Warning: Harris Miller, Immigration Uber-Lobbyist, Has a New Job

By David North on March 19, 2010

Harris N. Miller, the talented immigration lobbyist, the man who expanded the H-1B program to new, huge dimensions and helped create immigration breaks for the Irish, has a (relatively) new job.

According to a New York Times article on March 13 "In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt," Harris Miller is now president of the Career College Association, the group representing the private, for-profit vocational schools. (He was named to the position in February 2007.)

The Times story was highly critical of the recruiting practices of some of these schools, and the low wages and high debts that came to several interviewed graduates of such institutions. These schools, according to the article, are heavily dependent on their students funding their educations through a combination of federal (Pell) grants and moneys raised from student loans.

The point that I made in an earlier blog that these entities can issue documents that lead to nonimmigrant visas, was not made in the Times article, but Miller knows about this (and every other nook and cranny in the immigration law) and these entities are sure to look overseas for likely customers.

In fact, there is a special visa, for vocational students – the M visa.

I have known Harris Miller for a quarter of a century, and tangled with him numerous times about immigration issues. He was, during the creation of the IRCA legalization program of the 1980s, a professional staff member for the House Immigration Subcommittee. He subsequently pioneered special arrangements for Irish immigrants (Irish illegals had not benefited much from the IRCA program), and went on to be president of the Information Technology Association of America; in the latter role he helped expand the H-1B program to it new heights.

Miller is a skilled operator, very knowledgeable about immigration law and the making of legislation, and smooth in his personal dealings. He is also deeply interested in politics, and for years was the chair of the Democratic Party in Fairfax County, Va., the largest county in the state. He came close to winning the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in that state in 2006, but lost to now Sen. Jim Webb. (D-VA).

Miller handled his defeat by Webb with rare grace. I was at a rally in Alexandria where he introduced Webb as the Democratic candidate. The incumbent, Sen. George Allen (R-VA), had just handled the newly-emerged fact that he had a Jewish mother, with remarkable awkwardness. Miller, who is Jewish, told the group that he "had thought about the possibility that Virginia might get a Jewish senator, [pause] but who knew his name would be George Allen?"

That brought down the house. Webb then defeated Allen in the general election.

Harris Miller is a very skilled lobbyist and I am sure he will be hearing about him, and his clients, in the immigration context, soon.

Meanwhile, at least two of the schools drawing the negative attention of the Times article, WyoTech, a subsidiary of Corinthian Colleges, and Le Cordon Bleu, which belongs to the Career Education Corporation, are among the hundreds of schools listed in the USCIS list of government-certified institutions that can issue visa-creating documents.