Musings on Immigration

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Senate Immigration Reform Bill--What YOU Can Do THIS Week.

Tomorrow is the second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up of S. 744, the immigration reform bill.  Next up on the agenda is Title IV, nonimmigrant visas, including H and L visas, and the guest worker program (W visas).  Please take 5 minutes in the next day to call  your Senators.

Here is a sample script to use when you call:
PHONE NUMBER: 202-224-3121
SCRIPT: My name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [CITY, STATE] and I’m calling in regards to the mark-up of S. 744.  I am calling to ask Senator [SENATOR’S NAME] to support Hatch amendments 11 through 17 and to oppose Grassley amendments 54 through 77 in the Title IV mark-up on Tuesday.  I also urge the Senator to support Blumenthal 14, Coons 9 and Hirono 6 in Titles II and III of the bill.

Many elements of this bill reflect an understanding that foreign nationals can and do contribute to America’s economic growth.  All of the bill should fully embrace this concept.  For example, the increase in the H-1B cap to 110,000 is a step in the right direction, but may not be sufficient in the earlier years to meet the country’s needs.
·         Highly skilled immigrants complement their native-born peers; they do not substitute for them. This is true throughout all high-skilled occupations, but is particularly true in STEM fields.  STEM occupations have very low unemployment compared to the overall national unemployment rate (which stood at 7.6 percent as of March 2013). Arguments that immigrants are depressing wages or freezing out native-born workers belie the available evidence.
If you’re interested in following the Committee as the amendment process continues, here are some good resources:
www.aila.org/senatebill: AILA will be providing live hourly updates during the mark-up and a summary with analysis at the end of every mark-up day.  This page also includes a chart of all the amendments that were filed.
www.aila.org/ip2013: updated daily with short snippets from the day’s events on immigration reform.  You can also watch a live stream of the mark-up: http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=0f3eeb468d37b2f466044eb203322959

Also, here is a break down for this week:

      Mark-Up schedule
a.      Tuesday, the 14th: starts at 10:00am and will break for a floor vote shortly after Noon and continue the break through the caucus lunches. It is expected that the chairman will reconvene at 2:15pm and go until late afternoon or early evening on Tuesday. 
b.      Next mark-up is Thursday, May 16, starting at 9:30am.
c.       If they have not made significant progress by Thursday late afternoon, they expect to continue on Friday, May 17. The week of May 20th, there will be mark up every day all day starting Monday until they finish, or Friday, May 24th, whichever is earlier. 

2    Support Title IV Amendments—Hatch 11 through 17: Many elements of this bill reflect an understanding that foreign nationals can and do contribute to America’s economic growth.  All of the bill should fully embrace this concept.  For example, the increase in the H-1B cap to 110,000 is a step in the right direction, but may not be sufficient in the earlier years to meet the country’s needs.
a.      Hatch 11: In the L1 context, replaces the unworkable outplacement restriction with a $500 fee.
b.      Hatch 12: modifies the recruitment requirements in the bill.
                                                              i.      New recruiting requirements for H-1Bs, going through an internet process to be designed by Dept of Labor, are burdensome, unnecessary, and, if the history of Labor Dept implementation of other immigration programs is any guide, will be implemented in a manner completely divorced from reality and adding nothing but expense and time to the process.
c.       Hatch 13: modifies the displacement language in the bill.
                                                              i.      Highly skilled immigrants complement their native-born peers; they do not substitute for them. This is true throughout all high-skilled occupations, but is particularly true in STEM fields.  STEM occupations have very low unemployment compared to the overall national unemployment rate (which stood at 7.6 percent as of March 2013). Arguments that immigrants are depressing wages or freezing out native-born workers belie the available evidence.
d.      Hatch 14: improves the provisions regarding H-4 work eligibility.
e.      Hatch 15: clarifies language defining definition of dependent employer.
f.        Hatch 16: clarifies that new restrictions re: non-displacement apply only on the initial hiring.
                                                              i.      The requirement that the employer offer the job to any US worker that is “equally or better qualified” is vague and difficult to comply with, requires government intervention into employer hiring decisions, and opens employers to unpredictable legal liability. Such an attestation when applied to all employers could deter companies from hiring a foreign national even when he or she is the best person for a job.
                                                            ii.      Who decides whether a person is equally qualified? Ultimately not the employer but a U.S. Department of Labor investigator. What if a U.S. worker is qualified but not the best person for the job? Again, an employer will need to justify the hiring decision to the U.S. Department of Labor.
                                                          iii.      The “non-displacement” attestation concept itself is vague and legally perilous, making it very difficult for an employer to know when they are in compliance. From a practical point of view it is very difficult for an HR manager to know when an H-1B worker has “displaced” a US worker, much less predict whether this may happen in 3 months. In today’s fast-paced business environment, where job descriptions, assignments, and locations change quickly, and where employees leave for many different reasons, it is often difficult to determine whether an employee has quit, been laid off, or fired, and whether that employee has been “replaced” and by whom.
                                                           iv.      Without the requirement of intent, the “non-displacement” attestation is so fraught with legal liability that US employers may choose to not use the H-1B program, and/or hire foreign workers abroad.
                                                             v.      When it becomes so expensive and complicated to use the H-1B visa program, it does not make business sense for an employer to hire an H-1B worker if there really are US workers qualified for the job, and a vague “non-displacement” attestation is not helpful. S.744 already requires US employers pay higher wages and higher fines, perform additional recruitment, and make additional attestations, in addition to all the protections already in place to protect the US workforce. It doesn’t make sense that an employer would hire an H-1B worker, who might need to be paid more than a US worker, when such expense and legal complications are involved.
g.      Hatch 17: clarifies language of what counts for “intending immigrant” in determining whether or not an employer is considered dependent.

        Oppose Title IV Amendments—all of Sen. Grassley’s amendments
a.      Grassley54: Authorizes employment authorization for spouses of L-visa holders under same conditions as spouses of H-1B visa holders by requiring reciprocity
b.      Grassley55: Strikes provision allowing visa revalidation in the US
c.       Grassley56: Strikes provision allowing waiver of interviews for low-risk visa applicants
d.      Grassley57: Requires all H-1B employers to pay at least Tier 2 wages
e.      Grassley58: Requires W visa posting to include title, description of job and location, and name, city and zip code of employer
f.        Grassley59: Extends H-1B no displacement requirement for H-1B dependent employers to all H-1B employers
g.      Grassley60: Extends good-faith recruitment of US workers at same compensation requirement from H-1B dependent employers to all H-1B employers
h.      Grassley61: Strikes exemption for nonprofits engaged in higher education or research and employers whose primary business is healthcare  from H-1B dependent employer definition
i.        Grassley62: Requires employers to include "intending immigrants" (pending or approved immigrant status) in their count of H-1B workers employed to determine whether the employer is H-1B dependent.
j.        Grassley63: Expands H-1B requirements in the nurse visa program to prohibit employers from limiting advertisement of recruiting non-immigrants beyond those admitted to vocational education schools.
k.      Grassley64: Suspends practical training programs for F visa holders until SEVIS-2 is fully deployed and implemented
l.        Grassley65: Changes application review requirements to require "clear indicators" rather than "evidence of fraud", misrepresentations, etc.
m.    Grassley66: Requires Secretary to conduct investigation (replaces may with shall) in H-1B where there is  evidence of fraud or misrepresentation
n.      Grassley67: Provides for annual audits of at least 1% of H-1B and L employers
o.      Grassley68: Delays the effectiveness of dual-intent F visa provisions until deployment of second-generation SEVIS
p.      Grassley69: Authorizes DHS to conduct background checks for DSOs and to collect fees for the completion of those background checks on the DSOs criminal and immigration histories to help mitigate threats of fraud
q.      Grassley70: Delays issuance of E-5 visas to South Koreans until South Korea has fully removed age-based import restrictions on beef from the US
r.        Grassley71: Makes changes to the E-3 Visa Program, including specifying that such individuals are not eligible for emergency Medicaid or benefits under the ACA
s.       Grassley72: Shifts Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research for W visa program to DOL; strikes ability to petition for shortage occupation; requires report on W visa program
t.        Grassley73: Requires W nonimmigrants to show proof of nonsubsidized health insurance
u.      Grassley74: Limits W visa renews to one three-year renewal
v.       Grassley75: Requires rather than permits referral of application to CIS Fraud if there's evidence of fraud for investigation
w.     Grassley76: Delays implementation of W visa until the electronic monitoring system is implemented
x.       Grassley77: Requires DHS to transmit SEVIS data to CBP and certify that transmission of data has been implemented within 120 days of enactment

          Other amendments to support in Titles II and III
a.      Blumenthal 14: To prohibit the retroactive application of any offense that would result in an alien’s inadmissibility or deportability, to clarify the definitions of conviction and term of imprisonment for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act, to prohibit the execution of an order of removal under section 1229a(b)(5) of such Act until after an immigration judge makes specific findings of fact, and to slightly modify the circumstances under which an alien is deemed inadmissible or deportable due to a criminal conviction and incarceration.
b.      Coons 9: To reduce the number of years an applicant must be an LPR to 3 years and continuous physical presence for an LPR to 3 years.  The amendment reduces the number of years of continuous physical presence for non-LPR cancellation to 5 years and reduces the hardship to extreme hardship.  It also removes the annual cap for cancellation.
c.       Hirono 6: To retain the family-sponsored immigrant categories for older married sons and daughters of United States citizens and siblings of United States citizens.

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