Immigrants Bring Valuable Skills, Cultural Diversity To Our Armed Forces

June 16th, 2014

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

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

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

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

The Right to (American) Dream: How states are slowly helping DREAMERS afford college

March 17th, 2014

Each year, roughly 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools. And up until fairly recently, many of these gifted young people lived in a state that didn’t allow them to take advantage of in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. But in 2014, additional states — particularly those in the Southeast — have enacted legislation that levels the playing field for all students and makes college more affordable

In a bold move, the Washington House has moved to take tuition equity a step further — voting 75-22 to expand eligibility for state financial aid to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Rep. Zack Hudgins (D), the bill’s House sponsor, understands the economic importance of investing in the state’s immigrant youth.

“This is about keeping our best and brightest here in Washington, and giving everyone a shot at the American Dream,” Hudgins said, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Three other states — California, Texas and New Mexico — are also taking the extra step to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for state financial aid.

But many low-income, undocumented students are still exempt from state-funded scholarships, and that’s an issue that Donald E. Graham, former Washington Post owner, hopes to address through his fund, “TheDream.US.” The fund aims to award full-tuition college scholarships to 1,000 students in the next academic year.

“I’m not wise enough to know what is the right immigration policy for the United States of America,” said Graham, who contributed an undisclosed amount to the fund, as did his brother, Bill. “I know these students deserve a chance at higher education.”

And that sentiment — the idea that all hardworking students in America deserve an opportunity to earn a quality education — is the driving force behind the state policy shifts we’re seeing around the country. And while these policy shifts are positive, many feel they are only a temporary fix to a much more massive problem — one that the federal government needs to step up and address.

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 » | Immigration reform

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