Business, Progressives Ally to Sneak Illegals into Licensed Jobs

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Workers repair scaffolding outside of a building in Industry City on April 28, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Mike Lawrie/Getty

Millions of illegal migrants and illegal workers should be allowed to take licensed jobs, such as electrician, welder, lab technician, therapist, or nurse, according to legislation pushed by progressives, universities, and business groups.

Their campaign advanced on June 29 when the New Jersey Senate passed a bill saying illegals can get trade licenses. “Lawful presence in the United States shall not be required to obtain a professional or occupational license, provided that the applicant meets all other requirements for licensure,” according to the bill, which is numbered S2455.

Some Republicans backed the Democrat-sponsored bill, but it has not been approved by the House.

The bill “would blur the distinctions between people who are in the country legally and those who are here illegally,” said John Miano, an immigration lawyer with the Immigration Reform Law Institute.

For example, illegals could get licenses for construction skills, get their work certified by state and local inspectors, and then get paid in cash under the table by contractors, so freezing out skilled American workers, Miano said.

Each year, roughly 500,000 foreign graduates work permits via the federal Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs. Many of these migrants work in low-wage software jobs, so forcing down salaries for American professionals in New Jersey and many other states. But many more migrants would also be willing to work as licensed electricians or plumbers before returning home with a fortune in home-country currency, Miano said.

The list of allowable OPT jobs includes “Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering Technology/Technician,” and “Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering Technology/Technician.”

The bill “opens the door to many scams,” Miano added.

For example, many foreign workers would be eager to work part of each year in New Jersey construction sites and be paid under the table, he said. If the bill passes, “I can bring in a [foreign] person on B-1 [legal visitor] who has a plumbing license in New Jersey, and then get six months’ work out of him because his signed permits would be just as valuable as anyone else’s.”

Millions of foreigners now hold long-term B-1/B-2 visas, and few are ever inspected — or punished — for illegal work, despite a growing number of little-noticed cases.

The New Jersey bill is boosted by a roster of progressives, including Make the Road New Jersey, the ACLU-NJ, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Wind of the Spirit, and academics from St Peter’s University and Rutgers Law.

“New Jersey stands to benefit when more people are able to work in health care, education, and other key frontline professions where there are labor shortages,” said a statement from illegal immigrant and DACA recipient Erika Martinez, of Make the Road New Jersey.

“As New Jersey faces an unprecedented public health crisis, and a dearth of health care and other essential professionals to meet the need, it is all the more critical that S2455 move forward without delay,” said the statement which also included support from New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, and Rutgers University – Newark.

“This is an important step toward ending discrimination based on immigration status,” said Vineeta Kapahi, a policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective.

The push to allow migrants to get licenses jobs is supported by FWD.us, which is an advocacy group for West Coast investors, including Bill Gates and Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft.

“Allowing immigrants to earn appropriate licensure could also help address worsening labor shortages challenging critical fields like teaching and nursing, fields in which a third of DACA recipients want to work,” FWD.us claimed in December 2019.

“Congress should enact legislation that affirmatively prohibits the denial of federal and state professional, commercial, and business licenses based on immigration status,” said a September 2019 report by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. The 2019 report was also endorsed by FWD.us and by a progressive advocacy group for DACA immigrants, dubbed United We Dream.

Business groups have been quietly pushing this licenses-for-illegals campaign for several years, according to the Presidents’ Alliance report:

In recent years, Congress engaged in a variety of bipartisan efforts to expand access to licenses to non-qualified immigrants. During the Senate Judiciary markup of S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2013, the committee, by voice vote and without controversy, adopted an amendment that would prohibit the federal government and states from denying licenses based on immigration status to any individual who held an EAD. The KIDS Act of 2014, then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s legislation, to provide relief to immigrant youth, contained similar provisions. Most recently, H.R.6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 contained language re-affirming that conditional permanent residents (CPRs) would be eligible for licenses.

The business groups are making quiet progress amid little pushback from groups that believe they champion the pocketbook interests of ordinary Americans. The alliance report said:

At least twelve states—Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming—enacted legislation to reduce barriers for immigrants, including DACA recipients, to obtain licenses. Other states undertook administrative or regulatory action. California expanded licenses to all undocumented immigrants; Florida and Illinois expanded access to law licenses for DACA recipients, while Wyoming rescinded that U.S. citizenship be a requirement for bar admission; Nebraska expanded access to all occupational licenses for DACA recipients; Indiana expanded occupational licensing in over 70 professions for DACA recipients; and New York, through the Board of Regents, expanded professional licenses and teacher certifications to DACA recipients.

The campaign has advanced in New Mexico, Nevada, New York, and in many other states.

 

 

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