Mike Lee’s S.386 Giveaway Bill Exposes India vs. Asia Fights

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AP File Photo/Jason DeCrow

Indian-origin lobbyists are rallying India’s many visa workers to pressure Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) to remove his China-related amendment from Sen. Mike Lee’s S.386 green card giveaway bill.

“Please act IMMEDIATELY and with utmost URGENCY. We need this email to go out in LARGE numbers & for there to be a LOT of calls,” said a Facebook message from Immigration Voice, a group which has organized a very aggressive series of street protests against GOP and Democratic legislators.

The message also included a veiled threat to restart the harassment of U.S. politicians who do not pressure Scott:

We will view this as a direct intent to permanently maintain an Indian Exclusion Act in the United States, and will act accordingly in our interactions with all of our local representatives. The time has come to end our suffering and pass our bill, not to give in to every cynical attempt to block our bill from passing.

The language inserted by Sen. Scott curbs the award of green cards to Chinese migrants who remain connected with China’s Communist Party.

However, the China bar is a relatively minor feature of the disagreement over the bill.

Lee’s Senate S.386 bill and the similar House’s HR.1044 legislation, pushed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, )D-CA), would dramatically shift the nation’s employment-based immigration system in favor of Silicon Valley’s Indian workforces. Both bills would also dramatically raise the incentive for another wave of Indian graduates to take jobs from U.S. graduates in the United States. The labor inflow would also cut wages for many other American graduates in many careers.

Already, hundreds of thousands of foreign graduates get jobs each year in the United States via the uncapped Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The OPT program offers foreigners a long, lower-wage path to the huge prize of green cards and citizenship, so creating a massive Green Card Workforce for employers.

The China bar has become the public focus of closed-door negotiations over the legislation, in part because no GOP or Democratic legislator wants to publicly defend the economic interests of U.S. graduates, many of whom have lost wages or jobs in the last year.

The politicians’ silence — and the media complicity help hide the tech sector’s lobbying campaign for the Lee bill.

President Donald Trump has not commented on the legislation, partly because some of his aides support it. But if the legislation is included in the year-end omnibus spending legislation, the Silicon Valley giveaway will end up being the only immigration law that Congress allowed him to sign, despite steep GOP losses among college graduates during the 2020 election.

The “Employment Based” portion of the nation’s immigration system provides green cards to roughly 140,000 employees (and spouses) of American companies each year. Overall, the legal immigration system brings in one million people each year, just as four million Americans leave school to look for decent jobs, homes, and families.

The closed-door, multi-cornered standoff is centered on Lee’s S.386 and Lofgren’s HR.1044 bills.

Lofgren usually champions the interest of immigration lawyers and Silicon Valley companies. But her ability to push her HR.1044 bill into the year-end legislation is complicated by Rep. Judy Chu, (D-Ca.), who champions the interest of Chinese-Americans. Chu opposes Scott’s China provision in Lee’s bill.

Lee’s bill includes the China provision because of a deal Lee made with Scott to get the bill through the Senate on December 2.

Scott opposed the Lee bill because it would largely bar Florida employers from getting green cards for their immigrant employees, who tend to come from Spanish-speaking countries south of the border or from the Caribbean.

In his deal with Lee, Scott also got Lee to agree to reserve some green cards for migrants who are not part of the one million-strong H-1B program that is widely used by Silicon Valley employers to exclude American graduates from good jobs.

Lee’s bill also includes some modest reforms of the H-1B program that were included under a prior deal with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Those Grassley reforms are inadequate to suppress the wide-scale jobs-for-sale corruption in the visa-worker sector, say reformers.

Grassley’s weak H-1B reforms are also opposed by Lofgren, according to a Hill source.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) supported Grassley’s H-1B reforms as part of his effort to expand immigration.

Major U.S. companies, including Microsoft and Google, lobbied to include the green card giveaway in the year-end legislation. If their campaign fails, advocates will have to start the entire process over again. The delay raises the modest chance that the establishment media will explain the fight.

So far, the media has remained passive throughout 2019 and 2020.

The push to include the Lee and Lofgren giveaways in the year-end legislation has also created a split among the ethnic groups and the employers’ lawyers who help import different groups of foreign workers.

For example, the Immigration Voice group says Scott’s bar on Chinese green cards is a mere symbolism and should be ignored by Chu and other legislators:

Although Immigration Voice did not ask for this provision, it is important to note that this provision is not a “Chinese Exclusion Act.” It is instead a bar of inadmissibility for green cards for people who are unwilling to un-affiliate themselves from the Chinese Communist Party or Military at the moment they are actually seeking to become immigrants to the United States and adopt American values. That is not a ban in any rational sense of the word. By contrast, the current law is, in 100% fact, an “Indian Exclusion Act.” This is because any Indian who applies for an employment-based green card will have to wait over 150 years for a green card, meaning they are 100% likely to die before ever receiving their green card.

Asian groups say the Lee and Lofgren bill will favor India’s mid-skill workers and exclude many high-skill graduates at U.S. universities.

Despite the Indian group’s claim of an “Indian Exclusion Act, at least 14,000 Indian workers and family members get green cards each year. Some get visas in a few years, but many run-of-the-mill Indians must work while waiting more than 10 years, in part, because coastal investors have jammed roughly mid-skill 400,000 Indian employees into the line for green cards. In general, industry executives hire cheap and compliant Indians because they try to exclude innovative American professionals who will likely quit to create rival products.

In October, the Immigration Voice group slammed Scott for supposedly helping China.

The Immigration Voice demand is backed up by another group of India’s lobbies, including roughly six rival groups from India’s ethnically distinct Telangana region.

Immigration lawyer Greg Siskind, however, says Scott’s curbs on Chinese green cards is a real issue:

Siskind specializes in importing medical professionals for the healthcare sector, as the sector tries to replicate Silicon Valley’s pipeline of foreign workers.

The Lee and Lofgren legislation is also opposed by lawyers who help import sports players, Spanish-speaking migrants, and other non-Indian migrants who would be forced to wait behind the vast population of Indian tech workers and their spouses.

The Lee and Lofgren bills are opposed by many other groups, including ethnic groups and high-skill postgraduate students at major U.S. research universities. If the giveaway bill passes, the industries and ethnic groups that lose out will likely unite to pressure the GOP to approve more green cards in 2021.

 

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