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Sen. Sessions Blasts H-1B as Part of His Anti-Immigrant Agenda. By Roger Algase

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Usually, when we see the words "Immigration Handbook", we expect to see a publication that will help to guide us through the complexities of the immigration laws and give us practical advice about how to deal with them.

But the office of Senator Jeff Sessions (R. Alabama), who , together with Rep. Steve King (R. Iowa) is one of the two most vocal immigration opponents in the entire Congress, has now issued an "Immigration Handbook" directed to his fellow Congressional Republicans which is intended, not to explain our immigration system, but to destroy that system as we know it.

This publication, dated January, 2015, has the title:

IMMIGRATION HANDBOOK FOR THE NEW REPUBLICAN MAJORITY: A Memo For Republican Members From Sen. Jeff Sessions

Senator Sessions' 23 page publication, which might more properly be called a manifesto rather than a handbook, is an attack on America's entire immigration system from beginning to end, not only with regard to unauthorized or "illegal" immigration, but to legal immigration as well.

With regard to unauthorized immigration, Sessions calls for the most draconian enforcement measures imaginable, including, to give just one example turning away children arriving at our borders automatically, no matter how strong their asylum claims may be.

Concerning low skilled legal immigration, Sessions appeals to the age old fear that American workers will have their jobs swept away be a tidal wave of foreign citizens, while at the same time arguing that these same foreign citizens do not want to work, but are only interested in receiving government welfare benefits.

I will not dwell on these parts of the senator's manifesto, because Americans have been hearing similar aguments coming from nativist spokespersons for more than 150 years, beginning with the anti-Irish Know-Nothing movement in the mid 19th century, with only the targeted ethnic groups changing over the years from then until now.

Instead my comments will be concerned with the senator's attack on the H-1B program, which he appears to view as just one more aspect of the unmitigated evil of immigration in general, with its alleged threat to destroy America's sovereignty and prosperity.

Senator Sessions' attacks, while directed by implication against the entire H-1B program, are focused on high skilled workers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). In short, the workers who most employers and independent experts agree are the most badly needed in the US are the ones whom Sessions regards as being the greatest threat of all to the jobs of American workers. In the section of his "Handbook" called "THE SILICON VALLEY HOAX", Sessions writes:

"The false claim that has gained the most acceptance is the notion that there is a shortage of qualified Americans with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Therefore, the fallacious reasoning goes, the United States must expand the already substantial influx of foreign quest worker to fill there jobs. But the evidence proves the opposite: not only is there no shortage of qualified Americans ready, able and eager to fill these jobs, there is a huge surplus of Americans trained in these fields who are unable to find employment.

It is understandable why large technology firms push the discredited STEM myth - a loose labor market for IT and STEM jobs keeps pay low, allows for sustained employer turnover without having to retain older employees with increased compensation, and provides a PR basis for the industry's immigration lobbying campaign. What is not understandable is why they have gotten away with it for so long."

In other words, according to Sen. Sessions, high skilled immigration is only a strategy by the big corporations to lower the wages of and take away jobs from American workers, including older ones. This argument, which has also long been as staple of right wing populism, might have more force if Sessions and his supporters in Congress actually had a record of voting for minimum wage laws and stronger protections against sending American jobs offshore. But they do not, and their concern for the jobs and wages of American workers in general is far from being readily apparent.

But the myth that high tech workers steal American jobs without doubt is a major factor, if not the single most important factor preventing Congress from passing a long overdue increase in the number of H-1B visas so that American can continue to attract high skilled workers from all over the world instead of sealing off its borders against people who can so so much to help grow our economy and enable the US to maintain its pre-eminence in IT and many other fields.

Therefore, instead of ignoring Sessions and other anti-immigrants extremists, H-1B supporters need to look at his arguments in detail and refute them head on. Otherwise, Sessions' attacks against the H-1B program may continue to have wide influence behind the scenes and to be a major factor in preventing H-1B reform.

The source of Senator Sessions' "facts" about the alleged lack of real need for H-1B STEM workers by US employers will be discussed in more detail in a forthcoming post.

To be continued:
__________________________________
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing employment and family-based immigration law for more than 30 years. H-1B is one of his major areas of concentration, and he has extensive experience in analyzing and rebutting the various arguments that USCIS is constantly inventing in order try to delay or deny approvable H-1B petitions by issuing unnecessary and all too frequent RFE's.

In addition to H-1B petitions, Roger also deals with O-1 work visas, and green cards through Labor Certification (PERM), extraordinary ability (EB-1) and opposite sex or same sex marriage, among other immigration and citizenship cases. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com


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Updated 01-26-2015 at 09:33 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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