Immigration

It's Time To Fix Green Card Quotas

Current law caps the number of employment-based green cards that can be granted each year at 40,000, which doesn't meet demand.

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President-elect Joe Biden has indicated that he will use his executive authority to reverse many of President Donald Trump's immigration policies. Biden likely will move quickly to scrap the ban on travel from 13 countries, most predominantly Muslim, and to reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that granted temporary legal status and protection from deportation to residents brought to the United States without authorization as minors.

Another issue that deserves Biden's urgent attention is stalled legislation in Congress that would expedite green cards for Indian and Chinese professionals, the former facing waits of well beyond their lifetimes. The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act overwhelmingly passed the House in fall 2019. But a companion Senate bill that then–Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) co-sponsored was derailed partly because of resistance from fellow Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. Biden can demonstrate his good faith on immigration by telling Durbin to get on board.

Current law caps the number of employment-based green cards that can be granted each year at 40,000. That is far fewer than the demand for green cards in that category. Making matters worse, nationals from any one country can be granted only 7 percent of the total.

As a result of that rule, a very small share of high-skilled professionals from India and China are able to land green cards even when their petitions have been approved. These two countries send America the bulk of our imported high-skilled talent, typically on H-1B visas. Meanwhile, the green card quotas for countries that don't send much high-skilled talent to the U.S. go unfilled.

The upshot is that an estimated 800,000 immigrants who are working legally in the United States are waiting for green cards, an unprecedented backlog in employment-based immigration. The vast majority are Indians; Chinese are the next biggest category.

An Indian national who applies for a green card now might wait 50 years (or more) to get one. Under current policy, the Cato Institute's David Bier estimates, 200,000 Indians will die of old age while waiting for green cards. The children of such workers qualify for dependent visas until they turn 21, at which point they become "legal Dreamers"—people who have grown up in this country but can't qualify for permanent residence.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would ameliorate this situation in two ways. In the first phase, it would eliminate the 7 percent per-nation cap, letting Indians and Chinese receive 85 percent of green cards in the first and second years, then 90 percent in the third year. The bill also stipulates that no national whose green card petition had been approved would face any delays. After three years, the bill would eliminate the nation-specific cap and award green cards on a first-come, first-served basis.

The legislation would address an unfair policy that lets an I.T. professional from, say, Sweden get a green card within a year while making a similarly situated Indian wait decades. Because of the annual cap on green cards, however, this fix will initially force some people from other countries to wait longer than they do now. A solution to that problem would be to raise the green card cap—or, better, eliminate it right away.

That's where Durbin comes in. An alternative bill proposed by the Illinois senator, the Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act, would raise the annual green card cap to a level large enough to clear the existing backlog. That idea was anathema to restrictionist Republicans. In addition to introducing his own bill, Durbin added red tape to the Fairness Act aimed at preventing alleged H-1B abuse by employers, which raised concerns in the business community.

While the RELIEF Act is a superior bill, passing something like the Fairness Act would not preclude coming back and doing better legislation later. At this stage, giving relief to folks who are playing by the rules should be a priority. Biden should impress that upon Durbin and other Democrats who are placing obstacles in the way of incremental reform.

NEXT: Brickbat: OK, Boomer

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  2. Unreason commies still use crazy shikha. Hahahaha.

      1. Remember folks don’t EVER let a Brahmin-privileged monster lecture you about PoC, colonialism, cultural appropriation or representation.

        Remind them that when Lord Indra arrived on the Ganges in his chariot to slaughter six million Dasyu aboriginals, the first word he said was ‘Namaste’.

    1. Didn’t you intolerant, right-wing but jobs run poor Shikha off last year? What is she still doing writing for Reason?

      1. *nut jobs
        I miss Blackberries and physical keyboards

        1. Does that make you a conservative?

        2. OK Boomer

      2. Reason fired her for her anti trump bias.

    2. Goddammit, I thought some other commenter a few days ago said that Reason had canned Dalmia. And yet, here’s more of her drivel.

    3. They had to bring her back when they saw you come back after losing just about every prediction you made.

      1. Trump won a plurality of legal votes in states that mattered. Trump won as predicted and got millions more votes than 2016. El presidente Biden was crowned nonetheless.

        Perdue beat Jon Ossoff by 80,000 votes in the general election but because of that massive Democrat election fraud, he was forced to participate in the Georgia runoff election.

        Same election fraud occurred in Georgia during runoff, so of course Democrat Senators were installed.

        Republicans gained seats in the House of Representatives.

        Census 2020 will take House seats away from Blue states and give them to Red states like Georgia, Texas, and Florida.

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  3. Yay! Shika is back and arguing for American laws that favor non-Americans! No need for OBL to come in here and tell us that this favors Koch’s position of wanting to hire cheap, docile immigrant labor over expensive and demanding American labor, this is obvious to even the blindest of commenters.

    1. We’re on a mission from Shiva and YHWH to reduce labor costs and put an end to private unions!

    2. OBL’s a better writer.

      That said, she should be very pleased by upcoming developments.

  4. Current law caps the number of employment-based green cards that can be granted each year at 40,000, which doesn’t meet demand.

    That’s not quite how the law of supply and demand works – you can either increase supply or decrease demand. If employers can’t find the number of workers they’d like to hire at the price they’d like to pay, well, maybe they need to offer higher wages rather than look to increasing the supply of low-wage employees.

    1. Just take your UBI and shut up comrade.

    2. I’d say employers have a natural right to hire anyone they want, whether you like the wage level or not.

      1. Do they have to hire Republicans, whites, or heterosexual men?

        1. Based on what’s going on with the loyalty checks in the National Guard units being activated for the inauguration, you can’t be Republican and be in the Guard.

          1. But can you be in the Republican Guard?

            1. Coming soon to a town square near you – – – – – – – – – –

              1. Thank God we’ve stopped Trump’s fascist coup by militarizing our local police and activating National Guard troops.

                1. And only after subjecting them to loyalty checks. Some folks (e.g., Steven Cohen (D-Tenn) really wanted to remove white males from guarding Biden as part of the “large class of folks that might want to do something” [to attack Biden].

      2. And when the government is offsetting those wages with taxpayers dollars?

      3. Cool. So we can dispense with minimum wage laws and the EEOC, right?

        Oh, right…

      4. Even “Swedes?” and at whatever wage level liked by employers? We have no natural obligation to issue visas to achieve that wage level, do we?

    3. While your argument has merit, is it accurate? The people brought in are highly skilled in the area of STEM. Is the problem employers are not paying enough or that they don’t have large enough pools of workers to draw from to fill needs.

      I am sure that people brought in under H1 visa are paid well. I suspect that most American workers would be happy with those wages.

      Also: I very much hope that the Biden Administration working with Congress can get a resolution to the problems Dreamers have. We need more than an executive order.

      1. I hope for a universal amnesty and citizenship declaration for all undocumented Americans living in the US. We need 15 million more AOCs voting in 2022 if we expect to get universal healthcare passed

        1. Muh free shit!

      2. Also: I very much hope that the Biden Administration working with Congress can get a resolution to the problems Dreamers have. We need more than an executive order.

        na•ive nī-ēv′, nä-►
        adj. Lacking worldly experience and understanding, especially.
        adj. Simple and guileless; artless.
        adj. Unsuspecting or credulous.

      3. Almost every assumption you made is wrong. H1 visas, while by law are supposed to be laid median wages, they are not. They are often trained by existing workers who they replace at a large discount.

        While STEM has a lower unemployment rate it is till at about 4% currently. We also have collusion with big tech to keep wages down, subsidized by the importation of cheaper labor. The labor is often locked to an employer driving wages down more as they can not seek out higher wages.

        So youre wrong on virtually every assumption you listed.

      4. I have two engineer friends who said that, a couple of years ago, their company was bringing in experienced H1-B Indian chemical engineers for $40 – $50K, which is half or less what you would have to pay an experienced US chemical engineer. So, the answer is it’s all about companies not offering a US market-based salary rate – companies can’t find the experience they want for a price they want to pay so they use the crooked H1-B system (via political donations) to bring in cheap foreign labor and undercut the local market. You will note that a new bill lifting H1-B visa caps recently passed the Senate unanimously with no debate. There are over 800,000 Indians waiting to flood into our country under the H1-B program, taking jobs that could go to existing American workers and depressing wages for other Americans.

      5. I am sure that people brought in under H1 visa are paid well.

        And you reached that conclusion on the basis of analyzing employment data and didn’t just pull it out of your ass because it’s a comforting fiction that aligns with your ideology, of course.

        Point of fact: H1B wage rules are on the honor system – employers are responsible for providing the data and enforcing the rules regarding “market wages” paid to H1B employees. They are typically paid around 15% less than US workers in the same job. The standard fix to juke this data is to use “same industry” instead of “same job” so that a help desk worker in East Bumblefuck provides the basis of comparison for a senior software developer at Apple hired through Infosys.

        Also the vast majority of H1Bs are hired through Infosys, Deloitte and Accenture to provide very basic IT and business services. They are not PhDs working in advanced positions in their field.

        The best part is that they are locked in for a 5 year contract at a salary they can’t negotiate, and if they get to uppity their position can be eliminated, upon which they have to find another visa sponsor or depart the country. It’s fun to have a slave class, as long as you’re a slave master. Same way you pathetic pieces of subhuman shit are happy to use products manufactured by the bleeding hands of Uighur Muslims in slave labor camps.

  5. I’m all for bringing in as many “Indian and Chinese professionals” as possible. When you call tech support for when your printer disconnects from your computer for no apparent reason, or to find out why it’s taking three days to port your cell number, the quality of the VoIP calls to Mumbai are HORRIBLE!!!

    But to be fair, not once has there been a barking dog in the background to distract the supporter.

    1. I love seeing how Brahmin Indian immigrants treat black Americans worse than dalits because of their dark complexion.

    2. But did you turn it off and on?

  6. Yes! I knew people were lying when they said Shikha Dalmia no longer worked for Reason. It’s like, of course the leading journal of billionaire-funded open borders advocacy wouldn’t fire the most eloquent voice for Charles Koch’s immigration agenda.

    #OpenBordersWillFixEverything

    1. An open border immigration policy can help reduce median labor costs to Biden’s new federal minimum wage of $15/hour.

      1. Although I proudly voted for Biden, I will absolutely criticize him if he tries to raise the minimum wage. As a Koch / Reason libertarian, I want it lowered to $0.00 / hour.

        #AbolishTheMinimumWage

        1. Working in the automation field, I believe that if a job pays less than $15/hour, it should not exist. Machines worker longer without getting sick or demanding more pay while completing the same low cognitive demanding tasks that an American idiot would normally perform.

        2. If you are truly a libertarian, how could you possibly have voted for Biden, with all of his big-government, higher taxes proposals? Doesn’t pass the smell test.

  7. I do sometimes wonder why Ms Dalmia only sees the US and Americans as a resource for foreigners. People in countries overseas have the right and are encouraged to defend their independence and cultures, but never those in the USA. What is acceptable outside the US is racism inside.

    1. With the exception of Israel and the Jewish people, all Goyim and their “cultures” are equally interchangeable. If the white trash living in Ohio’s trailer parks don’t want to work in an Amazon Fulfillment center, then we can import some Goy who does want to be a manual laborer for the rest of his pathetic life.

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  8. It’s Time To Fix Eliminate Racist Bourgeois Green Card Quotas

    Touched that up for you, Shikha.

  9. Damn. I thought we’d seen the last of Shikha Dalmia, but here she is to trumpet her newest Savior and still is boo-hooing that Joe will not make every single person on the face of the Earth a US citizen on Day 1.

  10. Welcome back.
    Was the therapy successful?

  11. In this entire comment thread (40 comments so far), there is exactly ONE that actually discusses the meat of the article.

    The rest are bashing the author. It’s pathetic.

    Grow up and discuss the actual points being made. I don’t even look at the names of the authors. Who gives a fuck what the name is?

    1. Grow up and discuss the actual points being made. I don’t even look at the names of the authors. Who gives a fuck what the name is?

      Spend a day running a group of ponies through various tests and, some fraction of them will only be able to do one trick. One of them will inevitably be the worst of even the lesser group. The next time you go through and do anything with the ponies, you won’t go through the same battery of tests on all of them. You’ll just remember the one stupid, one-trick pony, by name or marking and avoid it.

      That said, the stupid, one-trick pony probably writes better, more contemplative articles than Shikha. Seriously, there are two sides to every debate (even if you support immigraiton as a libertarian, simply importing more bodies for the leviathan to chew through should give pause) and Shikha’s unfaultering tendency is to pretend that her stance is the only correct one. Even going so far as to blaming others for when her own bad ideas/positions are revealed for what they are.

    2. First day here?

    3. Fuc…wait, what?

  12. Seeing a lot of ‘Murican workers, I would rather hire more Indians and Chinese. Productivity doesn’t come from whining all day, it comes from producing. Hence the name. This is for engineering of course. Give me Irish engineers too.

    It is hit or miss, however. Some Chinese are as dumb as Americans. Maybe they went to American colleges. But some are brilliant. And Indians are rock solid. Indian mums know how to raise them.

    The problem is that ‘Muricans have been domesticated into idiots. Their first two years out of college is mostly unlearning their four years of college. You can’t treat them as competent adults until they’re 30. Exceptions of course, so hang on to them when you find them. But if I had to roll the dice, it would be Indian over ‘Murican.

    Does this make you sad politically? Then don’t build a wall, instill a work ethic into your children. Hell, even Canadians work harder than ‘Muricans!

    1. Muricans have been brain washed by the Democratic National Socialist Party into believing —

      The Power of Identity Politics to Steal = Wealth.
      Instead of Value = Wealth.

      It’s a very common faulty mentality of every National Socialist party ever to gain power. History just keeps repeating itself and some never learn.

    2. Nice to know you judge people by their race.

    3. Depends which group of “Mericans” you are talking about…some work very hard..

  13. lmao… Doesn’t meet demand? The only ‘demand’ not being met is hiring someone without the million-in-a-half federal regulation charges attached to them. Why pay $15/hr for Americans when we can get foreigners for $0.50… [WE] *entitlement* mobs working their way into being insignificant s and taking the whole country with them.

  14. I think that’s a great idea!
    Let’s bring in tens of thousands more Indian workers to displace American workers at a lower pay rate.
    Let’s also keep that H1 visa rule that doesn’t allow them to change employers even if they find a different employer who’s willing to pay more.
    How about we start by bringing in 40,000 Indian journalists and let Shilka train her replacement who will work for half the price.
    Heck let’s bring in tens of thousands of Indian and Chinese doctors!
    I’m certain they can perform at the same level I do at half the pay.
    /sarc

    1. A gentle reminder; as of tomorrow, there is no such thing as “/sarc”

  15. Unfortunately, as with the movie theater, COVID-19 will soon make H1B obsolete. And America will pay for it.

    Thanks to this pandemic, the acceptance and wide-spread adoption of telecommuting and gig-work will mean that the off-shoring of white-collar work will be a relatively each choice.

    As long as major corps are standing up infrastructure to harness and manage a workforce of telecommuting drones, why bother cutting payroll by 20-3% vis a vis Iowa or Idaho or South Dakota-level wage/benefit, when they could cut payroll 70-80% with India-level wage/benefit?

    H1B will no long be used to hire workers but rather to hire Indian middle-managers, managers that will more easily connect linguistically and culturally with their Indian workforce. A 10:1 reduction in H1B’s.

    This means more trade imbalance for US, less domestic spending and dramatic decline in foreign tuition money for US universities.

    Trump will have made America White Again and poorer.

    1. “Covid19 will soon make H1B obsolete”. And…

      Trump will have made America white again?

      The sky is blue, so you better have your tires rotated the second Tuesday of next week.

      Haha. What a doosh.

  16. I do have a sense of compassion for true “dreamers”, kids who were brought here at a young age by their parents. These kids, now adults, had no complicity in the illegal actions of their parents, so I can see a case to be made for granting them citizenship…right after their parents–who knew exactly what they were doing–are deported.

    Also, please stop saying things like “a path to citizenship”. There *already* is a path to citizenship, one that is used productively by literally a million people every year. There should never be a reward for breaking the law, let alone doing something like like handing out citizenship to 20M people who’ve managed to stay one step ahead of deportation for some years.

    1. Also, please stop saying things like “a path to citizenship”. There *already* is a path to citizenship, one that is used productively by literally a million people every year.

      IMO, this has been the Left’s triumph of the last couple of Decades. Managing to work the language so that the most uninformed and superficially stupid of takes gets rephrased and reframed to support their causes. From climate change to masks to vaccines to paths to citizenship to gun loopholes… across the board they’ve managed to sell their invisible pink unicorns to the voters. Repeatedly.

  17. “We don’t have an immigration policy until we control the border.” – Thomas Sowell.

    https://youtu.be/AzT7khUw49k

  18. I sort of like the argument of looking at the number of green cards issued in terms of demand.
    I bet we could award green cards at the rate of 100 million per year, and not keep up with demand, at least until things equalize, when wages and quality of life in the US drop to the point where people in third world countries no longer have any incentive to come here.

    Nobody imports programmers from Bangladesh because they have a reputation as being much more productive than programmers from western countries. They hire them because they can pay them less. No matter how indispensable any of us might think we are, there is someone in the Philippines or Nigeria more than willing to do your job at a tiny fraction of your wages. There is likely someone in an even worse place willing to undercut them.
    That does not mean that your replacement needs to be as skilled or productive as you are. If the loss of production or efficiency is offset by theoretical savings in wages, Either you are out, or should be expected to do your job on steadily decreasing wages.

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  20. “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” fairness, hmmm, it’s hard to be against fairness. Must be fairness for Americans; after all, American legislators elected by Americans crafted the legislation to be enacted as American law. Or, does it address the unfairness of Indian applicants waiting behind 50 years of other Indian applicants while Swedes wait behind one year of Swedish applicants. They are waiting because we let in Indians and Swedes, See how unfair that is? We don’t let in at the same time the Indians and Swedes who applied later, and far more Indians applied later.

    We could let “Indians and Chinese receive 85 percent of green cards in the first and second years, then 90 percent in the third year.” Now, that would be fair to Indians, Chinese, and ten percent of the rest of the world, and somehow also to the other ninety percent of the rest of the world, too.

    “A solution to that problem would be to raise the green card cap—or, better, eliminate it right away.” Right, there’s the solution right there, eliminate all of them, for everyone. For everyone is fair, right? Oh, eliminate “it.” No, that’s not the solution, not for Americans, at least.

    “Under current policy, the Cato Institute’s David Bier estimates, 200,000 Indians will die of old age while waiting for green cards.” But, under current policy, Dude doesn’t estimate, he is 100% sure; 200,000,000 Europeans will die of old age while not waiting for green cards.

  21. “Current law caps the number of employment-based green cards that can be granted each year at 40,000, which doesn’t meet demand.”

    Demand from whom? American employers don’t receive green cards. American employees don’t receive green cards. Unemployed Americans don’t receive green cards. So, among those represented by American congresspeople, who is demanding?

    1. Demand from the people with money paying for the product, the employers. Beggars can’t be choosers.

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  23. 90% from India and China? wow playing the tribal card there? How about 90% from Italy, Germany, France, UK, Iceland, Spain, and assorted Eastern European Countries (with some stipulations)? Seriously…coders from Italy are just as good as India…talk about being a bit of a bigot…or better yet hire the five or six kids in my development who graduated from college and can’t get a job…I mean why shouldn’t google or FB or some woke tech firm train them to code…why should a US citizen never get a job because an Indian shouldn’t have to wait 200 years to get a green card. American citizens are shi% to this person apparently. America is to enrich “your tribe” oh and die in foreign wars…honestly this was the most racist article I’ve ever read in Reason…

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