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Gary Endelman on Immigration Policy and Law

Beware of What You Wish For: Is " The Fairness for HIgh-Skilled Immigration Act" Really A Good Idea?

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    On October 28, 2011, the House Judiciary Committee approved a proposal brought forward by Tea Party favorite Congressman Jason Chaffetz(R-UT) with the support of Rep. Zoe Loefgren (D-Cal), an ardent advocate for more immigration, and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tx), not previously known for his pro-immigration stands.  Such diverse parentage suggests this is one bill that might actually go places. So, it might be worth a few moments to find out what it says.


     Right now, the INA permits the issuance of 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas each fiscal year with the nationals of any one country limited to 7% of that total. Under HR 3012, the so-called Fairness for High-Skilled Workers Act, would remove the per country cap on EB migration entirely, raise the cap on family migration to 15%, and stop taking 1,000 numbers from EB-2 China to compensate for the Chinese Student Protection Act. There are transitional rules for Fiscal Years 2012(October 1, 2011-September 30, 2012) through FY 2014 under which a certain percentage of immigrant visas would go to nationals who are natives of a foreign state or dependent area that was not one of two countries with the largest number of natives obtaining LPR status in that fiscal year. In FY 2012, this percentage would be 15% and would decline to 10% for the following two fiscal years.


According to the report issued by the Office of Immigration Statistics in late October,  Mexico sent more immigrants than any other country(3.3 million or 26%) followed by the Philippines (560,000 or 4.4%) after which came China (550,000 or 4.4%), India (500,000 or 4.0%) and then the Dominican Republic(440,000 or 3.5%).  The top 10 sending countries, including Cuba, Canada, El Salvador, Vietnam and the United Kingdom, accounted for 55 % of all permanent residents in FY 2010.


    The motives behind HR 3012 are laudable, to end the chronic backlogs in EB-3 and EB-2 migration from China and India; to allow highly-skilled scientists and engineers to make the US economy more competitive; and to avoid having to send this top talent to our competitors abroad so that more white collar jobs can flee these shores. Amen to all that! The IT industry and the immigration bar are in hog heaven as we used to say in Flatbush.  So, what's not to like? Isn't this what we all want and have been asking for?


The current system discriminates against nationals of China and India based on their country of origin. It is essentially an unintended but no less brutally effective revival of the  hated national origins quota enacted in 1924 to  keep Jews and Catholics from coming to the United States. Now we  keep out highly educated STEM Degree holders from China and India. What would the end result of lifting the cap on EB per country migration be? It would mean  that those born in these two countries would virtually monopolize all available EB visa numbers each fiscal year. By ending the inanity and inequity of treating Chinese and Swiss nationals the same, Congress would be effectively creating an equally pernicious regime that will admittedly treat everyone equally but, in practice, would keep out nationals of every country save for India and China. Everyone else would be infinitely worse off than they are now. The yawning EB backlogs for China and India would disappear to be replaced by equally discouraging queues for the rest of the world.


    Do we really want to create an employment-based green card system that only works for India and China?  Should discrimination against an educated workforce from these two countries be shelved only to discriminate against no less talented professionals from everywhere else? Why would those who favor diversity in college admission and employment hiring not recognize its value in immigration quotas? Doubtless advocates would contend that spreading the pain around is the best, maybe the only way, to get Congress to enlarge our manifestly inadequate EB quotas and they could be right. Before we join in the chorus for this radical move away from geographic neutrality, why not consider an alternative such as giving China and India a preferred position but not scrapping EB per country limits entirely? Remember the old adage: Beware of What You Wish For- You May Get It!


 


 


 


 

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Comments

  1. Immigrant's Avatar
    This is one of the stupidest and poorly written article ever. You failed to explain how an advance degree holder from I/C is inferior to the one from Swiss. You never bothered about people who are stuck in the system for a decade...

    wait a minute, its a business for you. If people stuck in the line forever, holy cow, its a cash cow for you.
  2. Another Immigrant's Avatar
    "Do we really want to create an employment-based green card system that only works for India and China"

    Well, if the other countries cannot compete with quality of individuals from India and China there is no reason for this. May the best man win. You cannot discriminate based on Country of Origin in a competitive market. This is totally a stupid argument that India and China will dominate the Green card queue. If another country has the skills then be competitive enough to get in front and not bank on the discrimination policy. America raves of not discriminating anyone, but here is a policy that just does the opposite of what you preach. It must be corrected.

  3. Jeff's Avatar
    Great article!

    HR3012 is written to give India, and to a lesser extent China, a lock on the entire employment based immigration system. Instead of companies being able to hire skilled (EB2) immigrants immediately, except for I/C, now nobody will be able to hire.

    Instead of being a first step to real immigration reform, this will permit Congress to wash their hands of the whole issue and say "What do you want, we reformed immigration!" while having done nothing more than re-arrange the deck chairs upon the Titanic.
  4. MS's Avatar
    Gary, thoughtful article that touches on the core of some basic EB immigration realities.
    If you think it is laudable to reduce backlogs for I/C, then why should be there an upper limit on EB at all? Why not let it go upto 1m or 10m whatver US employers file for each year? That will remove all backlogs.
    Clearly IT and related sectors in the US are 'taken over' by I/C. Is there not a responsibility of US govt to provide basic protections to US citizens wanting these jobs? Would you support EB for attorneys?
    If I/C are about a third of the world population, should they not get majority of immigration numbers or does US have imperative for a 'cultural balance'?
  5. Sunil Pallemoni's Avatar

    Thoughtful article but not entirely truthful.

    You say, Should discrimination against an educated workforce from these two countries be shelved only to discriminate against no less talented professionals from everywhere else?

    Bu hasnt the system already been discriminating workforce from India and Chince since 1992 to present just because of the country of Origin.

    India and China produce the best talent as such need more numbers, more importantly, there are people from India and China languishing for decades because of the backlog that has been created because of this discrimination resulting from country of Origin quota.
  6. limbo's Avatar
    HR3012 isn't about fairness, or hiring the best candidate for the job. It's about giving India, and to a lesser extent China, a virtual monopoly on EB immigration. If it were about hiring the best candidate for the job regardless of country of origin, why are there shell companies set up in the U.S. that hire exclusively H-1s from India? Aren't there smart people in other countries, or Americans for that matter, who could do the job? Selling green cards has become profitable industry for some crooked people who are gaming the system. Let's not be naive here. If this passes without a crackdown on EB immigration fraud and abuse, it will be an absolute victory for those crooked people who are getting rich at the expense of immigrants from all other countries. Shameful.
  7. Neil's Avatar
    Fundamental flaw in an otherwise good blog - "The yawning EB backlogs for China and India would disappear to be replaced by equally discouraging queues for the rest of the world."

    You are contradicting yourself dude. Once the per country limit is lifted, everyone would be in the 'rest of the world' category, including Indians and Chinese and Mexicans and Phillipinos. So, if you are including Indians and Chinese in your definition of 'rest of the world' you are good, if not, you have majorly contradicted yourself. Speak up.
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