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White House Prepares New Immigration Limits, Using Coronavirus As Cover, CNN

On April 22, 2020, the Trump administration issued a presidential proclamation that suspended the entry of most new immigrants, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis with few exceptions for some guest workers. The Trump government is now preparing to unfold another set of restrictions on legal immigration, even when there is a push from Trump to move past the pandemic. President Trump’s key election message, ‘a strong economy’ has been badly impacted by the pandemic. Despite the wake of recovering the economy, the administration is continuing to usher forward immigration measures. Stephen Miller, Trump’s lead immigration adviser is among one of the key figures responsible for devising reforms that hardline immigration.  The Trump government is using the present economic crisis to cover up for the stringent immigration reforms, as they believe the entry of foreign nationals into the U.S., lead to lesser job opportunities to native born Americans. The economic argument is expected to be raised again in an anticipated expansion or new immigration executive order. The administration could further halt the immigration. A number of visas that allow immigrants to temporarily work in the US are under consideration to be suspended for a period time. They include:
  • L-1 visa: for intra-company transfers,
  • H-1B visa: for workers in a speciality occupation,
  • H-2B visa: for temporary non-agricultural workers, and
  • J-1 visa: for exchange visitors.
Many U.S. based companies and businesses have submitted letters arguing that non-immigrant visas are critical for economic recovery.  With the unemployment levels rising dramatically, the government wants to ensure every possible step to provide employment for fellow Americans, at the cost of barring the entries of foreign nationals into the U.S. Source: CNN

Immigration Agency Seeks Bailout, Plans to Charge More for Visa Applications, CNN

The federal agency responsible for visa and asylum processing, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have requested a sum of $1.2 billion from Congress due to the budget shortfall. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS has seen a dramatic downfall in revenue and is seeking a one-time emergency request for funding, to ensure a lawful immigration system and protect the integrity of the American people. Due to this reason, the federal agency has now proposed a 10% surcharge on application fees to reimburse taxpayers. It has also estimated that by the end of FY 2020, the application and petition receipts will drop by approximately 61%, which will further exhaust the funding. The administration’s policies have directly been blamed for this reduction in the number of petitions, resulting in lower fees received by the agency. From FY 2017 to FY 2019, USCIS received nearly 900,000 fewer petitions. This is largely due to the administration’s decisions, such as revoking Temporary Protected Status for foreign nationals in the U.S., and reducing the entry of refugees in the country. Despite this, the Trump administration has been planning for increased immigration restrictions. Among other changes in the immigration system recently, the administration also invoked a public health law that allowed the swift removal of migrants apprehended at the border. Source: CNN

Donald Trump’s Rhetoric is Steadily Chasing Indians Out of the U.S.—Towards Canada, Quartz India

Disenchanted by the restrictive visa policies in the U.S., the number of Indians getting permanent residency in Canada increased by 105% in the first 11 months of 2019 alone, as depicted by the Virginia-based National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) report. According to NFAP, the number of Indians graduate level engineering courses at American universities, showed a decline of over 25% between 2016-17 and 2018-19. In 2018-19, about $41 billion was contributed to the U.S. economy, solely by the international students and their families. However, due to stringent immigration policies and difficulty in getting green cards, more students and job professionals are navigating towards Canada. In fact, from academic years 2016-17 and 2018-19, the number of Indian students in Canada has more than doubled. Canada’s policies of incentivising students and allowing permanent residents to apply for citizenship after six years, have contributed majorly in a direct increase in the influx of students and professionals. Not just students but even Indian working professionals are now opting to work in Canada. Besides, tech companies and many IT conglomerates are also opening more offices in Canada. About 63% companies are increasing their presence in Canada, with about 21% companies having already established at least one branch in Canada. Canada plans to add over one million new permanent residents over a three-year period. Source: Quartz India

Are H-1B Visa Workers Overpaid or Underpaid?,

The Economic Policy Institute and the Cato Institute both have both published severely scrutinised reports on whether H-1B employees are overpaid or underpaid. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s report released in the start of May, H-1B employers undercut local wages. It states that by setting the wage levels below median, the firms do not pay market wages to such H-1B workers. The Institute reports that the top 30 H-1B employers legally pay their H-1B workers below the local median wage, for the jobs they fill. The analysis found that, for computer applications, salaries are 17-34% lower than local median salaries. It concluded that about three-fifths of all H-1B jobs provided the two lowest prevailing wage levels in 2019.
  • Amazon and Microsoft utilized over 75% of their H-1B positions at these levels.
  • Walmart, Uber and Google assigned near about half of their H-1B positions to the two lowest levels below the local median wage.
Two weeks later, the Cato Institute published its own report citing the issue and back-lashing strongly at EPI’s analysis, branding some of its assertions as false. Cato depicted that EPI confused the ‘median wage’ with market wage, which means that an employer can pay a worker according to the job characteristics and the productivity of the worker.  Cato Institute released that 78% of H-1B employees were paid almost 20% above average market wages. According to Cato Institute’s findings,
  • Microsoft pays its H-1B employees 17% above the average pay.
  • This number is 19% for Ama?zon? Services, while
  • 64% for Google.

How to Limit a President’s Power Over Immigration, Forbes

With the help of an interview with Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, we will better understand the obscure authority in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This has proved to be the need of the hour, as Donald Trump has used 212(f) more than any previous president and in ways critics view as dangerous. He has used it to further impose immigration restrictions, to block foreign-born scientists and engineers from entering the U.S. Section 212(f) allows the president to bar any foreign national whom he deems to be “detrimental to the interests of the United States”, from entering the country. However, Trump has proved to overstep his authority while using 212(f). Even though the 212(f) virtually gives the president unlimited authority to bar noncitizens from entering the U.S. whenever he pleases, excluding them for no reason at all, violates the non-delegation principle. If the Supreme Court is serious about non-delegation, it will either have to scrape off Section 212(f), or interpret it more narrowly. In the Trump v. Hawaii travel ban of 2018, the Supreme Court sided with Trump administration on ‘Muslim ban’. The Court’s ruling was badly misguided on both the statutory question and the constitutional one.  There was evidence that the travel ban served only the purpose of religious discrimination, rather than legitimate national security purpose. Congress could replace Section 212(f) with more limited authority allowing the president to bar entry only for specific reasons. It could direct courts to take a non deferential approach to such issues.  According to Anderson, the best option would be to repeal 212(f) entirely, as Trump has depicted that power granted by the statute, leads to egregious abuse. Source: Forbes