Shortly before Congress adjourned for its summer break, what it aggrandizingly likes to refer to as “constituent work days,” the House of Representatives passed a horrible immigration bill.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who never met a bill to expand the foreign-born labor pool at American workers’ expense she didn’t lovingly embrace, championed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, urging her colleagues to vote for the bill which she claimed would make a “modest, but important change to our immigration laws.”
In short, the bill would prioritize employment-based Green Cards nationals from one country - India. Over the next decade, and assuming the bill which will end country caps becomes law, an estimated 600,000 Indian nationals will receive their Green Cards. Other nationals hoping to work in the U.S. will be shut out. Lofgren and other supporters argue that the “fairness” from the bill’s title is required because of the huge backlog of Indians awaiting their Green Cards.
But why is the backlog so long for India? The H-1B visa, originally temporary for three years with a quasi-automatic three-year renewal, is now dual intent, meaning that the visa offers the path to a Green Card. For a long-term perspective on how the H-1B has changed over the decades, in the early 1990s, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl in her segment titled “North of the Border” laughed out loud at the suggestion that a six-year visa could be considered temporary. But now the H-1B all but guarantees permanent residency. And Indian multinationals, such as Infosys, Tata and Wipro, have long dominated the H-1B visa.
When Congress returns after Labor Day, the Senate will take up S. 386. In the Upper Chamber, the bill will receive more resistance, although not necessarily enough to kill it. The bill, originally sponsored by senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), has 34 cosponsors, including 19 Republicans. The 34 are cravenly indifferent to the U.S. job loss that Americans have suffered because of the harmful H-1B. Not only has cheap labor displaced Americans from their well-paid jobs, they have had to suffer the indignity of training their less-qualified replacements, and then have to try to put their lives back together, no small task for someone who is unemployed and middle age in a country where it now seems acceptable to openly discriminate against those over the age of 50.
Advocates on both sides of the bill are gearing up for an intense fight once Congress reconvenes. The pro side is extraordinarily well-funded, and plugged in, while the groups fighting to protect U.S. workers are counting on a grassroots uprising, the kind that defeated the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty and employment-based visa giveaway.
While advocates that hope to defeat the misnamed bill have focused their attention almost exclusively on retaining the country cap guidelines, a larger threat looms. Immigration Voice, one the bills wealthy advocates, is considering expanding its goal to include the tens of thousands of Chinese nationals also in line for their Green Cards.
A Washington Examiner op-ed supported Senator Rand Paul’s radical bill, the BELIEVE Act, to more than double employment-based visas. This is an American job-busting idea so far off the rails that it’s impossible to digest. Paul proposes that the total number of employment-based visas allotted increase to 270,000 from 140,000, and would also grant work permission to foreign nationals’ spouses and their teenage children.
For American workers, the post-Labor Day legislative session represents crunch time; it’s well-heeled lobbyists and their compliant congressional friends versus citizens who repeatedly have expressed a desire for less immigration.
The outcome is uncertain, but crucial to the nation’s future.
Joe Guzzardi is an analyst with Progressives for Immigration Reform and a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist.