Congress, Don’t Be So America Last!

Late Friday evening, the House Judiciary Committee unveiled the immigration provisions they’d like inserted into the 2022 budget reconciliation bill. It goes without saying that immigration reform has no place in a budget bill but that’s not stopping Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) from doing all he can to push through the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute (ANS) proposal that will literally strip any semblance of order and fairness from our immigration system.

What’s most baffling is that in the face of all this, job growth in August which was expected to be 720,000 jobs was only 235,000, the national eviction moratorium has ended despite some 3.5 million Americans still behind on rent, and unemployment is above pre-pandemic levels at 5.2%.  Yet our Congress still prioritizes foreigners over its own citizens as evidenced by the provisions Mr. Nadler proposes.

These provisions will grant massive amnesties, significantly increase the number of employment visas, and make an even greater mockery of our system that attempts to vet new arrivals. At this point, these provisions are still recommendations. The final bill will first need to be marked-up, reconciled in conference with the Senate version, and withstand the scrutiny of the Senate Parliamentarian.

These provisions exemplify what’s been on the minds of Democratic Party leaders and should signal DANGER to what’s left of America’s productive classes. If the Democratic Party had championed the worker like it has the foreigner over the past thirty years, there wouldn’t have been a Donald Trump presidency. But I digress and instead, my intention today is to break down and explain in layman’s terms what the provisions mean.  

Let’s start with the basic requirements for applicants seeking to adjust their status.   Under the new rules, applicants must submit a valid application and pay a minimum $1,500 fee, and the fees could go higher. They must also pass background and medical checks.

For “Dreamers” looking to qualify for an amnesty or pathway to citizenship they must have arrived in the U.S. before age 18, continuously resided here since then and have been physically present in the U.S. on January 1, 2021.  In addition, they must have: 
 – Served honorably in the Uniformed Services, or
– Graduated from college or a postsecondary vocational school, or must be able to show
– Proof of 3 years of consistent earned income, or
– Proof of enrollment in a college or post-secondary vocational school and/or training program.

The next eligible class for a pathway to citizenship are those considered to be “essential workers.” To qualify, they must have been here since January 1, 2021, and have a "consistent record" of earned income as an essential worker under the Department of Homeland Security’s definitions.

Those here on temporary protective status (TPS) will be showered with green cards if they meet these criteria:
– Resided here for 3 or more years
– Had TPS or have been eligible for TPS on January 1, 2017; and
– Have not engaged in conduct since then that would make a person ineligible for TPS.

Next, for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients to qualify, they must have: 
–  Resided in the US for 3 or more years,
–  Been eligible for DED as of January 20, 2021 (so, would Venezuelans count?), and
–  Not engaged in conduct since then that would make a person ineligible.

But Mr. Nadler isn’t stopping there. Another group in line to enjoy Democratic Party largesse are those either here on or seeking to enter the country on employment visas – the ones our corporations rely on to keep wages down and spread copious amounts of job insecurity.  For this they will employ a gimmick known as immigrant visa recapture that will add an estimated 226,000 to the overall visa number. This will be done in two ways: 

Several immigrant visas will be granted using a ploy known as Diversity Visa Recapture (DV). DV is for winners of the diversity visa lottery and 55,000 of them are randomly handed out each year. This is outlined as follows:

In paragraph (3) of this section, all DV 2017-2021 winners who were unable to get a visa because of either (1) the Muslim/Travel bans or (2) COVID restrictions or "other effects" of the pandemic, would become eligible for a visa again.

The other tranche will be awarded utilizing the ploy of employment-based visa (EB) recapture. Under this provision, the U.S. would first recapture every unused EB visa from 1992-2021, and then would establish going forward that any unused EB visa gets added to the visa pool for the next year. 

Moving on from visa recapture hijinks, we come to the ploy of adjustment of status for those in the legal immigration backlog. As evidence by his proposal, Mr. Nadler is eager to help H-1B holders who have on many occasions been employed to displace Americans. However, he has shown little inclination in the past to prevent Americans from being displaced by those here on employment visas.

Adjustment of status can apply to anyone in the U.S., and their spouse and children, who is the beneficiary of an approved visa petition under INA 204(a)(1) and willing to pay $1,500 and file an adjustment application.

The provision would exempt from numerical limitations those who qualify and file an adjustment application. However, then there would be additional requirements for different categories of beneficiaries of approved visa petitions. Specifically, anyone who is the beneficiary of an approved visa petition under INA(a)(1)(A)(i) and (B)(i)(I), which covers family-based visas, who have a priority date at least two years old, and who pay a supplemental fee of $2,500, would be able to apply for adjustment.

In addition, anyone who is the beneficiary of an approved visa petition under INA(a)(1)(E) and (F) which covers most employment-based immigrant visas, have a priority date of at least two years, and who pay a supplemental fee of $5,000, will be able to apply for adjustment. This means H-1B visa holders, predominantly from India, in backlog for employment-based Green Cards get employment authorization documents (EAD) permits! Often referred to as “Green Card Light”, this entitles them to stay here permanently while awaiting adjudication on their Green Card – and the privileges are extended to their spouse and other immediate family members.

And still, Mr. Nadler persists because anyone who is the beneficiary of an approved visa petition under INA(a)(1)(H), which is EB-5 visas, have a priority date at least two years old, and pay a supplemental fee of $50,000, will also be able to apply for adjustment.

The 25 – 19 vote on the provisions in the ANS were along party lines which was expected for these hyper partisan times. But there’s real injury in the ANS. The Democrats rejected every single Republican amendment, including those that would have excluded gang members and sex offenders.

In a September 10th press release about the work the Judiciary Committee would be doing on their proposal, Chairman Nadler said something quite revealing about the intent and expectations for the country’s new arrivals.  He referred to them as “human infrastructure.”

Just let that sink in for a moment. The role Mr. Nadler envisions for new arrivals is not to help us build strong and resilient communities, rather, they are simply to be cogs in the machinery of USA, Inc. What is lost on Mr. Nadler is that a citizen has innate responsibilities and obligations to his/her community.  That commodity cannot be bought for the cheap price of admission outlined above.

The last provision is a $2.8 billion grant to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to help them deal with long-standing backlog cases, hire staff, and build up infrastructure for processing applications added by these provisions. It should be obvious that these provisions were in the works for a long time. It’s also obvious that Mr. Nadler and many of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee prioritize foreigners over U.S. citizens.

The answer is not to gouge new arrivals for fees or raise tax dollars to handle the increase in processing. The correct answer is to significantly scale back immigration to the U.S. It’s time to apply the brakes and slow this train down before it derails. 

I’m reminded of the comments made by Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) in 2005 when blindsided by attempts made by a Republican congress to insert immigration visa recapture for just the H-1B visa backlog. He stated, “baffling, baffling, baffling I tell you!”

In closing, The U.S. has implemented seven flawed amnesties since 1986 that have had many unintended consequences. We cannot wait for the Senate Parliamentarian to rule on the appropriateness of Mr. Nadler’s ANS provisions being placed into a budget reconciliation bill. Armed with the above information, I encourage everyone of you to call, e-mail, write and tweet your Senators and Representatives and insist they refuse to support the amnesty provision being placed into the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.