GOP S.386 Bill Will Trigger 2021 Push to Expand Immigration

The GOP’s green card giveaway S.386 bill will trigger a massive lobbying campaign for additional green cards, and will threaten the GOP’s declining support among white-collar graduates, say activists on all sides of the debate.

Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee’s S.386 bill slipped through the Senate on December 2, without any opposition from the 53 GOP Senators or the 47 Democratic Senators.

If the Senate’s S.386 — or the HR.1044 version of the bill pushed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) — is included in the year-end omnibus bill, it would steer most of the annual supply of 140,000 employment green cards — and thus, citizenship — to the tech industry’s imported workforce of mid-skill Indian H-1B visa workers.

That shift would leave other influential employers with many fewer green cards to provide to their imported workers — and so would trigger a massive lobbying campaign for extra green cards — meaning more immigration, more pro-Democratic immigrant voters, and more angry white-collar Americans.

“The demand is going to be more [green cards] for everybody,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors reduced immigration. “It definitely sets up a [political] problem for several years from now.”

“The dispute is about [foreign] workers who compete with the American middle class, educated workers,” so it also threatens the GOP’s ability to rebuild support from white-collar suburban graduates in Georgia and every other state, he said. 

The expected lobbying will come from many of the lobbies that are now trying to raise the inflow of skilled immigrants.

The lobbyists will include universities that provide work permits to high-skilled graduates, the healthcare chains who are trying to expand their own mini-version of Silicon Valley’s foreign labor pipeline, the farmers in farm states who want to reward their visa workers, the businesses in Florida and Texas who want to import Spanish-speaking migrants, the Filipino, Korean, Iranian, and South American ethnic lobbies that are now opposing the Lee and Lofgren giveaways, plus the establishment media outlets that favor migrants over Americans.

Staffers for GOP Senators insist the Senators do not want to OK additional green cards, in part, because the post-1990 wave of immigrants has pushed many states into the Democratic camp. The immigration-flipped states include New Jersey, Virginia, and California. In 2020, the rush of legal immigrants helped the Democrats win Georgia and Arizona.

But the GOP Senators have not blocked the Lee bill — nor even denounced industry use of foreigners in place of skilled Americans — and so are close to triggering the huge push for more green cards.

“I look forward to all immigrants (and the Americans with whom they want to associate) being united again in the fight for green card increases if #HR1044 passes,” said a tweet from David Bier at the Cato Institute, which favors an open doors policy for working migrants. “Everyone will be on the same team.”

“This is Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s intention,” said a December 9 tweet from U.S. Tech workers, which opposes the growing green-card workforce of foreign migrants in white-collar jobs, adding: 

She knows this bill will not clear the backlog. Her office has told us so. They want this legislation to create a train wreck to the legal immigration system that even Republicans will have no choice but to increase Green Card numbers.

“After our bill passes, we will need the help of Iranians and all other communities to work on the next phase – which will be asking [for] more green cards,” said a comment from Aman Kapoor, a founder of the aggressive Immigration Voice lobbying group.

“Perfect is the enemy of progress,” said a December 7 tweet from Anirban Das, who leads another Indian lobby, Skilled Immigrants in America. “More Green Cards is the solution. Once [the] country cap is removed, ROWs will join the fight for more reforms. Right now, they have no incentive.”

“This proposal would not fix the green card backlog, would reduce the diversity of the green card process and pits one group of immigrants against others to fight over a broken and inherently unequal system.” said a December 8 letter from several pro-migration groups, including South Asian Americans Leading Together and United Chinese Americans. The letter continued:

We encourage the House to hold a hearing on the green card backlog and consult with the many immigrant groups who would be harmed by the passage of this bill, rather than rush through a major change that would create new problems without solving the underlying challenge at hand of too few green cards available.

“This bill will destroy the business model for the US universities,” said a December 8 letter from a coalition of several thousand post-graduates at American universities, titled Support Alliance of US Immigrants.

The group opposes the S.386 bill, and cited a March 2020 report by the Congressional Research Service,that argued:

Employment-based petition holders could expect to wait up to 37 years. This long wait time means that both the international students, faculty, and researchers would not be willing to attend the universities and colleges due to the lifetime waiting time for permanent residency.

The CRS report says S.386 reduces the number of Indian visa workers who are working while waiting for green cards, but dramatically boosts the delays for other nationals:

S. 386 would not reduce future backlogs compared to current law. Given current trends, the analysis projects … the total backlog for all three categories would increase from an estimated 915,497 individuals currently to an estimated 2,195,795 individuals by FY2030.

The non-Indian, non-Chinese “Rest of the World” (RoW) migrants must now work while they wait for a year to get green cards. If S.386 passes, by 2030, their employers will have to wait for seven years to provide them with green cards, the CRS report says.

“This has always been the greatest danger of #HR1044/#S386 — by making sure only Indians can get employment-based green cards, it’s designed to incentivize non-Indians to push for increased numbers,” said a December 11 tweet by Krikorian.

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