National Association Of Manufacturers Proposes Compromise On Immigration – NPR

NPR’s Audie Cornish speaks with Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, about his organization’s proposal for immigration reform and his recent trip to the border.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The partisan stalemate on immigration has led to the longest government shutdown in history and a national emergency declaration over a border wall. Neither President Trump nor Democrats seem willing to budge from their positions, but let’s speak now with someone who thinks they can broker a compromise, Jay Timmons. He’s president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. The lobbying group has drafted an immigration plan and sent it to Congress. And Timmons went to the border city of McAllen, Texas, to understand the situation up close. Welcome to the program.

JAY TIMMONS: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

CORNISH: Now, I understand you met with charities serving both asylum-seekers and the Border Patrol – wondering if you met someone there whose story stays with you.

TIMMONS: I met several, to be very honest. One that was very heart-wrenching was a woman with two small children. And she had come from Guatemala. And I had asked her, you know, what brought her to the United States. The gangs had killed a couple of – two of her brothers and then killed her husband and said that they were coming for the children. And so she just fled to escape that. And she said, I probably would have stayed except for my children. And I got thinking how horrible that decision would have been if she didn’t have children – to stay there and face that violence, the threat of death herself. But with her own children, it was apparently a pretty easy decision to leave and come north.

CORNISH: So with these stories in mind, how are you approaching the administration, right? You have a president who’s called for a national emergency, and your plan does advocate for a border wall.

TIMMONS: It advocates for all types of security, but it also focuses on how we treat those who are seeking asylum and also those who are here under refugee status as well as those who would like to come here and work permanently. It’s really a comprehensive plan because we feel it has to be comprehensive.

For one side to simply say, we want to focus on security and nothing else, another side to say, we only want to focus on bringing people here who have horrible situations, we don’t think that covers the entire problem. We really believe that everyone in this discussion has some very valid points that need to be addressed. And we hope that our plan allows the conversation to start.

CORNISH: Now, you’ve talked about your plan being comprehensive, and you do call for Congress to overhaul legal immigration as well. The U.S. already admits more than a million legal permanent residents a year. So are you arguing to broaden that or just a different mix of immigrants who are allowed in?

TIMMONS: You know, it’s a little bit of both. We believe that there is a need right now for those who would like to come here in an H-1B status or high-skilled status, if you will, to have a focus in our system on those individuals because we frankly don’t have enough people here in this country who can fill so many of those jobs.

CORNISH: Could it also be that manufacturing jobs are less attractive today than they once were, not that it’s a problem with the worker?

TIMMONS: Part of our problem – you’re exactly right – is that the perception of manufacturing jobs is not as positive as it should be. And a lot of people don’t understand that modern manufacturing is all about high-skilled, high-tech, very sleek, very clean jobs. So that is on us for sure, but we have 428,000 openings today, and there are of course 7 million openings in the general economy. So clearly we need – and the president has acknowledged that we need immigration to help us fill some of these jobs.

CORNISH: What are your hopes about what will make the difference, meaning, why would your organization or this particular plan make headway where others have failed?

TIMMONS: Well, you know what? I would say that there is broad interest in the success of manufacturing on a bipartisan basis from both Republicans and Democrats. And so we feel that we can come to the table with a solution to point out that this is not only good for manufacturing, but it’s good for the soul of America to get this problem behind us and to end this division and divisiveness.

We are proud to be able to sit down with elected leaders of all political stripes because we do have the credibility of the manufacturing workforce behind us. Twelve and a half – or 12.8, actually – million Americans work in manufacturing. So we walk in with those people and their families behind us with an idea for some real solutions.

CORNISH: Jay Timmons is president of the National Association of Manufacturers. Thank you for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

TIMMONS: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

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When Trump declared national emergency, most detained immigrants were not criminals – Washington Post

Before President Trump declared a national emergency on the U.S. southern border on Feb. 15, he cited concerns that the United States was being flooded with murderers, kidnappers and other violent offenders from foreign countries.

According to new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement figures obtained by The Washington Post, the nation’s immigration jails were not filled with such criminals. As of Feb. 9, days before the president’s declaration, nearly 63 percent of the detainees in ICE jails had not been convicted of any crime.

Of the 48,793 immigrants jailed on Feb. 9, the ICE data shows, 18,124 had criminal records. An additional 5,715 people had pending criminal charges, officials said, but they did not provide details. ICE also did not break down the severity of the crimes committed by or attributed to detainees.

An average of 59 percent of detainees in custody during this fiscal year had no criminal history, according to ICE.

“It proves this is a fake emergency,” said Kevin Appleby, policy director at the Center for Migration Studies, a New York-based nonpartisan immigration think tank. “It really shows that what the president’s doing is abusing his power based on false information.”

ICE acting director Ronald Vitiello and Deputy Director Matthew Albence declined to comment Friday and referred questions to the White House. Officials there did not respond to a request for comment.

During the budget debate earlier this month, Albence said all detainees have violated federal laws, “by coming here illegally, or coming here legally and overstaying their visas.”

He told reporters last week that the nation “cannot have a system whereby immigration enforcement is only effectuated against those individuals once they commit a subsequent crime to their initial immigration violation.”

During Trump’s Rose Garden announcement of the emergency declaration — a bid to use taxpayer money to build more than 230 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border — he alleged that there was an ongoing “invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people,” including gang members he called “monsters” and migrants who have killed U.S. citizens.

“It’s an invasion,” he said. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country that we stop, but it’s very hard to stop. With a wall, it would be very easy.”

Days earlier at a Cabinet meeting, as a budget deal over border security and immigration enforcement was falling into place, the president said U.S. officials were nabbing “incredible” numbers of criminals. Taking a card handed to him by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, he read from a list of crimes allegedly committed by immigrants: “Robberies: 11,177. Kidnappings: 4,112. Murders: 3,914.”

“So these are people that ICE is dealing with, and nobody can deal with them more effectively,” Trump said. “There’s probably no group in this country that does so much and gets, really, so little respect or love as ICE. It’s really a terrible thing. They’re doing an incredible job.”

House Democrats say they will vote Tuesday to terminate Trump’s emergency declaration, accusing the president of peddling a false narrative that immigrants pose a broad threat to public safety. Advocates have cited studies showing immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the rest of the population.

The Democrats’ measure had more than 220 backers Friday, according to its sponsor, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.). But its fate is unclear in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority. Some GOP members rapped ICE’s lack of “fiscal discipline” last year, saying the agency “continues to spend at an unsustainable rate.”

A House Democratic aide said Friday that staffers had asked the Trump administration for a breakdown of the criminals and non-criminals in immigration detention — which is a civil system for deportation proceedings only — and did not receive it before they voted on a budget deal that ended a month-long government shutdown. That budget increased the average daily number of detention beds from 40,500 to more than 45,000.

Because lawmakers did not have the information, the aide said, they included language accompanying the budget that requires ICE to report on the criminal breakdown of immigrants in their custody within 30 days. Such detailed breakdowns would show the public what percentage of immigrants held in ICE custody have criminal records.

ICE had said it was unable to provide the breakdown of the criminals in its custody to The Washington Post during the 35-day government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, because it went beyond the duties allowed during the stalemate.

Immigration officials have said arresting and deporting criminals is their top priority, and thousands are taken into custody, put on airplanes and dispatched to foreign countries every year. In fiscal 2018, officials said the agency deported 256,000 people, more than half of whom had a criminal history.

Because immigration records are not public, it is impossible to independently verify ICE’s statistics.

ICE has also pointed out that Trump gave the agency wide latitude to arrest anyone in the United States illegally, whether or not they are criminals.

“Immigration law isn’t just about bouncing criminals out of the country,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and a supporter of increased enforcement at the border. “If every illegal alien were Mother Teresa, they would be deportable.”

During the budget debate, ICE said that 72 percent of the detainees are subject to “mandatory detention,” including some who have criminal records and those who crossed the border illegally and are subject to a speedy deportation process.

When some Democrats tried to cap the number of detention beds, Albence warned on national television that thousands of serious criminals could be released into the United States.

But the American Civil Liberties Union said ICE is broadly interpreting who is subject to mandatory detention and has the flexibility to release more, especially those without criminal records.

“To the extent they’re saying they need massive increases in detention beds and new detention centers all over the country in order to keep dangerous criminal aliens from running amok in the streets, that’s not true. They’re lying,” said Michael Tan, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York. “Their own data show that that’s not the people they’re locking up.”

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It’s about to get easier for legal immigrants in Miami to get their papers. Faster, too. – Miami Herald

Legal immigrants in South Florida will soon be able to get real-time answers about their applications without having to wait for an appointment.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is expanding a new program that promises to speed up the adjudication of immigration benefits.

The agency will announce in coming days that its Information Services Modernization Program (ISMP) will be deployed to its Miami district office to allow immigrants to check on the status of their cases and receive other important information by telephone.

Until now, immigrants with questions have had to schedule meetings with USCIS staffers using the InfoPass system, then print the appointment’s notification and arrive at their local field office with several documents.

The most frequent questions involve change of address, case status requests, non-delivery of notices and secure documents from USCIS, and typographical errors on immigration documents, according to the agency.

But as the agency has been digitizing its archives and modernizing its business processes with a string of self-service online tools, immigrants with pending applications now have more options to obtain information without the need for face-to-face appointments.

Read more: Here are some of the worst mistakes immigrants make applying for legal papers

The ISMP pilot, launched late last year in the USCIS district offices in Los Angeles and Detroit, focuses on telephone-based Contact Centers with employees who can answer individualized questions because they too have access to a trove of information online.

Starting March 18, immigrants with applications pending in the Miami district, which includes the Hialeah, Kendall and Oakland Park field offices, can call 800-375-5283. The Contact Centers provide service in English and Spanish.

USCIS Director Francis Cissna has said that the ISMP program is part of the agency’s efforts to make more of its services and information available online.

“It also frees up agency staff to spend more time adjudicating benefit requests which should help reduce case processing times,” he added. “USCIS remains committed to pursuing the most effective and efficient ways to administer our nation’s lawful immigration system.”

Read more: Here’s what it takes for an immigrant to get a green card — and not lose it

USCIS, which is a Department of Homeland Security component agency, has been harshly criticized by immigration rights activists and immigration attorneys who complain about the slow pace the application process for visas, work permits, green cards, citizenship and other benefits.

A study by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, based on government data from 2014 to 2018 and published last month, concluded that the USCIS case backlog reached “crisis levels” during the Trump administration.

The study reported that the average time for processing cases spiked by 46 percent over the past two fiscal years, and by 91 percent since fiscal year 2014.

“Throughout the nation, these delays are harming families, vulnerable populations, and U.S. businesses that depend on timely adjudications,” said the report by the association, which has a membership of more than 15,000 lawyers and law professors.

Read more: These policy changes will impact legal immigrants in the U.S. in 2019

USCIS spokesman Michael Bars said recently that “while many factors relating to an individual’s case can affect processing times, waits are often due to higher application rates rather than slow processing.”

The ISMP initiative will allow for an improved use of agency resources that will reduce processing times and lead to more efficient decisions on applications “by ensuring that officer resources are focusing primarily on conducting interviews and rendering decisions yet still being available to provide only critical in-person assistance,” Bars told el Nuevo Herald in a statement.

The agency’s own surveys concluded last year that the majority of people who scheduled interviews using the InfoPass system could have obtained the desired information through a Contact Center or its web page. USCIS receives an average of 50,000 calls daily.

The agency noted that applicants who call the Contact Centers and require in-person assistance will be helped to schedule an appointment.

Read more: It’s not so hard for an immigrant to become a U.S. citizen. Here’s what you have to do

Agency officials said that in the five districts where ISMP has been deployed, the average wait time for an appointment with USCIS staffers fell from 11 to five days.

USCIS recommendations

USCIS offers several other resources that allow immigrants to do the following:

Create secure personal accounts at my.uscis.gov/account and submit forms online.

Check the status of applications and petitions online

Find answers to the most common questions about immigration benefits in the “How Do I Guides.”

Consult “Emma”, the agency’s interactive virtual assistant.

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Quebec lawyers try to save immigrant applications amid crackdown – Reuters

MONTREAL (Reuters) – Lawyers in the Canadian province of Quebec on Friday asked a judge to halt the suspension of almost 20,000 applications by immigrants caught up in a crackdown by the new center-right government.

Draft legislation by the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) has triggered the suspension of 18,000 applications made under existing laws from immigrants seeking to live in the predominantly French-speaking province. The CAQ, which won power in October, has said that the reforms would improve newcomers’ integration into the workforce.

Lawyer group Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration asked Quebec Superior Court Justice Frederic Bachand to order the government to process existing newcomers’ applications as the bill is being debated.

“This situation is a catastrophe for us,” said Seeun Park, a nurse and plaintiff in the case who came to Quebec with her two children from South Korea in 2017.

“We already invested a lot of money and efforts end energy to work in Quebec,” she told reporters on Friday outside the courtroom in Montreal.

A spokesman for the province’s immigration minister declined to comment on Friday, saying the matter was before the court.

The CAQ campaigned on a pledge to cut immigration from 50,000 to 40,000 people a year and expel new residents who fail to pass tests on French and Quebec values within three years.

The policy could put Quebec on a collision course with the Liberals of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who are hoping to make gains in the province to offset expected losses elsewhere in a federal election this October.

Last year federal officials stressed that Ottawa had overall responsibility for immigration law in Canada.

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Richard Chang

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USCIS will open call center for immigration questions in Miami – Miami Herald

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Workers sue US immigration authorities over Tennessee raid – WREG NewsChannel 3

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Seven Latino workers are suing federal immigration authorities over a raid at an eastern Tennessee meatpacking plant that ended in the arrests of about 100 people.

The National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Sherrard, Roe, Voigt & Harbison law firm filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

The class action lawsuit claims the Southeastern Provision workers’ 4th and 5th Amendment constitutional rights were violated in April when armed officers raided the Bean Station plant, using racial slurs, shoving guns in their faces and punching one worker in the face. Workers at first feared there was a terrorist attack or active shooter at the plant, as two helicopters flew overhead, officers had blocked the road and some stood behind large machine guns, the lawsuit says.

It also alleges that officers didn’t know workers’ identities or immigration statuses, only that many were Hispanic. Only 11 of about 100 workers were charged with crimes, and they were nonviolent ones, the lawsuit says.

White workers at the plant, meanwhile, were not accosted, detained, searched or arrested, and many stood outside smoking during the raid, the lawsuit says.

Martha Pulido, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said she was handcuffed and had a gun pointed at her, was taken to a nearby armory, had her personal items confiscated, was fingerprinted and then was detained for about 14 hours.

“Why so many guns and such excess violence?” Pulido said through an interpreter during a conference Thursday. “The only thing we were doing was earning a living for our family.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said the operation was a federal criminal investigation that also spurred immigration arrests. He declined to comment on the lawsuit specifically, but said “the absence of comment should in no way be construed that ICE thinks a suit has any merit.”

Cox said the agency’s investigations are “equally focused in its worksite enforcement efforts on foreign nationals who unlawfully seek employment as well as the employers who knowingly hire them.”

James Brantley, the plant’s owner, pleaded guilty in September to federal charges of employing unauthorized immigrants, tax evasion and wire fraud.

Court records show Brantley dodged nearly $1.3 million in federal payroll taxes over the past decade. A plea agreement shows Brantley withdrew cash to pay some workers.

During the April raid, officers were helping to execute an Internal Revenue Service search warrant for financial documents related to Brantley, but, according to the lawsuit, had a far more extensive goal than what the search warrant authorized.

“They planned to detain and arrest every worker in the plant who was or appeared to be Latino,” the lawsuit states.

National Immigration Law Center staff attorney Melissa Keaney said her team doesn’t believe the immigration status of the plaintiffs is relevant to the lawsuit and won’t be discussing that. The lawsuit mentions that one plaintiff is “legally authorized to live and work in the United States,” but doesn’t include the same level of detail on others.

Almost 600 children did not go to school in the area the day after the raid, the lawsuit says. Additionally, a state inspection days after the raid resulted in more than $41,000 in fines over the plant’s working conditions.

Of the workers detained during the raid, 40 have been released on bond, 12 have voluntarily left the U.S., six were deported and five remain in custody, according to Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.

At the time, it was the largest immigration workplace raid in nearly a decade, Keaney said. Months later, about 150 workers were arrested by federal agents in June at a Fresh Mark meatpacking plant in Ohio.

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Immigration agents ‘used excessive force’ during Tennessee raid – Aljazeera.com

A new lawsuit, filed on Thursday, has accused the US immigration agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), of using excessive force, violence and racially profiling workers during a raid at a meatpacking plant last year.

The National Immigration Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the law firm of Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison filed the joint lawsuit on behalf of the seven named workers who were arrested with about 100 others at a meatpacking plant in Eastern Tennessee on April 5, 2018 by ICE and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents.

Heavily armed, the officers formed a perimeter around the Bean Station plant and blocked every exit, the lawsuit said.

During the raid, one of the largest in the United States in the last decade, federal agents flooded the building and shouted at workers to freeze, according to the filings. 

Helicopters could be heard hovering above the plant while more agents waited outside with “large machine guns pointed at exits”, the groups filing the lawsuit said. 

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“Some thought they were in a terrorist attack or a shooting situation,” Melissa Keaney, a lawyer at the National Immigration Law Center told reporters on Thursday.

The following day, around 600 children did not go to school, while some workers were too scared to go to work.

The raid left the community shattered, Keaney added.

ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said the operation was a federal criminal investigation that also spurred immigration arrests.

According to the lawsuit, 11 of about 100 workers faced criminal charges. 

‘I don’t know why these things happen to us’

Martha Pulido, who was one of the workers arrested by ICE during the raid and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said she saw one officer push a worker to the ground, while another officer punched another worker in the face.

“I was handcuffed without the ability to make a phone call, we were not allowed to speak to each other … and were taken outside,” the Tennessee resident of 20 years said.

Her white colleagues, she said, were not treated in the same way.

“White workers were outside too, but not handcuffed, they were free to move around, some were smoking cigarettes,” she said.

“My items were confiscated, I was fingerprinted and detained for nearly 24 hours,” she added.

“Honestly, I don’t know why these things happen to us. I try to do the right things in life and showed up every day determined to do good work – despite how little we were getting paid.” 

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ICE agents detained every worker who looked Latino in the plant without regard to citizenship or documentation, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the lawsuit alleges. 

The US Constitution protects against government overreach and abusive conduct, the group filing the lawsuit added.

Surge in raids

Since taking office, US President Donald Trump has cracked down on undocumented immigrants. 

ICE reported a surge in raids at businesses suspected of hiring undocumented immigrants in 2018.

During the last fiscal year, HSI opened 6,848 work site investigations compared with 1,691 in 2017.

According to figures released by ICE, 779 criminal and 1,525 administrative work site-related arrests were made last year, compared with 139 and 172, respectively, in 2017.

Trump, who has campaigned on promises to remove undocumented immigrants from the country, called a national emergency this month to help free up to $8bn to fund a wall on the US-Mexico border. Several states and groups have since challenged that order. 

Almost a year after the Tennessee raid, 40 people of the 100 arrested were released on bond, 12 voluntarily left the country, and about six were deported.

The plant’s owner pleaded guilty in September to employing undocumented immigrants. 

Meanwhile, families in the community continue to deal with the effects of psychological trauma, physical ailments and economic insecurity, following the raid, the groups said.

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ICE allows Honduran woman with rare blood disorder to stay for one more year – Miami Herald

U.S. immigration authorities once again granted a one-year extension to Reina Gómez Ramírez, a Honduran immigrant suffering from cancer.

The woman faces deportation, but says that sending her back to the Central American country would be “condemning her to death” because she can’t get the treatment she needs to survive there.

“I am happy. I am very grateful,“ said Gómez Ramírez, sobbing Thursday afternoon as soon as she exited the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility at Miramar, where she presented evidence that her terminal disease, a type of rare cancer called thrombocytopenia, cannot be treated in Honduras.

The morning of her appointment, Gómez Ramírez bid her dog Simon farewell and left her Little Havana home unsure if she would return. She wore a green jacket, a color she said symbolizes hope, and felt anxious, she said.

She took a letter from her physician, Dr. Yonette Paul, who wrote that Gómez Ramírez was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and has since been treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

According to the doctor’s letter, the treatment involves a medicine called hydroxyurea, “which she reports is not found in her country of origin,” Paul wrote. Gómez Ramírez said she takes seven pills a day yet still suffers from a lot of pain.

“Ms. Gómez Ramírez can’t miss a single dose of her medication,“ Paul wrote in the letter. “Otherwise, it would be life threatening.”

Thrombocytopenia refers to an abnormal decrease in the number of platelets (thrombocytes) in the body, which causes bruises, bleeding, intense body pains and blood vomiting, among other symptoms.

“They approved her request to stay. It was very fast. We are all very happy about the news,“ said her lawyer, Maya Ibars, who works with Catholic Legal Services. In the past, attorney Ana Quirós had been managing her case.

Gómez Ramírez said she crossed the Mexico border through Texas in 2005. She decided to flee Honduras after her son, Cristian, was killed at age 16. She requested political asylum but was denied in 2009, she said.

She’s now seeking a humanitarian visa. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, such visas are “an extraordinary measure sparingly used to bring an otherwise inadmissible alien into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.”

The woman, originally from Puerto Cortés, a northern Honduran state, received an order of removal in 2012, but has since been granted temporary permits to stay, along with extensions to her work permit and driver’s license.

The 50-year-old, who cleans houses for a living and does activism on the side with the Miami Workers Center, will have to appear again before immigration authorities in a year. Meanwhile, ICE will continue to evaluate her case.

Gómez Ramírez said she already has a degree in social education, but aspires to help children at social risk in South Florida, so she’s planning to go back to school to get the certification she needs.

After she left the ICE office about an hour after entering Thursday, the Honduran immigrant grinned and hugged about 10 of her colleagues from the Miami Workers Center, who accompanied her to her appointment.

While her friends exclaimed, “God is great!” and “We have you one more year, Reina!” her attorney, who stood beside her, leaned in, grabbed her arm and whispered, “Let’s get out of here before they change their minds.”

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Trump administration to end program providing work permits to spouses of certain immigrants | TheHill – The Hill

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services completed a proposal to end work visas for spouses of temporary specialized foreign workers, Bloomberg Law reported Thursday. 

The reported proposal would eliminate H-4 work permits for spouses of people holding H-1B visas and waiting for green cards to become available. 

About 90,000 people, many of them Indian women, hold H-4 permits. 

The proposal was reportedly sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday. 

USCIS declined to comment on the proposal. 

“USCIS continues reviewing all employment-based visa programs,” USCIS spokesperson Jessica Collins said in a statement. “No decision about the regulation concerning the employment eligibility of certain H-4 spouses is final until the rulemaking process is complete.”

The Office of Management and Budget did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare ‘Empire’ star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE and other Republicans have long advocated for restricting this type of immigration. In April, Trump passed a “Buy American, Hire American” executive order that would make it harder to get a H-1B visa.

Proponents of work permits say they help stimulate the economy by encouraging skilled laborers to come to the U.S. but opponents say they create competition with American workers for jobs.

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Is Trump Changing His Policy On High-Skilled Immigration? – Forbes

Donald Trump waves as Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s chancellor, not pictured, departs the White House before meeting in the Oval Office on February 20, 2019. Trump met with Kurz to discuss trade and immigration. (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg) © 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

During his State of the Union address, on February 5, 2019, Donald Trump declared, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” The remarks and those that followed the next day raised two questions: 1) Is this a change in Trump administration immigration policy? And 2) What signals or clues should we look for to know whether Trump’s remarks represented rhetoric or a new reality?

The first two years of the Trump administration has seen a series of actions to reduce immigration. These efforts have included the travel ban against citizens of several predominately Muslim countries, low levels of refugee admissions, supporting legislation to reduce legal immigration by 50% and numerous administrative measures to make it more difficult for employers to hire or retain high-skilled foreign nationals in the United States.

Given this track record, journalists followed up the day after the State of the Union address to determine if the remarks about increasing legal immigration represented a shift in policy. “President Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants to see more legal immigration because additional workers are needed by companies moving back to the United States,” reported USA Today. “I need people coming in because we need people to run the factories and plants and companies that are moving back in,” said Trump in response to questions from journalists. “We need people.”

“Mr. Trump has made some supportive comments about demand for foreign labor from U.S. industries before,” reported Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But his recent remarks stood in contrast to his longstanding backing of restrictions to favor Americans’ jobs, wages and security. The White House said Friday that Mr. Trump’s focus was on high-skilled labor.”

If it’s true the Trump administration is looking to increase legal immigration, including with a focus on high-skilled immigrants, then here are the clues to look for to determine if the administration has changed its mind and now favors pro-immigration policies:

  • We may find out soon whether the Trump administration is serious about increasing or at least maintaining the current level of high-skilled foreign-born professionals, since reversing its plan to rescind the 2015 rule on H-4 EAD would send a clear signal of the administration’s intentions on legal immigration. The H-4 EAD (employment authorization document) regulation has allowed up to 100,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders to obtain work authorization. H-4 EAD recipients generally have similar education levels to their H-1B spouses. Removing tens of thousands of well-educated individuals from the workforce does not make economic sense and would go directly against the recent statements by Donald Trump that “We need people.” (Update: On the morning of February 20, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent a proposed regulation to the Office of Management and Budget to rescind H-4 EAD.)
  • The next item on the calendar may be rules that affect the employment of high-skilled foreign nationals on H-1B and L-1 visas. Due to the long waits to obtain an employment-based green cards, H-1B and L-1 temporary visas are often the only practical way for a high-skilled foreign national to work long-term in the United States. “Multiple sources confirm that the agency is far along in drafting the ‘H-1B strengthening rule,’” according to Berry Appleman & Leiden. “The rule would revise the definition of ‘specialty occupation’ and ‘employment and employer-employee relationship,’ and aims ‘to better protect U.S. workers and wages.’ USCIS is also drafting an L-1 regulation that would revise the definition of ‘specialized knowledge.’” (L-1 visas are used to transfer existing employees into the United States.) If new regulations make the H-1B and L-1 visa categories more restrictive, then that will send a clear signal that the president’s remarks in the State of the Union on increasing legal immigration should not be taken seriously.
  • The annual refugee ceiling is announced around October 1 every year and raising the number of refugees admitted to the country would show the administration is serious about increasing legal immigration. Refugee admissions to the United States have reached historic lows since the Refugee Act of 1980 under administration policies. If Donald Trump wants to fill jobs in plants and factories, then according to employers refugees are ideal workers for both plants and factories and are willing to move wherever available jobs are located.
  • If Donald Trump’s statement in the State of the Union was sincere that he wants “people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever,” then another item to check on the calendar is the public charge rule. The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) recently submitted comments on the regulation and concluded, “The proposed regulation could reduce legal immigration by more than 200,000 immigrants a year.” (See here for an analysis.) The NFAP comments focused on the rule’s flawed methodology for excluding immigrants and the regulation’s impact. Withdrawing the public charge rule before the end of 2019 would show the administration is no longer interested in reducing legal immigration.
  • The most obvious way for the administration to show it intends to increase legal immigration is to support a bill that would admit more legal immigrants. Absent that, the administration could support H.R. 1044, a bipartisan bill that would not increase legal immigration but would eliminate the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants, which would help retain scientists and engineers whose wait times for green cards can stretch longer than a decade. (See here for an analysis of the bill.)

Concrete steps the Trump administration could take to implement a more welcoming policy on legal immigration include allowing the spouses of H-1B visa holders to continue working in the United States, raising refugee admissions and proposing no new restrictions on H-1B and L-1 visa holders. Actions speak louder than words, even if those words were spoken during a State of the Union address.

 

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Donald Trump waves as Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s chancellor, not pictured, departs the White House before meeting in the Oval Office on February 20, 2019. Trump met with Kurz to discuss trade and immigration. (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg) © 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

During his State of the Union address, on February 5, 2019, Donald Trump declared, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” The remarks and those that followed the next day raised two questions: 1) Is this a change in Trump administration immigration policy? And 2) What signals or clues should we look for to know whether Trump’s remarks represented rhetoric or a new reality?

The first two years of the Trump administration has seen a series of actions to reduce immigration. These efforts have included the travel ban against citizens of several predominately Muslim countries, low levels of refugee admissions, supporting legislation to reduce legal immigration by 50% and numerous administrative measures to make it more difficult for employers to hire or retain high-skilled foreign nationals in the United States.

Given this track record, journalists followed up the day after the State of the Union address to determine if the remarks about increasing legal immigration represented a shift in policy. “President Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants to see more legal immigration because additional workers are needed by companies moving back to the United States,” reported USA Today. “I need people coming in because we need people to run the factories and plants and companies that are moving back in,” said Trump in response to questions from journalists. “We need people.”

“Mr. Trump has made some supportive comments about demand for foreign labor from U.S. industries before,” reported Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But his recent remarks stood in contrast to his longstanding backing of restrictions to favor Americans’ jobs, wages and security. The White House said Friday that Mr. Trump’s focus was on high-skilled labor.”

If it’s true the Trump administration is looking to increase legal immigration, including with a focus on high-skilled immigrants, then here are the clues to look for to determine if the administration has changed its mind and now favors pro-immigration policies:

  • We may find out soon whether the Trump administration is serious about increasing or at least maintaining the current level of high-skilled foreign-born professionals, since reversing its plan to rescind the 2015 rule on H-4 EAD would send a clear signal of the administration’s intentions on legal immigration. The H-4 EAD (employment authorization document) regulation has allowed up to 100,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders to obtain work authorization. H-4 EAD recipients generally have similar education levels to their H-1B spouses. Removing tens of thousands of well-educated individuals from the workforce does not make economic sense and would go directly against the recent statements by Donald Trump that “We need people.” (Update: On the morning of February 20, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent a proposed regulation to the Office of Management and Budget to rescind H-4 EAD.)
  • The next item on the calendar may be rules that affect the employment of high-skilled foreign nationals on H-1B and L-1 visas. Due to the long waits to obtain an employment-based green cards, H-1B and L-1 temporary visas are often the only practical way for a high-skilled foreign national to work long-term in the United States. “Multiple sources confirm that the agency is far along in drafting the ‘H-1B strengthening rule,’” according to Berry Appleman & Leiden. “The rule would revise the definition of ‘specialty occupation’ and ‘employment and employer-employee relationship,’ and aims ‘to better protect U.S. workers and wages.’ USCIS is also drafting an L-1 regulation that would revise the definition of ‘specialized knowledge.’” (L-1 visas are used to transfer existing employees into the United States.) If new regulations make the H-1B and L-1 visa categories more restrictive, then that will send a clear signal that the president’s remarks in the State of the Union on increasing legal immigration should not be taken seriously.
  • The annual refugee ceiling is announced around October 1 every year and raising the number of refugees admitted to the country would show the administration is serious about increasing legal immigration. Refugee admissions to the United States have reached historic lows since the Refugee Act of 1980 under administration policies. If Donald Trump wants to fill jobs in plants and factories, then according to employers refugees are ideal workers for both plants and factories and are willing to move wherever available jobs are located.
  • If Donald Trump’s statement in the State of the Union was sincere that he wants “people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever,” then another item to check on the calendar is the public charge rule. The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) recently submitted comments on the regulation and concluded, “The proposed regulation could reduce legal immigration by more than 200,000 immigrants a year.” (See here for an analysis.) The NFAP comments focused on the rule’s flawed methodology for excluding immigrants and the regulation’s impact. Withdrawing the public charge rule before the end of 2019 would show the administration is no longer interested in reducing legal immigration.
  • The most obvious way for the administration to show it intends to increase legal immigration is to support a bill that would admit more legal immigrants. Absent that, the administration could support H.R. 1044, a bipartisan bill that would not increase legal immigration but would eliminate the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants, which would help retain scientists and engineers whose wait times for green cards can stretch longer than a decade. (See here for an analysis of the bill.)

Concrete steps the Trump administration could take to implement a more welcoming policy on legal immigration include allowing the spouses of H-1B visa holders to continue working in the United States, raising refugee admissions and proposing no new restrictions on H-1B and L-1 visa holders. Actions speak louder than words, even if those words were spoken during a State of the Union address.

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