Capitol Hill’s knee-jerk reaction to problem solving is to call for more immigration, issue more non-immigrant visas or liberalize existing immigration laws. Even the jobs crisis, according to the Obama administration, requires more immigrants.
Understanding the logic behind calling for more immigration no matter what is tough. If you have, as the United States does, too many people and not enough jobs, why would you add more people?
The answer, at least according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services director Alejandro Mayorkas is that the new wave of people they propose to invite into the United States will be high tech entrepreneurs who will launch start-up companies that will in turn, presto, create tens of thousands of jobs.
In her Tuesday press release, Napolitano said: “The United States must continue to attract the best and brightest from around the world to invest their talents, skills and ideas to grow our economy and create American jobs.” Mayorkas added: “Current immigration laws support foreign talent who will invest their capital, create new jobs for American workers and dedicate their exceptional talent to the growth of our nation’s economy.”
What Napolitano and Mayorkas are specifically referring to is relaxing the standards for two visas already on the books, the EB-2 and the EB-5.
Among Napolitano’s initiatives is a plan to make it easier for some foreigners to qualify for legal permanent residence, or green cards, if they can demonstrate their work will be in the U.S. national interest. The changes will also include a way for entrepreneurs to obtain work visas without a job offer from an established company. Previously, immigrant entrepreneurs must have had a specific job offer to qualify for an employment-based immigrant visa or green card, such as in the category for individuals with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences and business. [U.S. to Assist Immigrant Job Creators, by Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2011]
The new conditions have plenty of wiggle-room for fraud from fast talking “entrepreneurs” who are anxious to become American citizens. Even if it all works out as swimmingly as Napolitano and Mayorkas predict, it would take decades for their plan for expanded visa policies to take positive effect unlike, for example, the immediate benefit that restricting immigration would have on job creation.
Not surprisingly, the call for more EB-2 and EB-5 visas comes as demand for H-1B visas has fallen. As of July 22, USCIS had received approximately 21,600 H-1B petitions out of 65,000 available for the 2012 fiscal year. The agency had received approximately 26,000 such applications for the same period last year.
In other words, instead of letting the drop in H-1B visa requests stand as an indication of a soft job market that doesn’t require more foreign-born workers, the White House makes another category of non-immigrant visas easier to obtain so it can continue the immigration flow.
In Washington, D.C. that’s what represents immigration policy: never less, always more and don’t ever let the conditions on the ground, like 9.2 percent unemployment, get in the way.