A federal judge blocked Trump’s rule creating a wealth test for immigrants

“The rule is only one of several policies the Trump administration has pursued to dramatically shift which immigrants are legally able to come to the United States. Under Trump, the legal immigration system increasingly rewards skills and wealth over family ties to the US, while shutting out a growing number of people from low-income backgrounds. (Though he has even imposed restrictions on skilled immigrants amid the pandemic.)

Heeding calls from 31 states to end refugee admissions from Syria, Trump has slashed the total number of refugees the US accepts annually to just 18,000 this year, the fewest in history and down from a cap of 110,000 just two years ago.

He’s placed restrictions on the citizens of many Muslim-majority and African countries. His travel ban prevents citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea from obtaining any kind of visa allowing them to enter the US. He also added restrictions on immigrants from six additional countries: Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.”

“With the public charge regulation, Trump is painting immigrants as abusing public benefits. But they are actually “less likely to consume welfare benefits and, when they do, they generally consume a lower dollar value of benefits than native-born Americans,” according to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.
In 2016, the average per capita value of public benefits consumed by immigrants was $3,718, as compared to $6,081 among native-born Americans. Noncitizens were slightly more likely to get cash assistance, SNAP benefits, and Medicaid, but far less likely to use Medicare and Social Security.

“The rhetoric around the use of public benefits programs is largely smoke and mirrors,” Erin Quinn, a senior staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, told Vox. “It’s feeding a rhetoric that immigrants are draining our public services when in fact these immigrants don’t even have access to those services and also galvanizing fear in immigrant communities.””

They Came for the ‘Illegals’ First, Now They’re Going After Immigrants Who Played by the Rules

“Most immigration watchers thought President Trump’s new executive order extending his 60-day April immigration pause until the end of 2020 was meant to stop new immigrants from coming into the United States. As I pointed out, the order was halting new green cards for anyone other than the children and spouses of American citizens. It was also imposing a moratorium on new temporary work visas, including H-1Bs for foreign techies, H-2Bs for low-skilled non-agricultural work, J visas for summer jobs, and L visas for intra-company transfers. Bringing in more workers from the outside, the proclamation’s zero-sum logic declared, “present[s] a significant threat to the employment opportunities for Americans,” which the country can’t allegedly afford at a time of high pandemic-induced unemployment.

But now the National Foundation for American Policy’s Stuart Anderson has found that buried in the proclamation is a potential deportation plan for hundreds of thousands of high-skilled foreign workers who’ve been legally living inside America, in some cases for decades. They have high-paying jobs for skills that are in short supply in America, they pay far more taxes than they’ll ever consume in welfare, and they are generally upstanding folks.

Foreign techies have to go through an exceedingly arduous, expensive, and long process to obtain green cards. The wait time for green cards is running over seven decades for many of the 350,000 Indian professionals on H-1Bs—and their 357,000 dependents—in the country currently. That’s because Congress capped employment-based green cards at a meager 140,000 per year.* And then, just for good measure, it gave every country the same quota for green cards. This means that countries like India, China, and the Philippines, which send America many tech workers, doctors, nurses, and other high-skilled laborers, have access to the same number of green cards every year as, say, Kazakhstan, which barely sends any. The upshot is that a massive backlog has developed for the former countries. But of course, the Trump administration has shown zero interest in a simple fix like eliminating the per-country limit and rolling over the unused green cards from previous years.”

“Anderson maintains that Trump’s new proclamation includes ominous language that potentially opens the door to subjecting the I-140 holder to one or more additional labor certifications while they are waiting to be approved for their green cards. At the same time, the administration might make the labor certification process itself so onerous as to ensure that few could pass it.

Should the administration proceed with its scheme, hundreds of thousands of high-skilled professionals who’ve played by every rule and waited patiently for years for their green cards, raising families and building lives in America, could find themselves ejected from the country. “If a foreign government wanted to come up with a plan to harm America’s technological leadership in the world, this would be the plan,” Anderson says.”

“there are significant statutory hurdles that might prevent the administration from successfully requiring repeat certifications, says Anderson. However, simply attempting to do so will sow fear and panic among foreign professionals and prompt at least those who are in the relatively early stage of the process to self-deport rather than take any risks with their lives and careers.

Nor is this the first attack on foreign professionals by this administration. The denial of new H-1B petitions has increased considerably during Trump’s term and renewal of existing petitions has become much harder.”

“Undocumented immigrants were just the lowest hanging fruit. Over the years, restrictionists have found ways to smear every category of immigrants. Family-based immigration got pilloried as chain migration; refugees got branded as national security threats; Latin American asylum seekers got lambasted as “invaders.” And now foreign techies, a once-sacrosanct class of immigrants that even conservatives considered highly desirable, are being branded as economic threats.

They came for the illegals first—but of course they didn’t stop there.”

Trump’s New Immigration Pause Will Kill Prospects of a Quick Economic Recovery

“The temporary 60-day pause that President Donald Trump declared on legal immigration in mid-April after the coronavirus hit was not so temporary after all. Starting tomorrow, Trump will extend this pause until the end of 2020. But that’s not all. He is also expanding the scope of the ban to cover even more categories of immigrants.

Trump is justifying all this as an effort to save American workers from foreign competition. But if America’s past experience with restrictionist policies is any indication, the ban will backfire and end up hurting, not helping, American workers, its intended beneficiaries, while crimping America’s economic recovery.”

“There are already significant obstacles built into labor and immigration law that make it far more time consuming and costly for businesses to hire foreign workers. So businesses already automatically prioritize American workers over foreign workers. As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) tweeted after Trump’s announcement: “Work visas for temporary and seasonal jobs covering industries like hospitality, forestry, and many economic sectors can only be issued AFTER American workers have had a chance to fill the position.”

The fact of the matter is that American employers only hire immigrants to fill niches at the top and the bottom end of the labor spectrum where qualified Americans aren’t available or willing to take jobs. Restrictionists like White House aide Stephen Miller, the real architect of Trump’s immigration pause, claim that starving businesses of foreign workers will force them to invest in training domestic workers and/or paying them more, resulting in more jobs and higher wages for Americans.

But this is the flawed logic of central planning. It ignores the fact that there are limits to the price increases that a market can bear. Businesses will automate functions that can’t be performed abroad and will outsource other functions to keep a lid on the costs of a key input—all of which will hurt, not help, American workers.”

“Interestingly, Trump’s immigration ban does not extend to H-2A visas for farm workers. In fact, that’s the one category of visas that has expanded on his watch. Why? Because agriculture is the mainstay of many red state economies whose leaders have indicated that they would not take kindly to being cut off from a key source of labor. Trump has also carved a very narrow exemption for foreign workers “involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19” and who are “currently hospitalized.”

But high-skilled foreign workers that blue states like California, Washington, and New York depend on are out of luck. What is likely to happen in these states? Will they rush to hire Americans with big bucks in hand? Not really.

For starters, there just aren’t enough high-skilled Americans sitting around to be hired. The unemployment rate last month—the peak of the pandemic—for computer jobs was 2.5 percent compared to the overall rate of 13.3 percent for all jobs, according to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy.

So as high-tech companies are choked off from hiring foreign workers, they’ll start outsourcing more operations abroad. This is what happened in 2004 when Congress slashed the H-1B cap from 195,000 to less than half”

ICE Agents Fight Sex Trafficking by Paying Potential Victims for Hand Jobs

“Agents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Arizona have been “fighting” human trafficking by sending federal immigration agents to coerce suspected victims into paid sex acts. These acts were later used by authorities to justify arresting women who agreed to them, seizing their assets, and telling the press it was these women who were the real predators.”

“Absurd and horrifying? Obviously. But also a scenario that is far from an isolated incident.”

No, 1 in 3 Kids Coming Across the Southern Border Are Not Victims of Sex Trafficking

“In a recent short video for PragerU, Anna Paulina Luna, a Republican running for Congress in Florida, suggested that one third of the immigrant kids coming over our southern border are being sex trafficked.
She said it in a kind of garbled way—conflating the fact that some kids aren’t related to their smugglers, with the fact that “sex trafficking exists”—but her conclusion was clear: Separating kids from the adults bringing them over the border is for their own protection, because otherwise they are being sold into prostitution.

This notion is preposterous”

“in 2018, the government started doing DNA tests on a limited group of people crossing the border who had aroused particular suspicion. “It wasn’t a random sample of people coming over the border,” she says.

Indeed, many of them were not related to the people they said were their relatives. But that was only a small subset of migrants, and the results were neither surprising nor damning. Unrelated groups often cross the border together, because many times the biological parent is already in the U.S. They left their child behind to be raised by an aunt or grandma until the child was old enough to come over, or the parent was well-established enough to provide them a decent home. The parent then pays for the child’s passage north. Maybe the child is accompanied by an aunt, or even a neighbor who is also migrating. This person might lie about their relationship to the child, but that doesn’t mean their true purpose is sex trafficking.”

“In any case, the government has currently come up with a new excuse for separating children and sending them back across the border: COVID-19. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the feds are deporting hundreds of migrant kids and teens without any chance to plead their case. The government is citing a 1944 law that lists disease-prevention as a reason to bar foreigners from entering the country, but many of these kids were already here when the pandemic began.”

A US immigration agency could run out of money by the end of summer without a $1.2 billion bailout

“Immigration has come nearly to a standstill over the past two months. The Trump administration has shuttered USCIS offices, closed consulates abroad, shut down the borders with Canada and Mexico and imposed a 60-day ban on the issuance of new green cards. Asylum processing at the southern border has also practically stopped, as Trump administration officials implemented a program to rapidly return migrants to Mexico without so much as a health exam.
While brought on by the pandemic, this kind of decrease in legal immigration is what Trump has long sought. He has railed against what he calls “chain migration,” referring to US citizens or permanent residents who sponsor their immigrant family members for visas and green cards. And he has sought to keep poor immigrants out by proposing to reject those who don’t have health insurance or who might use public benefits in the future. (Courts have blocked the restrictions on immigrants without health insurance from going into effect for now, but the policy affecting immigrants who might go on public benefits went into effect in February.)”

“Unlike other federal agencies, USCIS receives almost no taxpayer dollars, and is dependent on fees associated with filing applications for green cards, visas, work permits, US citizenship, and humanitarian benefits such as asylum. The pandemic has already brought on a “dramatic decrease” in its revenue that is only likely to worsen as applications are estimated to drop by about 61 percent through September, an agency spokesperson said. President Donald Trump’s restrictions on immigration, other countries’ restrictions on travel and the fact that necessary government offices aren’t open to process applications have all contributed to this decline.

To mitigate the budget shortfall, USCIS is planning to implement an additional 10 percent surcharge on all applications and sought Congress’s help on Friday, Buzzfeed’s Hamed Aleaziz first reported. The agency has also already limited spending to salary and mission-critical activities, but “without congressional intervention, USCIS will have to take drastic actions to keep the agency afloat,” the spokesperson said.”

Immigrants Have a Right to Privacy Too

“The Trump administration has started forcibly collecting DNA samples from immigrants in detention and sending that information to an FBI criminal database called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) for permanent storage. Officials say this is a crime-fighting move. In reality, it is mass surveillance.
In 2005, Congress passed the DNA Fingerprint Act, requiring genetic testing of anyone arrested for a federal crime, regardless of whether they’re eventually charged and convicted. The Supreme Court approved this gross invasion of individual privacy in Maryland v. King (2013), ruling 5–4 that the law did not violate constitutional protections against illegal searches and seizures because the original arrest had required probable cause.

The DNA Fingerprint Act gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) latitude to exempt noncitizens from being sampled. There’s a very good reason for that: The vast majority of these folks are detained not because they have committed serious crimes with actual victims but because a harsh Clinton-era enforcement law vastly increased detentions for nonviolent immigration-related offenses. The Obama administration used this latitude to exempt immigrants from DNA sampling unless they were charged with another crime or were awaiting deportation proceedings. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano pointed out at the time that taking DNA from the 30,000 immigrants who were then detained would pose “severe organizational, resource and financial challenges”—not to mention distract from actual crime-fighting.

The detained population has grown larger still, yet the Trump administration is arguing that these logistical concerns are outdated because the collection of DNA samples has become easier and cheaper. Customs and Border Patrol has gone ahead and launched pilot programs at several immigration centers around the country. Government estimates suggest that once the program is fully implemented, such centers will be sending 748,000 DNA profiles to CODIS every year. That’s more than the entire state of New York has contributed in more than 20 years”

Trump’s Immigration Pause Is Pure Virtue Signaling to His Base

“Trump launched his first presidential bid by denouncing Mexicans as “rapists” and “criminals” and pledged to build a “big, beautiful” wall on the southern border. But what began as a slam on unauthorized immigration morphed into an all-out assault on legal immigration as soon as he walked into the White House.
One of his first acts was to ban travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. He also slashed America’s refugee program in less than half and is failing to admit even the number he allowed. But these and other moves were just baby steps toward a much more ambitious agenda to slash and radically revamp America’s legal immigration program.

He demanded that Congress cut family-based immigration in half in exchange for reinstating the legal status of “Dreamers,” which he himself had scrapped. (Dreamers are folks who were brought to this country without authorization as minors, who have grown up as Americans and often have little connection with their birthlands.) But when Congress demurred, he went to town to achieve through administrative means what he couldn’t through legislative ones—the kind of thing that Republicans used to vociferously condemn when Trump’s predecessor attempted it.

Trump scrapped the Obama-era program handing work authorization to the spouses of foreign techies enduring a decades long wait for their already approved green cards. His “Buy American and Hire American” executive order smothered the high-tech H-1B visa program in red tape, vastly increasing the processing time and doubling the rejection rate. As if that’s not enough, he recently implemented something called the public charge rule, which makes it exceedingly difficult for immigrants to upgrade their immigration status—for example, guest worker visas to green cards and green cards to naturalization—if they or their American family members collect or are likely to collect even the smallest amount of some means-tested cash or non-cash public benefits. This, along with other measures, will result in a 30 percent reduction in legal immigration next year, according to a National Foundation for American Policy study.

The coronavirus crisis has been manna from heaven for Trump’s restrictionist agenda.

The only visas that were still being entertained at all—albeit at an extremely scaled-back level—were long-term visas for jobs, visas for studying in the United States, and green cards sponsored either by American employers or American family. This long-term program is what Trump’s unprecedented executive order is now purportedly going after.

Trump claims that the ban will last 60 days after which he may review and renew it for another 60 or so. But his travel ban was supposed to last 90 days. It is now on day 1,181 and covers even more countries.”

“the vast exemptions that Trump is planning to carve in the virtual wall he’s constructing to seal off America from the world are a tacit admission that immigrants are indispensable for vital sectors of the American economy, not a threat to American jobs.

The purpose of Trump’s executive order, then, must be to rally his restrictionist base and ensure that it makes the schlep to the polls this November. It’s pure political posturing that’ll do not an iota of good for America.”

The US needs foreign doctors and nurses to fight coronavirus. Immigration policy isn’t helping.

“Right now, the biggest worry is whether the medical system has enough ventilators and protective equipment to treat patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
But another troubling shortage is on the horizon: doctors, nurses, and other health care personnel.

As patient demand continues to ramp up nationwide and more health care workers are unable to show up for work, either because they contract the virus or because they have to self-quarantine, doctor shortages are a real possibility”

“One solution is to make it easier to bring in doctors and nurses from abroad.”

“even before the current crisis, the immigration system made it difficult for foreign doctors and nurses to work in the US and go where they’re needed. Doctors may face long wait times for green cards, restrictions on where they can settle geographically, and limitations on where they can practice while they’re waiting for a green card. Nurses, meanwhile, also face long waits for green cards and can’t come to the US under temporary skilled worker visas.

The implications of a shortage would be devastating, both to overworked personnel and to the patients for whom receiving medical attention could be a life-or-death matter. But it’s a problem that more immigration could easily fix”

“Not only does the current system make it exceedingly difficult for doctors to stay in the US long-term, but it also severely restricts where in the US they can go.”