With the heated, reinvigorated debate on immigration reform, WE, as Americans of Iranian heritage, would like to share our Community’s views in anticipation of its accommodation in the current legislative process, as follows:
Whereas we empathize with the plight of the 12 million “illegal” immigrants and their employers and the public at-large relying on their labors, we nonetheless, stress unequivocally the need for this Country’s continuing prioritized commitment to the repatriation of families of Americans as stipulated in the federal legal codes. The notion of rewarding those who arrived via Entry Without Inspection, at the expense of penalizing family members, I .e., parents, children and siblings, who have anxiously awaited for the LEGAL adjustment of their status overseas for 15-20 years, is ludicrous, absurd and un-American. We, therefore, oppose any restrictions on the current family-based immigration laws.
Moreover, our current laws providing adjustment of status to permanent residency and naturalization for immigrants of outstanding scholarly abilities on whom our country has so heavily depended in the past fifty years, as well as the same stipulations afforded to legitimately verified political asylum seekers, must continue.
Finally, we must put an expeditious
legal mechanism in place, so that family members of Americans overseas, who do
not seek permanent residency in the
*The authors, an attorney and a university
professor, respectively, are with The Voice of Iranian-Americans, gratis, in
[To be printed on your personal, professional, or business letterhead]
Senator Hillary Clinton
476 Russell Senate Office Building
Senator Charles Schumer
313 Hart Senate Office Building
RE: Concerns with the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007
Dear Senator Clinton/Schumer:
I write today to express [my/our/my company’s/my organization’s] concern with several provisions of the proposed Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (“the Act”).
not that this proposal is completely without merit; we applaud certain concepts
contained in the Act: there must be a pathway to legalization available to the
approximately 12 million undocumented individuals whose presence here is
essential to their
Similarly, the DREAM provisions offer a much-needed solution for undocumented young people, brought here innocently as children only to find themselves without prospects for college or employment upon graduation from high school. Of course, the agricultural worker provisions are a long overdue relief to our nation’s farmers.
much of what is proposed in the Act will not solve the problems which face us,
will not have the intended deterrent effect, and will not ultimately benefit
1. The Act Dramatically Harms the Ability of Families to Remain United
By eliminating all of the current family preference categories and limiting future family-sponsored immigration to spouses and minor children of citizens and permanent residents, the Act sends a mixed message about our commitment to families. By capping at 40,000 per year the number of parents of citizens permitted to obtain permanent residence, we call into question the value we place on our elderly. The ability to sponsor adult children (those already over 21 years of age) and adult siblings would be completely eliminated, further separating once-close families.
The justification for reducing or eliminating these avenues for family sponsorship is apparently in part so that these immigrant visas may be allotted to the employment-based categories. While certainly true that not nearly enough immigrant visas have been reserved in this area, and while maintaining the competitiveness of American businesses is certainly a worthwhile goal, this should not come at the expense of families.
The changes to the family preference
classification system send the wrong message to prospective immigrants and to
the world about
The Act Inadequately Serves the Needs of
The proposed “point system” contained in the Act fails to take into account the dynamic requirements of the global marketplace in which our nation’s businesses must compete. By accommodating only a very few (about 40,000 per year over the next five to eight years) and favoring only those with the highest degree level, the new system continues one of the worst features of the current strict H-1B visa limits: it encourages many of the best products of America’s system of higher education to take their degrees abroad to benefit the global competition.
Further, many of the categories upon which American employers depend would be eliminated: the Extraordinary Ability category for proven high achievers who might not have advanced degrees, Outstanding Professor and Researcher petitions for our best academics and innovators, Intra-company Transferees to ensure the companies can deploy the best executive talent to where it is most needed, and National Interest Waivers for those serving the vital needs of the U.S.
The point system also eliminates the labor market tests conducted under the current system to protect native-born workers. The system now in place was completely revamped only two years ago at the considerable effort and expense of the U.S. Department of Labor. The new streamlined, web-based process is more effective and efficient than ever before, with stronger enforcement measures and more significant penalties for violators while also substantially reducing processing time (quite literally from six years to six months for New York cases).
The point system leaves U.S. employers without a way to respond to a rapidly changing and highly competitive global economy, and leaves U.S. workers without protection where the U.S. labor market can meet employers’ needs – all while setting too low a numerical limit on employment-based immigration.
The Act Fails to Provide a Path to Permanent Residence for the Future Flow of
Essential and Highly Skilled Workers, and So Fails to Provide a True Deterrent
to Remaining in the
While the Act provides a much-needed
temporary worker option in the Y visa classification, the Y visa option is
problematic on several levels. The
Y-1 provides little continuity to
There is no pathway to permanent
residence in the Act for most foreign nationals in Y visa situations - they
would hardly qualify under the point system as highly educated workers, and even
the existing preference system provides no real option in most cases. While a miniscule 10,000 immigrant visas
per year are allotted for "essential" Y workers (compare this to the 400,000 Y-1
visas allotted per year), it appears that even these could not be sought while
the temporary worker remained present in the
a realistic pathway to permanent residence, there is little incentive for a
foreign national to use this program – or to depart the
4. The Act Simply Does Not Allocate Sufficient Immigrant Visas In the Family and Employment Categories to Meet Known Demand, Thus Ensuring Continued Backlogs
After the initial eight-year period during which most immigrant visas will be allocated to clearance of the current backlogs, the legal immigration program contemplated in the Act calls for a mere fraction of the immigrant visas needed: 380,000 employment-based immigrant visas and 127,000 family-based immigrant visas, plus a certain number of refugee-based immigrant visas – slightly over 500,000 annually.
Current economic projections and assessments of family unity requirements indicate that actual immigrant visa needs will be over three times this number: at least 1.8 million visas per year. New backlogs will therefore begin to form almost immediately, and with unreasonably long waits for families to be together undocumented immigration will almost certainly continue.
If the Act is to offer a real solution to the current backlog problems, it needs to provide for a realistic number of immigrant visas in the employment-based and family preference categories.
5. The Act Includes Barriers to Legalization Too Difficult to Overcome, Thus Rendering Many Proposed Benefits Practically Useless
While the Act finally addresses the issue of a real path to legalization for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants and does so without a much-dreaded “amnesty,” some of the requirements are so onerous as to make the program virtually impossible to use. If the Z visa and the ensuing legalization provisions are unusable for most of the undocumented, the problem of the 12 million will not be solved.
In its current form, the Act
requires undocumented immigrants to obtain a Z visa and wait a significant
period of time (eight to thirteen years) before becoming eligible for permanent
residence. As proposed, the Act
contains a “touchback” provision requiring the undocumented immigrant to return
to their home country and process through the
In the course of the legalization
process, significant fees and fines would need to be paid (exclusive of any
legal fees) - the cost for a single undocumented immigrant in Z visa status to
legalize would be at least $9,000, and could go much higher. Spouses, children, and other relatives
not already present in the
The fear of the touchback provision,
along with the unreasonably high fees and inability to obtain permanent
residence for family members not in the
6. The Act Unduly Burdens American Small Business
In several ways, the provisions of the Act place a serious and disproportionate burden on small business.
The new Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS), even if designed as a simple-to-use, web based system, will be difficult to implement for trade, agricultural, and other non-office based businesses such as those likely to use the new Y and Z classifications. The need to re-verify all employees using the EEVS system will be difficult for smaller business entities without dedicated human resources staff, not to mention the overall difficulty of keeping up with the increasingly complex regulatory framework.
small business makes simple and honest mistakes in documentation or statutory
interpretation, it will face dramatically increased fines under the Act. In some cases, fines increase 25 times
per occurrence over the current amounts – easily enough to bankrupt a small
business with minimal cash reserves, and likely placing several
On a grander scale, the substitution of a point system favoring the most educated for the current preference classification system eliminates the ability of smaller professional firms to employ the workers they most often need, and deprives them of a voice in determining which workers are most critical to expansion of the American economy. These businesses will be left without a way to retain qualified and talented workers – often educated by American schools – who they have already trained and who have become essential to their success.
a system which considers the needs of
In fact, not only do our businesses need access to qualified immigrant labor to perform jobs which citizens won’t do or can’t do (at least not in sufficient numbers), but our businesses often need immigrants to create them: a January 2007 study by the Weiser Group entitled “American Made: The Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Professionals on U.S. Competitiveness,” determined that immigrants have started one in every four venture-backed U.S. companies which have gone public since 1990, representing a market capitalization of more than $500 billion (Google, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems and eBay are just a few of these). The study found that 47% of current venture-back startup companies have immigrant founders.
Thank you for taking the time to review these concerns. We trust that [my/our] views as constituents will inform your positions on the Act as the Senate continues to debate this proposal and its various amendments.
Very truly yours,
[Title, and address and phone/email if applicable]
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