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Old 01-11-2008, 03:20 PM
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Default Skilled workers say visa reform a separate issue from illegal immigration

Skilled immigrants push for visa reform

Skilled workers say visa reform a separate issue from illegal immigration


12:00 AM CST on Friday, January 11, 2008
By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News
dmichaels@dallasnews.com

WASHINGTON – Roopa Aragolam has little in common with the millions of illegal immigrants who toil in restaurants and hotels and on construction sites. But her fate, it seems, is tied up with theirs.



REX C. CURRY/Special Contributor
Roopa Aragolam, a master's student at UTD, has little in common with the illegal immigrants who make the news. But they may share fates if efforts to curb immigration succeed. Ms. Aragolam, a master's student at the University of Texas at Dallas who is from India, will need a special visa to work in the U.S. Her chances to get one are "pretty bad," she reasons, given the shortage that has developed in recent years.

Raising the number of high-skilled worker permits, known as H1B visas, has bipartisan support in Washington. But many members of Congress, alternately skittish and brash about the hot-potato subject of immigration, disavow any bill that doesn't tackle illegal immigration and border security.

"H1B is only for people with specialized knowledge, who bring intellectual knowledge to the country," said Ms. Aragolam, 26. "Putting them in the same frame as illegal immigrants is totally wrong."

A growing chorus of immigration advocates and businesses agrees with her. Yet their voice has been drowned out as presidential candidates, particularly Republicans, hustle for votes with proclamations to expel illegal immigrants and seal porous borders.

"The more candidates inflame their anxieties, the harder it's going to be to eventually get back to a conversation about solutions," said Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has studied public attitudes toward immigration.

Within just a few years, immigration seems to have replaced Social Security as the third rail of American politics. The subject ranks among the top several concerns of GOP voters in presidential primaries – even in states with overwhelmingly white populations, such as New Hampshire.

Some lawmakers, such as Texas Sen. John Cornyn, have argued against passing employer-specific immigration bills, saying those popular measures are needed to leverage support for a comprehensive immigration bill.


Stalemate in Congress

The past year's failed legislation included an attempt to raise the number of seasonal-worker visas and to provide legal status to children of illegal immigrants who attended college or entered the military. Since then, Republican candidates have rarely missed an opportunity to attack each other for past positions that look like amnesty for illegal immigrants.

"The anti-immigrant fervor that is spawned by some in the political arena is spilling over to everything," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chairwoman of a House subcommittee on immigration and border security. "Americans think the immigration system or lack thereof is a problem. But they didn't ask the Congress to do nothing."

The stalemate has led some interest groups to try to dodge the subject altogether.

Calling itself "Save Small Business," one group pushed Congress last year to raise the number of visas for seasonal workers, known as H2Bs.

"We called it 'small business' because it wasn't an immigration issue, it was a small-business issue," said Robert Drawbridge, a director of the group and senior vice president at Dallas-based Quorum Hotels and Resorts.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas, called that argument "disingenuous."

Mr. Gonzalez, second vice chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said all immigrants should be addressed collectively because they're all American workers.

"All of this is about immigration policy and our economic best interests," Mr. Gonzalez said, "whether it's about visas, permanent residency, or a pathway to citizenship."

Supporters of more visas argue that key sectors of the American economy can't live without foreign workers – and that more are needed in the short term. Advocates for more guest workers and farm laborers add that illegal immigration won't stop until the law provides enough visas to match the labor market's demands.

"Inaction means we could not only lose out on hiring people, but retaining people who already work for us," said Amy Burke, an in-house lobbyist for Texas Instruments.


Foreign labor

Some groups say the U.S. doesn't need more foreign workers. They say companies have abused the current system by hiring foreigners at lower salaries instead of finding American workersOne of the groups, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), urges the government to improve enforcement of current visa rules and consider reducing the number of H1Bs.

"It's long overdue that we need to wean businesses off the foreign labor and use U.S. workers already residing in their local communities," said Bob Dane, a spokesman for FAIR, which says it doesn't oppose the H1B program.

The government typically exhausts the number of H1Bs – 65,000 each year – on the first day they're offered. The additional 20,000 reserved for advanced-degree graduates of U.S. universities is typically claimed by mid-April, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Some students now react to the shortage by prolonging their studies until the following December, so they will have graduated by the time employers apply for the visas.

"Even if you completed all your subjects, you don't want to graduate in spring," Ms. Aragolam said. "You'll drag it out for six to eight months for this reason."

Advocates also argue that Congress should shorten the process for getting a permanent-resident permit, known as a green card. For some applicants, the process can take as long as seven years, leaving applicants uncertain about their future.


Green-card reform

Ms. Burke of Texas Instruments said green-card reform is as important as raising the number of H1Bs, because green cards are key to keeping employees.

Niloufer Bustani, who got her master's degree from UTD and works at a Dallas software company, said one friend from India recently chose a position in Singapore over one in Washington, D.C. – to avoid the hassle of getting a green card.

Ms. Bustani, who lives in Murphy, said she's waiting for a green card because she wants to raise her daughter in North Texas.

Through the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of a national group, Immigration Voice, she's urged others to lobby members of Congress for H1B and green-card reform.

"We kind of tend to feel that we are outsiders, and what can we complain about because we are not citizens yet," Ms. Bustani said. "But we've been encouraging people to contact their congressmen."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most influential business group in Washington, said Tuesday that its lobbyists would seek opportunities this year to move narrow immigration measures benefiting seasonal-worker and H1B visas.

"We're not going to go out and say, 'Hey, we've got this great big immigration bill,' " said Tom Donohue, the chamber's president. "That's not going to fly."

But realistically, many advocates expect immigration won't be addressed until after the dust settles on the presidential race.

"I don't see much political gumption anymore," said Kathleen Walker, an El Paso attorney who is president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "We're allowing the issue of illegal immigration to totally eclipse all of the other issues that we have."
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  #2  
Old 01-11-2008, 03:30 PM
walking_dude walking_dude is offline
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Great Job. IV is now officially recognized as the voice of legal Employment-based immigrants by the media. It's opinions are sought the same way as that of other advocacy groups.

Go IV Go
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Old 01-11-2008, 04:47 PM
TomTancredo TomTancredo is offline
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Default we know now

Congressional hispanic caucus is no friend of legal immigrants.
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  #4  
Old 01-11-2008, 04:59 PM
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They aren't opposed to us or our demands. They want theirs to be passed together with ours, which makes ours difficult to pass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TomTancredo View Post
Congressional hispanic caucus is no friend of legal immigrants.
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  #5  
Old 01-11-2008, 05:26 PM
garybanz garybanz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imm_pro View Post
Skilled immigrants push for visa reform

Skilled workers say visa reform a separate issue from illegal immigration


12:00 AM CST on Friday, January 11, 2008
By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News
dmichaels@dallasnews.com

WASHINGTON Roopa Aragolam has little in common with the millions of illegal immigrants who toil in restaurants and hotels and on construction sites. But her fate, it seems, is tied up with theirs.



REX C. CURRY/Special Contributor
Roopa Aragolam, a master's student at UTD, has little in common with the illegal immigrants who make the news. But they may share fates if efforts to curb immigration succeed. Ms. Aragolam, a master's student at the University of Texas at Dallas who is from India, will need a special visa to work in the U.S. Her chances to get one are "pretty bad," she reasons, given the shortage that has developed in recent years.

Raising the number of high-skilled worker permits, known as H1B visas, has bipartisan support in Washington. But many members of Congress, alternately skittish and brash about the hot-potato subject of immigration, disavow any bill that doesn't tackle illegal immigration and border security.

"H1B is only for people with specialized knowledge, who bring intellectual knowledge to the country," said Ms. Aragolam, 26. "Putting them in the same frame as illegal immigrants is totally wrong."

A growing chorus of immigration advocates and businesses agrees with her. Yet their voice has been drowned out as presidential candidates, particularly Republicans, hustle for votes with proclamations to expel illegal immigrants and seal porous borders.

"The more candidates inflame their anxieties, the harder it's going to be to eventually get back to a conversation about solutions," said Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has studied public attitudes toward immigration.

Within just a few years, immigration seems to have replaced Social Security as the third rail of American politics. The subject ranks among the top several concerns of GOP voters in presidential primaries even in states with overwhelmingly white populations, such as New Hampshire.

Some lawmakers, such as Texas Sen. John Cornyn, have argued against passing employer-specific immigration bills, saying those popular measures are needed to leverage support for a comprehensive immigration bill.


Stalemate in Congress

The past year's failed legislation included an attempt to raise the number of seasonal-worker visas and to provide legal status to children of illegal immigrants who attended college or entered the military. Since then, Republican candidates have rarely missed an opportunity to attack each other for past positions that look like amnesty for illegal immigrants.

"The anti-immigrant fervor that is spawned by some in the political arena is spilling over to everything," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chairwoman of a House subcommittee on immigration and border security. "Americans think the immigration system or lack thereof is a problem. But they didn't ask the Congress to do nothing."

The stalemate has led some interest groups to try to dodge the subject altogether.

Calling itself "Save Small Business," one group pushed Congress last year to raise the number of visas for seasonal workers, known as H2Bs.

"We called it 'small business' because it wasn't an immigration issue, it was a small-business issue," said Robert Drawbridge, a director of the group and senior vice president at Dallas-based Quorum Hotels and Resorts.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas, called that argument "disingenuous."

Mr. Gonzalez, second vice chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said all immigrants should be addressed collectively because they're all American workers.

"All of this is about immigration policy and our economic best interests," Mr. Gonzalez said, "whether it's about visas, permanent residency, or a pathway to citizenship."

Supporters of more visas argue that key sectors of the American economy can't live without foreign workers and that more are needed in the short term. Advocates for more guest workers and farm laborers add that illegal immigration won't stop until the law provides enough visas to match the labor market's demands.

"Inaction means we could not only lose out on hiring people, but retaining people who already work for us," said Amy Burke, an in-house lobbyist for Texas Instruments.


Foreign labor

Some groups say the U.S. doesn't need more foreign workers. They say companies have abused the current system by hiring foreigners at lower salaries instead of finding American workersOne of the groups, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), urges the government to improve enforcement of current visa rules and consider reducing the number of H1Bs.

"It's long overdue that we need to wean businesses off the foreign labor and use U.S. workers already residing in their local communities," said Bob Dane, a spokesman for FAIR, which says it doesn't oppose the H1B program.

The government typically exhausts the number of H1Bs 65,000 each year on the first day they're offered. The additional 20,000 reserved for advanced-degree graduates of U.S. universities is typically claimed by mid-April, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Some students now react to the shortage by prolonging their studies until the following December, so they will have graduated by the time employers apply for the visas.

"Even if you completed all your subjects, you don't want to graduate in spring," Ms. Aragolam said. "You'll drag it out for six to eight months for this reason."

Advocates also argue that Congress should shorten the process for getting a permanent-resident permit, known as a green card. For some applicants, the process can take as long as seven years, leaving applicants uncertain about their future.


Green-card reform

Ms. Burke of Texas Instruments said green-card reform is as important as raising the number of H1Bs, because green cards are key to keeping employees.

Niloufer Bustani, who got her master's degree from UTD and works at a Dallas software company, said one friend from India recently chose a position in Singapore over one in Washington, D.C. to avoid the hassle of getting a green card.

Ms. Bustani, who lives in Murphy, said she's waiting for a green card because she wants to raise her daughter in North Texas.

Through the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of a national group, Immigration Voice, she's urged others to lobby members of Congress for H1B and green-card reform.

"We kind of tend to feel that we are outsiders, and what can we complain about because we are not citizens yet," Ms. Bustani said. "But we've been encouraging people to contact their congressmen."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most influential business group in Washington, said Tuesday that its lobbyists would seek opportunities this year to move narrow immigration measures benefiting seasonal-worker and H1B visas.

"We're not going to go out and say, 'Hey, we've got this great big immigration bill,' " said Tom Donohue, the chamber's president. "That's not going to fly."

But realistically, many advocates expect immigration won't be addressed until after the dust settles on the presidential race.

"I don't see much political gumption anymore," said Kathleen Walker, an El Paso attorney who is president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "We're allowing the issue of illegal immigration to totally eclipse all of the other issues that we have."
Well done Ms. Bustani !!
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Greened in 2010

- Contributed over $500 to IV
- Got the GC after about 7 years of stay in the US.
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