Bloggings on Immigration Law and Policy

by Greg Siskind

Politico Offers Details of House Immigration Plan

While all the focus for the last few weeks has been on the Senate bill, the House Gang of Eight has been quietly working on its own immigration plan and there could be some important differences. One relates to the path to citizenship. The House plan could take as long as 20 years while the Senate's is 13 years. The House apparently would impose a benchmark on security that must be met before a guest worker program and the legalization program could be fully implemented.

Another question that must be resolved in the House is how the bill will proceed. The Judiciary, Homeland Security and Education committees all have jurisdiction over certain aspects of the bill. But there is concern that if Judiciary gets full responsibility, some hardliners on that committee could try and derail the bill. That's why Chairman Goodlatte's shift to a more moderate position in the last few months has been important in allaying some fears about Judiciary getting to mark up the bill. But it is still not clear that there are enough moderate Republicans plus the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to get a bill reasonably similar to the Senate bill through to the floor.

Politico reports another possibility - that there will be an informal process of House Republicans working out language of a bill outside the Judiciary Committee and bringing it up directly for a floor debate. Chairman Goodlatte has been working behind the scenes in the House to avoid this and have a regular legislative markup.


We Have a Deal

Hurray!! But now the really hard work begins.


Deal on Guest Workers Close

Some good news on the guest worker program front. I'm not able to talk about the changes over the last few days, but can report that the program, while far from perfect, is much improved over a week ago and pro-immigration advocates can be pleased. I have been briefed on the changes and believe there is enough give from both sides that the deal can be seen as a fair one. And hopefully it clears the way for the big bill to come on April 8th as has been forecast.


AFL-CIO Misleads On Wage Argument

AFL-CIO Chairman Richard Trumka would have you believe that when an employer pays a Level 1 wage, they are only paying 25% of the market rate for the worker. According to Bloomberg:

Under the AFL-CIO’s proposal, the Labor Department would determine what that level should be. The Chamber of Commerce wants wages to be set under a four-tiered system based on workers’ experience and skills.

The first level of that system would be equivalent to 25 percent of the market rate, or poverty-level wages, Trumka said. “It relegates those newcomers to a life of poverty,” he said. “The second thing it could do is drag down wages for American workers and benefits. Nobody wants that.”

If this were true, I'd probably be complaining right along with the AFL-CIO. But it is a complete lie. The OES Levels are based on the average wage paid to comparable workers based on four tiers of experience. A Level 1 wage is based on what entry level workers are paid on average in a given field. If the job doesn't require an American to have anything more than entry level skills, then the prevailing wage SHOULD be Level 1. Level 1 does not mean a worker is paid 25% of the market rate. If the job requires more experience or more skills, then it moves up the chain and a higher OES wage level is appropriate.

For certain types of jobs, particularly the ones at the lowest end of the spectrum, there is not much difference to an employer whether someone with a lot of experience or a little experience is doing the work. So the difference between Level 1 and Level 4 for those types of jobs will probably be minimal (though if there's a union representing the workers, the collective bargaining agreement may make the difference fairly extreme - interesting, right?). As the occupation goes up the skill ladder, employers are usually pickier in terms of what kind of education, skills and experience a worker has so a higher skill level is required. So, for example, if I was hiring an associate and I wanted that person to have two or three years of experience working on a particular kind of case, I'd likely have to pay based on skill Level 2, not Level 1. Maybe I wanted a senior attorney with enough experience to supervise a team of lawyers and paralegals and manage client relationships. Perhaps someone with 10 to 20 years experience. I'd probably have to pay a Level 3 or 4.

By the way, there's a good explanation of the system provided by the Department of Labor on page 7 of the document located here. As you can see, the wage levels are based on what the average wage is for comparably employed workers at a particular experience level. Paying a Level 1 wage does not mean you're paying 25% of the market rate or even in the bottom quartile of people in the field.

The AFL-CIO is essentially telling employers that they should be paying that entry level worker at the same rate as the worker with 10 to 20 years experience. Does that sound reasonable? In many fields, the difference between Level 1 and Level 4 can be enormous - as much as 68% according to at least one analysis I've seen in the last few days. You can look for yourself at



Congressman Takes Heat for Referring to Latino Immigrants as "Wetbacks"

Yikes. Well, if the GOP wanted to reinforce its brand as being anti-Latino, Don Young (R-AK) might as well be its new poster boy. John Boehner quickly labeled the Congressman's remarks as unacceptable:

"Congressman Young's remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds," Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. "I don't care why he said it — there's no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology."

Some are already saying this will affect immigration reform politics, though I doubt it will change the equation very much. But it certainly won't help the GOP in its efforts to try and reach out to a more diverse section of the public.

About The Author Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.