Prediction/Expectation on Immigration in 2018
What are our Westchester Immigration Attorneys expectations for the immigration agenda in 2018?
The easiest prediction to make for 2018 is that Donald Trump will not visit the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July and extol the virtues of America’s great tradition as a nation of immigrants. On a serious note, whether a prospective immigrant is seeking permanent residence based upon applications which are Employment-based, family-based, or you are a refugee or asylum seeker, the Trump administration plans to make it more difficult for most immigrants to enter or remain in the United States.
Low Unemployment but More Efforts to Restrict the U.S. Labor Supply: The premise of the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order used to justify new immigration restrictions is U.S. workers can’t find jobs because immigrants and temporary visa holders are taking American jobs by working for lower wages. The premise is extraordinarily weak! U.S. immigration levels haven’t changed since the 1990 Act and the U.S. unemployment rate has continued to plummet, approaching a 50-year low. The problem in the U.S. economy now is that there are not enough workers to keep pace with the demands of businesses in the United States. Employers nationwide are grappling with "a problem that threatens to stall economic growth: vacancies — and lots of them,” reports the Washington Post. Still, we should expect the attacks on immigrants to continue. It was reported in an article that, Trump adviser and Breitbart executive Steve Bannon gave away the game in a November 2015 radio interview with Donald Trump when he argued that too many “CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what kind of immigrant you are. If you weren’t born here, then the Trump administration likely has (or will have) a policy to keep you out or compel you to leave.
Politicization of Terrorist Incidents: In a December shooting incident in Pennsylvania, the administration labeled it a terrorist incident even as facts were being determined – and a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson said the shooter was admitted on a “family-based immigrant visa.” The DHS spokesman went on to attack “chain migration,” a contrived term to describe when U.S. citizens sponsor family members. Trump seems oblivious to the fact, that his own wife and her parents obtained their citizenship through chain migration.
When an immigrant soldier in New York died in December after saving four people from a burning building and heroically trying to save a fifth, the Department of Homeland Security did not publish a statement telling the world whether he came to America on a “family-based immigrant visa.” Expect the administration and the president to remain silent on anything positive immigrants do while attempting to capitalize politically on anything negative.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals): President Obama started DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) but the Trump administration ended it. Protection from deportation has already stopped for some DACA recipients and will cease for many more in the coming months, with March 2018 viewed by lawmakers as a deadline for a legislative deal. Howver, al hope is not lost as several Courts have ruled that DACA cannot be legally halted.
Continued Assault on High-Skilled Immigration: Last but not the least, in fact a very important issue of Immigration policy- H-1B visa holders who entered the United States on merit based visa. The idea that the Trump administration favors “merit-based” immigration has proven to be a myth, as evidenced by the most anti-high-skill immigration regulatory agenda in modern history.
First, it plans to “revise the definition of specialty occupation” for H-1B visa holders. According to DHS, its goals are “to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program.” This means the federal government will decide whether an individual would be a valuable employee, rather the company that would actually employ the person.
Second, DHS plans to change the H-1B lottery used to award H-1Bs when the category is oversubscribed, which happens every year due to a combination of the low annual limit (0.05% of the U.S. labor force) and the strong demand for technical skills in the U.S. economy. Skewing the lottery toward those with the highest salaries would likely disadvantage international students, who usually cannot demand large salaries right out of school.
Third, DHS will “revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect U.S. workers and wages,” which could mean additional restrictions aimed at information technology companies.
Fourth, the Trump administration has already indicated that it will limit the work opportunities available to foreign students and is likely to rescind Obama’s STEM-OPT Extension rule that expanded the extensions of OPT for foreign nationals holding U.S. degrees in STEM fields from 17 months to 24 months.” This evidences that skill or education level is not relevant in the eyes of the current administration. In fact, it is the plan to restrict the ability to stay in the U.S. of even individuals with the highest levels of education and the most sought-after skills on the planet.
Finally, as if those measures were not sufficient to push high-skilled people away from the U.S., news emerged from McClatchy that the administration is considering rescinding measures that allow individuals waiting years for employment-based green cards to extend their H-1B status beyond 6 years, which has been part of U.S. law since 2000. “The idea is to create a sort of ‘self- deportation’ of hundreds of thousands of Indian tech workers in the United States to open up those jobs for Americans,” according to a “U.S. source briefed by Homeland Security officials.”
Of course, it is economic ignorance of the highest order to assume that removing highly skilled people from their long-tenured jobs will “open up those jobs for Americans,” rather than push more work outside of the U.S., diminish the supply of human capital in America and reduce the demand for labor in the United States. Such a policy action would mistreat human beings and their families who have waited years for permanent residence in America.
In sum, the assault on all forms of immigration to the U.S. will continue in 2018.