Chorus of critics lambast passage of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, targets Senate

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. and 2020 presidential candidate, in San Francisco on June 30, 2019. (Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris, via The Washington Post)

The chorus of critics of the ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019’ or ‘HR 1044’, which finally passed on Wednesday in the US House of Representatives, by an overwhelming margin of 365-65 votes, is growing by the day.

Right wing anti-immigration hawks, news publications and advocacy groups, including some prominent TV personalities, started bellowing about the resolution before its passage, and now are growing in frenzy, as the measure heads to the Senate for vote.

The Centre for Immigration Studies (CIS) made it clear what their fear is: Indian citizens would get the majority of the annual allocation of the Green Card every year, to the detriment of nationals from other countries.

“Under current rules, citizens of India are getting about 25% of all the professional employment green cards each year. If this bill becomes law citizens of India will get more than 90% of the professional employment green cards, according to USCIS – for at least the next 10 years. Green cards would be unavailable to applicants from all other parts of the world (and many other occupations) for at least a decade,” said CIS, in a statement.

Quartz reported dissenters worry about Indians monopolizing the green card numbers and compromising on diversity. One solution proposed by the CIS to remedy the green card queues and preserve diversity is to end dual intent for non-immigrant visas. “Force employers to choose upfront whether they are hiring an immigrant or a guest worker,” the organization said. “That way, foreign workers will know when they arrive, whether they will be able to stay or whether they will have to return home.”

The conservative news website Breitbart reported Fox News host and radio host Sean Hannity slamming ‘the Democrats’ pending jobs giveaway to hundreds of thousands of Indian graduates, which is co-sponsored by roughly 100 GOP legislators’, before the passage of the bill.

“I do believe in merit-based immigration, but I don’t think this is the bill, though, because it would reward employers who literally replace American workers potentially with hundreds of thousands of low cost, less skilled workers who are entering on temporary visas, mainly H-1Bs, often working the tech sector,” the influential Hannity was quoted as saying.

“If we want to raise the standard of living of the American people, right now, the little bit of shortage we have in the job market, you know, it creates an opportunity for … it is a natural pressure-up that people are going to get more pay, better benefits and if you start allowing immigration on a mass level … you have to do it in a way that protects the American worker and their ability to climb the ladder of success and their opportunities and their standard of living,” he added, saying, “I want a solution to the problem … the devil is in the details. It can always be done better.”

Joseph Joh, Assistant Director and Senior Adviser for the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, also made clear their opposition to the resolution that passed in the House, and now moves to the Senate, as S. 386.

“The Department of Homeland Security does not support S. 386. The bill would do nothing to move the current employer-sponsored system toward a more merit-based system. The adverse effect on immigrant visa wait times for nationals of countries currently with lesser demand would be an obstacle to any potential plan to promote or increase immigration from countries who immigrants present reduced risk, such as Visa Waiver Program countries, or any other class of countries which the Administration may desire to provide preferential treatment (e.g., countries with which the U.S. has negotiated favorable trade deals),” Joh said in a statement.

The opposition has been strong from several groups, including NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration reform, and ALIPC.

A Breitbart story had this to say about the resolution to remove per-country caps for Green Card, which in the Senate has been sponsored by Sen. Kamala Harris: ‘If Harris’ outsourcing law is adopted, the rush of Central Americans migrants at the southern border will be overshadowed by a huge rush of Indian college graduates walking into professional jobs throughout the United States.’

The Breitbart report quoted Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, saying, “It is impossible to understate the significance of this. A lot of people believe this is only for IT [professionals] but the potential impact goes way beyond IT – healthcare, accountants, and other professional jobs will be at risk. These are jobs which offered a gateway into the middle class for kids from families where the parents did not have white-collar jobs… American graduates are going to see their employment prospects severely restricted by Harris’ bill. This is “white-collar labor trafficking.

In a report entitled ‘The Green Card Giveaway,’ Breitbart commented: ‘Getting an American green card by age thirty is equivalent to winning the lottery, or being one of the first workers at Facebook, Google, or Microsoft, or discovering a suitcase of gold in your bedroom. It is a hugely valuable prize that will make each winner the most successful person in their home neighborhood, their grade school, their university class, and their extended family. It allows Indians to escape their 4,000-year-old caste status, their own country’s caste nepotism, the poverty, and petty corruption, to become AN AMERICAN! in just ten years — and it means their spouses, their children, their chain-migration family, and all their descendent forever become AMERICANS. This government bonus of green cards for H-1B workers creates a huge competitive bias against American graduates.’

In the same vein, the Breitbart report also made this rancorous comment on the resolution: ‘How can Americans win job interviews when they are competing against equally skilled Indians who will work for starvation wages, peanuts, and fruit salad? The H-1B workers hope to get the citizenship deferred bonus — but Americans know they need higher salaries now to pay down their college debts, get married, and buy a decent house.’

According to immigration numbers put up by Breitbart, each year roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.

‘But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers,’ it lamented.

It added: ‘The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.’



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