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Mother Jones, the left-wing publication that recently made news by releasing the infamous Romney 47% video, has an intriguing story about Mia Love, the young woman who is running for Congress in Utah who is the daughter of Haitian immigrants and who was the rare African-American woman available to speak at the Republican National Convention. Love talks frequently about her being the daughter of immigrants and has told an odd tale of her parents benefiting from a change in the law in 1976 that rewarded them for having a child in the US. That must be family lore because there was no such change in the law and it has been nearly 80 years since having a child in the US created any immigration rights (children born here cannot sponsor parents until their 21st birthdays). I suspect the parents came on tourist visas and probably were out of status at some point and then eventually acquired permanent residency. Now that Love has been challenged on her assertions, suddenly the campaign is avoiding talking about the issue.
Normally I wouldn't care, but Love has been especially harsh in attacking illegal immigration. If her own parents were out of status and able to become permanent residents, then she has some explaining to do.
[Update: Maybe there's something to Love's assertion. A friend, Margaret Stock, has been talking to some older practitioners to get the lay of the land 35 years back to see how INA Section 101(b) has changed. Was Love the last true "anchor baby"? I know we all hate that term, but as the law for decades has required children to be 21 to sponsor parents for green cards. We certainly don't have a system today that provides immigration benefits based on being able to enter the US and have a child here. Unless you believe in Louis Gohmert's terror babies. Here's Stuart Anderson's take.]
You're seeing this news here first. Attorney David Rubman in Chicago, Illinois has just shared with me the answer to a Freedom of Information Act request which definitively shows that USCIS has been undercounting H-1B usage by nearly 15% over the last five years. Approximately 45,000 too few H-1Bs have been approved between fiscal year 2008 and 2012. USCIS is required to approve 65,000 H-1B visas per year. They determine when the H-1B cap is hit each year based on their estimate of how many cases will be denied. They also are supposed to add withdrawn H-1Bs back to the total. USCIS has had wildly inaccurate estimates of their denial rates which has resulted in the undercounting. For example, for the current fiscal year, USCIS stopped accepting applications last January. But their data shows only 55,706 applications were approved and 1,820 cases were withdrawn. That means 11,000 more applications should have been approved.
This is an extremely serious failure on the part of USCIS and the employer community deserves an explanation. Right now, we're in a 13 month blackout with no H-1Bs available. The cap for the coming fiscal year was reached last June. USCIS more than likely has undercounted again and they need to reopen the application process. Furthermore, USCIS needs to add back cap numbers to account for the undercounting.
Here are the numbers for each of you to see. Now let us see how USCIS responds.
The Rs could only muster 257 votes, far short of the 2/3 needed for the bill to pass through a special expedited process called a suspension vote.
I did watch the debate on the bill. The main issue debated was not over the merits of making it easier to bring in STEM professionals, but whether the green card lottery should be scrapped in exchange for more STEM green card numbers. I do think the lottery has had a number of success stories over the years and deserves to stay in place. On the other hand, I think that if there's a choice between 55,000 green cards going to lottery winners versus those 55,000 going to STEM professionals, I think the country would benefit much more from having the additional STEM professionals. Hopefully, a deal can be worked out. Perhaps look at adding more family numbers to the mix as well (without cutting the STEM numbers) and I'll bet you'll get a lot of Democratic votes.
A few days ago I reported that Mitt Romney gave a speech to the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce promising to fix the immigration system without actually offering any concrete plans beyond what he's said in the primaries (vetoing the DREAM Act, supporting the Arizona immigration law, and focusing on getting unauthorized immigrants to "self-deport"). He addressed a Univision forum on Wednesday at the University of Miami and largely re-stated the same message. President Obama hasn't deliverered on immigration reform, but he will. He has yet to explain why he'll succeed in getting his own party to go along when President Bush failed miserably. And what's with the weird spray on tan he wore at the forum?