Immigration News Weekly Digest – May 22, 2020

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Low Unemployment Rate In Tech Harms Trump H-1B Visa Plans, Forbes

The Trump administration has been trying its best to use the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to make immigration tougher.

Apparently, Trump Government’s efforts to impose new H-1B visa restrictions to put a stop on the immigration into the U.S. has been given a massive blow by the findings of a recent analysis provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP).

  • According to this survey, the unemployment rate for individuals in computer occupations declined from 3% in January 2020 to 2.8% in April 2020.
  • Most of the H-1B visa holders are enrolled in the computer and software occupations. This fall in the unemployment rate by 7% or 0.2 percentage points, holds the potential to weaken the President’s proclamation.
  • At the same time the unemployment rate for professionals in all other areas of occupation have witnessed a surge of over 15% in April 2020 from 4.1% in January 2020.

The new unemployment figures complicate the administration’s efforts to issue more measures aimed against high-skilled foreign nationals working in the science and engineering sectors.

The Trump government aimed to use this present economic crisis to cover up for the stringent immigration reforms, as they believe that entry of foreign nationals into the U.S. leads to lesser job opportunities to native born Americans, which is crucial for times like these.

However, the findings of this survey, along with certain studies conducted by economists prove that the entry of H-1B visa is negatively proportional to reduced job opportunities for U.S. born professionals.

Source: Forbes 

California Opens up Coronavirus Funding for Immigrants in State Illegally, Faces Backlash, Foxnews

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump government released the CARES Act, which offers $1200 only to the taxpaying U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, while up to $2,400 to those filing joint tax returns.

Lawfully, undocumented taxpaying immigrants, without a Social Security number are not eligible to receive this coronavirus relief money. Reports come in from California, stating that undocumented immigrants in the state are now eligible to apply for the state’s coronavirus relief program.

  • According to this program, $500 will be paid per person, while up to $1,000 per household.
  • Sacramento has freed up to $75 million for the fund.
  • This could help about 150,000 people facing hardships during such times.

California is home to about 2 million undocumented immigrants, which means the funds could not cover all of them. Applications will be accepted until June 30 or until funds run dry.

Of course, after learning this, some Republicans in the state heavily criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom, saying that any taxpayer funds should be directed to U.S. citizens, on food banks and local governments struggling with revenue losses.

Source: Fox News

100% of H-1B Employers Offer Average Market Wages, 78% Offer More, Cato Institute

According to a report released recently by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), H-1B employers undercut local wages.  EPI says that by setting the wage levels below median, the firms do not pay market wages to such H-1B workers.

The post by Cato Institute depicts why this report is false:

  • A market wage is what an employer would pay a worker for his/her services, in an open market, depending upon the type of job and qualities of the worker.
  • Employees receiving above or below this standard depends upon their skills, experience and job duties.
  • Even though U.S. workers command wages both above and below the median, EPI doesn’t want H-1B employers from paying foreign workers in accordance with their skills.
  • The average wage for a particular skill was found to be above median for 97% occupations in 2019. This means approximately all H-1B employers offer above the median wage for H-1B workers of a specific skill level.
  • Complying with the law, all the H-1B employers are offering at least the current average market wage for similar U.S. workers.
  • Majority of H-1B employers pay more to some employees. 78% of H-1B employers had average wage offers above their average prevailing wage determination.
  • The actual market wage was actually above the estimated average market wage for nearly half of H-1B hires.
  • The lowest skilled H??1Bs were the most likely to receive above market wage offers.
  • More H-1B employers are increasingly requesting employees at higher wage levels. This number has doubled since 2010.
  • H-1B wages grew twice as fast as wages in the labor market overall from 2004 to 2019.
  • EPI’s entire report is based on the idea that employers shouldn’t offer wages based on a workers’ actual job responsibilities and skills.

Source: Cato Institute

Immigration Reform After Covid-19, The Hill

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 immigration system wouldn’t commence until the virus threat comes to a standstill. The Cato Institute has just released a white paper, called “12 New Immigration Ideas for the 21st Century”.

This suggests improvements from experts in immigration policies, on the American legal immigration system. 

Immigration reform bills in the past seek to improve enforcement, legalize illegal immigrants, and increase lawful immigration. This white paper focuses on re-establishing a well-functioning legal system that is open and fair, with improved enforcement and legalization.

Some of the ideas dotted down in the white paper are as follows:

  • Increase in employment-based visas should be in proportion to the future demands of the U.S. economy, by automating visa adjustments.
  • A ‘well-dedicated’ wait time for green cards: Maximum wait-time of five years for employment-based green cards, while 10 years for family-sponsored green cards. Doing so will instill certainty.
  • Bilateral temporary worker agreement with Mexico and Canada.
  • A scheme which allows immigrants to come and work, as long as they pay higher taxes.
  • Allow Americans wanting to work and live overseas for a short period of time, trade their residency status or citizenship with foreigners for the stipulated period.

Source: The Hill

Report: Trump Policies Delay Citizenship For Immigrants Before Election, Forbes

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) put a stop on the ongoing naturalization ceremonies and interviews on March 18, 2020, due to the coronavirus crisis.

This delay has brought over 100,000 future Americans in limbo. In fact, these individuals were in their final stages of the naturalization process. Until the USCIS starts the process, these would-be Americans shall have to wait to become full citizens, indefinitely.

What is being speculated here, is that despite the given circumstances, whether the Trump administration’s objective is to delay the naturalization process before the 2020 elections.

There appears to be no reason why USCIS is not conducting naturalization ceremonies using video conferencing technology, as so much business is being conducted these days. While the entire world is conducting interviews through video conferencing, why is USCIS not?

It has been stated that there is no such rule that says the interview and the oath have to be two months apart. Many people have just their oath ceremony remaining.

As per the latest USCIS data, there are currently over 649,000 pending applications for naturalization.

Source: Forbes