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Immigratin Voice Testimony at House Judiciary Committee
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The issues, in a nutshell

1. Green Card Delays and Backlogs :

The Employment based green card system is completely broken due to excessive delays and backlogs in petitions of nearly half a million highly skilled workers who are certified by US Government to be doing a job that no US citizen is willing, qualified or able to do. The delays in obtained permanent residency are due to 2 reasons: Numerical caps on employment-based green cards and processing delays in adjudication of files. Today the system takes anywhere between 6-12 years to grant Green cards to some of the best and brightest of the world who have chosen America as their future home. 

These future Americans are facing huge quality of life issues and their employers are facing difficulty in attracting more of the best and brightest of the world due to the broken system. The system prevents these workers from accepting promotions and switching jobs for the time-period it takes to process their files. By stagnating career growth and suffocating the creativity of the most innovative and technical minds of the world, America is creating a class of future Americans, who would see no career growth for 6-12 years and making under-achievers of these individuals.

The pressure on these individuals to go back to their home countries are increasingly each day as many world economies, especially India and China are booming and they also happen to be the country of origin of more than half of these skilled foreign-born workforce. If America delays reform of the broken system of employment based immigration, the pressure on these individuals to go back would neutralize the incentive to wait here and tough it out with the broken system. It would result in a reverse brain drain where the talent and human capital flows from developed west to the burgeoning Asian economies. The reverse brain drain would exacerbate the effects of overseas outsourcing on economy. These future Americans have waited for reform for more than 2 years but congress hasn’t reformed the system yet. The fight for the best and brightest in the world is America’s to lose.   

2. The Per-Country rationing of green cards that exacerbates the delays :

Today, the employment based skilled immigrants face more backlogs if they are from India, China, Mexico or Philippines than what backlogs they would face if they were born anywhere but these 4 countries. This is due to the fact that green cards from the annual quota are rationed at 7% per country. Unused visas from the remaining countries that don’t use the 7% allocated visas are mostly never allotted to these 4 countries that have the highest number of scientists, engineers and technology workers willing to make America their future home. It is discriminatory to have laws that subject immigrants from 4 nations to more backlogs and the resulting hardship from such backlogs.

America has had per-country ceilings since decades on family based and diversity-lottery based visas and it makes sense to have uniform distribution of visas to countries where the basis for immigration is family relationship and family reunification. However, in the employment based immigration system, the petitioner is the employer who wants the retain the employee and facilitate employee retention based on skills, knowledge, education and talent. Employability has nothing to do country of birth. We do not allow employers to discriminate hiring based on their nationality or country of origin. Therefore, the employment-based immigration, which is a derivative benefit of employment, should also be free from rationing based on nationality or country of birth.


The Organization

Immigration Voice is a non-profit organization (501 (c) (4)) . We act as an interface between this set of immigrants and the legislative and executive branches of the government.

Immigration Voice has hired Patton Boggs, a top public affairs firm, to help us reach our goals. Patton Boggs brings a bipartisan, multi-disciplinary approach to helping clients tackle public affairs challenges. The firm’s government relations and communications professionals have a strong understanding of the White House, the U.S. Congress, Senate, Federal agencies, advocacy groups and the media. The firm and its members are consistently recognized as among Washington's most influential and effective by various publications. 

Immigration Voice is a non-profit organization. All of our volunteers are unpaid. All monies collected by Immigration Voice go towards grassroots efforts and obtaining advice from our strategic counsel Patton Boggs. As a 501(c)(4) organization, Immigration Voice is obligated to file tax returns with the IRS and have its accounts audited by a CPA.

Immigration Voice upholds the right of the people of the United States to impose immigration laws for the advancement of the nation. Immigration Voice acts within the framework of the constitution of the United States.

Our big initiative currently is towards addressing delays and other flaws in the employment based green card process. Immigration Voice has hired Patton Boggs, a top public affairs firm, to help us reach our goals.


Mission Statement

The mission of Immigration Voice is to organize grassroots efforts and resources to solve several problems in the employment based green card process including (a) delays due to Retrogression (visa number unavailability for certain employment-based categories) (b) delays due to USCIS processing backlogs and (c) delays due to Labor Certification backlogs. We will work to remove these and other flaws by supporting changes to immigration law for high-skilled legal employment-based immigrants. High-skilled legal immigrants strengthen the United States' economy and help maintain American technological superiority.


History of the formation of Immigration Voice

Immigration Voice was founded by a group of volunteers who were closely following the Senate debate in November of 2005 that aimed to provide relief from green card delays. Those reform provisions failed in the House-Senate conference in December. It was a huge disappointment for nearly 500,000 legal skilled immigrants stuck in backlogs. During this time, Aman Kapoor (aka WaldenPond)  an active poster at the forums announced a conference call to start this non-profit organization with the objective to end retrogression by creating representation for the community that had no representation. After an initial lukewarm response, few other active posters joined the team. Thus was born Immigration Voice.



Immigration Voice contributions to the debate

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Immigration Voice Position on H-1B and L-1 Visas

Each one of us have heard a lot of people 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. We believe that there is very important distinction between “pro-immigration” and “pro-immigrant”. Immigration Voice is a “pro-immigrant” organization i.e. our goal is that immigrants to be treated fairly, immigrants have certain basic rights, so we are not exploited by employers, lawyers and other institutions, which also help to prevent depressing wages or displacement of US workers. We will not (never have) advocate to bring in more new immigrants from outside of 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 pursuit of their 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: 1.) Immigration Lawyers are “pro-immigration” because they want more new immigrants to be brought into United States. New immigrants coming into US means more business for them. So their position is self-serving.

And generally, Immigration Lawyers are “anti-immigrants” because they don’t want skilled immigrants to get certain basic rights, including right to their own paperwork, We think that Immigration Lawyers believe that if immigrants have more control over the process, then less employers will be incentivized to hire more immigrants, which will result in reduced business for immigration lawyers. For long time, Immigration Lawyers have given 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 are forced to hire lawyers. That is the primary goal of the lobbying by immigration lawyers.

2.) 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 immigrant or perspective employees are not held captives to their employers.

Immigration Voice is a “pro-immigration” organization for a system which 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. Some examples are – Disney, Southern California etc.

A system which is not “pro-immigrant” and that bring in more new immigrants will end up hurting America, Americans, and the new immigrants. That system may work great for 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 is unnatural and it defies laws of nature.

3.) 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 predetermined outcome. These studies are all paid-for and used by 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 non-sense 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 business started by immigrants are after they get 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. They do fundraisers to line the pocket of lawmakers in some way or the other. In some cases, to influence policy making, companies offer jobs to sons/daughters/close relatives of lawmakers. The whole purpose is to ensure that laws/policies cannot be changed to somehow allow skilled immigrants to slip away from their grip. Companies push for regulations to deny their own employees companies of their own paper work 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 in 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. Companies and Indian outsourcing companies.

Inference Immigration Voice is a largest non-profit grassroots organization of skilled immigrants on H-1B and L-1 visa in 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 immigration lawyers 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 immigrant employee and US workers. To make it simple to understand who stands where on the overall immigration, here is table that breaks down different positions.

 

National Advisory Board

Neil Patel Neil Patel
Former Domestic & Economic Policy Advisor to VP
Robert Hoffman Robert Hoffman
Senior Vice President of ITI
Ilya Shapiro Ilya Shapiro
Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, CATO Institute

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