Democrat Zoe Lofgren Pushing Green Card Giveaway into Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) speaks at a press conference on Capi
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren will put her Silicon Valley version of GOP Sen. Mike Lee’s S.386 green card giveaway bill into the year-end omnibus bill — if top GOP leaders stand aside, say sources and lobbyists.

The GOP leaders who can stop Lofgren’s bill include Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.Ky., appropriations chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who recently won reelection.

The Democrats “can sneak it through, so the leadership needs to draw the red line,” warned one Senate staffer.

Lofgren is an immigration lawyer and represents a district in Silicon Valley. She pushed for the 2019 passage of the House bill, H.R. 1044.

The bill would allocate most of the annual supply of green cards for employees to the valley’s huge workforce of Indian and Chinese visa workers. That shift would also help the technology companies recruit another wave of Indian migrant workers instead of American graduates.

Amid pressure from Lee, several GOP Senators have negotiated Senate amendments to the Lofgren bill. Those deals are built into Lee’s S.386 version of H.R.1044. So the Senators will ask the GOP’s leadership to include their amendments in the year-end bill — if the GOP leaders decide to accept Lofgren’s bill, the source said.

But in the unpredictable tradeoffs and the chaos of the year-end rush, Lofgren’s H.R. 1044 may get included, Lee’s S386 bill may be included, or neither bill may be included, the staffer said.

The GOP Senators with a stake in the bill include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, and Georgia’s Sen. David Perdue — who needs the support of migration-skeptical, populist GOP voters for his January 5 runoff election.

Lofgren’s bill is designed to deliver fast track green cards to the workforce of roughly 400,000 mid-skill Indian visa workers — and 70,000 Chinese — who have been imported by Silicon Valley and Fortune 500 firms.

The firms imported the visa workers to save some payroll money but also to deny American graduates the technology jobs, experience, and contacts they would use to launch rival companies and products.

But Lofgren’s bill would allow the Fortune 500 to dominate the annual supply of 140,000 green cards that can be given by U.S. employers to favored employees under the nation’s “Employment Based” immigration rules.

Many would-be immigrants and immigration lawyers are protesting Lofgren’s plan for corporate consolidation of the EB system.

Charles Kuck, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Florida immigration lawyer Mariena Cancio Johnson complained via Twitter about Silicon Valley’s political clout:

The corporate takeover of the immigration system will deny green cards to many more promising top tier university researchers from other countries, most of whom now stay in the United States by hopscotching from visa to visa until they can get green cards, said one activist.

“When they have to wait 20 years for a green card, they will not come to American research universities,” the activist told Breitbart News.

Advocates for U.S. professionals say Lofgren’s bill is intended to be a sneaky strategy to expand the immigration system by filling up the waiting line for green cards with Silicon Valley’s workforce of mid-skill H-1B workers. “People should be against this [bill] because when they do this stupid thing, that will increase [political pressure for more greed cards,” said one activist.

“The bill is going to create the biggest train wreck in the legal immigration system in history,” said John Miano, a lawyer with the Immigration Reform Law Institute. He added:

It is gonna be a total disaster. But for lawyers, this is wonderful. Confusion and chaos in the law are great for lawyers. And so that’s what I think people are anticipating, that ‘If we create a big enough mess, then we’re going to expand the immigration system overall because the outcome of this is so horrible.

“People from Guatemala, Mexico, Pakistan, Israel, France, Britain, are going to be complaining,” said Kevin Lynn, founder of U.S. Tech Workers. He continued:

Their lobbies are going to be protesting and pushing Congress to write a bill that will open up even more [green cards]. The ethnic lobbies and the corporate interests that are for this, they will never scale back what they’ve already gotten. Instead of a million green cards being let out, I see 1.5 million.

Lofgren’s bill expands the award of green cards to Indian workers from roughly 7,000 per year up to a maximum of 70,000 or year. This ten-fold expansion would dramatically expand the incentive for more Indian graduates to take more jobs in the United States so they can compete to get hired for the H-1B visas that allow them to get green cards.

There is no limit to the number of foreign graduates who can take U.S. jobs — providing they first enroll in U.S. universities so they can qualify for the federal OPT work permits. The OPT  is a huge feeder for the H-1B program, and it helps tech employers avoid hiring independent American professionals in heartland states.

For example, the vast majority of OPT workers in 2017 and 2018 went to work for employers on the coasts, so providing a huge subsidy to employers in the favored states.

In 2017 and 2018, just 659 OPT workers worked for employers in Shelby’s Alabama, while 44,526 workers went to California and 24,6111 went to New York, according to a pro-OPT group that is supported by Mark Zuckerberg’s advocacy group.

Unsurprisingly, Lee’s bill is backed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The same report also shows how few of the OPT workers are hired by companies in the states and districts represented by various GOP leaders in the year-end appropriations process. For example, just 627 OPT workers went to employers in McConnell’s (R) Kentucky, 52 went to employers in Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R) Alaska, and 138 went to employers in Sen. Susan Collin’s (R) Maine.

Without OPT, coastal investors would be pressured to move their jobs, wealth, and real-estate values from their coastal bases to the heartland counties and towns that are home to many young American graduates.

Federal data shows the vast majority of  H-1B workers — and their OPT substitutes — move to the coastal districts. This federal offer of foreign visa workers to fill coastal jobs created by coastal investors reduces investors’ willingness to hire young Americans in heartland towns and cities. That is bad news for the districts represented by GOP  appropriations leaders, such as GOP Rep. Roger Adderholt’s corner of Georgia or GOP Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s portion of Tennessee. Many young Americans are already being sidelined by the resident population of at least 1.3 million white-collar visa workers.

Under the headline, “Young adults are failing to launch their careers during a pandemic. That could have a lasting generational impact.” the website reported December 9:

Julie Francis feels stagnant. She has been stuck, quite literally, in her parent’s home in Michigan since May. It isn’t the worst thing in the world, she acknowledges; many people have suffered worse fates in 2020. But for the past few months, the drudgery of the job-search process has exhausted Francis, a Kettering University graduate in electrical engineering. She logs onto Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn day after day to submit the same résumé and slightly tailored cover letter, crossing her fingers for a response.

“I had no preference. I was applying everywhere,” the 22-year-old, who graduated this year, said. “I kept a list of every company I spoke to, and I applied to over 200 places and interviewed with five.”


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