The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives declared, in effect, last week that it had lost interest in our century-long position in favor of a diversified immigrant population, but failed to take a consistent position by eliminating the Diversity Visa Lottery.
The committee advanced a bill that would “slash visa country caps” on both family and worker visas, caps that hold down migration from China and India, in a rejection of the long-standing per-country caps of 7 percent per nation per category. These have been in place for 32 years and replaced earlier systems designed to not get too many immigrants from a single nation.
The panel, while voting against diversity in this bill, did not take the logically consistent step of eliminating the diversity visa lottery, which allocates some 50,000 visas each year to people with no connection to the states, people from nations that send us small number of migrants. The lottery is supposed to balance our migrant streams so that no country or countries will send us too large a portion of the new arrivals.
So the committee thinks diversity does not matter anymore in one part of our immigration system, but is fundamental in another, the lottery. This gross act of inconsistency, of course, was ignored by both the committee and the press.
The Eagle Act, pushed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and John Curtis (R-Utah), would also speed green cards for arriving aliens, thus making more chain migration possible in years ahead, notably in segments of the flow for which there are no numerical limits. This knock-on effect, of course, is not mentioned by its supporters or the sleepy mainstream press.
The bill’s name is based on a bit of politically loaded word play: “Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment”. That the proposal will have much more impact on the much larger flow of family migration than on the always smaller flow of workers apparently did not discourage the wordsmiths in the choice of a title.
In an earlier, more honest era, it would have been called the “Indian and Chinese Relief Act”, as virtually all the direct benefits will go to people from those two countries.
The bill does not directly increase the total number of numerically limited migrants; but it does speed the adjustment of Chinese and Indians here in this country while slowing such adjustments and admissions for people from the rest of the world.
There is token regard for those would-be rest-of-the-world immigrants. While the text is a bit murky here, it appears that after nine years of operation fully 5 percent of the available EB-2 and EB-3 visas — 5 percent — will be reserved for the rest of the world, apparently leaving the other 95 percent of these visas for folks from China and India. It is a little like an electoral formula for the U.S. Senate that would give 95 percent of the seats to, say, Texas, and leave 5 percent for the rest of the 49 states.
China and India, with populations of about 1.4 billion each, have between them about 35 percent of the population of the world, which is about 8 billion. But within the EB-2 and EB-3 categories of immigrants, they would be able to have up to 95 percent of the visas — a distorted amount. The EB-2 and EB-3 categories are for skilled immigrants, many of them former H-1B "temporary" workers.
There is another, potentially useful — and surprising — element in the bill, dealing with what it calls 50/50 employers. That is those that have more than 50 H-1B workers. They will not be allowed to have more than 50 percent of their workers under the H-1B program. This would seem to be hard on the major Indian body shops (Infosys, Tata, etc.) but might be mitigated by regulation.
Looking back about 100 years ago, Congress was passing immigration legislation that aimed to preserve most migrant slots for people from northern and western Europe. Now the House committee is tipping exactly the other way and is discriminating in favor of people from China and India.
Incidentally, two summaries of the bill are available on the web. The one written by a unit of Congress is considerably less useful than the one by an open-borders entity, the National Immigration Forum. Neither reports the big tilt toward India and China.