Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform legislation’ Category

Modern day slavery legislation

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Not since the days of slavery have so many residents of the United States lacked the most basic social, economic, and human rights.”

The management of entirely unregulated trans-border labor force of millions of workers with low formal education, including recruitment and employment, has been driven by corporate employers in agriculture, textiles, and meat processing. From the early decades of the 20th Century, whole sectors of the American economy have been staffed by persons with to legal status. Their employers have defeated efforts to normalize the employment relationship. Programs to coordinate the North American economy, including NAFTA, left this trans-border workforce unrelated. Corporate employers have essentially kept the world’s largest trans-border workforce out of government oversight.

Rather than to regulate in a way consistent with 20th Century standards of worker protections and of dispute resolution, the United States practiced benign neglect on these employment relations, with some exceptions, and  tried and consistently failed to influence them indirectly by Mexican border control.

Immigration restrictionists have to come to terms with those employers who depend on these workers. Goodlatte’s Agricultural Guest Worker Act (H.R. 4092) would regulate the workforce by formally recognizing guest workers as persons of sharply diminished rights.

The bill would arm employers with overwhelming control over employment conditions, including mandatory arbitration, reporting within 72 hours if a worker quits, mandatory periodic return to country of origin with no obligation of the employer to pay for transportation, barring family members to accompany the worker, and barring of access to common supports for low wage workers such as SNAP food stamps, federal community health center care, and federally funded legal aid. The bill would essentially close of much of the farming workforce from U.S. citizens and create a closed pool of vulnerable temporary workers.

Farmworker Justice is at the forefront of tackling this bill.

House to vote on farm guest worker bill in July

Friday, June 29th, 2018

From Farmworker Justice this morning:

Speaker Paul Ryan has committed to a July vote in the House on agricultural guestworker legislation, as reported by the Seattle Times and by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), whose family owns a large farming operation.

The proposal will be based on Rep. Goodlatte’s anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-family Agricultural Guestworker Act (AGA). Goodlatte and Newhouse included the AGA within Goodlatte’s larger Securing America’s Future Act, which failed in the House last week (so badly that almost half of Republican Congressmen voted against it).

Goodlatte’s cruel AGA, if passed, would accomplish two horrific results. For more details, see our summary.

First, this bill would basically convert the farm labor force of 2.4 million into guestworkers on new H-2C temporary work visas. Growers could bring in hundreds of thousands of H-2C guestworkers with no right to immigration status. Goodlatte’s bill would separate families –- spouses and children would have to remain in their homeland while the H-2C guestworker labors in the US for months or years. Current undocumented farmworkers would have an illusory right to return to their homelands and seek an H-2C visa, but not their spouses and children currently in the US, who would still be subject to deportation.

Second, the H-2C program would replace the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and minimize recruitment of U.S. farmworkers; slash the modest wage and other labor protections; deny meaningful access to the judiciary; and minimize government oversight.

I described the Goodlatte bill here.



Republicans aim to cut immigration by 40%

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Currently one to 1 ½ million person get a green card every year. I have posted before on a long-time shift of Republicans to greater restriction, despite a poll showing that only 17% of Americans favor a decrease in immigration. The House appears to be almost evenly divided over restriction Ron Brownstein of CNN noted this:

“With last week’s vote in the House of Representatives on hardline immigration legislation from GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, about three-fourths of Republicans in both the House and Senate have voted this year to cut legal immigration by about 40%. That would represent, by far, the largest reduction in legal immigration since Congress voted in 1924 to virtually shut off immigration for the next four decades.

The 40% estimate comes from the Cato Institute. “By far the worst aspect of the Securing America’s Future Act are the cuts to legal immigration overall (pp. 5-21). The bill authors claim that it would cut immigration by 25 percent—some 2.6 million people per decade—but in reality, it would be closer to 430,000, almost a 40 percent decline. This would be the largest policy-driven reduction in legal immigration since the awful, racially motivated acts of the 1920s.”

The Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) was filed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on January 10, 2018. The bill would give Dreamers a three year visa with no right to permanent stay or citizenship, restrict family reunification to spouses and minor children (thus removing adult children and parents), shift the visa lottery to economic visas, and boost border security. Goodlatte told reporters, “I think there are a lot of other things that need to be done on immigration.”

The guest worker proposal in the House

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

The House is scheduled to vote on two immigration bills next week. At least one of the bills will apparently address a legislative compromise over DACA, border security, employer verification (e-Verify) and a guest worker program.

This guest worker program fits into the legislative package in this way: if employers will be required to verify the legal status of their workers, this will create havoc in some major industries, in particular agriculture. A new guest worker program could normalize the status of these workers.

Bob Goodlatte introduced in the fall of 2017 the Agricultural Guestworker Act. It would replace the current H-2A agricultural guestworker program. The H-2A program today covers about 10% of the American farm workforce today, with numbers of about 150,000. The Goodlatte bill would introduce a replacement visa with a cap of 400,000 workers.

Goodelatte’s replacement visa is a H-2C visa. This visa provides for 36 months plus additional 18 month extensions, for agricultural workers. Workers must periodically leave the U.S, 10% of their wages are to be held in a trust fund, accessible only outside the U.S. Workers are barred from federal public benefits, and employers must provide the workers health insurance “in order to protect taxpayers from footing the bill for expensive medical care.”

The 10% wage hold-back is a copy of an element in the Bracero program of the 1940s through early 1960s.

The Bracero program did, and Goodlatte’s proposed H-2C program would primarily impact farming in California. But the H-2C would also normalize dairy farm workers throughout the country. The Bracero program suppressed farm wages, evidenced in in wage increases won by the United Farm Workers after the Bracero program ended.

Bipartisan Senate sentiment for moderate immigration reform

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Going back to Senate votes in February, we see that about half of Senators want a moderate resolution of immigration issues including protection of Dreamers.

On January 17, 2018 a bipartisan group of Senators offered an immigration bill. The White House rejected the bill. \ Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, introduced their bill with Sens. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota,

On February 14, the Senate began debating seven immigration proposals. All included protection for Dreamers, mostly estimated at 1.8 million persons. Three included border wall funding at $25 billion. Three included changes to family and/or lottery visa law. None of the bills passed, but at least one garnered a majority of votes.

On February 15, a vote was 54-45 in favor of the “Common Sense Coalition” plan, short of the 60 needed for approval. Eight Republicans bucked their party and supported the measure, and three Democrats abandoned their leaders and opposed it.

A potential slim House majority for moderate immigration reform

Thursday, May 24th, 2018


With help from a Washington Post article we can envision a very slim majority in the House of Representatives for any moderate immigration reform bill, one that will secure the future of Dreamers and perhaps make some further limited changes. This slim majority may block any restrictionist bill.

As of today, 214 members have signed on to vote, by way of a discharge petition H.R. 774, on a vote planned expressly to protect Dreamers. The details of the strategy are here.

This discharge petition requires 218 votes, per the Washington Post. As of today, the discharge petition is assured of 193 Democrats (100%) and 21 Republicans (9%) – or 214, four votes shy of 218.

In total, 13 of 21 signers represent districts that are either heavily Hispanic or that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 — in several cases both. Jeff Denham (R-CA), leading the discharge effort, has a district both of over 40% Hispanic and which voted for Clinton. Denham’s district is heavily involved with farming including wineries, including Gallo, the world’s largest winery.

Republicans hold 11 seats with an Hispanic population of at least 40%. Four of the 11 have yet to sign on. Leaving out these 11 seats, there are 18 remaining seats with a Clinton majority in 2016. Ten of the 18 have yet to sign on. Eight other Republicans signed on who did not have a large Hispanic population and whose district went to Trump in 2016. Three of the 8 signed on in support of dairy farmers in their district.

H.R. 4760 is the Goodlatte bill, which will severely restrict immigration without providing lasting security to Dreamers. It would give Dreamers a three-year visa with no right to permanent stay or citizenship, restrict family reunification to spouses and minor children (thus removing adult children and parents), shift the visa lottery to economic visas, and boost border security.

There remains H.R. 4796, a bipartisan bill filed on January 26. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California) filed the Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, H.R. 4796, with 48 bipartisan original cosponsors. The bill will protect Dreamers, and make sensible improvements to border control

The current bipartisan immigration bill

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

The current effort by some House of Representatives members to enact a bipartisan immigration bill draws upon a bill introduced on January 26. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California) filed the Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, H.R. 4796, with 48 bipartisan original cosponsors. The bill will protect Dreamers, and make sensible improvements to border control and to immigration courts.

Dreamer protection

The bill would create a renewable eight-year conditional permanent resident status that would allow Dreamers to earn the ability to be protected from deportation, work legally in the U.S., travel outside the country and apply to be a lawful permanent resident if they meet certain requirements.

They could apply for permanent status through one of three tracks: at least two years of college (education track); served in the military (military track); or have been employed for periods totaling at least 3 years and at least 80 percent of the time that the individual has had valid employment authorization, except periods in which the individual was enrolled in school (worker track).

Border security

A number of measures, including Develop a Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy. The bill would direct the DHS Secretary to submit within 12 months a comprehensive, mile-by-mile border strategy containing a list of physical barriers, technologies and tools that can be used to secure the border and their projected per mile cost estimate.

Also, the bill would authorize $110 million for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022 to increase collaboration between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and state and local law enforcement entities to support border security operations.

Immigration courts

The bill would increase the number of immigration judges by 55 each year from fiscal years 2018 through 2020, along with necessary support staff, to reduce the immigration court backlogs, which currently stands at about 660,000 cases. The average wait time for a case to be heard is about 670 days. The bill would also increase the number of Board of Immigration Appeals staff attorneys by 23 each year from fiscal years 2018 through 2020, along with necessary support staff.

Pervasive slowing of legal immigration

Friday, April 6th, 2018

The Migration Policy Institute, Pew Research and others note ways that legal immigration is declining.

Suspending and Reducing Refugee Admissions.

The U.S. admitted 84,995 refugees in fiscal 2016. A 110,000 ceiling was set by Obama. Trump almost immediately lowered the ceiling to 50,000, and then to 45,000. Since June 2017 monthly refugee admissions have most been under 2,000. This implies an annual volume of under 2,5000.

Slowing Family Immigration

In fiscal 2016, 804,793 people received family-based U.S. lawful permanent residence. Per the MPI, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processed 54% of immediate relative petitions in FY 2017, compared to about 67% in FY 2016. Non-immediate relative immigration processing was already low in FY 2016, with roughly 22% of applications adjudicated, but fell even further to 9% in FY 2017. Backlogs for non-immediate relatives increased. It seems likely that USCIS is delaying adjudication of non-immediate relative petitions because of lengthy visa availability backlogs in these categories.

Excluding Public Charges

Per the MPI, the administration has yet to officially unveil an expected policy designed to keep people at risk of becoming public charges out of the country. However, changes seem imminent. Two leaked draft documents—an executive order and a proposed regulation—outline substantive revisions. The policy could effectively reduce green-card grants for low-income individuals and make permanent residents more vulnerable to deportation.

Extreme vetting

The administration has taken steps to increase the screening of applicants for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, which could have the effect of slowing down admissions. In June 2017, a supplemental questionnaire was rolled out, in which some visa applicants must detail their travel history, residential addresses, and employment information for the past 15 years. In February 2018, the President signed a national security memorandum establishing the National Vetting Enterprise to coordinate and manage the government’s vetting efforts, combining the work of the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Justice, and the Director of National Intelligence.

Temporary Protected Status

More than 320,000 immigrants from 10 nations have permission to live and work in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), because war, hurricanes or other disasters in their home countries could make it dangerous for them to return. Many are expected to lose their benefits in 2018 and 2019. The Trump administration has said it will not renew the program for people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, who together account for about 76% of enrolled immigrants.

H-1B (skilled worker) visas

Under the Trump administration, the number of H-1B applications challenged by the federal government has increased. In addition, the administration has considered restricting the number of years foreign workers can hold H-1B visas.

Student visas

The State Department reports a total of 393,573 F-1 visas issued for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2017. This represents a 17% decline from the 471,000 F-1s issued in 2016, and a nearly 39% drop in F-1 visa issuance from the recent-year high in 2015.

Past versions of Trump’s “crime and rapists” speech

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

June 16, 2015 Donald Trump, about unoocumented Mexicans: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

An echo from the past—

1893 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Chae Chan Ping v. United States, upholding the denial of re-entry of a legal resident from China at a time a great hostility to Chinese immigrants: “To preserve its independence, and give security against foreign aggression and encroachment, is the highest duty of every nation, and to attain these ends nearly all other considerations are to be subordinated.”

1920s Henry Laughlin, leading eugenicist, provided reports on the “degeneracy” and “social inadequacy” of the racially inferioroty and unassimiability of southern and eastern Europeans, supporting passage of racist quotas in the Immigration Act of 1924.

Early 1950s Senator Pat McCarran, chairman of a Senate subcommittee on immigration, and leading force behind the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which continued racist quotas. He defended the Act “to preserve this nation, the last hope of western civilization,” to prevent it from being “overrun, perverted, contaminated, or destroyed.”  The Act, he asserted, kept communists out of the United States.

Immigration bills — today’s voting

Friday, February 16th, 2018


The Senate today (2/15) voted on four immigration bills, and fall failed to gain 60 votes. (Source: Vox).

The Common Sense Caucus proposal (led by Sen. Susan Collins). The plan had gained the endorsement of Democratic leadership and was technically sponsored by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

•Provided a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children
•Offered $25 billion for border security
•Prevented DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents for legal status

It failed 54 to 45. Democrats almost unanimously backed the plan, along with eight Republicans. But the rest of the GOP conference and a handful of Democrats blocked the bill.

Coons-McCain Bill by Sens. Chris Coons and John McCain (R-AZ).

• Provided a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children
• Offered no money for Trump’s border wall, though it did include some border security measures

It failed 52 to 47, with Democrats almost united in favor and Republicans mostly voting against it.

Toomey amendment to Coons-McCain bill. The second vote, on an amendment from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), did not actually address DACA or border security. The Toomey amendment would have penalized so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to enforce federal immigration policy, by withholding federal funding from those municipalities.

It failed 54 to 45. Republicans and a few Democrats supported it, but most Democrats were opposed.

Grassley Bill. This one was closest to the White House’s preferences

• Provided a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children
• Offered $25 billion to fund a southern border wall
• Substantially curtailed family immigration and eliminated the diversity visa lottery program in such a way that would gut the legal immigration system

It failed, 39 to 60. Democrats opposed the bill en masse, joined by a notable number of Republicans, while most of the GOP conference and a couple Democrats supported it.