David North's blog

The Little Agency that Won't (SEVP) Needs a Literate, Honest Budget Writer

By David North, March 20, 2014

I am not sure that I am a fan of deconstructionism, a school of literary criticism that I frankly do not understand very well, but if it means very careful scrutiny of a piece of writing, well, that is exactly what the proposed budget for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program needs, and needs badly.

SEVP is the sleepy government agency that is supposed to manage a million or so foreign students in the nation. Some of these students will become leaders of their nations several decades hence; many will return to their home countries after (one hopes) a good experience in America. Still others will stay on as immigrants, some will become illegal immigrants and the odd one or two have been known to fly airplanes into our tallest buildings. It is quite a mix. Read more...

Foreign Teachers Displacing American Ones Play the Victims

By David North, March 18, 2014

Foreign teachers in the Garland, Texas, schools yelled "foul" when they could not turn a temporary economic benefit (a short-term job in the United States) into a permanent economic bonanza, i.e., a green card.

The Garland Independent School District, like many K-12 institutions in Texas, had decided it would rather hire foreign school teachers through the H-1B program than hire from the huge collection of unemployed American teachers. That general practice was the subject of an earlier CIS report. Read more...

Should Government Reward Law-breakers for Having More Children?

By David North, March 17, 2014

Should the U.S. government give a really valuable reward to law-breakers for having more children?

Should our government's policy be to encourage the arrival of more such children even though they would, inevitably, be poor and many of them illegitimate?

That is exactly what would happen if one notion being pressed on the Obama administration were to become law (or practice.) Read more...

Updates on Visa Mills, EB-5 in South Dakota, and China City

By David North, March 14, 2014

There has been a series of recent developments about some of the visa mills and EB-5 projects that CIS has reported on earlier. For instance:

Visa Mill No. 1. Herguan University, the California private-for-profit once raided by ICE on suspicion of being a visa mill, had a couple of setbacks in recent weeks, though it is still allowed by ICE to issue the I-20 documents that lead to student visas (F-1s) for aliens. Read more...

USCIS Nominee Rodriquez Skates Through Senate Confirmation Hearing

By David North, March 12, 2014

Using bland responses and touches of humor, the president's nominee to be head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Leon Rodriquez, skated over what could have been turbulent waters at a Senate confirmation hearing this morning.

Rodriguez (a lawyer and son of Cuban refugees) was nominated to succeed Alejandro Mayorkas (a lawyer and son of Cuban refugees) as the head of that agency after Mayorkas became the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Read more...

GAO Worries about a Foreign Worker Population — Recent Students

By David North, March 12, 2014

The good news is that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has caused the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to pay attention to a problematic foreign worker population — alien recent college graduates.

The bad news is that GAO does not seem to understand how many of the 150,000 or so young foreign workers in the program of interest are screwing things up for young and old Americans alike. Or how the program in question gives billions in tax breaks to undeserving employers — those who are paid by our government to hire recent foreign college grads rather than American ones. More on that later. Read more...

Two Tidbits of Goods News from the Third Circuit and from USCIS

By David North, March 10, 2014

Sometimes there is actual good news on an immigration issue, and, more rarely, as today, we have two such items!

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a U.S. District Court ruling and thus has given new life to the Department of Labor's efforts to increase wages for the routinely under-paid H-2B workers, and newly released statistics show that USCIS was tougher on issuing another kind of non-immigrant worker visa in 2013 than it was the previous year. Read more...

The Economist Has a Good Idea that Could Net US $4 Billion-Plus a Year

By David North, March 7, 2014

The British establishmentarian magazine The Economist has an idea that, with a little tweaking, could both reduce immigration to the United States and give us at least $4 billion a year more for, say, the Social Security trust funds.

I have mixed views about the publication; it is flagrantly pro-additional migration and Tory in its politics, as I am not, but it does shed light on some of my issues that get little attention in the American media — such as UK by-elections and politics in Fiji, Montenegro, and Serbia. So I read it. Read more...

Trade Papers Disagree about Massive EB-5 Project at a Louisiana Port

By David North, March 5, 2014

You may have trouble realizing that both trade papers cited below are describing the same EB-5 project, a proposed port near where the Mississippi meets the Gulf of Mexico.

It would be built for the next generation of huge ocean-going ships. It would facilitate the transfer of freight from these behemoths to smaller ships, some of which would travel up the river. Its initials, LIGTT, stand for Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal. Read more...

Anomalies Abound in the Economics of Illegal Immigration

By David North, February 28, 2014

The three-dimensional interface among illegal aliens, the labor market, and government programs contains a number of anomalies, some good public policy and some not. Read more...

Canada, UK, and China All Blast Immigrant Investor Programs — but Not U.S.

By David North, February 27, 2014

Three major players in the immigrant-investor field — Canada, China, and the United Kingdom — have all made major moves to kill, limit, or increase the price of these programs, while the Obama administration continues to promote the EB-5 program in its current form.

To the best of my knowledge, the three nations did not coordinate these moves and I have seen no other writer link the three nations' positions on these programs, but they all are certainly in sharp contrast to the Obama administration's mindless cheerleading. Read more...

Worried about Forced Marriages? Political Correctness vs. Realism

By David North, February 21, 2014

Forced marriages are deplorable under all circumstances, but many of them involve immigration-related marriage fraud, making them that much more so.

The pattern, in the latter cases, is usually that of fairly recently immigrated parents of a young citizen woman forcing her to marry someone from the old country against her will. The groom is typically older, typically a little better off financially than the bride's family, typically from the ancestral village, and often wanting a green card. Read more...

Sen. Coburn Asks EB-5 Questions that USCIS Should Be Asking

By David North, February 19, 2014

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is doing something USCIS should be doing in the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program.

He is asking the routinely secretive middlemen in the EB-5 program, the regional center operators, to tell him how much money they are raising through the program, how much in fees they are charging, and how many jobs are being created, among other things. Read more...

Adventures of a Visa Mill — Moving From Virginia to South Dakota

By David North, February 18, 2014

The University of Northern Virginia (UNV), a small operation and apparently a visa mill, once shuttered by both the Commonwealth of Virginia and (belatedly) by ICE, has popped up again, this time in South Dakota.

In earlier blogs, we have narrated the adventures of UNV: how it was raided by ICE and suspended by ICE, but later allowed to stay in business until it was closed by (usually pretty passive) Virginia authorities on the grounds that no accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education would accredit it. Read more...

USCIS Chief-Designate Appears to Be East Coast Version of Mayorkas

By David North, February 17, 2014

The man destined to replace Alejandro Mayorkas (now deputy secretary of DHS) as head of USCIS might be regarded as an East Coast version of his predecessor.

Leon Rodriguez, currently director of the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, has been nominated by the president to succeed Mayorkas in the main USCIS job; no date has been set yet for his confirmation hearing. Read more...

USCIS Sometimes Does the Right Thing, but Usually Quietly

By David North, February 14, 2014

Every so often USCIS does exactly the right thing, but rarely tells anyone about it.

Here's an example from a couple of years ago, not published until now: There was a long-time illegal alien who had dramatically cheated the United States on her income tax return regarding a big capital gain. Simultaneously, despite a claimed million or two in the bank, she collected Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), a program for the working poor. She then provided documentation to the government unwittingly proving all of the above. Read more...

Immigration and Narrowing the Income Gap

By David North, February 12, 2014

The Obama administration is concerned, as am I, about the huge and growing gap between the incomes of the very rich and those of the working classes. Obama wants to attack this problem by increasing the taxes on the rich and lifting the minimum wage — and I, for one, agree to both proposals.

But there is a third policy tool available in this arena: reducing the size of the labor force — notably by enforcing the immigration law — and the administration takes a position on that issue that will simply aggravate existing economic inequities. Read more...

California Election May Hinge on Voters Living in Mexico

By David North, February 11, 2014

As an election junkie I am interested in — but not too surprised by — the fact that a group of voters living in another country may decide a special election in San Diego today.

The election is to replace the disgraced mayor, Robert Filner (D), who resigned under pressure for sexual harassment. Read more...

The Well-Prepared (F-1-to-OPT-to- H-1B) Student from India

By David North, February 11, 2014

The American immigration system may be broken, but some would-be migrants have a remarkable, clear-eyed picture of how it works.

I found myself in a Northern Virginia Social Security office the other day sitting next to a tall man in his twenties in a setting roughly akin to that of a long-distance train or a (crowded) cruise ship. One talks easily to strangers under these circumstances, so I got him talking about himself.

Given the long waiting periods for both of us in the jam-packed room we had ample time to chat. Read more...

Presumably Stable Business Seeks Passive EB-5 Investors

By David North, February 7, 2014

We at the Center for Immigration Studies write frequently about the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program, and apparently that's why we recently received this (partially redacted) blast e-mail:

Dear Attorney Group.

[redacted name of Brooklyn wholesale grocer] is willing to sponsor EB5 clients. As such we are looking for passive overseas financial investors for our 19 year old establishment.

I can be contacted at [redacted].

It probably was sent to us in error, but it set us to thinking. Read more...

Brookings Issues Bland Assessment of the Controversial EB-5 Program

By David North, February 5, 2014

This morning the Brooking Institution issued a bland assessment of the highly-controversial immigrant investor (EB-5) program.

The onward-and-upward title says it all: "Improving the EB-5 Investor Visa Program: International Financing for U.S. Regional Economic Development". EB-5 allows aliens with half a million dollars to invest in a government-approved, but not guaranteed, project and provide a set of green cards to the alien and his or her family in return. Read more...

ICE's College Unit Produces Kindergarten-Level Quarterly Report

By David North, February 4, 2014

There is a little-discussed arm of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) which controls the widely used foreign student programs, mostly involving graduate students.

It has just issued another of its quarterly reports which looks like it had been designed for third graders – except there is no box of crayons accompanying it.

This is a shame because the agency, the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), plays (or could play) an important role in the control of immigration, handling as it does more than a million aliens at any given time. Read more...

Welcome Attention Paid to the Usually Ignored Third Flow of Illegal Aliens

By David North, February 3, 2014

The usually neglected third flow of illegal aliens – those who manage to come through ports of entry when they should have been stopped – gathered some attention at an academic conference sponsored by Georgetown University last week. Read more...

The Threatening Congressman Has an Indirect EB-5 Connection

By David North, February 3, 2014

The thuggish congressman who threatened – on camera – to toss a reporter off a balcony, Michael Grimm, (R-NY), has a major, if indirect, connection with the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program. Read more...

EB-5 Program Will Be Slowed by Its Own Success, Chinese Governmental Caution

By David North, January 31, 2014

It was bound to happen.

Shamelessly hyped by the USCIS leadership, and much sought after by nervous Chinese millionaires, the immigrant investor (EB-5) program for the Chinese is about to reach a plateau because of two quite different forces:

  • The automatic operations of our immigration law, and its numerical ceilings; and
  • A conscious decision by Chinese authorities to protect their rich from our program.

Plucky L-1 Irishman Fired by U.S. firm for Protecting L-1 Indian

By David North, January 29, 2014

The hero of this tale is an Irishman, Ian Spandow, an L-1 worker who had risen to an executive position within Oracle, an American firm with an imperial reach.

Oracle, a software giant, is the villain in the piece, charged with discriminating against one of its workers from India, another L-1, whose the role is that of the victim. Read more...

Intriguing Immigration Policies Launched in Island Jurisdictions

By David North, January 24, 2014

One of the attractions of paying attention to other nations' immigration policies is that there are a huge variety of them to examine; there are something like two hundred different jurisdictions that have their own sets of rules; from the likes of China (though few want to migrate there) to tiny island jurisdictions.

President Woodrow Wilson spoke of the American states as laboratories of democracy; some of the immigration policy labs run by island jurisdictions suggest that a mad scientist may be at work. Occasionally the island policies are worth replication, often not. Here are some examples: Read more...

Turkish H-1B Abuser Continues Tammany Hall Methods in the U.S.

By David North, January 23, 2014

I seen my opportunities and I took 'em.

The quote is from the late Tammany Hall leader, George Washington Plunkitt, as he wrote about graft early in the last century.

That attitude seems, in three recent disclosures, to be shared by the Gulen movement's charter high schools in the United States. Fethullah Gulen, as we noted in a prior blog is — in Turkey — a major religious and political figure, but in the United States (where he lives) he is the leader of a charter school movement that frequently uses the H-1B system to root out U.S. teachers in favor of those from Turkey. Read more...

Does Strong Border Enforcement Stimulate DACA Applications? I Think So

By David North, January 21, 2014

There has been a remarkable differential by nationality in the percentage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligibles who have come forward.

For example, according to a recent American Immigration Council article, while about 65 percent of eligible Mexican nationals have filed for DACA, only 34 percent of Korean and 17 percent of Filipino eligibles have applied. Read more...

Amnesty in American Samoa: Register First, Write the Law Later

By David North, January 20, 2014

They are going to have an amnesty for illegal aliens in American Samoa and it will be interesting to watch.

The first thing to know is that this is outside the mainland's immigration law; Washington will have nothing to do with it and it probably will not create any new U.S. citizens (though details are murky in the usual islands way). Read more...