Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 07052060 (posted May. 20, 2007)"
The Senate "Grand Bargain" bill that will be debated on the Senate floor starting Monday, May 21, contains several unacceptable and unworkable provisions that must be addressed before any bill is passed in the Senate. While the "bargain" certainly contains many important and positive provisions-broad legalization, family backlog clearance, Agjobs, DREAM Act-these provisions cannot be accepted as a "trade-off" for devastating provisions that would harm families and workers for decades to come.
1. Decimation of Family Immigration: The bill eliminates current family preference categories and limits future family immigration to spouses and minor children of citizens and permanents residents, caps parents of citizens at 40,000, and makes no provision for those who have been in the family backlog for two years or less. This legislation flies in the face of other reform proposals which increase the 2A category or place it the immediate relative category
2. Decimation of Employment-Based Immigration: The bill eliminates current employment-based immigration categories and puts in their place a new "merit-based" point system with totally inadequate prospective numbers (approximately 140,000 per year until the family backlogs are cleared over an 8 year period). The new "point system" would be significantly skewed toward highly educated, English-speaking professionals, with few visas for essential workers or adult children or siblings of citizens. The point system contains no provisions for multinational managers, extraordinary ability aliens, outstanding professors or researchers, or those doing work in the national interest. There would be no labor market test to protect native-born workers.
3. Lack of Path to Permanent Status for Future Flow Essential and Highly Skilled Workers: The new Y temporary worker program would create a constantly churning workforce, as it provides only a two-year nonimmigrant visa and requires that workers leave the U.S. for one year before being eligible to renew their work visa for a subsequent 2-year period. There is no "bridge" to allow essential and highly skilled but non-degreed workers a path to eventual permanent lawful status. There is a carve-out of 10,000 green cards per year for "essential" Y workers, but it appears they could not seek a permanent visa while in the United States.
4. Lack of Adequate Future Green Cards for Families and Workers: The future legal immigration program (after 8 years of backlog clearance) provided for in the Senate bill contemplates a legal immigration system composed of 380,000 work visas and 127,000 family-based visas, plus unlimited visas for spouses and minor children of citizens, and some number of refugee visas. These numbers are totally inadequate. All economic projections and assessments of family unity needs point to the need for at least 1.8 million visas per year in the future. The provisions of the current Senate bill guarantee that new backlogs will grow immediately, and that undocumented immigration will continue. This is no solution.
5. Obstacles to Legalization: The legalization provisions in the Senate bill require currently undocumented workers to register for a temporary work permit, and then, before receiving final lawful permanent status in 8-13 years, travel to their home countries and file applications with the U.S. consulate there. The cost for a single Z visa holder to legalize would be at least $8,500, and could be as high as $11,500. Z holders would not be permitted to sponsor spouses or minor children who are outside the U.S. as of January 2007. While the legalization program provisions are broad and include a generous cut-off date of January 2007, the obstacles inherent in too-tight deadlines, costs and required contact with overseas consulates are obstacles that must be addressed to assure that all who qualify for legalization can obtain permanent status.