Category: Immigration reform


Children without borders (and parents)

July 14th, 2014 — 11:18am

While the great immigration debate rages on — and stalls any meaningful progress — there is one group that deserves immediate attention: the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors at the border — children who made the dangerous trek all alone to reunite with family, escape violence and simply live a better life.

Current policy dictates detention and deportation, continuing the long-standing tradition of skirting the root issue of undocumented immigration. While most minors are quickly screened to make sure they aren’t victims of trafficking, most are still simply detained and shipped back to their home country, effectively putting them back in the conditions they risked their life to escape.

Research suggests several reasons for many of the unaccompanied minors at the border: escalating violence and abject poverty at home, family reunification and sometimes human trafficking. While these conditions are not universal, the 700% jump in asylum applications in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Brazil speaks to the need for some sort of intervention — both here and abroad.

While our current answer is detain and deport children, talk of better solutions quickly gets mired in uninformed, politically-motivated immigration arguments. Moderate Republicans have only just started to take immigration seriously — when they realized the issue is key to successful elections. Even President Obama’s move from deporting young “Dreamers” is only a small step in the right direction among many steps in the wrong direction.

Obama has even noted that undocumented immigration is an “urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated Federal response…” but both the President and Congress continue to delegate the responsibility to local law enforcement while they bicker and fight amongst themselves. Allowing Dreamers to stay helps, but deporting parents of young citizens and separating other family members hurts much more than it helps.

Acknowledging the root issues behind youth immigration is the direction we should be heading. Instead of simply returning youth to poverty and violence, or keeping families separated, we should help them live safely and offer the opportunity to contribute to our economy – helping them create and maintain meaningful ties to the country legally.

Comment » | Immigration reform

Immigrants Bring Valuable Skills, Cultural Diversity To Our Armed Forces

June 16th, 2014 — 10:13am

Immigrants show their commitment to the United States in a multitude of ways. In fact, their dedication to the US began with their decision to leave their home countries and put down roots in America. And many immigrants take their devotion to this great land a step further by becoming members of our Armed forces.

Each year, around 8,000 immigrants join the US military, bringing a wealth of racial, ethnic, linguistic and cultural insights to their posts. And given the increasingly global agenda of our Armed Forces, these diverse attributes are more valuable than ever. Unfortunately, though, many of our political leaders seem to not hold immigrants’ service in high regard, as a whopping 30,000 of these honorable men and women have been deported since 1996 for crimes classified as “aggravated felonies” under immigration law. But Margaret Stock, an attorney and retired lieutenant colonel, explains that the charges immigrant veterans are deported under are neither, “aggravated” nor “felonious,” and that the law prevents fair rulings in many of these cases.

“An immigration judge is not permitted to consider the individual circumstances of anyone who has an ‘aggravated felony’ conviction,” Stock said. “It doesn’t matter how old, minor or non-violent the offense, or if the individual has long since been rehabilitated. Such a person’s fate is sealed: He or she must be detained and deported.”

While thousands of veterans have been unfairly deported, there are a few key pieces of legislation in the works that would prevent future deportations. Recently, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) proposed a bill known as the ENLIST Act, which would allow young, undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to apply for citizenship after military service. The bill would be an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). And Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) proposed an amendment that would allow undocumented immigrants to attend military service academies.

The military benefits greatly from the service of immigrants who enlist. And now, it’s time for immigrants to benefit from their honorable service.

Comment » | Immigration reform

The Last Gasp of the Anti-Immigration Movement

May 20th, 2014 — 5:48pm

In the years following the catastrophic September 11 attacks, and again after the election of President Barack Obama, there have been times  when it was considered acceptable in some circles to openly — and virulently — speak out against immigration reform. Peppered throughout the conversation were racist sound bites and dangerous rhetoric that maligned hardworking immigrants, and misinformed a sizeable portion of the American population.

Fast-forward to 2014, and being hateful just isn’t that cool anymore. The nativist extremist movement, as it is called, is in the midst of a fundamental transformation, as the sheer number of these fiercely anti-immigrant groups plummeted between 2010 and 2011. Most of the surviving groups are part of a single, large coalition, the Federal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Coalition (FIRE). Bad press, organizational disarray and the co-optation of the movement’s concerns by state legislatures passing draconian legislation all forced the collapse of the smaller, more fragmented anti-immigrant groups.

But the falloff in anti-immigrant organizations doesn’t necessarily mean that their dangerous sentiments have completely gone away. Many of these groups found allies in the Tea Party and the Republican Party. And in many ways, their radical views went mainstream. But there is evidence that many of the politicians who once marched proudly with the anti-immigration movement are now dialing down their inflammatory rhetoric.

Late last year, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) rejected a Republican-led push for the DREAM Act and told Newsmax, “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Unlike King’s previous anti-immigrant statements to the press, this sentiment drew ire from both sides of the political aisle — forcing those who may share King’s outdated views to think twice before diving headfirst into the changing tides that are now largely in favor of immigration reform.

As America moves forward, how will the Republican Party deal with the changing views on immigration? Will it evolve, or will it attempt to revive outdated scare tactics? Only time will tell.

Comment » | Immigration reform

Why Inadequate Immigration Policy Costs Our Economy One Job Every 43 Seconds

April 22nd, 2014 — 8:57am

April 1 marked the start of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ annual acceptance period for new H-1B visa petitions.

These special visas allow American companies to create new jobs for highly educated foreigners.

This program accounts for nearly all of America’s skilled immigration, yet there is an annual cap of 85,000 imposed on new visas: 65,000 are reserved for applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree, and 20,000 for those with at least a master’s degree.

 The outdated annual caps on H-1B visas are always quickly reached. In 2013, the government received around 124,000 applications in just four days — and then abruptly stopped accepting applications on April 5. During the first week of April 2014 USCIS received 172,500 petitions. The Congressional cap is continuing to prove harmful to the nation’s recovering economy.

 Statistically, foreign workers make up about 20% of today’s U.S. STEM workers with bachelor’s degrees and 40% of those with advanced degrees. Since 1995, roughly one-quarter of high-tech firms established in the U.S. have had at least one foreign-born founder. Today, these companies employ 450,000 people and generate more than $50 billion in sales.

 The cost of jobs lost is much larger than subtracting the 85,000 visas allowed from the overall number of petitions filed. Starting with the estimated 100,000 jobs lost directly this year from H-1B visa applications that weren’t filed or not approved beyond the current 85,000 cap. Then, add 400,000, a ballpark estimate from research of additional jobs not created at companies that hire immigrants and at these companies’ suppliers.

We’re now looking at 500,000 jobs lost thanks to restrictive U.S. immigration policy. Spread across 50, five-day workweeks, this translates into 2,000 U.S. jobs not created per day, meaning a new job is lost every 43 seconds.

Clearly, restrictive immigration policy has a real, tangible cost to the U.S. economy. More broadly, the cost is a little greater — forgone ideas, innovation and connections to the world.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more. 

Comment » | H-1B, Immigration reform

How Inadequate Immigration Policy Is Hurting Our Economy

April 15th, 2014 — 8:37am

Left to their devices, several of the nation’s top political pundits would have the world believing that immigrants come to America with the primary goal of pushing existing workers out of the job market. Not only does this rhetoric breed prejudice, it’s also categorically untrue.

According to the job loss calculator from Compete America, an association of high-tech companies advocating for immigration reform, 500,000 new U.S. jobs could have been created in the past year if it wasn’t for outdated H-1B visa restrictions. The H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. And foreign-born students are earning degrees in STEM fields at a rate that far outpaces their American counterparts.

Compete America also highlights how immigrants really affect the job market — they grow the economy, drive cutting-edge innovation and create more jobs for everyone. Research from the National Foundation for American Policy states that for every H-1B worker hired in small- to mid-sized technology companies, 7.5 jobs are created.

Except for a few years of temporary increases, the cap on H-1B visas for skilled workers with bachelor’s degrees has been set at 65,000 per year and 20,000 for U.S. advanced degree holders. Because demand has constantly exceeded supply, the cap is reached quickly every year. Last week, during the annual filing window, USCIS received 172,500 H-1B petitions. Like the other components of our immigration system, the insufficient number of H1-B visas demonstrates how deeply flawed our current immigrations system is. Our current approach isn’t flexible enough to keep pace with our ever-changing economy — a reality that threatens to hamper America’s admirable economic progress.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more. 

Comment » | H-1B, Immigration reform

Back to top