Posted on January 05 2016
President Barack Obama's administration quietly released a proposed rule today that would unchain foreign workers from the employers who sponsored their visas and give them permits allowing them to stay in the U.S. until they finish the green card application process.
Based on the current backlog, the rule would give an estimated 100,000 high-skilled immigrant workers currently in the country on H-1B visas who have applied for green cards but not yet received them the ability to remain in the U.S. indefinitely.
The Department of Homeland Security says the proposed amendments, which the public has 60 days to formally comment on, implements two acts passed more than a decade ago that deal with American Competitiveness and 'clarifies and improves upon longstanding policies.'
But John Miano, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, says that's a ruse.
President Barack Obama's administration quietly released a proposed rule today that would unchain foreign workers from the employers who sponsored their visas and give them permits allowing them to stay in the U.S. until they finish the green card application process
Before the administration was acting 'under the covers,' Miano said. With this planned change to the immigration system, 'it's right in your face saying, we can do whatever we want.'
'This should be really upsetting,' he said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle worry that by increasing the number of foreigners approved to work in the U.S., the federal government is undercutting Americans' employment opportunities at home.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a leading advocate of visa limitations, aggressively fought against a provision in the massive government spending bill passed by Congress and signed into the president earlier this month that increased the number of visas for low-wage foreigners.
'If Congress wants to get serious about representing its voters, and winning their trust, it should be begin by moving legislation next year to both end illegal immigration and reduce immigration visas,' he said at the time.
Sessions said, 'Congress should defend the citizens of this country with the same passion as the President defends the citizens of other countries.'
Miano likewise said of the Obama administration, 'American workers lose a job, and they do absolutely nothing. Very warped sense of priorities here.'
The way the system currently works, he explained, foreign college grads who enter the country on H-1B worker visas sponsored by their employer. From there, they can apply for green cards that will allow them to independently and legally live and work in the country for an indefinite period of time.
The visa program creates a pathway to legal residency for foreigners wishing to relocate to America. Current limitations on the number of workers from each country who can apply has created long waiting lines for applicants of some nationalities, specifically India.
By Miano's count, which he admits is open to critique because DHS makes it impossible to ascertain the exact number visa holders and green card applicants, roughly 10,000 Indian workers a year who apply for green cards don't make the cut.
After 10 years, 'if you're in the queue you would go home,' he said.
The proposed rule changes all of that.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is seen here on Tuesday in New York. DHS' rule would give an estimated 100,000 high-skilled immigrant workers currently in the country on H-1B visas who have applied for green cards but not yet received them the ability to remain in the U.S. indefinitely
The 181-page document, first brought to light by Breitbart News, says the changes would improve 'the ability of U.S. employers to hire and retain high-skilled workers' on the employment-based immigrant visas who 'are waiting to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs), while increasing the ability of such workers to seek promotions, accept lateral positions with current employers, change employers, or pursue other employment options.'
Miano said, 'The objective is to get people who wold go home to stay.'
'These are people who would otherwise leave the job market.'
Supposing the back log of applications goes back a decade, and Miano says it actually goes back longer and he's giving a conservative estimate to account for other factors, 100,000 workers from India alone will now be 'unleashed into the job market.'
And that's just from India, which Miano said accounts for roughly three-quarters of the waiting list.
Of course, DHS' vague reporting means the green card line could also be shorter than that, he acknowledged.
Yet he added, 'Would they go through all this trouble to implement a rule like this to only do 2,000 people?' I don't think so.'
No longer will green card applicants have to stay with the employer who sponsored their entry into the country until they're approved to avoid being sent home.
A legal analysis of the rule produced by Hunton &Williams LLP determined that H-1B visa holders will be granted an unlimited number of three year extensions on their permits until their green card application is either approved or denied.
High-skilled workers from India make up roughly three-quarters of the waiting list for green cards and will benefit from the bulk of worker permits
The law firm's review of the rule also revealed a grace period of 60 days for visa holders to find new jobs if their employment is terminated before they're served papers.
DHS did not return DailyMail.com's request for comment on the matter.
As far as the green card process is concerned, Hunton & Williams says DHS' is proposing 'continuing to allow workers to “port” pending green card processes to new employers' if they meet certain requirement, including one that mandates they must be moving to jobs in the 'same or similar' occupation.
Miano said DHS is trying to make it sound like what its doing is a continuation of a previously established policy. It is to the extent that agencies within it have been taking actions like this for years, 'but they've been trying to keep them under the radar,' he said.
Before the department would make exceptions to immigration rules and say 'it's necessary for us to exercise our authority,' Miano said. It then began creating provisions that its now using as justification to work around a myriad of immigration statutes.
'And now we have this regulation, and it allows huge classes of aliens to work,' he said.
DHS moved to issue worker permits because the green card process is 'choked up,' said Miano. And the new rule 'just makes more of a mess of the immigration system.'
'We're getting all these patches that are making a bigger and bigger mess,' the immigration lawyer said.
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