Mitt Romney’s Impeachment Vote Backfires on Utah’s Push for S.386 Green Card Giveaway

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) talks about the proposed Tobacco To 21 legislation during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol May 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. The legislation would raise the age to 21 for anyone to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products across the country. …
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Utah Sen. Mike Lee is pushing his S.386 green card giveaway bill, in part, because the state’s political and business establishment is betting imported Indian graduates will jump start the state’s version of Silicon Valley.

But Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump has created a new problem for Lee’s controversial bill, whose passage via the fast track Unanimous Consent rule has been blocked several times by GOP and Democratic Senators.

“Lee’s immigration bill will give Silicon Slopes the high-tech workers it needs,” said the headline on an article posted by the Salt Lake Tribune. The December article was written by Miles Hansen, the president of a state-backed operation tasked with recruiting new investment into the state:

As president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, it’s a story I hear over and over. One tech company in Sandy recently had to turn down significant new business opportunities because such visa restrictions made it impossible to bring on several qualified workers from India who were needed to meet growing demand.

That’s why I am grateful for Sen. Mike Lee’s leadership in introducing legislation called the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act” that would remove the per-country cap for employment-based visas.

Yet the bill is currently stalled in the Senate, despite receiving bipartisan sponsorship and support – including 19 Republicans and 16 Democrats – and overwhelmingly passed in the House last summer, thanks in part to all four members of Utah’s congressional delegation. Clearly, leaders across the nation understand why reform is good for business and our immigration system. With so much at stake, World Trade

Lee’s S.386 bill is important because it would dramatically expand the incentives for many Indian graduates to migrate into college graduate jobs throughout the United States, including into Utah’s so-called “Silicon Slopes.

The promise of more cheap labor explains why the bill is being pushed by Utah’s two Senators, four federal representatives, the state’s governor, and many local business groups — and also by India’s government.

If S.386 passes, the flood of Indians will drop salaries for American graduates and will push many out of good jobs and careers — and politically, towards the Democratic party.

Utah’s planned Indian workforce is also expected to extract white collar jobs from other states, such as Missouri, Arkansas, Lousiana, and Kentucky.

Utah’s green card push is now complicated by Romney’s decision to vote with Democrats for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a ‘high crime and misdemeanor,'” Romney said February 5. “Yes, he did.”

The vote by the Senator from Utah is a threat to the GOP Senate majority, says former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum:

Romney and Lee have worked closely together for years:

So Lee is trying to distance himself from his fellow Utah Senator. Romney’s negative vote will not get a good reaction in Utah, Lee told Fox News February February 5. “There will be some people who will be happy about it: They might be called ‘Democrats.'”

The S.386 bill seeks to release a huge pool of Indian labor to work in the United States.

A huge number of Indian graduates — and many Indian illegals — are eager to work in the United States because they can amass a fortune by converting an American salary into Indian currency.

For example, in 2018, roughly 70,000 Indian graduates used the uncapped Optional Practical Training program to get three-year work permits, by first enrolling in U.S. colleges and universities. The employers who hire OPT workers get cheaper labor because they do not have to pay Social Security or Medicare taxes when hiring foreign OPT workers.

There is no cap on OPT work permits because the program was largely created and then expended by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, without any legislation by Congress.

Indian workers also use the OPT program because it gives them an on-ramp to the H-1B program, which keeps roughly 800,000 Indians in Americans’ college jobs. Also, the H-1B program allows employers to nominate foreign workers for the hugely valuable prize of green cards.

Each year, the government awards roughly 120,000 green cards to foreign workers who are nominated by their employers. The distribution of green cards is limited by “country caps,” so only about 10,000 Indian workers — plus about 10,000 spouses and children — get the jackpot of green cards from their U.S. employers each year. Most Americans greatly underestimate the value of those cards, but foreigners know those cards allow them to escape their often-backward birthplaces to become American citizens — along with their spouses, children, and parents.

Lee’s bill would dramatically expand this inflow of Indian graduates by removing the country caps.

S.386 would allow U.S. employers to deliver fast-track green cards to a maximum of 120,000 Indians workers and spouses each year. The expanded incentive would encourage more Indians to get into the OPT program, so providing U.S colleges with more foreign customers and U.S. companies with more workers.

Overall, roughly 1.5 million American jobs are held by visa workers, mostly from India and China. These visa workers have also helped send at least one million other American white collar jobs to India, so helping to suppress nationwide salaries for American graduates.

This inflow of Indian workers has displaced hundreds of thousands of American professionals and is moving Indian managers into top positions throughout the U.S. business sector. For example, Indians now hold the top jobs at Microsoft, Google, IBM, Mastercard, and many other companies. This replacement has caused much bitterness among many American professionals, partly because of evidence that Indians discriminate in favor of other Indians, openly and without fear.

The huge inflow of visa workers helped to turn Virginia and New Jersey blue, partly because U.S. college graduates are more likely to vote Democratic when they live alongside immigrants.

Yet Lee’s S.368 bill is stuck amid diverse opposition from GOP and Democratic members.

After the 2019 wipeout of the GOP in Virginia,  GOP Senators do not want to back any bills that increase the immigration of Democratic-leaning voters.

Meanwhile, several Democratic Senators, such as Sen. Dick Durbin, oppose Lee’s measure because the flood of Indian-guest workers would shove many immigrants from other countries to the back of the waitlist for green cards.

The bill is also fuelling a growing public protest by American graduates e– including legal immigrants — against the H-1B and OPT programs.

A matching bill — H.R. 1044passed the House after a stealth lobbying campaign by business lobbies. Utah’s members, including Rep. John Curtis, were strong supporters of the bill.

“Utah has witnessed incredible growth in our tech and innovation sector … However, everywhere I go, I hear from business leaders that they do not have enough high-skilled workers,” Curtis said in July 2019 as the House prepared to vote for H.R.1044, the House’s version of Lee’s bill. He continued:

Current limitations in our immigration system are forcing talented engineers who have trained in our universities to remain on temporary visas or leave entirely for competing countries, while important jobs go unfulfilled back home and economic opportunities are lost. This legislation will create a first-come, first-serve system … certainty to workers and families and enabling companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, jobs, regardless of where they were born.

Utah’s GOP legislators have a long history of pushing cheap-labor bills. In 2011, then Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz passed a similar giveaway-bill through the House. In January 2018, Breitbart reported on the Immigration Innovation Act of 2018, or I-Squared, which was fronted by former Sen. Orrin Hatch and retired Sen. Jeff Flake. Cyrus Mehta, an N.Y.-based immigration lawyer, wrote:

This bill has all the right ingredients – elimination of per country limits, not counting derivative family members — that have till now clogged up the employment-based preferences and increasing the H-1B visa cap.

Lee, however, voted against the Senate’s 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill. That vote helped fuel an establishment backlash by major Utah business leaders, which was apparently resolved when Lee accepted former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. as co-chairmen of his 2016 national re-election committee.

Similarly, Lee pushed to apply antitrust law against Google and Facebook in 2011. Byt 2019, he was defending the companies, amid the rising flow of Google and Facebook investment into Utah, according to an August 2019 report by the Google Transparency Project.

The state establishment is now betting that S.368 will supercharge its Silicon Slopes business project.

Approval of S.386 would be a boon for the state’s immigration lawyers, retailers, real estate owners, construction firms, high-tech investors, said a source, who is an opponent of S.386 and has close ties to Utah.

Property prices are expected to jump as new workers and businesses flood into Lehi, a city 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, he said.

The business groups have created an annual Silicon Slope conference to cheerlead for the project:

The push is also backed by the state’s top technology company, Adobe Systems Inc. The company is run by Indian-born Shantanu Narayen, who is also a top member of the U.S. India Strategic Partnership Forum. which lobbies U.S. and Indian officials “to make the case for the free flow of skilled labor in both countries.”

West Coast technology industry and investors are also backing Utah’s “Silicon Slopes” pitch and the S.386 labor supply bill:

“The gang is all there in Utah,” the source said. Investors help Utah by offering jobs, in exchange for Utah’s legislators importing workers for the investors with S.386, he said. “It’s kinda cause-and-effect … it’s all about the money,” he said.

Utah’s governor, Gary Herbert, backs the S.386 bill — and he wants President Donald Trump to import more refugees into the state’s labor market. The Deseret News reported November I:

The governor’s request, in a letter dated Oct. 24, follows a decision by the Trump administration slashing the number of refugees the United States will accept from the current limit of 30,000 to 18,000 that also included an executive order requiring state and local governments to provide written consent to receive refugees.

“Gov. Herbert is deeply concerned that fewer refugees have been permitted into the United States in recent years,” his spokeswoman, Anna Lehnardt, told the Deseret News Friday. She said the governor hopes the president will “carefully consider” his request.

“We hope he will help us increase the number of refugees sent to Utah, so that we can offer a new homeland to the same number of individuals and families that we have in the past. Even if other states choose to use the president’s new policies to refuse entrance to refugees, we will not,” Lehnardt said.

Utah is a great location for West Coast technology companies to hide their Indian workforce, the source said. Construction companies are already building tracts of cheap housing in Lehi, he said. “Utah is a place where they can do the work without anyone seeing … nobody will really know about it … they can fill it up with as many people as they want,” he said. “No-one pays attention to Utah.”

Unlike many Americans, Indians workers will work in Utah, partly because many will return home to convert their dollar wealth into Indian currency.

Meanwhile, the people in Utah know nothing about the likely impact of “Silicon Slopes” on local college-graduates, he said. The state’s elites “do their backroom deals and handshakes, and most of the people are oblivious.”

For example, he said, some Utah residents rejected images of Lee in a Capitol Hill building, surrounded by Indian advocates for his S.368 bill. “When they saw the picture of Mike Lee with all the Indians around him — they thought it was photoshopped … They really didn’t believe it.”

However, the same images are also on twitter.

Utah’s business agenda is a threat to the GOP caucus, mostly because it would spur immigration of replacement college-graduate workers, and would alienate displaced college-graduate voters.

In 2018, the Democrats won 65 percent of votes from people with post-graduate degrees, and 55 percent from people with four-year college degrees.

Utah’s bill would also put more migrants into the voting booths. Roughly 77 percent of Indians supported Democratic candidates in 2016, while only 16 percent said they voted for President Donald Trump, according to a post-election survey funded by the National Science Foundation.

A growing population of skilled migrants in a district also tends to pull American-born voters into the Democratic camp, said an April 2018 study. “Our strongest and most significant finding is that an increase in high-skilled immigrants as a share of the local population is associated with a strong and significant decrease in the vote share for the Republican Party,” said the report.

 

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