Each one of us has heard many say that “We are a nation of immigrants”. But no matter what our personal belief is, we all acknowledge that immigration is a complicated and difficult subject.
Even though people tend to use these interchangeably, we believe that there is a very important distinction between “pro-immigration” and “pro-immigrant”.
Immigration Voice is a “pro-immigrant” organization. That means, our goal is to have immigrants treated fairly, have certain basic rights, so they are not exploited by employers, lawyers, and other institutions. This also helps to prevent depressing wages or the displacement of US workers.
We will not (and never have), advocated to bring in more new immigrants from outside of the United States in the current flawed system. Rather, we want that when immigrants come here (or when immigrants are brought here), that they have certain basic rights, which allows them their pursuit of happiness, without interfering with the working conditions of US workers.
Although the two words sound similar, “pro-immigrant” is significantly different from “pro-immigration”.
“Pro-immigration” means when someone wants to bring in more immigrants from outside of the United States.
“Pro-immigrant” means to make sure that immigrants are treated fairly and they have certain basic rights so employers are unable to exploit them.
To put things in perspective here is what we have observed:
Immigration Lawyers are “pro-immigration” because they want more new immigrants to be brought into the United States. New immigrants coming into the US mean more business for them. So their position is self-serving. And generally, Immigration Lawyers are “anti-immigrant” because they don’t want skilled immigrants to get certain basic rights, including the right to their own paperwork. We think that Immigration Lawyers believe that if immigrants have more control over the process, then fewer employers will be incentivized to hire more immigrants, which will result in reduced business for immigration lawyers. For a long time, Immigration Lawyers have turned a blind eye to the exploitation and abuse of immigrants by their employers. So Immigration Lawyers are “pro-Immigration” but “anti-immigrant”. But when Immigration Lawyers go to Congress, they pretend as if they speak for and on behalf of “immigrants”, which is not the case, because they only speak for themselves. Immigration Lawyers and their organizations push for more complicated laws and regulations to make sure that everyone who has anything to do with immigration is forced to hire lawyers. That is the primary goal of the lobbying done by immigration lawyers.
Immigration Voice is a “pro-immigrant” organization. We want immigrants to have certain rights including the ability to change employer with as much ease as everyone else in the system so that immigrant employees are not held captives to their employers. Immigration Voice is a “pro-immigration” organization, but only for a system that is “pro-immigrant” and “pro-US workers”. We have always held that new immigrants should not be brought into the current flawed system because the current system of H-1B and L-1 visa system makes immigrant employees captives of their employers, allowing exploitation of immigrants, who come here to seek freedom and start a new life. This also leads to wage depression and displacement of Americans, which is widely documented. Recent events at companies like Disney & Southern California Edison received widespread media coverage.
A system that is not “pro-immigrant” and that brings in more new immigrants will end up hurting America, Americans, and the new immigrants. That system may work great for a handful of employers and immigration lawyers (as is the case right now), but in the long run, such a system is doomed to fail because it defies the laws of nature.
Companies usually create front groups in Washington to push for their skilled immigration agenda. They usually hire big-name professors to do “research” and “studies” that have a predetermined outcome. These studies are all paid-for and used by a front group of companies to lobby and push for their agenda. Companies want more workers and they use bumper sticker slogans like “if you oppose H-1B/L-1 visa then you are against immigrants”, “H-1B/L-1 immigrants come in and create jobs”, “if you oppose H-1B/L1 visa then you don’t want the next entrepreneur to come and create companies” etc. All of which are mostly nonsense because immigrants on H-1B/L-1 visa cannot change jobs. 99.9% of H-1B/L-1 visa holders are unable to start their own business. Almost all of the businesses started by immigrants are after they get their green cards. But companies distort facts about the businesses started by immigrants to push for their H-1B/L-1 agenda. Companies have deep pockets. Apart from extensively lobbying, they conduct several fundraisers and other initiatives to influence policymaking. The whole purpose is to ensure that laws/policies cannot be changed to somehow allow skilled immigrants to slip away from their grip. They push for regulations to deny their employees copies of their own paperwork file because as per the current system, immigrants require copies of their own paperwork file to change employers. Companies push for laws that will add workers to the system on the pretext that they can’t find more workers here. In essence, companies want to increase immigration, but they don’t want immigrants to get certain basic rights. This is applicable to both, large US tech companies and Indian outsourcing companies.
Immigration Voice is the largest non-profit grassroots organization of skilled immigrants on H-1B and L-1 visas in the United States. We are fiercely opposed to the current H-1B visa program and L-1 visa program because it causes exploitation of skilled immigrants and displacement of US workers. Living in the trenches we know all too well how the system is abused by employers and immigration lawyers to exploit immigrants. Usually, immigration lawyers not only give immigration advice to employers but give business advice to companies on how to use immigrant employee’s immigration status as long term employee retention insurance policy. The whole system is stacked against the immigrant employee and US workers.
To make it simple to understand who stands where on the overall immigration, here is a table that breaks down different positions (see mission page). This table (at the bottom of the mission page) has been created based on our experience working with each of these groups and based on our observation about where different groups stand on the overall issues of skilled immigration.