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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

MANY HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION EMPLOYERS COULD BE FORCED TO USE BASIC PILOT PROGRAM

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The House passed the appropriations bill today for the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. Included in the bill was the following section:

SEC. 521. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to
enter into a contract with an entity that does not participate in the
basic pilot program described in section 403(a) of the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C.
1324a note).

This will affect many, many employers across the US if it is in the final bill. Hospitals that take Medicare patients and universities that participate in the federal student loan program are two examples that come to mind.



I'll have more to comment soon on how to use Basic Pilot and what it's all about, but just know that if you're in this group of employers, change is likely coming soon.



[UPDATE: Some of you have asked for information on the Basic Pilot program. Here's a White House fact sheet you might find helpful.

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  1. 's Avatar
    what is the basic pilot program? what sort of changes?
  2. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Greg, do your see this as positive or negative? I know it is hard to argue that a more complicated, regularized system is better, but there is 'the worse, the better' argument - if the employers are forced to comply with the laws, they are going to increase the pressure on Congress to pass laws that make sense.
  3. chap's Avatar
    It is a webbased program to verify the eligibility to work - if you are not a US citizen - which employers will be asked to participate in. Hope I'm correct!
  4. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I'm not against the Basic Pilot program. Look, CIR has failed and I don't think Congress is going to do much for illegal immigrants until the business community screams a lot louder and the American public is confident that we really have no choice. So unfortunately we're going to have to go through some pain before we move back to solving the fundamental problems in the immigration system.

    One concern I have is with many states requiring Basic Pilot program participation and now this further mandate (if it is passed), how is it being paid for? I'm not aware of any new appropriations to fund this big expansion of the program.
  5. In Immigration Limbo's Avatar
    Just a thought on the practical implications of forcing health care employers to verify status, which I think is the purpose of the program. This could exacerbate the already desperate nursing shortage. Nursing homes take Medicare patients and may be subject to this? It is a well known there is a large number of out of status nurses working in nursing homes. If they are found out and kicked out of the country, that could be a disaster for those who rely on their care. All the more reason to get Schedule A bridge sooner rather than later.
  6. USC's Avatar
    Senators defeat Republican proposal (Cornyn amendment) to re-capture numbers and give them mainly to Schedule A (nurses). Also same amendment had proposed to increases H1b's for 2008 to 115,000.

    Text of Amendment (scroll down half way):

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?r110:1:./temp/~r110HnsG2S:e32253:

    Roll call:

    http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=1&vote=00266









  7. Anon's Avatar
    I notice that Californian Democrats Boxer, Feinstein voted against this, as did several other Democrats. Why? Anyone know why they opposed this?
  8. USC's Avatar
    "I notice that Californian Democrats Boxer, Feinstein voted against this, as did several other Democrats. Why? Anyone know why they opposed this?"

    The EB1 category is expected to be current in October anyway. Perhaps, Greg can confirm whether or not EB1 needs more numbers.

  9. 's Avatar
    I dont get it ...
    the Yeas are 55, Nays are 40 ... doesnt that mean that it passed the voting but was rejected because it was ruled out of order?????
    unless the needed 60 votes ... but isnt 60 votes needed for the bill to be Veto proof and not otherwise?
  10. 's Avatar
    Before every one starts to bash Hillary : this is what someone on IV posted regarding Senate floor Amendment 2339... and now it sort of makes sense:

    My interpretation: the vote was not on Cornyn's amendment; in response to a Point of Order raised, there was a motion to waive the Budget Act for Cornyn's amendment (the Budget Act requires 60 "Yes" votes to bring to the floor amendments to appropriation bills); if 60 senators had voted "Yes" (and agreed to waive the Budget Act requirement for Cornyn's amendment), then a vote on the actual amendment would only have required a simple majority. But because only 55 voted "Yes", the amendment failed to obtain the waiver; it was out of order because it did not qualify as an amendment to this bill.

    Because 40 Dems voted no on the waiver does not mean they are opposed to the amendment; they just did not want to vote on this amendment on this bill.
    Reply With Quote
  11. paskal's Avatar
    nevertheless their action amounted to opposing the bill. not to be taken lightly. the silver lining is that a majority supports this bill. there will be times when a simple majority will do it...

    the whole point of the budget motion was to kill the bill. those who voted against refused to even allow the bill to come to a vote.
  12. USC's Avatar
    "there will be times when a simple majority will do it..."

    Whenever an attempt to increase visa numbers is made a budget point of order can usually be made. So, you will need 60 votes to amend the law.

    "Before every one starts to bash Hillary : this is what someone on IV posted regarding Senate floor Amendment 2339... and now it sort of makes sense:"

    Not really. Senators voted against this because they opposed the underlying amendment. The Democratic opposition stems from the facts that the amendment proposed to re-capture from all categories and then re-distribute accordingly to a Republican preference. For instance EB-3, numbers re-captured didn't all go to EB-3. The amendment gave 61,000 to Schedule A and then re-distributed the rest equally.

    A much fairer, simpler and permanent solution is to simply rollover the unused numbers to next years numbers.




  13. paskal's Avatar
    fair or not-
    i seriously doubt the democrats calculated the loss to the EB3 quota and decided they were not happy with it...btw the EB3 share in rollover is 28.6%- same as EB1 and 2. if these GC were equally divided EB 1, 2and 3 would all get 33%. I'm not sure i understand your point.
  14. USC's Avatar
    "fair or not-
    i seriously doubt the democrats calculated the loss to the EB3 quota and decided they were not happy with it...btw the EB3 share in rollover is 28.6%- same as EB1 and 2. if these GC were equally divided EB 1, 2and 3 would all get 33%. I'm not sure i understand your point."

    You aren't taking into account the 61,000 numbers that are going off the top to schedule A (Nurses). The rest are equally divided between EB1, EB2 & EB3. Does EB1 need any new numbers? This amendment was great if you were a nurse, didn't make a whit of difference if you were EB1 and wasn't so great (admitedly better than nothing) if you were EB2 or EB3.
  15. paskal's Avatar
    i'm still unclear why you think democrats opposed it.

    1. they did not want nurses to get GC numbers
    or
    2. they did not want EB1 to get GC numbers
    or
    3. they love EB3 and wanted them to get all the numbers

    all seem highly implausible
    i suggest the motives are more global and underly the whole deal rather than focus on the superficial details.
    Durbin wants to destroy H1B period. his opposition is to any gain for skilled immigrants. some like Sessions are similar- for different reasons. The rest of the Dems- who knows? maybe just partisan bickering.
  16. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    USC - I think you are overestimating the consideration the typical Senator gave to this bill. The few that understood it crossed party lines (Cantwell, for example). The rest looked at who was sponsoring the bill and who was the chief opponent. If you're a Democrat who doesn't really have a strong position on the issue, why pick a fight with Durbin when he can make your life miserable in terms of blocking your pet projects and causes? And why do a favor for Cornyn? Also, don't underestimate the power of the unions here. The Dems are really afraid of them and they've become more vocally anti-immigration in the high tech and health care areas of late.
  17. R. Lawson's Avatar
    "I'm not against the Basic Pilot program. "

    Good.

    "One concern I have is with many states requiring Basic Pilot program participation and now this further mandate (if it is passed), how is it being paid for?"

    Isn't it web based? I would assume the process would be rather trivial and with little cost to a business. Any reason to believe otherwise?

    I can't imagine how inputing data into a website would be much of a burden on businesses. I think this is just a cost of doing business and already part of an established process (collecting documentation for tax filings).

    The only possible hiccup I would see is errors in the system (like the 4 year olds who show up on the do not fly list) and false positives or false negatives. I think businesses need some sort of protection from lawsuits that result from these mixups.
  18. USC's Avatar
    Greg:

    The Democrats have their own proposal to increase the EB & FB. I looked for confirmation of this and found the following BW story.

    http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/jul2007/db20070718_068854.htm?chan=search

    So, apparently, you are right and there may be partisan politics at work here.

    As regards, the increase in H1B numbers that isn't going anywhere. If that hadn't been in the amendment you might have gotten a few more votes in favor but you might have lost Murray & Cantwell. Also possibly Wyden.

    As regards, your comments of individual Senators. My thoughts are:

    Sessions: Totally anti-immigrant. Votes No.
    Cantwell & Murray: MSFT needs H1Bs. Don't care about Durbin, care about MSFT. Vote Yes
    Durbin Factor: Your comments perceptive but out of the Senate Democratic leadership of Reid, Durbin, Schumer & Murray. Schumer & Murray voted for the amendment and I think Kennedy pretty much does what he wants without regard to friend or foe.

    So, my guess is that there is a Democratic proposal on this coming down the pike. That should be a lot better then, as you aptly said, the modest Cornyn amendment.

    I did some research on the CBA issue and this is what I found:

    http://allard.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=231884&Month=5&Year=2006

    At the conclusion of my remarks, I will be raising the point of order that this bill violates Section 407 of the Budget Resolution.

    Section 407 reads: "it shall not be in order to consider any bill, joint resolution, amendment, motion, or conference report that would cause a net increase in direct spending in excess of $5 billion in any of the four 10-year periods beginning in 2016 through 2055."

    So, even if the Democrats propose this as an independent bill we are going to need 60 votes. Time to organize!!
  19. In Immigration Limbo's Avatar
    USC,

    Don't forget that nurses are currently lumped into EB-3. Moving them out into a separate category would free up lots of numbers for others in EB-3.

    Hospitals, unlike companies like Microsoft, cannot set up operations in foreign countries. Nursing care must obviously be done locally. As for the unions, it is estimated that nursing schools in the U.S. would need to nearly double enrollment every year for the the next 10-15 years to graduate enough nurses to meet the demand (not gonna happen). The unions don't need to worry about foreign nurses taking jobs away from their members.

    This was also a great opportunity to increase H-1s by 50,000 a year. Too bad this was defeated.



  20. USC's Avatar
    paskal:

    See the BW story I posted. From the Cornyn amendment:

    (a) Recapture of Unused Employment-Based Immigrant Visas.--Section 106(d) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-313; 8 U.S.C. 1153 note) is amended--

    (A) in subparagraph (A), by striking ``1999 through 2004'' and inserting ``1994, 1996 through 1998, 2001 through 2004, and 2006''; and

    1999 thru 2004 (1999 & 2000 now de-captured or used) have previously been recaptured by the amended 2000 act. This amendment recaptures an additional 5 years, ie 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 & 2006. It de-captures 1999 & 2000. The BW articles says INS in 2006 wasted 10,000 numbers. If I use the same figures for the other years that is 50,000 re-captured. Out of that 61,000 goes to the nurses. What is left for the other EB categories? Even if I double the 10,000 and say maybe INS wasted 20,000 you end up with 90,000 (2006 was 10,000 per BW). That leaves 10,000 for each of the three EB categories.

    The point I make is that you can't trust Cornyn on immigration. This could be a fig leaf.

    Also, I agree with Greg that including H1B in this didn't help the amendment.
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