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Is Right Wing Extremism at the Root of the H-1B Shortage? By Roger Algase

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.

The news that USCIS has received 172,500 H-1B cap petitions for Fiscal Year 2015 has touched off a storm of outrage and handwringing over the fact that, this year, only one third of the cap subject H-1B petitions on behalf of bachelor degree holders will be accepted for filing this year, and the other two-thirds will be rejected for lack of available visas.

For US master degree holders, the odds will be only slightly better - about 50 percent can expect to have their petitions accepted for filing; the rest will be rejected.

The anger and frustration over the stubborn refusal of Congress over the past decade to make enough visas available was well expressed in Cyrus D. Mehta's April 11 article in Immigration Daily, and there is little that anyone could add to his comments.

However, wringing our hands and blaming Congress alone will not produce any solution. As Mr. Mehta points out, even enactment of the Senate CIR bill, S. 744 into law would not have solved that problem. That bill makes more visas available, but at the cost of coming very close to killing the whole H-1B program.

It reminds one of the Biblical story of the woman who asked King Solomon to double the baby's number of mothers from one to two, (just as S. 744 would about double the number of H-1B visas), by cutting the baby in half and giving one half to each woman who claimed to be the baby's real mother. (1 Kings 3:16-28)

This post will explore the question why it is so difficult to get Congress to pass an increase in the number of H-1B visas. Future posts in this three part series will rebut the mistaken assumption that the administration has no power to remedy the shortage on its own, absent Congressional action - something that is almost as big a myth as the idea that the president has no power to halt deportations.

My posts will also delve into the issue of the many meritorious H-1B petitions that attract unwarranted USCIS Service Center RFE's or denials because of an Agency policy of pursuing anti-immigrant ideology instead of following the law - something that the California Service Center, in particular, is notorious for and has developed almost into an art form.

To begin with the question of why Congress seem to be unable to to anything about the H-1B crisis, it might be useful to start with the John Birch Society.

What - the John Birch Society? Does anyone under sixty even know who they were? Or are, since to my surprise, they still seem to be around?

To take a look back into history, the John Birch Society was made up the right wing crazies who were calling Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower a "Communist Tool" back in the 1950's. They were the ones who were shouting that the UN was also a Communist plot to destroy American sovereignty.

Their right wing views were so extreme that, according to Wikipedia, even William F. Buckley, then editor of the National Review and one of the leading conservative voices of that period, was worried that the John Birch Society might be turning into a quasi-fascist group.

Well, the John Birch Society is still around. I don't know if they have ever accepted the fact that President Eisenhower was not zctually a Communist in the mid-20th century, but there is one thing that we do know about them now. In the second decade of the 21st century, this far right organization doesn't like the idea of immigration reform.

In their publication The New American, the John Birch Society is running an article dated April 10 appears with the title: Obama Administration Weakens Illegal Immigration Enforcement.

Even though the article's main focus is illegal immigration, it also includes legal immigration in its typical right wing paranoia about how America is about to be inundated by an "overwhelming wave" of immigrants "taxing our nation's resources" and "racing north" because of "changes in the economies of Latin America and the US."

The article quotes the Migration Policy Institute, a respected non-partisan Washington think tank as saying:

"There will be more pressure for immigrants - both legal and illegal- to come to the United States."

It is a far cry from this to the "overwhelming" wave, especially coming from Mexico, where net immigration to the US is currently estimated as zero, according to the latest reports.

But not to worry. The familiar right wing "heroes" Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are in there manning the barricades against "amnesty", which seems to have replaced "Communist" as the John Birch Society's favorite bugaboo. more than a half century after its attacks against President Eisenhower.

What does all this have to with the H-1B visa shortage? The answer, in my view, is everything. As the above article makes clear, America's right wing is not only opposed to illegal immigration, but to all immigration.

immigration opponents are not interested in distinguishing between an unskilled agricultural or restaurant worker who may have come across the Mexican border without authorization and someone for India or China who has a US master degree in Engineering or Computer Science and whose skills are badly needed by a major high tech US corporation.

In the view of organizations like the far right extremist John Birch Society, as well as its direct successor, the Tea Party, all foreign workers, especially those who do not happen to be white, are mortal threats to America.

As long as our politicians in both parties continue to grovel in obeisance to the Lamar Smiths, the Jeff Sessions' and the Ted Cruz's among us (I am surprised that the above article doesn't mention Rep. Steve King - R-Iowa - is his overt racism too much even for the John Birch Society?) no one should be surprised as the shortage of H-1B visas grows even more irrational and intolerable.
_________________________________

Roger Algase is a New York Lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping professional, business and family immigration clients overcome the obstacles of our complex immigration system for more than 30 years. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com

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Updated 04-14-2014 at 06:55 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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