The lobbying push by high-tech investors to get more green cards for their army of Indian contract workers has triggered protests from many immigrant groups that will lose quick access to green cards.
The growing pushback comes as Sen. Lindsey Graham is quietly readying an immigration bill for a Thursday vote in the Senate’s judiciary committee. Graham’s focus is asylum reforms, but he also supports the investors’ bill, titled S.368, or the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.”
Many would-be immigrants will lose their places in line if the investors get their Indian contract workers to the head of the green card lines. The lines now hand out roughly 120,000 green cards each year to various researchers, athletes, entertainers, workers, and their families nominated by employers.
The pushback from the population of non-Indian people who lose their places — athletes, immigration lawyers, H-1B workers, hospital workers and nurses, and many chain-migration relatives from smaller countries — is creating a problem for the investors and business groups who hope to sneak their outsourcing bill through the Senate with minimal media attention.
Any delay is a problem because it allows surprised staffers and legislators to recognize the huge problems in the seemingly innocuous legislation, said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies. “As soon as people think about it, and begin to understand it, they do not support it,” she said.
Two of the most prominent groups of likely losers are foreign basketball and baseball players.
Athletes can get work permits in a few hours, but they cannot stay in the United States after their careers end unless they also get green cards.
But roughly 700,000 Indians and Chinese technology workers and family members will move to the front of the green card lines because S.386 removes “country caps” rules. Those rules diversify the award of green cards by setting annual limits on the number of people from each country who can get green cards.
For example, in 2017, Indians got 23,000 green cards, even as their employers also nominated many more Indians to get green cards. These country caps prevent the Indian contract workers from swamping the line and blocking the athletes from small countries — Panama, Nicaragua, or Serbia, for example — who want to get green cards shortly after they sign their team contract.
The S.386 bill is sponsored by Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee and California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris. It is intended to allow U.S, investors and Indian partners to keep packing the green card lines with hundreds of thousands of more Indian contract workers.
Those workers are eager to take Americans’ jobs for low wages — plus the promise of government-provided green cards. This U.S.-India Outsourcing Economy is vast and generates roughly $78 billion in revenue, according to a top executive in the Indian outsourcing industry.
The line for athletes to get green cards is the “EB-1(A)” line.
If the S.386 bill becomes law, many tens of thousands of backlogged Indian and Chinese managers and executives can push their way to the head of the line if their lawyers can show:
(i) the alien has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.
The likely result is that athletes will have to wait eight to ten years to get their green cards, say immigration lawyers. That is a big problem for foreign athletes because their legal qualification for getting a green card — their success in top-tier sports — can disappear before they reach the front of the Indian-dominated line after an eight- or ten-year wait, say sources.
The athletes’ likely loss was dismissed by Leon Fresco, the Democrat immigration lawyer who is leading the public and media face of the investors’ push for more green cards. “Even for those [athletic] people, I would posit to you … they should have the same line for green cards” as company workers, he said.
NBA.com reported on October 2018:
NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that 108 international players from a record-tying 42 countries and territories are on opening-night rosters for the 2018-19 season. This marks the fifth consecutive season that opening-night rosters feature at least 100 international players and that all 30 teams have at least one international player.
A growing number of groups representing U.S. professionals are loudly opposing the S.386 giveaway.
The demand by investors for endless migrant labor has created a new thing: The US-India Outsourcing Economy. This no-regulation zone redirects new wealth into a few cities & a small elite. Elites want to expand it, so US college-grads get #HR1044. https://t.co/4lWHtI3sUk
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) July 19, 2019
Many of the foreign groups that oppose Lee’s S.386 bill are urging Congress to solve their groups’ problems by merely printing more green cards.
But few U.S. politicians want to be seen as the champion of foreign graduates or as the enemies of the stressed graduate children of middle-class swing-voting moderates in the suburbs, especially if they also want to hold the majority in the House.
The green card dispute was showcased July 26 by an immigration lawyer, Amy Maldonado, who aimed a barrage of tweets at Fresco.
In cooperation with Silicon Valley and technology investors, Fresco is working with a group of Indian contract workers to promote Sen. Lee’s S.386 bill, which would provide roughly 100,000 green cards each year to Indian graduates who take good jobs from American graduates. That expansion from roughly 23,0000 green cards in 2017 would allow U.S. investors and Indian staffing companies to dramatically expand the scale of college graduate outsourcing throughout the United States.
The S.386 plan would not increase the total number of green cards, but it would dramatically expand the number of green cards for Indians who first get U.S. jobs via the uncapped H-1B and Optional Practical Training work permit programs.
Hey, @FrescoLeon – Your #S386 supporters don't believe me when I tell them that this bill will now require all H-1Bs past the six year maximum to renew annually instead of every three years. Do you want to break it to them?
— Amy Maldonado (@AmyMaldonadoLaw) July 26, 2019
The bill will preserve “country caps,” force longer waiting periods on people from countries other than India and China, discriminate against Mexicans and Filipinos, and will force the roughly 350,000 H-1B contract workers who are waiting for green cards to renew their visas every year instead of every three years, she said.
Fresco rejected the criticism, saying his critics are making “common cause to knowingly inflict pain & maintain discrimination”:
One of the most depressing things i’ve seen in my career is that there are immigrants, immigration lawyers, anti-immigration groups and staffing companies forming common cause to knowingly inflict pain & maintain discrimination in the immigration system based in country of birth.
— Leon Fresco (@FrescoLeon) July 26, 2019
Fresco’s group of Indian H-1B contract workers sharply criticized Maldonado for threatening their fast-track access to employer-nominated green cards:
Actually, it is @frescoleon and his well known tactics. That why Immigration Voice lost a splinter group. And I believe that Leon is a fellow Latinx, so nice try (again) to call me a racist.
— Amy Maldonado (@AmyMaldonadoLaw) July 28, 2019
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is keeping a low profile, partly because many members’ clients will lose their place in the lines to the investors’ Indian workforce.
Another group, “All of Us,” is promoting a rival bill by Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul.
Paul’s bill would provide green cards to roughly 270,000 college graduates each year, plus a similar number of green cards for a similar number of family members.
The 270,000 number would expand the annual supply of skilled college graduate workers by roughly one-third, so depressing salaries for each year’s cohort of 800,000 American graduates who need decent salaries to pay their college debts, get married, and buy houses.
Paul’s bill would also provide an unlimited number of green cards for foreign nurses and physical therapists. That would flood the market and slash salaries paid to American nurses and therapists down to the levels accepted by Filipino and Vietnamese migrants.
The flood-the-market bill would slash salaries for tens of millions of American graduates and so spike profits and stock values for a wide range of investors. The Cato Institute backs Paul’s bill.
A statement from the All of Us group says:
All of Us (supallofus.org, which stands for Support Alliance of US Immigrants) is a new grassroots organization, mostly made up of foreign students, workers, researchers holding or studying for US advanced degrees. We already have more than 3,000 members, from at least 37 countries (adding members from more source countries every day). We are set up as a California corporation to do this work.
The problem is that the Senate is considering legislation that would choke off green cards for All of Us. This legislation (S.386 in the Senate; HR 1044 has already passed the House) has never had a hearing.
The All of Us group is challenging Fresco’s group of Indian contract workers, which is titled “Immigration Voice”:
All of Us is a grassroots organization with members from nearly 40 countries. We want more green cards for EVERYBODY. We published an open letter to Immigration Voice @immivoice. Here is our letter: https://t.co/wg1OoVDsrI#HR1044 #S386 #Greencardequality
— Support All of US (@supallofus) July 22, 2019
— Support All of US (@supallofus) July 26, 2019
The American Hospital Association opposes Lee’s bill because it would threaten the annual inflow of roughly 7,000 foreign nurses. The nurses cannot get H-1B visas and so their quick access to green cards would be blocked by the flood of extra Indian tech workers.
Groups representing African and Iranian graduates are also lobbying against Lee’s S.386:
— KevinG (@KevinGarssia) July 24, 2019
Arash Ferdowsi would have not been able to create Dropbox if #HR1044 or #S386 would have been enacted a few years back. Clearing the Indian backlog at expenses of world talent might not be the best bussiness model for the US. @senatemajldr @RandPaul https://t.co/rRn2nnxJ8e
— Amy (@AmySciencePhD) July 27, 2019
Fresco argued that all of these jostling groups should be treated the same, regardless of the different benefits and costs they deliver to Americans.
But early this year, Fresco, Lee, and other advocates changed the S.386 bill to preserve the front-of-the-line positions held by many non-Indian, non-Chinese green card applicants. Since then, advocates for the investors have opposed any deals with other foreigners’ groups who want to preserve their groups’ future access to green cards — such as baseball players who will get their first U.S. contracts in 2020.
“This never ends, and you [will] recreate what exists now [if] you carve out [favors for] ever single opposition group,” Fresco said. “The point of doing this [S.386] bill is to recognize that every human being is the same; they are equal.”
The inclusion of protections for subgroups would torpedo the S.386 bill, Sen. Lee said in a floor speech on June 27.
“The reforms to which my distinguished colleague [Sen. Rand Paul], the junior senator from Kentucky, refers, are themselves borne of a genuine desire to improve our immigration system,” he said. “Alas, the reforms that he’s proposed are not, in my view, compatible with the scope of this bill, nor are they compatible with something that can reasonably pass through this body.”
Indian govt & companies declare support for bipartisan HR.1044 & S.386 bills which expand the outsourcing of US college-grad jobs to Indian grads. Well, of course – outsourcing is India's economic strategy. So why should it be bipartisan US strategy too? https://t.co/xjSDjwYaEL
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) July 25, 2019