currently provided. I have yet to hear anyone on the anti-immigration side make the case that a quota set up 17 years ago for an economy much smaller than today's is an appropriate number of visas. The opponents of raising the numbers hate the H-1B visa as a rule and would kill the whole program. They do not argue that the program is just the right size.



What is really interesting to me, however, is not the Senate vote from yesterday. It is what will happen when Congresswoman Lofgren makes her move on business immigration issues. The Senate seems clearly incapably of dealing with immigration issues of any sort. Ms. Lofgren has emerged in recent weeks as the clear leader in the entire Congress on this issue and one has the feeling that when she rolls out her legislative agenda, she'll make some major waves. Hopefully, the momentum will carry over to the "upper" chamber on the other side of the Hill.

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Comments

  1. Pankaj's Avatar
    During the CIR debate, a few Senators banded together to introduce SKIL as an amendment. 3 Dem Senators were in that group: Cantwell (WA), Leahy (VT) and Schumer (NY), of whom at least Schumer is as powerful as Durbin.

    We should be lobbying them, and Boxer and Feinstein from CA. There's no reason for Silicon Valley's two Senators to be voting the wrong way on this.
  2. Pankaj's Avatar
    Should've checked the vote tally first - Schumer and Cantwell both voted for this amendment as well. Good for them.

    Leahy, however, voted against. So did Boxer and Feinstein.

    I think it is quite possible to get 50 votes for this on its own bill, but the question is whether Democrats will let it out of committee.
  3. john's Avatar
    Greg, Thank you very much for your continuing effort in bringing inside news of what can happen for the immigrant community. You must have a very big heart to provide this valuable but no cost info in your blog for every future immigrant whose entire career and establishment in USA relies on favorable legislative changes, if any. Wanted to say something more than mere "Thank you very much" for your invaluable time, effort, and time for us! Please keep our hope high...
  4. USC's Avatar
    "The measure did secure 55 votes and it stands to reason that the bill might have a shot if it is introduced as a standalone measure where only a majority of the 100 Senators is required."

    Unless, of course there is a threatened filibuster, then we need 60 Senators. The pro-immigration organizations need to get organized if we are going to get that number.
  5. Satish 's Avatar
    I just dont get it .. Most of the conservatives hate any immigration whether legal or illegal. Liberal leaders in senate love undocumented A.K.A illegal immigrants. As far as the liberals are concerned if you are here illegally you are here to make your life better, If you are here legally then you are here to steal the job. I think it may sound ugly and rude but as far as the dems in power are concerned , If you are here to clean our toilets its ok. But if you are here to do dispense pills as a pharmacist its not...
    I am hated by both sides for different reasons . I love this country because it gave me all the material wealth I have and helped my family in hour of need. God bless America.
  6. GC's Avatar
    Hate the Dems , they love illegals over legals , is that a incentive for me to go over to mexico and cross the border and be a poster boy of dems !!!!!! MRS CLINTON sorry i thought you are a woman or promise , but you are not , you are like everyone else !!! well then i should also be like every one else ... and i will be !!!
  7. GC's Avatar
    Hate the Dems , they love illegals over legals , is that a incentive for me to go over to mexico and cross the border and be a poster boy of dems !!!!!! MRS CLINTON sorry i thought you are a woman of promise , but you are not , you are like everyone else !!! well then i should also be like every one else ... and i will be !!!
  8. In Immigration Limbo's Avatar
    I think this makes it clear that you can't say that Democrats are more pro-legal-immigration than Republicans. Democrats tend to have more protectionist forces in their midst while big business tends to want more skilled immigrants.

    I am surprised Clinton voted against this. Not a good PR move for someone who wants to be President. Leaders, or wannabe leaders, need to demonstrate that they can rise above partisan politics.
  9. 's Avatar
    Sen. Durbin opposed it because Cornyn's amendment did not have safeguard measures that the H1B portion of immigration bill had Without these safeguards, companies may exploit the H1B program to the detriment of the American worker.

    BTW, its so very easy for legal immigrants to become "out of status" or illegal. Someday, those writing these hateful comments toward "illegals" might become one themselves.
  10. 's Avatar
    Edited:

    Sen. Durbin opposed the Cornyn amendment because it did not have safeguard measures that the H1B portion of the immigration bill had. Without these safeguards, companies may exploit the H1B program to the detriment of the American worker.

    BTW, its so very easy for legal immigrants to become "out of status" or illegal. Someday, those writing these hateful comments toward "illegals" might become one themselves.
  11. R. Lawson's Avatar
    "Senator Durbin has been emerging in recent months as one of the Senate's chief foes of legal immigration."

    That is not a fair statement. He is a foe of abuses in the system and won't support legislation that will harm American labor and guest workers. Good for him!

    It is quite a stretch to say that he is a "foe of legal immigration" considering his past voting record and recent statements.

    I know - you are required to try to get the "anti-immigrant" moniker attached to anyone that opposes any immigration legislation for any reason. It's how your side seems to operate. Quite frankly, you can only play the "anti-immigrant card" so many times until people start calling you on it. Senator Durbin is no anti-immigrant.

    You don't stop at anti-immigration. You go further to describe Senator Durbin as a "fierce opponent of legal immigrants". As if he has a dart board with immigrants on it, and now has brunch with Tancredo and dinner with Lou Dobbs to plan their "fierce attack" on immigrants everywhere.

    Does anyone here believe that Senator Durbin is "anti-immigrant"? I'd like to get anyone from the ILW on record with that one.

    You've gone too far this time Greg.
  12. R. Lawson's Avatar
    "I am hated by both sides for different reasons . I love this country because it gave me all the material wealth I have and helped my family in hour of need. God bless America."

    I love that you love OUR country. I don't hate you, and welcome you in fact.

    I dislike policies that don't consider the impact on American workers. Hate the policy, not the immigrant - that is my belief. If the shoe were on the other foot I would be doing the same thing you are doing.
  13. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Roy - Durbin has become a foe of legal immigration even when no case can be made for harming US workers. Case in point - nurses. The Senator has been blocking one nursing immigration bill after another over the last two years even though nursing salaries are skyrocketing in the wake of a well-documented shortage that is no even denied by the unions (and could rise to a million nurse shortage by 2020). We don't even have the option of training more nurses right now given a shortage of nurse instructors. The ANA is motivated by pure greed on this one. Show me an unemployed nurse and I'll show you someone who probably left a sponge in a patient during surgery. And show me another profession that only requires two years of eduction to enter where people are pushing in to the six figures in their salaries in some parts of the country.

    The Senator should be ashamed. His interest in making the ANA happy will translate in to more dead Americans. More and more studies are drawing the link between nurse-patient staffing ratios and mortality rates in hospitals and nursing homes. His actions are designed to perpetuate the shortage to artificially keep salaries irrationally elevated. And the most vulnerable Americans will pay the price. But I'm sure that's just fine with you, Roy.
  14. R. Lawson's Avatar
    "And the most vulnerable Americans will pay the price. But I'm sure that's just fine with you, Roy."

    Greg, why is it that you are arguing for an increase in the H-1b cap when vulnerable IT workers are getting stiffed? You want to have your cake and eat it too.

    If you want an increase in nurses, all you must do is argue for preference. At a time when 48% of the visas are going to IT companies - many of which already shown to be abusing the system - that is where you can get your numbers.

    Simply make the argument that nurses should come before junior level Java developers and there is an immediate increase right there.

    You aren't making that argument. You want to expand and already abused program. I have seen nothing but opposition from your side when it comes to correcting abuse. Quite often you pretend there is no abuse to speak of.

    Mr. Endelman - from your side - has some innovative ideas. Even if I don't agree with all of them, he certainly is thinking about fixing the problem. Why can't you be like Endelman ;-)
  15. yabadaba's Avatar
    http://immigrationvoice.org/forum/showthread.php?p=127979#post127979

    Greg do you think this kind of campaign would help?
  16. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    If I were back in high school debate, you would get an "F" for that response. You said Durbin was just fine and was simply out to protect workers. I demonstrated that this is a bogus argument by pointing out Durbin's opposition to every nurse immigration proposal that has come his way. So of course you change the subject.

    And that's usually how you work here. When someone presents a refutation of an argument of yours, you simply change the subject.
  17. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I've answered this question privately because I know folks like Roy are all too happy to relay what they read here to folks like the anti-immigrant Programmers Guild.

    But, yes, I do think there needs to be a targeting of Durbin.
  18. USC's Avatar
    "We don't even have the option of training more nurses right now given a shortage of nurse instructors. The ANA is motivated by pure greed on this one."

    This is true. This is also a great opportunity for the "American jobs for Americans" crowd to put their money where their mouth is. Go abroad, become a foreign student in a foreign country, get trained as a nurse, come back with a nursing job waiting for you.

    As an added bonus you will learn what it means to be a "foreign" student.
  19. paskal's Avatar
    uscis has issued an faq answering the most common questions
    the pd before July 31 bit is confirmed as expected
    but labor cert received after july 31 is fine since PD was at the time of filing...

    http://www.uscis.gov/files/pressrelease/EBFAQ1.pdf
  20. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Thanks Paskal - I've summarized the memo in a post that just went up.
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