Comment: EB5 H2B Doctors DACA

Omnibus Appropriations Bills have frequently been Congress's favorite vehicles for major immigration legislation in the past decade and more. After several years of stop-gap Continuing Resolutions, Congress is finally moving an Appropriations package - the Omnibus - and immigration reform is in the agenda, together with hundreds of other issues. Omnibus Appropriations bills are "must pass" legislation, the votes for the current package are likely to be 2/3rds in favor from both parties in both Chambers of Congress as seen in the votes for the underlying Budget bill last month - explaining why hundreds of otherwise unrelated matters end up in the 1,500+ page instrument. Here's a rundown on where immigration stands in the current Omnibus, voting expected in Congress as early as Sunday - EB5, H2B, Doctors, DACA.

  • EB5: Successive revisions of EB5 reform language have been floated in recent days, having in common the net effect of suspending the EB5 RC program for a year - the word in the bills is "moratorium" and the timing is cumulative over several provisions cleverly spaced out for USCIS to exercise its unique brand of delay over. We estimate that 80% of industry participants (developers, attorneys, everybody) would exit the EB5 field if this language were to become law. Should this bill be enacted, the biggest losers would be Senators Grassley and Leahy, who would be revealed as chumps for making rural EB5 projects even more disadvantaged than they currently are, carve outs notwithstanding - see letter from the CEO of a rural project as an example of the bill's effects (the writer has a distinguished record as seen on his wikipedia page).
  • H2B: As in recent years, the H2B industry has found well placed champions in Congress, and H2B benefits appear to be in the bill.
  • Doctors: Perhaps the most widely supported changes to immigration law concern Doctors, based on the numbers of co-sponsors in Congress, and the fact that most of the changes sought are technical in nature, and will in fact help the agencies directly involved in this area. Should Congress find it possible to include other immigration provisions but not Physicians, the question would be whether Congress is 100% in the pocket of Big Money, or merely 90%.
  • DACA: The biggest issue, of course, is the Dreamers, whose political skills continue to improve, and who are following a proud American tradition in lobbying Congress for redress. These patriotic innocents appear at the moment the concern solely of the President himself, who has reportedly blinked on his previous demands of the sun, moon and stars in exchange for permitting the DACA recipients to stay and work lawfully -, Mr. Trump reportedly wants merely three years of wall funding for three years of DACA benefits. He is being opposed by both parties in Congress, the GOP since they hold the Dreamers hostage over draconian cuts to legal immigration, and the Democrats who recently tasted blood in the Pennsylvania special election to Congress (where a House district flipped to the Dems, having gone to Trump in 2016 by a 20% margin), and are anticipating a wave giving them control of the House in November, leaving them with little incentive to compromise. Of course, Mr. Trump changes his mind faster than the wind changes direction - so we may well have millions of Dreamers pinning their hopes on the Supremes for their American rights.

What is NOT on the agenda on immigration is also revealing of Congressional priorities - any reining in of agencies such as USCIS and ICE who have declared war on immigrants in the USA, and who regard these essential Americans-to-be as threats to America. Congress appears determined to stay in the 20th century on immigration, and will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century - but that is for another day - at the moment, the four issues above appear to be the only ones on the Appropriations table. Stay tuned.

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