On the heels of this administration’s heightened immigration enforcement through the inconsistent application of “prosecutorial discretion”, USCIS’ increased reliance upon unannounced H-1B audits and ICE’s I-9 audit money making machine, now comes President Obama’s recent online forum pronouncement that “the H-1B [program] should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field."
Is this truly the belief of our President or perhaps just a misguided attempt to placate the unemployed U.S. workforce?
To be sure, even a recently reduced 8.3% unemployment rate in the U.S. is unacceptable and must improve before the economy will respond accordingly. With that unfortunate reality, comprehensive immigration reform to address, among other things, job creation and expansion appears to be unattainable any time soon. But to completely undermine one of the few work visa categories available that can attract highly skilled foreign nationals to the U.S., is nothing but shortsighted.
For the time being, the question posed will remain unanswered as, apart from President Obama’s seemingly off-the-cuff pronouncement above, to date, the President has not offered any specifics about what changes he would like to see in the H-1B program. Perhaps we should refrain from reading too much into such ill-advised remarks as it is, of course, campaign season whether we like it or not. For example, we have yet to hear the President’s thoughts on the arbitrary cap set by Congress which currently has left U.S. employers without the option of hiring new H-1B workers for more than 8 months to come.
Perhaps most troubling is that the President’s latest pronouncement may underscore his lack of vision for true immigration reform—reform that would provide workable solutions that, when applied together, would fix the totality of our broken, outdated, and inadequate immigration system. A fix that would exponentially increase the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, increase wages for all workers, and grow the American economy for all.
Obama: Friend or foe to the H-1B program? The jury will most likely remain out for awhile.
Post Authored By: Anthony F. Siliato, Esq. and Scott R. Malyk, Esq. of Meyner and Landis LLP