Efforts at Immigration Reform Will Undoubtedly Get Ugly

Ann All

The debate over health care reform was unquestionably ugly. However, it'll look downright genteel compared with the firestorm that will likely follow if Congress decides to move forward on immigration reform this year. For a taste of what it will be like, consider the furor that has ensued over Arizona's anti-illegal immigrant law.


In December I wrote about a proposal introduced by Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) which would, among other things, make it easier for U.S.-educated foreign nationals to get green cards. Doing so would eliminate many of the abuses associated with H-1B visas, by making it harder for employers sponsoring visa holders to exploit them and by putting the focus on highly educated folks who want to permanently settle here rather than on employees of outsourcing companies brought here for short-term assignments.


I've long supported the idea of easing the green card process for people with degrees from American institutions. I'm not the only one. A framework for immigration reform introduced by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY, head of the Senate's Immigration Subcommittee) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would award green cards to foreigners who receive a master's degree or PhD in science, technology, engineering or math. As the two politicians wrote in a Washington Post op-ed piece, "It makes no sense to educate the world's future inventors and entrepreneurs and then force them to leave when they are able to contribute to our economy."


Other countries have experimented, with varying degrees of success, with immigration programs designed to fast-track residency for highly skilled workers.Though details will have to be hammered out -- and the devil is always in the details, it's just intuitively a good idea. Perhaps the primary concern, mentioned by Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in a Computerworld story, is the possibility that unscrupulous schools could become "diploma mills" awarding degrees to anyone who can cover the cost of tuition. That could be solved by requiring oversight by and input from groups such as Abet Inc., formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.


In addition to easing the green card process for foreign graduates of U.S. universities, the framework also suggests a biometric Social Security card to help prevent unauthorized workers from getting jobs, enhanced border security, and beefed-up interior enforcement efforts aimed at apprehending and deporting criminals. It would also establish a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, a controversial proposal that has stymied previous immigration legislation including a 2007 bill backed by then-President George Bush.


As for my prediction over the ugliness of the debate, check out all the partisan finger-pointing already under way between Republicans, who accuse Democrats of pandering to Hispanic voters and threaten to halt any legislative action, and Democrats, who say they're confident immigration reform can succeed. In fact, Lindsey Graham, the Republican who worked with Schumer on the framework, has withdrawn his support because he says Democrats are neglecting a climate bill in favor of immigration.

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May 3, 2010 10:45 AM BB BB  says:

This proposal will only further flood the U.S. labor market. It will help a little bit to increase the cost of hiring H1Bs, as employers will have to pay a bit more money to their attorneys to cover the cost of weeding out the flood of US citizen job applications that will surely come whenever a job opening is posted online.

I have a better idea: Limit all H1B and L1's to 10,000 per year. If there are more than 10,000 applications, do NOT allocate them using a lottery. Instead, allocate them according to the salary of the job, highest salary first.This will make sure that they are only used for their intended purpose, actually hiring the "best and brightest". If they really are "best and brightest", they ought to deserve a "best and brightest" salary!

May 3, 2010 11:42 AM EngiNERD EngiNERD  says:

BB writes:   "I have a better idea: Limit all H1B and L1's to 10,000 per year"

I've  got an  even  better  idea!!!     Terminate the H-1B  visa  program  completely!  We already  have a  visa  for the  truly  best,  brightest,  gifted!!!     It is called the  "O"  visa.

May 3, 2010 5:32 PM Brittanicus Brittanicus  says:


Homeland Security Czar Janet Napolitano  lied to the American people about the border fence. It was never built to original specifications. She said the actual fence stretched 745 miles? It doesn't? large regions are still old barbed wire fencing. Other areas are restricted by vehicle barriers. In some cases none functioning cameras and movement sensors is the only enforcement. The Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations bill specifically eliminated the main funding mandate of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 as a two layer fence. Learn the facts about these lies at AMERICAN PATROL.

Washington has already appropriated over a trillion dollars to fight two isolated foreign wars and also assisting in building Israels wall. If Amnesty is passed the costs will dwarf the two wars we are now fighting. But the taxpayers of  our nation get the budget cuts for our national security fence, and get--NOTHING, to protect us from the  deadly  insurgency of  drug smugglers  and millions of illegal aliens.  No wonder Arizona had to enact a strict immigration police limitation. on law

What do most politicians and entertainers know about living in the real world today? AbsolutelyNOTHING! Shotages of energy, crammed highways and ever growing pollution of the environmentand humans too. Here to do citizens-legal residents harm. PUT THE NATIONAL GUARD ON THE BORDER--NOW!

The Tea Party and thousands of anti-illegal immigrant organizations, will fight to stop any type or form of AMNESTY. Any kind of Amnesty will just bring in millions more people, waiting their turn for the next path to citizenship. Those here can bring in millions of close family members, which we as taxpayers will end up supporting. If Amnesty passes we will be obligated to give more government entitlements. Before President Obama signs the final document, the border will be swarmed by hundreds of thousands who will arrive by plane or ship.  Finally the  legal immigrants who have waited for years, will be upstaged by the illegal criminals here.

AMNESTYor the Immigration Overhaul. It should be up to the people by popular vote or by referendum, because giving 20 to 30 million foreigners, a rapid path to citizenship is an unjustifiable outrage. I tendNOTto trust the majority of polls, because the actual questions can easily be manipulated. In other wordsthe way the questions are directed towards the recipient, can be favorable for whatever the poll enquirer wants to hear? It will be a major catastrophe on the Federal, state, county and city public welfare benefits inflicted on our nation. We cannot afford it and it will divide the country, as other states like Arizona have been forced to enact their own immigration laws. The government we voted for refuses to protect the border or the majority for the American people, because of NAFTA and its diplomacy with the corrupt government next door. There should be no restraints on funding any of these measures when it comes to the American people's protection, for  jobs, taxes, infrastructure, ecosystem, population growth and more. To learn more go to NumbersUSA website

May 3, 2010 5:50 PM Blue Blue  says:

I've seen a lot of questions lately as to "Why are technology workers being singled out for an all out attack on their careers?".  They have  a good point. I think the only fair way is to handle this is to have the 'instant' green card open to all professions.  Obviously there is no shortage of IT skills or workers.  The best way would be have a reasonable points system.  MIT degree... enough points for a green card.  Some normal state school? Zero points, no green card. 

May 4, 2010 9:24 AM Carolyn Carolyn  says:

Ann wrote:

"That could be solved by requiring oversight by and input from groups such as Abet Inc., formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology."

This is rediculous.  Unless Abet enrolled someone in evey compute science course, and personally proctor every midterm and final, there is no way to tell if the awsome sounding course desrciption just requires students to do an unmonitored online or easily available exam.

The O visa, where someone can self sponsor proving that they are at the top of their field, should be the only employment based visa allowed.

I am yet to hear why the O visa is not enough.

May 4, 2010 1:58 PM prousa prousa  says:

Does anyone think of the absurdity of adding 1.5 to 2 million new immigrant job competitors at a time of high unemployment?  When you further consider education and healthcare costs immigration really has become an expensive loser to all of America except employers.

This is especially true for programs such as H-1B, L1, and OPT.  These participants come in VERY high percentages from the low wage countries such as India (forget Japan or Western Europe).  For evidence of abuse go to utube and watch the Cohen and Grigsby video where immigration lawyers tell how to AVOID hiring qualified Americans!

We've really got to stop allowing employers to compete us against the entire world through easy immigration policies.  The safeguards have been totally inadequate and that was by design!

May 4, 2010 5:12 PM Steve Smith Steve Smith  says:

Another commentator has addressed the lunacy of the "staple a green card to the diploma" proposal ....


May 4, 2010 7:32 PM BB BB  says: in response to EngiNERD

I agree, only "O" visas is an even better idea. If there are more applicants than the quota, decide by highest salary and not by lottery.

May 5, 2010 8:48 AM RArmant RArmant  says:

Why are the STEMs being selectively picked on? How about including the business, financial, and economic majors as well. Lets also include the lawyers. What hypocrisy!

May 8, 2010 3:52 PM EngiNERD EngiNERD  says:

It   may  really  get  ugly   with the news that the  Times Square Bomber (Fiasal Shahbaz)  was  at   one  time here on on H-1b  visa !

I wonder if there might be any additional screening  given to those   so  call  best,  brillant  temp.  foreign  professionals?   You know that ones that are  doing the  jobs that Americans  have   few skills.  OOOH  by the way,   what special  skills the Shahbaz  have that he  could  get an H-1b   visa?

May 18, 2010 11:45 AM Nerd Nerd  says:

After reading through the comments I think I have a better suggestion. We should stop H1B and employment based green cards. Forget about about all the big corporations like google, ebay, and many more founded/co-founded by educated immigrants. Lets welcome uneducated illegal immigrants and have them produce 4 to 6 kids. We need more people to clean our toilets. 

May 27, 2010 12:00 PM Diana Besemer Diana Besemer  says: in response to prousa

I agree with the comments about our high unemployment rate and allowing more visas.  Let the employer show that they have advertised and interviewed at least 25 people for this job before allowing them to advertiise for H-1B immigrant.  This information would have to be available for verification and it should be verified.  I know too many people in too many fields unable to find a job only to find corporations bringing individuals from other countries, mostly recent graduates willing to accept much lower salaries. 

Nov 30, 2010 5:29 PM James James  says: in response to BB

It is not the brightest and the best that we need worry about.  Although to be frank, I have worked with many Indians who claimed advanced degrees, terrific references, work ethic etc. and yet to meet one that even came close to their self billing.  Meeting deadlines, quality, communication all seem to cultural voids and Indians fail continually.  But they do have lots of paper, and low prices.  However, it is the family that they bring, the ones they apply for asap after their arrival.  These are the ones who will swell the welfare roles, swell crime stats, swell unemployment numbers, be blaiming the USA for racial issues as reasons they dont exceed etc.  Bring in the brightest, sure, but eliminate the family visas.  Let each person qualify on their credentials.  Our children are going to wonder why we let ourselves be colonized by these frauds.  As another point, I always found the Chinese to hard workers, committed and frankly a much better choice over Indians.


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