President Barack Obama’s deputies have drafted a new quasi-amnesty memo that would allow employers to quickly and cheaply get work-permits to hire millions of lower-wage foreign graduates.
If approved by Obama, roughly 3 million guest-workers, students and migrants — including perhaps 1.5 million college-grads — would be immediately eligible for the work-permits, at an up-front cost to employers of only $580 per foreign hire.
But the work-permit handout would have a huge economic impact on Americans, especially college graduates.
Each year, roughly 800,000 Americans graduate from college with skilled degrees in medicine, business, science, engineering and computers. Many cannot find jobs in their fields, and the new plan would force them to also compete for jobs against a huge number of foreign graduates who would take lower-wage jobs in the hope of winning U.S. citizenship and its myriad taxpayer benefits.
Obama has repeatedly tried to boost the inflow of migrants into the United States. In 2013, he unsuccessfully pushed for a congressional amnesty for 11 million migrants, while quietly allowing roughly 2 million extra foreign workers into the U.S. economy. The flood of foreign labor hit as the 2013 class of 4.4. million, 18-year-old Americans began looking for jobs. The labor-glut froze salaries, reduced Americans’ employment and helped spike the stock market by $5 trillion.
The new plan described in the memo would replace Obama’s November 2014 amnesty for roughly 5 million illegals, which has been blocked by a federal court.
The memo says the administration’s overall policy is to keep illegals and foreign workers in the United States until they can become voters. “The plan “might now support the macro-level policy goal of retaining these [foreign] individuals until they are ready and able to become [legal] immigrants.”
Pro-American groups are sharply critical of Obama’s many efforts to admit more foreigners and to minimize enforcement of the nation’s immigration law. “The President’s ruthless politicization of our immigration laws seems to be getting more extreme as his final day in office nears,” said Ian Smith, a lawyer with the Immigration Reform Law Institute.
“Each of the [four] plans contemplated in this memo would be a complete subversion of our visa system and is 100 percent illegal… [and] will be a direct slap in the face of Congress,” said Smith.
The plan would also create a new political challenge for House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Like Obama, Ryan and the GOP’s major donors strongly favor the large-scale inflow of foreign white-collar professionals and blue-collar workers into the country’s labor markets and consumer markets.
But the party’s voters have already rebelled on this issue — during the 2013 ‘comprehensive immigration reform‘ debate, during the budget debate on the 2015 budget and during the 2016 election primaries. If Ryan ignores Obama’s emerging amnesty plan, he’ll likely supercharge the GOP’s populist revolt in 2016.
Alternatively, Ryan could try to set spending curbs that would block Obama’s next amnesty.
Those curbs could be included in the appropriations bill due for completion in December, but Obama and his Democratic allies would likely threaten to shut down much of government if the curbs are kept.
Polls show that is a p.r. battle Ryan could win — what politicians will champion the right of foreign professionals to underbid hard-pressed, debt-burdened U.S. graduates for decent jobs? — but Ryan has repeatedly shown he is aligned with Obama, not the voters, in backing the GOP donors’ wish for the “any willing worker” cheap-labor policy.
Ryan “wants millions and millions of people from abroad to work here,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “There is no way he’s going to confront the administration in any meaningful way… he may have a show-vote or a press conference, but he is not going not to make this the high-profile conflict with the administration that it needs to be if it is to be stopped or slowed,” Krikorian said.
The new memo was drafted in June by officials at the Department of Homeland Security, the nation’s border-control agency.
The memo presents four possibly legal plans for distributing work-permits to foreign people so they can compete for jobs against American professionals and blue-collar workers. The formal title of the memo is “Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) For Certain Beneficiaries of Approved I-140 Petitions.”
Under long-standing law, work-permits are annually granted to roughly 700,000 short-term or long-term guest-workers, such such as H-1B professionals. Those work-permits, however, become useless once the worker’s multi-year visas expires.
But the EADs are also given to foreign workers whose employers file an I-140 document requesting residency for a worker. Few employers go through the process because the work-permits are only provided several years after I-140s are filed and approved — usually after the visas held by foreign workers have expired.
This new plan would grant work-permits immediately after federal officials approve each I-140 filed by an employer. That huge change means that employers could quickly hire in-country foreign guest-workers or graduates of U.S. colleges once they file I-140s and then get the work-permits.
The memo suggests the accelerated process would deliver work-permits even if the graduate would be eventually denied a Green Card, for example, because they committed relevant crimes while in the country.
The major question discussed in the memo is how widely the work-permits can be distributed before the GOP leaders in Congress respond or judges strike down the plan as illegal.
The first option drafted by the officials would hand out I-140s and work-permits to perhaps 10 million foreign guest-workers, students and illegal immigrants, in spite of immigration laws passed by Congress.
According to the document, the work permits could go to “all individuals who are in the United States, including those lawfully present, those have entered without inspection [illegal immigrants] and/or non-immigrant overstays,” such as professional-level guest-workers who did not go home after their work-visas expired.
One advantage of this plan, the document says, is that it helps illegals.
The plan “may authorize the presence of certain individuals who are not here lawfully… may potentially enable undocumented workers to lawfully work in jobs that may better match their skills and potential… [so] we are including a population that is in the most need of relief.” The work-permit handout would also help the federal government by generating more tax revenues, said the memo, which did not address the welfare-cost paid by taxpayers or the wage-impact on young Americans who are seeking jobs.
However, the first option has multiple problems, the memo says. For example, giving work-permits to illegals doesn’t actually put them on a path to citizenship because they may have violated various laws, the document says.
Also, Option One may also ”be viewed as facilitating or supporting illegal immigration [and] may actually encourage individuals to overstay [their visas] or to EWI,” the document says. ‘EWI’ which is a euphemism for crossing the border without permission. The option also “may be viewed by Congress as an attempt to circumvent… wage provisions and numerical caps, such as H-1Bs.”
So the memo formally recommends Option Two, which would provide the I-140 work-permit benefit to all people who are “lawfully present in the United States.”
The definition excludes illegals, but it includes all current guest-workers in the United States, including guest-workers who gotten temporary approval to stay beyond their normal limit.
It could provide work-permits to 700,000 guest-workers who arrive each year, plus the current population of at least 800,000 professional-grade white-collar guest-workers.
This option could provide work-permits to “a broad range of individuals who either entered illegal or whose stay expired, but who nevertheless allowed to remain in the United States,” the document says. That category include the roughly 1.3 million “dreamers,” or young illegals who were brought into the country by their migrant parents.
Option Two would also provide work-permits to “parolees,” who are people released into the United States by Obama’s policy. For example, Obama has allowed more than 250,000 largely uneducated Central American migrants to cross into the United States since 2010. Less than 10 percent have been sent home, and Option Two would provide the 90 percent with work-permits to compete against Americans for jobs.
This parolee avenue in Option Two is potentially unlimited, because statutes allow the president to “parole” any foreigners enter the United States. For example, Arab migrants could fly into a U.S. airport, and then be “paroled” into the country by a White House policy decision. They could then get work-permits once friendly employers file the cheap I-140 application.
Option Two also seems to offer work-permits to foreign college students. In March, the DHS reported that 1.13 million foreign students are in the United States, or double the number present in 2010. Many foreign graduates already get short-term work-permits via the “Optional Practical Training” guest-worker program, which is widely seen as a fast-growing complement to the controversial H-1B program.
This “pros” of this Option Two, the document says. include allowing the migrants to “work…[and] increase our federal, state , and local tax base.”
The “cons” section in the memo says Option Two “may be viewed as saturating the U.S. labor market with foreign workers [and] taking jobs opportunities away from U.S. workers… [and] by Congress as an attempt circumvent other programs subject to numerical caps.”
Option Two skews the amnesty away from lower-skilled laborers, towards foreign professionals, such as H-1B guest-workers.
If all current H-1Bs got the work-permits, the resident H-1Bs could stay and later be joined by roughly 90,000 more H-1B graduates each year. This two-fisted hit would sharply increasing economic pressure on hard-pressed — and often indebted — U.S. graduates with medical, business, engineering and non-technical degrees.
That economic hit to Americans professionals likely would pour fuel on the H-1B controversy. Currently, frontrunner Donald Trump is using the issue to slam rivals, including Marco Rubio, who has sponsored a bill that would roughly triple the annual inflow of H-1B graduates.
The H-1B program is especially valued by businesses — such as Facebook and DeLoitte — because it allows them to boost their stock prices by converting a slice of Americans’ salaries into profits. For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s stock-value in Facebook is worth roughly $45 billion.
Currently, more than 800,000 foreign graduates are working as temporary guest-workers in the United States. They’re working in a wide variety of jobs, including as doctors, architects, accountants, designers, teachers, engineers and software experts.
That 800,000 number is roughly equivalent to the total annual output of skilled American graduates, but the guest-workers accept much lower pay than needed by experienced, middle-aged, child-rearing American professionals, including pharmacists, industrial designers, and software developers.
However, Obama’s record show he’s more concerned about the long-term political gains for progressives than about the economic pain for Americans.
Obama has made it clear that he believes Americans do not have the right to block migrants from entering the United States. In November 2014, for example, Obama declared 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.
Obama knows that immigration hurts lower-skilled Americans, especially African-Americans. “The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,” Obama wrote in “The Audacity of Hope,” his 2006 autobiography. “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole… it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net,” he acknowledged.
But that’s all O.K, says Obama, because the pain and poverty caused to Americans by government-imposed immigration will be forgotten once immigrants are harnessed to the progressives’ decades-long campaign to fundamentally transform raucous, uncooperative and exuberant America into their vision of Sweden-on-the-Mississippi.
“In my mind, at least,” Obama wrote in his autobiography, “the fates of black and brown were to be perpetually intertwined, the cornerstone of a coalition that could help America live up to its promise.”