Immigration Law Blogs on ILW.COM
, 11-22-2016 at 05:08 AM (11965 Views)
As everyone involved with immigration knows, there are four agencies of the federal government which together have control over almost everything sub sole that affects our immigration system.
The first is, of course, the Department of Homeland Security, which decides who is eligible for various types of immigration classifications or status through USCIS, admits people to the US through CBP, and enforces the laws against unauthorized immigration through ICE.
Next, of course, is the Department of State, which issues visas. Then comes the Department of Justice, which controls the deportation system through the EOIR and prosecutes immigration related crimes.
Finally, there is the Department of Labor, which is responsible for issuing labor certifications and certifying labor condition applications for employment based green cards and certain temporary work categories, such as H-1B.
Obviously, the people who are appointed to run these agencies have tremendous power over the direction in which these agencies will move in terms of pursuing either more liberal immigration policies or more restrictive ones.
In keeping with his campaign promises to pursue stricter immigration policies, which were often accompanied by inflammatory rhetoric highlighting the perceived dangers of "uncontrolled" both legal and illegal immigration to America's economy and society, as in his August 31 Phoenix immigration manifesto, President-elect Trump, has already announced the appointment of one of America's most powerful and influential opponents of all immigrant, Senator Jeff Sessions, to head the Justice Department as the next Attorney General.
This will give him the power to appoint immigration judges who are hostile to immigration in general, fire immigration judges who are not and to do the same with members of the Board of Immigration Appeals.
The Justice Department could, and almost certainly will, be turned into a vast deportation machine, in keeping with Trump's promise to begin deporting up to 3 million "criminal aliens" immediately upon taking office.
Suppose there are not enough immigrants with criminal conviction records already in the United States to fulfill this hefty quota. The Attorney General can create them by stepping up prosecutions for a variety of immigration-related crimes which are already on the books, including the reliable standby that the Obama administration has already made extensive use of, EWI.
Moreover, even the threat that an employer who meticulously follows all of the complex immgration rules for hiring foreigh workers may face criminal investigation or prosecution on Trumped-up "fraud" or minor or inadvertent paperwork violation charges, may be enough to discourage many employers from hiring even the most qualified and badly needed foreign workers.
This could close America's doors to skilled and professional workers from countries such as India and China which do not fit neatly into the ideology of advisors to the new president such as Stephen Bannon, who, in a 2014 Vatican symposium, called himself a "nationalist" with a mission to protect "traditional" civilization of the "Judeo-Christian West". (In other words, no immigrants who are not white Europeans need apply.) See:
If in fact President Trump is serious about reducing legal immigration to "historical" levels and revisiting "outmoded", "decades-old" immigration laws such as the 1965 immigration reform law which ended 80 years of white supremacist immigration laws including the Chinese exclusion laws and the 1924 Johnson-Reed immigration act, as he more than hinted at doing in his August 31 Phoenix immigration manifesto, what better way could there be to accomplish this than by threatening to put US employers who hire foreign workers from countries outside the "traditional", "Judeo-Christian West" in jail?
Horseman Number 1.
The next of the four horsemen, though he or she has not been appointed yet, could well be the head of the Labor Department. On November 21, Trump announced that he would "direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker".
At the very outset, this would appear to refer to two visa programs with which the Department of Labor is heavily involved, the above mentioned Labor Certification green card and the H-1B specialty occupation work visa. Even though both of these programs have built in safeguards to protect the salary levels of US workers, and one of them, the Labor Certification green card, requires the recruitment of US workers through an extensive and complex system of regulations, both have come under extensive criticism from Trump - at the reported instigation of none other than - guess who - the new Attorney General designate himself, Senator Jeff Sessions. See:
(To be fair, the above Reuters report states that some liberal Democrats, such Senators Bernie Sanders, Richard Durbin and Sherrod Brown, have also had questions about the use of the H-1B visa by companies such as Southern California Edison which allegedly used this visa in order to lay off US workers and replace them by foreign workers.)
The Secretary of Labor also has wide invesigation powers, which Trump yesterday appears to have invited, if not actually ordered the Labor Department to use against employers of foreign workers.
This could very likely lead to witch hunts across America against employers of foreign workers (especially ones from the non-"traditional", "Judeo-Christian" areas of the world).
Will the Secretary of Labor, whoever this may be, be Horseman Number 2?
Potential Horsemen Numbers 3 and 4, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State, will be looked at in Part 2.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world, and a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, obtain work visas and green cards. Roger's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org