Bloggings on Immigration Law and Policy

by Greg Siskind

How House Republicans May Save Immigration Reform

A few months ago I was pretty down on House Republicans and the prospects for immigration reform legislation in that House of Congress. I was basing this pessimism on past votes, the tone of committee hearings and the ratings by anti-immigration groups of those chosen to head the committees dealing with immigration.

There are still voices in the House that worry me, but the Democrats in the Senate could also blow it both in terms of pushing provisions that doom the final passage of a bill or, if we get a bill, putting us in the situation where we're back in the same place in a few years and need new legislation.

There are three areas where House Republicans can make a bill more better.

1. Guest workers - The 1986 immigration bill legalized three million people and gave us the I-9 enforcement system. Both addressed major problems. But the Congress couldn't agree on what to do about the future flow of immigrants and decided to let a future Congress figure it out. Guess what? They never did. And we now are talking about legalizing 11 million people.

In 2007, immigration reform efforts failed when union opposition to a guest worker program led many Democrats to pull their support for reform. Senator Schumer has smartly tried to get the US Chamber and labor unions to hammer out a deal on the front end to avoid a similar result. But from what I am hearing, Big Labor is forcing a deal that will result in a wholly inadequate guest worker program that will lack enough numbers and cover only unskilled workers as opposed to the workers the economy needs.

House Republicans need to remember they are the pro-business party and hold a tough line that ensures the unions don't doom long term immigration reform. If employers can't bring in guest workers when they can prove Americans are unavailable, we will simply end up with a new illegal immigrant flow.

2. Path to citizenship - Many of my pro-immigration colleagues think differently on this than I do, but I LIKE what I'm hearing from people like Rep. Labrador and Goodlatte that we need to avoid setting up a path to citizenship for legalized immigrants that is easier than that being used by everyone currently in line. We shouldn't have a special path to citizenship. Legalized immigrants should have to apply for green cards using the family and employment-based green card categories already on the books and go through the same application process as immigrants currently in line. What we can do, however, is make enough green cards available to process everyone currently in line in a more reasonable timeframe and once all of those people process, then begin processing the new applicants. We also should ensure that enough green cards are made available to absorb all the new family and employment-based green card applicants in the pool of legalized immigrants.

I don't agree that we need to link enforcement benchmarks to allowing legalized immigrants to file for green cards. But I also could live with benchmarks if they are reasonable. We will never have a completely sealed border. But if we put more resources in to enforcement and have  a decent guest worker program, we should be able to dramatically cut illegal crossings.

The Senate sounds like they're looking at a measure similar to what was proposed by President Obama - simply allowing people to file a green card application after a certain number of years without going through the conventional green card application process. I think that doesn't serve us well if people perceive the legalized immigrants as having gotten a better deal than those who are currently in line. And I think the conventional path to citizenship being suggested by some House Republicans makes more sense.

3. Skilled workers - The Senate has been very vague on what is going to be proposed on skilled workers. The I-Squared marker bill proposed by Senators Klobuchar and Rubio is superb and if the Gang of Eight simply inserts it as is in to the big bill, I'll be very happy. But I'm already hearing that some of the protectionist forces out there are trying to mess around with the language. I hope I'm wrong. But this is also an area where House Republicans can channel Ronald Reagan and give employers the freedom they need to pursue the best talent and make us as competitive as we can be. If the Senate bill doesn't deliver on the skilled worker provisions, House Republicans need to push back. Fortunately, I think Reps. Goodlatte and Gowdy get it.

We'll know in a couple of weeks where we stand when the Gang of Eight introduces its bill in the Senate.

On a separate note, I wanted to sincerely apologize to Congressman Goodlatte for the harsh post I wrote in November where I labeled him an extremist and made the snarky statement questioning whether he had practiced immigration law. I updated the post at the time after doing some checking and let readers know he was, in fact, a member of the immigration bar before joining Congress. But it was a dumb thing to have suggested and I shouldn't have written it.

April 2013 Visa Bulletin Summary

Thanks to Nicollettee Davis for tracking the numbers.

Family 1st - World numbers, China and India advanced 3 weeks to 08 March 06; Mexico advanced 10 days to 01 August 93; the Philippines jumped 4 months to 15 February 99.

Family 2A – World numbers, China, India, and the Philippines advanced 3 weeks and 3 days to 15 December 10; Mexico moved 2 weeks and 4 days to 01 December 10.

Family 2B - World numbers, China, and India moved 5 weeks to 08 April 05; Mexico moved forward 5 weeks to 22 February 93; the Philippines advanced 5 weeks to 15 July 02.

Family 3rd – World numbers, China, and India moved forward one week to 22 July 02; Mexico moved one week to 22 March 93; the Philippines moved forward 2 weeks and 4 days to 01 October 92.

Family 4th – World numbers, China and India moved forward 9 days to 01 May 01; Mexico advanced 2 weeks to 01 September 96; the Philippines advanced one month to 15 August 89.


Employment 1st – still current in all categories. 

Employment 2nd – World numbers, Mexico and the Philippines are still current; China moved forward 2 weeks to 01 April 08; India remains stalled at 01 September 04.

Employment 3rd – World numbers, Mexico advanced 2 months to 01 July 07; the Philippines moved forward one week to 08 September 06; China moved 3 months to 22 April 07; India advanced 2 weeks and 4 days to 08 December 02.

Employment 3rd Other Workers – World numbers, Mexico advanced 2 months to 01 July 07; the Philippines moved forward one week to 08 September 06; China moved 1 month to 01 August 03; India advanced 2 weeks and 4 days to 08 December 02.

Employment 4th – still current in all categories.

Employment 5th – still current in all categories.  

Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Driving the Economy

Thanks to Charles Tran at CreditDonkey for this great graphic.

Infographic: Immigrant Entrepreneurs
Courtesy of: CreditDonkey

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.
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