Nov 25, 2014
Breaking news: In a case that could have serious implications on President Obama’s effort to “go it alone” on immigration “reform,” a federal district court in Washington, DC granted standing to American STEM workers to proceed with their lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for unilaterally changing the law pertaining to STEM visas in the U.S, which they claim has caused them $175 billion in damages (Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. DHS). Expect fireworks from all three branches of the U.S government in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, claiming to protect “Americans” President Barack Obama went big on his “go-it-alone” executive order/memos granting amnesty or deferred deportation relief for up to five million illegal immigrants. But he didn’t stop there, Obama changed the rules and also essentially handed the illegal immigrants the right to work giving them “green card” status. The president went on to claim these hardworking people would have their chance to get right with the law.
Both political parties argued over the definition of the president’s actions. However, Webster’s Dictionary describes amnesty as “a decision that a group of people will not be punished; the act of an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals.”
Included in the president’s written directives package is a requirement for illegal immigrants to pay their back taxes as a requirement for “getting right with the law.” But how exactly will the administration and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) compute back taxes, and will American’s get the same forgiveness? The thing is, the IRS hasn’t figured that out just yet and American’s shouldn’t expect any favorable tax forgiveness from the federal government.
But the newly legalized applicants will qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, where many low-income households can get cash back from their fellow taxpayers, and receive a minimum of roughly $496 to a maximum of $6,143 in tax credits depending on their tax bracket.
With their crimes pardoned, these newly legalized immigrants start off with no strikes! Government records confirm many committed crimes including identity theft, using fraudulent Social Security cards, perjuring themselves on government forms, entering the country illegally, and/or purposely overstaying their visas. So, what about their employers, did they lie to their bosses or did the employers commit crimes, will all these crimes be forgiven? Should one, two, and three strike American’s demand their “crimes” be forgiven in the name of fairness and demand their sentences be shortened appropriately?
The Latino community, which has pressured the White House to move on an immigration fix for six years, embraced the sweeping move. California Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement commending the president for standing “up for hard-working families across America. And “it is the right thing to do. It’s time for Congress to finish the job.”
But the executive action could cause political fallout when Republicans return to Congress in December.
“With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek. And, as I told the president yesterday, he’s damaging the presidency itself. President Obama has turned a deaf ear to the people that he was elected, and we were elected, to serve. But we will not do that. In the days ahead, the People’s House will rise to this challenge. We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at risk. We’ll listen to the American people, we’ll work with our members, and we will work to protect the Constitution of the United States,” GOP House Speaker John Boehner said.
STEMs get special treatment too
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professions make up roughly two-thirds of H-1B visas issued to foreign workers. “Over the last decade the federal government has distributed about $1 billion from H-1B visa fees to,” according to Brookings, a left-leaning think tank in DC.
“Based on my research released earlier this year, about 38 percent of all foreign students on F-1 visas, or 362,500, were studying in the STEM fields during the 2008 to 2012 time period. This means that at least 72,500 graduates per year may benefit from this STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) extension,” said Neil Ruiz, senior policy analyst and associate fellow for the Metropolitan Policy Program.
Another likely reason hi-tech companies prefer to hire foreigners lies in the fact that corporations do not have to pay prevailing wages, Medicare or Social Security taxes as they would pay for their American counterparts, which makes American workers much more expensive and less profitable for companies like Facebook and Microsoft.
By focusing narrowly on the 17-month extension, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers successfully illustrated a dramatic increase in foreign tech workers. In 2008 OPT students consisted of 28,500 and grew to 123,000 last year.
One of the plaintiff’s attorneys John Miano, pointed out that DHS “knew when they promulgated the OPT expansion that it was illegal.” He further stipulated that DHS’s reasoning for the expansion “was a ‘critical shortage’ of STEM workers … (even though) no objective evidence to support the claim of a worker shortage.”
“I believe that the economic loss is substantially greater, as higher-skill work visa programs such as H-1B, L-1, and the OPT extension to the F-1 Visa have morphed into de-facto government-sanctioned foreign hiring preference programs,” said Gene Nelson, Ph.D. and leading voice on STEM related issues. “I was one of the original plaintiffs in a related case from 2008 where a group of harmed U.S. citizen technology professionals attempted to sue the Department of Homeland Security after they issued a rule substantially expanding the OPT extension to the F-1 (student Visa) term (from 12 months to 29 months) for a very large number of STEM and STEM-related majors.” (The decision can be found here)
Another study conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies confirms the U.S is providing India with “Most Favored Nation” status when it comes to tech workers, as 65 percent of the foreign H-1B visas went to India.
“The extremely steady flow of Indian high-tech workers receiving the H-1B visas to enter the United States is the largest and most controversial of the one country dominated streams,” said David North, a Fellow at Center for Immigration Studies. “Noting the extremely high unemployment rate in the United States, it is shocking that an estimated 900,000 H-1B visas holders are presently employed in the country, an estimated 585,000 of these are from India. Interestingly, the government has never even tried to estimate the total size of the resident H-1B population.”
This will mean something to students attending the much sought-after “University of California” system. Many of these universities churn out STEM degrees, but unfortunately, only 50 percent of U.S. students will get a job in their field of study, with many of those jobs going to foreigners with newly obtained H-1B visas.
But it gets worse for American college students. In an effort to cover a litany of expenses, like in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and now providing legal aid for the newly amnestied immigrants, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary and current UC President Janet Napolitano orchestrated a sizeable tuition hike. For the next five years, students will see a five percent tuition hike per year. Simultaneously, the president is working on a plan to reduce or eliminate college debt so “folks” will not be burdened with the cost of education. So who exactly is going to get stiffed with the bill? The taxpayers, of course.
How did the president do it?
Earlier this year the president turned to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, a White House stalwart, to begin the heavy lifting required to balance legal maneuvers and give his boss what he wanted – deportation relief. DHS aides working closely with the secretary recounted the months of work and said it consumed more than half of Secretary Johnson’s time. But Johnson was not only up to the task; he used his high-priced corporate attorney skills to draw up the immigration reform/amnesty scheme by fiat.
Yahoo, Oracle, Cisco, Facebook, Microsoft and other high-tech IT corporations trekked to Washington, DC and pushed Secretary Johnson to increase the highly coveted H-1B visa program. The visa program provides tech companies with the ability to press globalization by hiring cheaper foreign labor. Coincidently, Homeland Security earns roughly $100 million per year in visa application fees.
Johnson also spent time with conservative groups like NumbersUSA and Center for Immigration Studies, however, the meetings seemed to be a subterfuge as the DHS secretary successfully outmaneuvered the conservative anti-illegal immigration advocates – many of whom had no idea Johnson was planning a bombshell.
As the president’s announcement drew nearer, the White House began berating GOP leader John Boehner. During a Rose Garden speech the president said, “The failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future,” Obama demanded the Republicans “Drop the excuses.”
But missing from the president’s memo was any serious effort to finally secure the border and finish the fence. The effort to stop the flow of illegal immigration at the border as well as exit visas at American ports of entry have all but disappeared from legislation making immigration reform a nonstarter for most Republican lawmakers.
Instead, DHS issued a memo with the new enforcement guidelines targeting “priority one” illegal aliens for deportation unless they qualify for asylum. Priority one-felony crimes include terrorists, gang members over the age of 16, murderers and other ultra-violent crimes.
Priority two offenders, whose cases are less urgent than criminals in priority one, include the following: aliens convicted of a significant misdemeanors like domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; molesting children; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or driving under the influence; or if not an offense listed above, one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of 90 days or more and the sentence must involve time to be served in custody, and does not include a suspended sentence (Under Obama’s plan many of these offenders will remain in the U.S.).
Ardent Obama critic and Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff, Paul Babeu, called out the president; “While the public and media’s attention was on President Obama’s executive action, DHS simultaneously issued orders to ignore America’s immigration laws. This directive is the ‘smoking gun’ showing ICE doesn’t plan to arrest or take action on any of the nearly 20 million illegals already in the United States, which is far greater than the 5 million as stated by the President. President Obama makes illegals his priority, rather than securing the border and enforcing the law. Immigration laws will only sometimes be used for the most serious violent felons, while the nearly 20 million illegals get a free pass. This is not prosecutorial discretion, but an intentional and flagrant disregard of the law and we will all suffer the consequences.” View the DHS document here.
The President’s plan to streamline immigration includes:
-Providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) status and their spouses: Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visas to become available. DHS will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily. DHS is finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application.
-Enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs: DHS will expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the U.S., to ensure that our system encourages them to grow our economy. The criteria will include income thresholds so that these individuals are not eligible for certain public benefits like welfare or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (Keep in mind employers will not have to pay for them).
-Strengthening and extending on-the-job training for STEM graduates of U.S universities: In order to strengthen educational experiences of foreign students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. universities, DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation.
-Streamlining the process for foreign workers and their employers, while protecting American workers: DHS will clarify its guidance on temporary L-1 visas for foreign workers who transfer from a company’s foreign office to its U.S. office. DOL will take regulatory action to modernize the labor market test that is required of employers that sponsor foreign workers for immigrant visas while ensuring that American workers are protected. (No specifics on how to accomplish this act were provided)
-Reducing family separation for those waiting to obtain LPR status: Due to barriers in our system, U.S. citizens and LPRs are often separated for years from their immediate relatives, while they wait to obtain their LPR status. To reduce the time these individuals are separated, DHS will expand an existing program that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional waiver for certain violations (crimes) before departing the United States to attend visa interviews.
-Ensuring that individuals with lawful status can travel to their countries of origin: DHS will clarify its guidance to provide greater assurance to individuals with a pending LPR application or certain temporary status permission to travel abroad with advance permission (“parole”).
-Issuing a Presidential Memorandum on visa modernization: There are many ways in which our legal immigration system can be modernized to reduce government costs, eliminate redundant systems, reduce burdens on employers and families, and eliminate fraud. The President is issuing a Memorandum directing an interagency group to recommend areas for improvement.
-Creating a White House Task Force on New Americans: The President is creating a White House Task Force on New Americans to create a federal strategy on immigrant integration.
-Promoting Citizenship Public Awareness: DHS will launch a comprehensive citizenship awareness media campaign in the 10 states that are home to 75 percent of the overall LPR population. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will also expand options for paying naturalization fees and explore additional measures to expand accessibility, including studying potential partial fee waiver for qualified individuals.
-Ensuring U.S. Citizens Can Serve: To further our military’s needs and support recruitment efforts, DHS will expand an existing policy to provide relief to spouses and children of U.S. citizens seeking to enlist in the military, consistent with a request made by the Department of Defense.
The president’s plan even got Pinocchioed!
Mr. Obama’s premise for basing his expansive immigration executive order just received four Pinocchio’s from the left-leaning Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler.
President Obama and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest suggested that a New York Times story reported George H.W. Bush granted amnesty to 1.5 to 3.5 million illegal immigrants in the 1990 “Family Fairness” deferred action program.
According to Kessler, original reporting discovered the number of illegals eligible for the 1990 plan was closer to 100,000 and only 46,821 took advantage of the executive order program.
“The 1.5 million figure is too fishy to be cited by either the White House or the media. … It certainly was not a widely reported estimate in 1990. The number was buried in a single news article — and just because it was in the New York Times does not mean it was true. To recap, the White House seized on an apparently inaccurate news report, which cited an estimate much higher than any other news organization. Meanwhile, officials ignored other contemporaneous reporting using much lower figures — as well as the actual outcome of the policy. That’s worthy of Four Pinocchio’s,” The Washington Post said.
Even Saturday Night Live mocked Obama’s political pandering with their take on the School House Rocks skit here.
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