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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

TEN THINGS TO FIX BEFORE PASSING A SENATE IMMIGRATION BILL

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The Senate's immigration bill is chock full of problems, but
clearly it's moving. Here is my quick list of ideas for making the bill better if this is what we're stuck with.

>


1.    Restore
     the Employment-Based Immigration Categories






Senate Republicans who dislike "chain migration" and the
green card lottery succeeded in getting a merit-based point system included in
the bill. But they got carried away and scrapped the employment-based
immigration system as well. The outstanding researcher/professor, extraordinary
ability artists/athletes/scientists/educators, national interest, physicians
for medically underserved areas and nurse categories are all whacked as well as
the labor certification system which requires employers to go through an
extensive recruiting process to prove that Amersonname w:st="on">

eric

ersonname>an
workers are not available to work at a competitive wage. The employment-based
immigration system was not broken and didn't need this fixin'.



>>



>

2.   

>Fix
     the Sanders Amendment











What planet where two-thirds of Senators on when they
decided that it was a good idea to impose an extra $10,000 of fees on top of
the $6300 already paid in H-1B applications. Tack on legal fees and you're
looking at more than $20,000 per H-1B worker. All this will do is cause Amersonname w:st="on">

eric

ersonname>an employers to look to accelerate outsourcing
plans and employ workers overseas where they are both available and won't
bankrupt the company. And non-profits and smaller companies will simply do
without. When your kid is in a classroom with 45 other kids next year, thank
Bernie Sanders.>





3.    Get
     rid of the one year gaps in the Y visa.









The Senate bill requires Y visa guestworkers to leave the lace w:st="on">

US

lace> after two
years of work and then go home for a year before coming back. Two years is not
enough time to get a worker trained and productive and the constant churn of
employees is simply not good business. If the Senate insists on a home return
requirement, extend the length of the admission period to something more
reasonable like four years.>





4.    Move
     spouses and minor children of permanent residents into the immediate
     relative category.>







Most Amersonname w:st="on">

eric

ersonname>ans
are surprised when they find out a husband or wife who we've welcomed as a
permanent resident in this country must wait five years or more to be reunified
with their spouse. Even hard core immigration restrictionists don't classify
this group as part of the "chain migration" problem. While S.1348 shifts some
of the numbers from the eliminated family categories to this group, why should
they be treated differently than citizens' spouses and children? The
petitioners are people we expect to become lace w:st="on">

US

lace> citizens and the main effect of
this policy is to cause unneeded hardship.





5.    Grandfather
     employment-based green card cases filed prior to the effective date of the
     point system.>









When I first read the point system section of the statute, I
thought the language did, in fact, allow cases filed up to the point system
commencement date to be considered. The language says that cases pending on the
effective date will be allowed to continue. But there is a subclause earlier in
the paragraph that says that the application must also be filed before the law was introduced. That's May 15, 2007. So any
cases being filed now until potentially up to September 30, 2008 will be
flushed down the toilet if the bill passes. Surely no one in Congress thinks
this is good public policy?





>



6.    Bring
     back experience equivalency in H-1B cases.
>







Under current law, H-1B applicants can show they are
qualified in a specialty occupation by showing they have the appropriate
university degree or equivalent experience. For every year of university that's
lacking, an applicant must show three years of progressive experience in his or
her field. Maybe you're an engineer with
a Ph.D. who has taught high school math for ten years or a journalist with a
business degrees and several years experience writing for newspapers. Or maybe
you're a computer programmer with 25 years experience and began work in the
field when university degrees weren't available. Too bad - you're not welcome
anymore on an H-1B visa.



>



7.    Don't
     restrict doctors to the J-1 visa.
>









Physicians currently coming to the lace w:st="on">

US

lace> to train
enter on either the J-1 or the H-1B visa. Those that come on the J-1 must
usually work in an underserved area before they can permanently settle in the lace w:st="on">

US

lace>. Doctors
who train on H-1Bs do not have a service requirement. In fact, the H-1B cap
rules actually discourage many from going to underserved areas because they
cannot get a visa when they finish their training. A section of S.1348 would
require all doctors to come on J-1s. Unfortunately, there are only 1,500 waiver
slots available each year and between three and four times as many physicians who
come on visas. So the change will mean many more physicians have to leave the
country when they finish training. Furthermore, many top medical research
institutions don't qualify for those J-1 waivers and risk losing their best
candidates to overseas institutions. A better approach would be to give
incentives to H-1B physicians to work in underserved areas such as exemptions
from the H-1B and green card caps.




8.    Put
     the SKIL Act back in.>






Last year the Senate bill included provisions creating a
variety of carrots including H-1B and green cap exemptions to attract high
level professionals in science, technology, engineering and math as well as in
medicine. Plus, it created a green card cap exemption for nurses, a field with
a frightening shortage expected to last for decades as the lace w:st="on">

US

lace> population
ages. S.1348 left most of it out. If the Senate truly wants to make the lace w:st="on">

US

lace>
more
competitive, it needs to put SKIL back in.



>



9.  Combine the family
immigration and points-based immigration system.









There are many strong arguments that family-based immigrants
integrate well in to the lace w:st="on">

US

lace>
and family immigration has been a major success over the generations. Rather
than scrapping the categories for adult children, why not add elements of a
point system where family immigrants would be prioritized based on a merit
system. In other words, a sister of a lace w:st="on">

US

lace> citizen with a Ph.D. will be
prioritized over one with no high school degree. Call it the family "plus"
system where family relationships would be required in these categories, but
someone would need to bring something additional to the table.>


10.     Move
     the family cut off date from May 2005 to the date of enactment.







If the family categories are to be scrapped, then at least
be fair about it. The statute says that only cases filed prior to May 2005 will
be processed and that everyone after that date is out of luck and must re-file
under the point system (assuming the person is eligible). One can debate
whether the categories should go, but it is really unjust to deny all the cases
of people who were just following the rules. The statute doesn't even offer a
refund of the filing fees. Better to just consider all cases filed prior to the
law passing.



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Comments

  1. R. Lawson's Avatar
    I love to watch the corporate CEOs of major IT firms squirm at the H-1b provisions.

    The American middle class is finally getting some long overdue recognition in this debate. Hopefully the days of immigration as labor arbitrage are over. Somehow, I doubt that it is though.

    It can only get worse for industry interests in the house - assuming the bill makes it that far.

    Obviously we are on opposite sides of the fence here. I give the bill a slim chance of passing both houses. The H-1b probably won't sink it - but the issue of legal/illegal immigration probably will.

    BTW - the H-1b cap went way up. Corporations only seem to want foreign labor if it comes cheaply. Go figure.
  2. Greg, you're  wrong on point #1!!!!!!'s Avatar
    Greg says "The employment-based immigration system was not broken and didn't need this fixin'."

    He couldn't be more wrong. Currently, immigrants are at the mercy of their employers. An H1-B who loses his job automatically loses legal status immediately. Effectlively this makes an H1B an indentured servant. An H1B must live in fear of being laid off or fired.

    Also, did you know employers are not legally required to inform H1B's of the status of their paperwork or even to follow through on all paperwork. I know someone who was legally on H1B and then became illegal because the employer did not file all the needed paperwork in time, leading to USCIS cancelling the H1-B petition RETROACTIVELY. This person thought he was legal the whole time, about 2 years, but now is subject to the 10 year bar, and it is not his fault.

    A point system will make it impossible for employers to mistreat employees. The employee will no longer be at the mercy of the employer.

    Is there any recourse for people like my friend? Not under the current immigration system.
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