Beware media-promoted bipartisan immigration bills. Strictly speaking, such legislation is bipartisan because a Republican and a Democrat introduce it. In reality, however, the Republican is often as much of an immigration expansionist as his Democratic colleague.
Such is the case with the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act of 2022, or the EAGLE Act, which Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) introduced. Proponents claim EAGLE benefits the U.S. economy by allowing American employers to focus on hiring immigrants based on their merit, not their birthplace. The current 7 percent per-country limit on employment-based immigrant visas would be phased out over a nine-year period, and the 7 percent per-country limit on family-sponsored immigrant visas – Green Cards – would more than double to 15 percent. This would mean that Mexico, the country with the highest backlog of family-based immigrant visa petitions would get the largest share of the pie at the expense of other countries. Population-busting chain migration would accelerate.
The bill doesn’t directly increase the total number of Green Cards for the employment-based category, but it does speed the adjustment of mostly already-present Indian nationals on H-1B and L-1 visas, while slowing the rest of the world’s arrivals.
Kramer and Hickenlooper trotted out familiar excuses to defend their bill. Kramer: “It’s no secret that our immigration system is broken….” Hickenlooper: “Fixing our immigration system will help fix our workforce shortage and spur economic growth.” In the U.S. House of Representatives, Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced a similar bill that has eight Republican cosponsors and 75 Democratic cosponsors.
Country caps prevent one nation from dominating the number of employment-based visas that the U.S. federal government issues. If the caps are eliminated, the majority of employment-based visas would be awarded to Indian nationals. The proposal of Cramer and Hickenlooper would harm Americans workers and reward those who have abused the H-1B visa program to displace American workers with Green Card holders. Most significantly disadvantaged are African Americans, Hispanics and women, who are largely underrepresented in most science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations.
Cramer’s and Hickenlooper’s constituents elected them to the Senate to protect their best interests. Yet getting rid of country caps or expanding in any way employment-based visas directly harms U.S. workers and recent university graduates seeking employment. Millions of working-age (16 to 64) U.S. residents are detached from the labor force, either unemployed or underemployed. On the other hand, flooding the labor pool with international workers helps corporations and business elites.
In his Senate career, Cramer has voted four times to increase H-2B visas, a nonimmigrant category that allows those other than agricultural workers into the U.S. Included are workers in landscaping, forestry, hotels, seafood processing and lifeguarding – all jobs that Americans would do either part-time to defray expenses or pay university tuition. The U.S. Government Accountability Office found the H-2B program rife with fraud and abuse. Like Cramer, who has a cozy friendship with Microsoft, Hickenlooper has turned his back on his constituents in favor of his donor class, and voted in favor of more H-2B visa workers. Both voted to increase EB-5 visas, the so-called citizenship-for-sale visa.
Hickenlooper’s push for more immigration has an interesting twist. Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs have been named among the premier tech hubs in the U.S., and would be obvious destinations for overseas H-1B visa workers. Yet the Colorado River reservoirs have declined so low that major water cuts will be necessary next year to reduce the risk of the water supply reaching perilously low levels. Increasing the state’s population, which has grown five-fold since 1950, would recklessly imperil Colorado’s fragile environment, and put its residents’ access to water in peril.
Increasing already record immigration levels by adding more employment-based visa holders won’t help unemployed and underemployed Americans. The U.S. doesn’t have a labor shortage. Black, Hispanic and other minority workers represent an underutilized segment of the employment market. Senators Cramer and Hickenlooper should represent Americans instead of advocating for more foreign-born cheap labor.