President Barack Obama’s deputies are quietly hacking a gap through immigration regulations to allow them to import hundreds of thousands of university-trained foreign workers for jobs sought by American college grads.
“They’re bending immigration law until it almost breaks,” says Ian Smith, a lawyer at the Immigration Reform Law Institute. The Obama-hack, he added, should be fixed by Congress or a judge
The regulatory hack is part of Obama’s broad immigration-boosting alliance with Fortune 500 Companies and the GOP’s establishment. In 2013 and 2014, most — but not all — of his prior amnesty and immigration plans were blocked by voters and judges, despite furious lobbying of the GOP by business.
If Obama succeeds, he would make life tougher for young and middle-aged American graduates, who are already facing wage-cutting competition from the roughly 1 million white-collar guest-workers that the U.S. government allows to live in the United States. The extra foreign graduates would also deter young Americans from high-tech careers, and provide the Democratic Party with more donations and more voters.
But Obama’s hack would also spotlight a large opportunity for any GOP 2016 candidate eager to win votes from America’s young college-grads, their parents and the hard-pressed professional sector. So far, only Donald Trump has seized the opportunity by promising to make foreign guest-workers more expensive to hire. If he is elected, and reforms the H-1B program, he’d likely transfer roughly 600,000 guest-worker jobs to American graduates.
That’s almost equal to the number of Americans who graduate each year from college with skilled degrees.
Basically, Obama’s regulatory hack would convert a long-standing bureaucratic band-aid into a process for printing extra work-permits.
The decision has not been announced, but is being finalized by officials at the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security, Smith told Breitbart News.
Currently, the band-aid, dubbed the Employment Authorization Document, is given to people who have been approved for — but have not yet received — their Green Cards.
But there’s no statute that limits how early the EADS can be granted to people who apply for Green Cards.
So the administration now wants to award EADs up to six years before foreign workers can get Green Cards, says Smith.
That change would convert the bureaucratic band-aid EADs into provisional Green Cards. Early distribution of EADs would allow many guest-workers to become U.S. residents and citizens, even though they’re carrying visas that last only two, four or six years.
“The administration is straying so far beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation that no court would find passing the laugh test,” Smith said. The “willing distortion… turns the standard into an absolute absurdity,” he added.
The number of people who would get EADs and Green Cards via Obama’s hack is unclear. That’s because outsiders don’t know what how far Obama’s deputies are going to extend the EAD give-away.
Currently, the government awards short-term work-visas — not Green Cards — to roughly 500,000 blue-collar guest workers, 250,000 college grads and roughly 50,000 agricultural workers each year. Those work-visas are in addition to the annual inflow of 1 million legal migrants and roughly 350,000 illegal migrants.
That’s a huge 2 million inflow compared to the 4 million Americans who enter the workforce each year, or the roughly 800,000 Americans who earn skilled four-year college degrees each year.
Every extra inflow of college grads is great for companies because it increases the supply of college-grads — doctors, industrial designers, architects, lawyers, software testers, programmers, scientists, pharmacists, therapists and statisticians. Any increased supply reduces payroll costs, so freeing up more funds for profits and boosting Wall Street Values.
For example, the much-touted H-1B program brings in roughly 100,000 workers each year, partly because the H-1B visas given to non-profit universities, hospitals and research centers don’t count against the much-touted annual limit of 85,000 visas. In 2014, Obama also decided that the spouses of H-1B workers would get work-permits.
Each H1-B worker can stay for six or even 10 years, so the total resident population of H-1B workers and working spouses is roughly 750,000. The H-1B workers have jobs in all parts of the United States, in many types of careers, partly because they’re cheaper that middle-aged Americans.
Few Americans know about the Optional Practical Training Program, which allows foreign graduates of American universities to work for a year in the United States for every degree they get from a for-profit or non-profit university. The uncapped program has grown from roughly 80,000 workers in 2009 to 120,000 in 2013, and is expected to grow if colleges can recruit foreign students by offering them Americans jobs and — Obama permitting — EADs and eventual citizenship.
At the request of companies, Obama has recently doubled the amount of time each foreign graduate can work in the United States, or up to roughly four and half years for people who earn undergraduate and post-graduate technology degrees. However, a judge may block that move following a lawsuit by Smith’s legal group.
Obama’s deputies have also been handing out roughly 70,000 L visas per year. These visas allow foreign companies to transfer workers from their home-country jobs into the U.S., where they work at home-country wages. If each L-visa worker stays for five years, there’s a resident population of 350,000 L-visa workers. There is no cap to this program, so the number would likely increase if Obama’s EAD-hack allows foreign L-visa workers to get citizenship. Obama’s deputies are already expanding the L program to let foreign companies bring in a wider range of L-visa workers.
Together, these three programs — H-1B, OPT and L Visa — have created a resident population of more than 1 million lower-wage foreign college grads who are working in jobs sought by American graduates, all around the country.
If Obama’s deputies annually provide EADs to 125,000 foreign workers — that’s roughly half the current annual inflow of guest-worker graduates— they will further glut the labor market by adding one foreign worker for every six American college graduates.
Roughly 800,000 Americans annually graduate from college with skilled degrees in medicine, business, science, computers, architecture or math. Many do not find full-time jobs in their specialties.
In numerous actions and speeches, Obama has made clear that he does not think Americans have any right to restrict immigration — and the establishment GOP has not pushed back.
For example, since 2011, he’s allowed more than 240,000 unskilled Central American migrants to cross into the United States in search of jobs and government support. In September, his deputies said he wants to bring in 100,000 refugees a year. He’s also rolled back enforcement of immigration law so much that’s he’s released more than 30,000 foreign criminals back into lower-income neighborhoods.
On September 28, 2015, for example, he told the United Nations that “our most basic bond—our common humanity—compels us to act” against so-called “climate change.” That “most basic bond” claim dismissed the long-standing view that Americans’ “most basic bond” is to their families and to their fellow Americans.
In November 2014, Obama told a Chicago audience that “there have been periods where the folks who were already here suddenly say, ‘Well, I don’t want those folks,’ even though the only people who have the right to say that are some Native Americans.”
“Sometimes we get attached to our particular tribe, our particular race, our particular religion, and then we start treating other folks differently… that, sometimes, has been a bottleneck to how we think about immigration,” Obama said in the same Chicago speech, which was intended to just his decision to grant work-permits to roughly 5 million foreign migrants living illegally in the United States.
That give-away was later stopped — perhaps temporarily — by federal courts.
Follow Neil Munro on Twitter, @NeilMunroDC