Bill Eliminating Per-Country Caps Reintroduced in House
FAIR Take | June 2021
Reps. John Curtis (R-Utah) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 3648, the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act. The EAGLE Act is yet another iteration of the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” a bill that would eliminate per-country caps for immigrant visas and subsequently ensure that only Indian and Chinese nationals dominate immigration into the United States for the foreseeable future.
While the bill’s name changed, the underlying policy remains the same. Under current law, no country’s nationals can comprise more than 7 percent of any visa category. The existing caps are designed to increase diversity in employment-based immigration, which reflects the long-standing American priority of welcoming talented immigrants from across the globe. The EAGLE Act seeks to remove these caps entirely for employment-based immigrant visas, while also raising the cap on family-preference visas from 7 percent to 15 percent.
Under the EAGLE Act, Indian and Chinese nationals applying for employment visas would not face caps. Before, nationals from other countries could receive employment visas because no country could fill more than 7 percent of any employment visa category. H.R. 3648 erases that boundary, thereby allowing the hundreds of thousands of applicants from India and China to dominate the employment categories and limiting applicants from other nations.
The group U.S. Techworkers noted that the new House bill also includes provisions first introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in last year’s Senate version of the bill. Senator Durbin chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and would lead the markup of the Senate version should the House pass the bill. The Judiciary Committee also includes Senator Mike Lee and other Republican supporters of this proposal, including John Cornyn (R-Texas).
If signed into law, this bill would profoundly change legal immigration to the United States for generations to come; and few, if any, individuals from countries other than India or China would be able to immigrate to the United States on an employment-based visa. Our immigration system is not designed to benefit only one or two countries.
Prior bills passed the House of Representatives before languishing in the Senate. In the House, the bill passed by a vote of 365-65, with 140 Republicans joining 224 Democrats in support while just 57 Republicans and eight Democrats opposed. Given the current composition of the House, this bill could likely pass both a committee and floor vote, albeit by closer margins. The bill’s outlook is unclear in the Senate: prominent Republicans support the bill, but it is unclear whether that support could surpass the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster threat.
In addition to Reps. Lofgren and Curtis, the EAGLE Act has 18 co-sponsors: 16 Democrats and two Republicans. The two Republicans are Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) who voted with FAIR’s position 92 and 42 percent of the time, respectively, in the 116th Congress.