Action Memo

The issues surrounding the American immigration system are complex, and there is no blanket solution which will be appeasing down both sides of the aisle. As we have seen over the past decade, conservatives are traditionally more opposed to immigration, whereas their liberal counterparts seek less constriction on immigration law. This author’s proposal for policy changes are those which will be in line with accomplishing this administrations’ focus on growing the American economy, while listening to recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). 

As of changes implemented October 8th, 2020, the H-1B visa will be scrutinized by, “Narrow[ing] the definition of “specialty occupation” as Congress intended by closing the overbroad definition that allowed companies to game the system; Require companies to make “real” offers to “real employees,” by closing loopholes and preventing the displacement of the American worker; and, Enhance[ing] DHS’s ability to enforce compliance through worksite inspections and monitor compliance before, during, and after an H1-B petition is approved. (Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor Rule Restores Integrity to H-1B Visa Program 2020). In layman’s terms, the administration seeks to require greater specialization of employees, end (alleged) abuse of the H-1B visa and give greater federal oversight to the granting or removal of visas. In the week(s) following the latest proposed changes to the visa, there have been lawsuits filed to challenge the Department of Labors’ (DOL) changes, alleging the changes have not taken into consideration the catastrophic impact an exodus of immigrant workers would have on the American economy (Lawsuit challenges Trump administration’s new H-1B visa rules 2020).  

The GAO reported in 2011 that the Visa system needs to be expanded to meet the needs of the job market, and that there must be greater oversight into the program in order to allow organizations to reward and reemploy highly talented immigrant peoples (H-1B VISA PROGRAM Reforms Are Needed to Minimize the Risks and Costs of Current Program 2011). What this is implying, is that a merit-based system would be of the most benefit to America (the exact system the Trump administration has voiced its desire for). As our political divide is greater than ever, compromises must be made. A shift to a merit-based system was recommended in hard data almost a decade ago, but the changes implemented are a means of biting off one’s nose to spite their face. Our proposed changes would challenge the DOL’s changes in the amount of the rate hike, but ultimately encourage a greater accountability so to more slowly transition into a fully merit-based system. 

Finally, and most importantly, what this author’s changes would demand, is a path to citizenship for the high-skilled laborers whose H-1B visas may be ineligible for renewal under the higher standards. While it is in America’s interest to protect our workforce, it would be antithetical to our values as a nation of immigrants to dismiss the lives these talented immigrants have built in our nation. Our proposed visa changes would enable citizenship for people no longer qualifying for the H-1B, which would then remove those persons from the queue, and allow for newer, more talented applicants their chance at joining the American economic engine. 

References

Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor Rule Restores Integrity to H-1B Visa Program. (2020, October 06). Retrieved October 21, 2020, from https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/10/06/department-homeland-security-and-department-labor-rule-restores-integrity-h-1b-visa

H-1B VISA PROGRAM Reforms Are Needed to Minimize the Risks and Costs of Current Program. (2011, January). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.gao.gov/assets/320/314501.pdf

Lawsuit challenges Trump administration’s new H-1B visa rules. (2020, October 20). Retrieved October 21, 2020, from https://indianexpress.com/article/world/us-chambers-of-commerce-and-nam-files-lawsuit-against-recent-h1b-regulations-6801729/

Rangarajan, S. (2019, December 3). In Trump’s America, the H-1B dream has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare for skilled Indians. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from https://qz.com/india/1760097/in-trumps-us-the-h-1b-dream-has-become-a-bureaucratic-nightmare/

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