Legislative Update: 10/18/2016
Key House Democrats Plotting 2017 Amnesty Push
Two of the biggest proponents for open borders in the House of Representatives are already plotting an amnesty push for 2017. According to a senior Democratic aide, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)—who is currently the ranking member on the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee—and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) have held “preliminary discussions” about crafting new “comprehensive” immigration reform legislation. (Morning Consult, Oct. 13, 2016) While these pro-amnesty Members of Congress have not yet released specifics, the bill is expected to contain mass amnesty and significant increases to legal immigration similar to the rejected Gang of Eight bill from the 113th Congress. (Id.)
In the event that Donald Trump loses the general election, these key House Democrats plan on pressuring Republicans to pass amnesty by claiming Trump’s immigration position led to his defeat. “There are Republican women and men who want to get this done,” claimed Gutierrez. (Id.) “They’re going to have the ability to turn around to their caucus and to say, ‘How much longer do we want to just push away, push aside a growing immigrant Latino community in the United States?’” (Id.) This is the same approach taken in 2013 after Mitt Romney failed to defeat Barack Obama in 2012. Despite the fact that Romney’s immigration stance had no impact on his loss, pro-amnesty advocates from both parties embraced this narrative ahead of the 2013 amnesty push. (See FAIR's Republicans Have an Immigration Problem - and Amnesty Won't Solve It; FAIR Press Release, Oct. 24, 2013) The Republican National Committee went so far as to issue a report telling its members they must support “comprehensive immigration reform” in order to win future elections. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Mar. 18, 2013) In fact, mass amnesty was (and is) widely unpopular with the American public who significantly opposed the Gang of Eight bill that failed to become law.
Even though Republicans are expected to keep control of the House, pro-amnesty GOP members appear eager to push through a mass amnesty guest worker bill. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) said he believes “comprehensive” immigration reform is “doable” in the next Congress, regardless of the breakdown of power. (Morning Consult, Oct. 13, 2016) “It is politically difficult and it is technically complex, however I think it’s doable. And again, the issue is not going to go away.” (Id.)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that it is “temporarily” suspending immigration enforcement for illegal aliens living in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. As Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas were bracing to be hit by the powerful hurricane, a joint U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statement announced that they would be focusing on protecting people who were evacuating the area and there would be “no immigration enforcement initiatives including the use of checkpoints for immigration enforcement purposes in impacted areas.” (See DHS Announcement, Oct. 6, 2016) The announcement also encouraged local law enforcement officers to ignore detainer requests saying, “If a state or local law enforcement agency determines that individuals in their custody should be transferred or released due to Matthew, the state or local law enforcement agency should not decline to do so solely on the basis of an immigration detainer issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP). (Id.)
The Obama administration’s response to Hurricane Matthew has even broader implications for Haitians living in the U.S. unlawfully. On September 22, Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that his agency would “resume removals of Haitian national in accordance with our existing enforcement priorities.” (See Johnson Statement on Haiti, Oct. 12, 2106) Yet, on October 12 Secretary Johnson reversed course, saying that all “removal flights have been suspended temporarily” because of the damage the hurricane caused Haiti. (Id.) Secretary Johnson insisted that he intends work with the Haitian government to “resume deportations as soon as possible.” (Id.)
This is just the latest example of special treatment for Haitian illegal aliens. Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Haitians have taken advantage of the Obama administration’s “special immigration dispensation that allowed them to stay in the United States” because it was “too dangerous to send them back to unstable conditions.” (See L.A. Times, Oct. 12, 2016) While many Haitians resettled in Brazil to work after the earthquake, its recent economic collapse caused thousands of Haitians to trek northwards to the U.S. to take advantage of the Obama administration’s Haitian non-deportation policy. (See Fox News Latino, Oct. 12, 2016) Not surprisingly, this influx created a logjam at the U.S. – Mexican border and began to overwhelm Mexico’s migrant shelters. (Id.)
Predictably, open borders proponents in Congress are using the hurricane to urge President Obama to allow all Haitian illegal aliens to remain in the country indefinitely. In a letter to the President signed by 50 Members of Congress, they wrote “to express our strong opposition to the resumption of non-criminal deportations to Haiti and urge you to reconsider this decision.” (Congressional Letter to President Obama, Oct. 5, 2016) The letter continues, “Given Haiti’s vulnerable state and lingering challenges, we respectfully request that you reconsider this decision and ensure that undocumented Haitians are provided full and fair asylum hearings, effective assistance of counsel, and information on all forms of relief.” (Id.)
Hewlett Packard Announces More Layoffs While Hiring Foreign Workers
Hewlett Packard (HP) recently announced that the company will cut up to 4,000 American jobs over the next three years, while continuing to hire foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. (Business Insider, Oct. 13, 2016) This new wave of layoffs comes in addition to the 55,000 jobs HP has cut since 2012. (Id.) During this time, HP has filed over 2,000 labor condition applications for H-1B visas, ranking 59 among all visa sponsors. (See Hewlett Packard Visa Sponsor Statistics) The computer company joins a long list of companies who have decided to pursue white-collar layoffs while outsourcing through the H-1B program: Disney, Deloitte, the University of California system, Facebook, Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Toys R Us, Caterpillar, and New York Life.
Congress created the H-1B visa program in 1990 to allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers, purported on a "temporary" basis, for "specialty occupations." The visa is most commonly associated with "high-skilled" jobs, including those in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. (See Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) § 101(a)(H)(15)) The law was written to appear to provide protections for American workers by requiring companies to pay H-1B workers the "prevailing wage" for their job and not adversely affect the working conditions of American workers "similarly employed." (INA Section 212 (n)(1))
However, these protections are misleading because of the way Congress defined the "prevailing wage." According to the statute, the "prevailing wage" is calculated using a governmental survey that provides "at least four levels of wages commensurate with experience, education, and the level of supervision." (INA § 212(p)(4)) This language allows the employer to determine the prevailing wage based on the position description rather than the H-1B worker's actual skill level. Therefore, employers like HP can legally replace Americans with cheaper foreign workers by claiming that the H-1B position is different than the displaced American worker's (regardless of actual job responsibilities) and not in violation of the "similarly employed" provision.
Chicago Mayor Announces Illegal Alien ID Program
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Clerk Susana Mendoza announced Wednesday their plans to launch a municipal ID program for illegal alien residents of Chicago. (Chicago Tonight, Oct. 14, 2016) The program is expected to cost the city at least $1 million to implement and is included in the Mayor’s budget for 2017. (Id.)
The City has not released any details on what an applicant must provide to receive an ID, but City Clerk Susana Mendoza made clear that all Chicago residents would be eligible to receive the ID, regardless of immigration status. (Id.)Without requiring proof of a social security number or lawful presence in the United States, the ID card will not meet minimal standards set under the federal REAL ID Act to be accepted for federal purposes, including entering a federal building or boarding an airplane, when implemented.
Chicago is one of a handful of cities implementing municipal ID programs to appease the illegal alien lobby. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 13, 2016; Immigrationreform.com, June 10, 2016; FAIR Legislative Update, July 8, 2014) Indeed, identification cards help illegal aliens residing in the region escape the enforcement of immigration law. By giving illegal aliens documentation to produce to law enforcement, officers are discouraged from contacting federal immigration authorities to verify the true identity of the individual. Without such engagement, ICE is does not have an opportunity to initiate enforcement actions against potentially deportable aliens.
Opponents of the ID program also expressed concerns that these identity cards might pose security risks that will put citizens in danger. Municipal ID programs that do not require proof of lawful presence in the United States or identity through secure documentation often do little to prove an individual’s true identity and often facilitate identity fraud in communities.