For the last 100 years, the U.S. Congress has placed upper limits on many types of immigration. We admit more legal immigrants each year than any other nation on earth, but there must be an upper limit to these flows.
Some aliens, notably spouses of citizens and refugees can enter without encountering legislated ceilings, but most aliens come in through one of 13 different congressionally approved classes of either family-based (i.e., chain) migration or employment-based migration. There is, by law, a numerical limit set for each of these classes. (The annual limit on refugees is set by the president and it changes year by year — it is not a legislated ceiling.)
The Post, however, in an editorial on September 21 titled “A trove of green cards is about to go to waste. Will anyone save them?” misses the whole point of limited migration.
The paper’s editorial board apparently cannot fathom that the reason for congressional ceilings is to hold down migration to the current dull roar. It seems to think that the ceilings are some kind of goal, rather than an upper limit.
Apparently, because of the Covid crisis and other factors, some 80,000 potential visas will not be issued quickly enough to be used this year; so be it. The individual aliens can probably either re-apply or find some other way to enter this country, if a little later than they wanted. It's not that we are about to deport them; some are in the States seeking adjustment of status and others are waiting in their home countries. We are simply dealing with delays, not denials.
The editorial also contains this bizarre sentence: “Family-based green cards roll over into the employment-based queue, but that is hardly helpful when they later also expire.”
Yes, if there were to be a shortage of applicants for family-based applicants, that would be the case. But the Post should know that there are literally millions of over-subscribed family-based visas, and that has been true for years. Somebody at the paper should enroll in Immigration 101.
For a dense and legalistic description of how the extremely complex ceiling systems work, see the first few pages of the most recent issue of the State Department’s Visa Bulletin, and for an open-doors view of this issue, see here.