America, Stop the Witch-Hunt!

Published on    30 June 2014     Hits: 689

I happen to be a happy immigration attorney or should I say I used to  be.  I went to law school seeking some way to become a useful member of  the society and believed I served both the greater society and my  clients through my job.  Like all jobs, being an immigration attorney  had its ups and downs, but I continued to be motivated knowing my  clients were not only making progress towards achieving their personal  goals but also integrating into the society as valuable members.

My belief remains the same.  But, I am not sure if I am happy any more.   It doesn’t have to be this much of struggle to get a highly skilled  worker a visa to come to this country and be productive.  

Some time ago, America has stopped being a welcoming country.  It acts  scared, defensive, and petty.  Immigrant bashing in the United States is  quite embarrassing.   Historically, whenever things went wrong, it was  always about ‘the others’ and never about ‘us’.  It is too bad that we  never learned from our past mistakes and simply repeat them.  

Sen. Grassley's pitch against high skilled foreign workers in his Letter  to the President on 02/07/2012 is just one example of such illogical  finger-pointing. His entire letter is based on one example of a US  worker with an engineering degree with 10 years experience not being  able to get a job.  He asks President Obama to change the immigration  law to toughen the H-1B regulations and not issue work authorization to  H-4 spouses.

First of all, for most of the nonimmigrant worker visas including L  visa, J visa, and E visa, their accompanying spouses may obtain  employment authorization under the current DHS regulations. Then why  should the DHS discriminate against the spouses of H-1B workers?

Second, Senator's pitch is based on one data sample.  Of course, this  type of frustration – being unemployed after doing all the right things  and seeing one’s wealth shrink - exists.  At the same time, employers  report the time lost while battling difficult immigration process are  costing them millions of dollars in project delays and contract  penalties, while aiding competitors that operate exclusively outside the  U.S.  For each anecdotal story of immigrants hurting the US, there is a  counter example of immigrant helping the country. 

Recession and unemployment hurt everybody.  I, an immigration advocate,  also feel the pain all over and around me.  However, the cause of the  pain is not immigrants.  Neither is the remedy for this malady stopping  immigrants.  We have grand problems that need some fundamental and  structural changes and personal sacrifices. 

In the meantime, reports show that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration  Services drastically raised the standard for employment petitions (H-1B,  L-1A, L-1B…) in recent years.  It is alarming because this was done  without any actual regulatory change.

As noted in our newsletter, reports show that in FY 2011 63 percent of  all L-1B petitions received a Request for Evidence and 27 percent were  issued a denial.  That means U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  adjudicators denied or delayed between 63 percent to 90 percent of all  L-1B petitions in 2011.

By making it far more difficult for skilled foreign nationals to work in  America, what have the agencies achieved?  Are all Americans with a  bachelor’s degree employed?  Is the recession over?

It’s a fact that immigrants start new businesses and file patents at  higher rates than U.S.-born citizens.  National statistics show that  immigrants are 30 percent more likely to form new businesses than  U.S.-born citizens. Foreign-born university graduates are important  contributors to U.S. innovation—among people with advanced degrees,  immigrants are three times more likely to file patents than U.S.-born  citizens.

It seems to me that there has got to be some spillover benefits to  U.S.-born workers if foreigners start businesses and increase innovation  in the US marketplace.

In a highly competitive global marketplace, we cannot avoid competition  from people who are willing to work hard with less entitlement by  closing doors on foreign workers.  These same people we reject will as  easily find work with our global competitors and help them grow instead  of American companies.

Has any country in the history become better off by closing its doors on  foreign competition?  When incurable disease was around, when the  economy was bad, when something unknown scared the general population,  the easiest thing for the government and majority of the people to do  was to scapegoat some minority group.  These moments later turn out to  be shameful moments for the nations and people.

Let’s not further degrade our country.  It’s high time to stop witch-hunt.

Mario Guevara-Martinez