Thursday, August 13, 2020

Coronavirus: Companies Lobby Trump's DHS to Preserve Huge Foreign Workforce

The immigration lawyers who import H-1B visa workers for U.S. companies are urging President Donald Trump’s deputies to extend the expiring work permits for hundreds of thousands of foreign contract workers during the nation’s unprecedented economic meltdown.

The pleas come after the GOP-majority Senate shut down a push by the Democrat-run House to extend the deadline for many types of expiring visas and work permits. The permits are used by employers to replace Americans in U.S. jobs with hundreds of thousands of foreign contract workers, including H-1B graduates.

If Trump’s administration agrees to extend the deadlines, it would prevent Americans from filling the visa workers’ jobs during the economic recovery.

If the administration does not change the deadline, it would implement Trump’s Inauguration Day promise to enforce a “Hire American” policy and would steer hundreds of thousands of American graduates and blue-collar workers into jobs just before the 2020 election.

The “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has the power to extend those deadlines with a simple website notice, a stroke of the digital pen,” said a March 24 op-ed by Leon Rodriguez, who was the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency under former President Barack Obama.

In his Washington Post op-ed, Rodriguez portrayed the huge giveaway to business groups as a modest, life-saving measure that would “save thousands of lives, potentially, and reduce the risk of people falling ill from the novel coronavirus.”

He continued:

USCIS has the power with just a quickly drafted notice to save people simply by extending for the duration of the pandemic any deadlines that will affect foreign nationals currently in the United States. This would include granting automatic extensions for those whose status will expire during the national emergency, and for a reasonable period thereafter; excusing the late filing of change-of-status requests; and granting “deferred action” status for those whose status will be expiring but who otherwise have no legal avenue for extension.

All of these measures have already been requested by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Society for Human Resource Management and other groups. Commendably, USCIS has relaxed certain “wet” signature requirements ordinarily applicable; beyond that, however, it has been silent as to its intentions.

The Washington Post’s article did not mention that Rodriguez founded the immigration business at Seyfarth Shaw, a boutique law and advocacy firm in Washington, D.C.

Rodriguez’s March 24 plea came as House and Senate leaders negotiated an economic rescue package.

The final package, announced March 25, apparently excluded House language that would have extended the visa deadlines.

The House language was backed by the business groups who have hired the visa workers in place of Americans. But the visa worker programs are deeply unpopular among at least two vital voting blocs — Trump’s voters and swing-vote college graduates.

The second draft of the House Democrats' coronavirus bill keeps a hidden bailout for big biz: Longer visas for their imported workforces.
That would cut costs for Fortune 500.
IOW, as good as cash in a suitcase.
Too bad for unorganized US graduates. #H1Bhttps://t.co/zYRewDpJ8g

— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) March 25, 2020

College-trained reporters at the WashingtonPostrarely mention the huge visa worker economy, which includes roughly 900,000 H-1B workers. The newspaper is owned by Jeff Bezons, whose Amazoncompanies import many college-trained foreign workers via the H-1B and Occupational Practical Training programs.

But the U.S.-India outsourcing economy has lowered American white-collar salaries nationwide and muffled American high-tech innovation by replacing at least 1.5 million American graduates with imported blocs of compliant, legally powerless,Indian and Chinese workers.

Rodriguez’s op-ed notes the immigration lawyers’ demand for a deadline extension. “The need to suspend and extend deadlines is urgent,” says a March 23 AILA letter to Ken Cuccinelli, the current director of the USCIS agency.

USCIS’ inaction on the suspension and extension of statutory and regulatory deadlines poses a serious and immediate threat to foreign nationals, U.S. employers and the attorneys attempting to adequately represent them …

….

unless USCIS adopts the measures outlined in AILA’s March 16 and March 23 letters by this Friday, March 27, 2020, AILA will have no choice but to view USCIS’s inaction as a deliberate attempt to use the current crisis to paralyze the immigration bar and jeopardize the lawful status of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding foreign nationals.. Failure to implement these measures will only further aggravate a dire situation and we will have no choice but to explore alternative measures to compel such action, including, but not limited to, litigation against the agency.

The agency has not responded to the letter, an AILA official told Breitbart News March 25.

The AILA letter was partly intended to help immigration lawyers who find themselves unable to professionally help their clients because of the nationwide curbs on meetings and travel, the AILA official said. It is also designed to help visa workers and legal immigrants who may miss critical deadlines, he said.

“What we’re asking the agency to do has been done in almost every G7 country … if you’re here, [you get] automatic extension of status, somewhere between 90 and 102 days,'” until the routine process can restart, he said.

The letter was sent to Cuccinelli at USCIS, not to Chad Wolf, who is the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security agency.

However, AILA’s request is unlikely to considered by Wolf. He is a former lobbyist for NASSCOM, which is the trade association created by U.S. and Indian investors to champion the U.S.-India outsourcing economy.

NASSCOM has additional lobbyists, according to federal records in Washington, D.C. They have included John Engler, the former GOP governor of Michigan, and Spencer Abraham, a former GOP senator from Michigan. Abraham lost his Senate seat in 2000 after opposing a pro-American immigration reform. Since then, the state’s immigrant population has helped elect Democrats to Abraham’s former seat.

American professionals have organized to lobby against the H-1B program via the American Workers Coalition, U.S. TechWorkers, and ProUSworkers, and White Collar Workers of America.

The new TechsUnite.US site was created to help U.S. graduates anonymously collaborate while shielded by encryption.

In turn, these groups are backed up by a few sites that track the scale and location of the outsourcing industry in each legislator’s district. The sites include SAITJ.org and H1BFacts.com. “The scope of this thing is really unbelievable,” said one researcher.

Other sites document the conflicts created by diverse foreign business practices in the United States. The non-political MyVisaJobs.com site also provides much information about H-1B outsourcing and green card rewards in multiple industries.

US graduates are being fired by US companies that employ H-1B visa workers & H-1B subcontractors.
So far, there's nothing in the draft coronavirus $ bills to require companies which get taxpayer $s to reduce visa workers before firing Americans.#H1Bhttps://t.co/sQL3FLHVrA

— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) March 24, 2020

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at .

Neil Munro

More From: Neil Munro, Donald Trump