Blogging hiatus will end shortly. In the meantime, here’s a post from my friend Tony Weigel of the Weigel Law Office in Grain Valley, Missouri who is an immigration lawyer and a member of AILA.
Wisdom is a big, beautiful thing embodying the collective knowledge of past trials and errors. It is essential in finding the right words or making the best decisions. Most importantly, wisdom permits us to stand on the shoulders of our predecessors. As an aging American, each passing day illuminates the importance of our country, its ideals, and the arc of its history that elevated the rule of law over rule by fiat. Our country’s immigration laws, to include those focused on employment sponsorship, are being placed on a perilous course. At stake is a generation’s worth of innovation and advancement, the loss of which could diminish our country’s essence as a nation of immigrants.
The Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have taken and propose to take a number of drastic non-legislative actions, to include: the creation of the “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order; removal of the Entrepreneur Parole regulation; changes to student/exchange visitor visa status policy; a policy change regarding potential removal of sponsored workers; curtailing due process for applications and petitions; and eliminating work authorization for certain H-4 spouses. To date, Congress has taken no meaningful action to exercise oversight, evaluate their consistency with statutes, or assess potential negative impacts. Many in the U.S. are quite alarmed. They should be too.
Since its inception, our country has stood as a beacon of hope, a place of refuge, and a land of infinite opportunity. Our revolution rejected governance by one person’s frequent, unprincipled whims. The recognition and protection of individual rights and the rule of law are key principles that have evolved and endured. Concepts of fundamental fairness, due process, and equal protection under the law exist as the bedrock of our rule of law. They have greatly impacted our immigration laws over the last 50 years.
Congress established the statutory framework of our employment-related, merit-based immigration system in 1990. The legislative and regulatory histories of the Immigration Act of 1990 document the government’s thorough review of the pre-existing system, its strengths and shortcomings. In the words of President George H.W. Bush, “This Act recognizes the fundamental importance and historic contributions of immigrants to our country;” and “… will encourage the immigration of exceptionally talented people, such as scientists, engineers, and educators.” Looking back, the impact of the incorporation of foreign talent to our country is nothing short of amazing, making the early-1990’s seem like the Stone Age. This fact seems lost on many people under the age of 35.
As one now AARP-eligible, I can recall the following: navigating Atlanta with a paper map and the aid of gracious convenience store clerks (sometimes the same clerk twice on the same trip); rushing to deliver forgotten paper airline tickets to my mother’s group of business travelers so they could board a flight; and communication options generally limited to in-person meetings, mail, or landline phone. Advances in medicine, technology, science, and engineering are due to years of tireless work by groups of talented people. The reasonable, reflective actions by lawmakers opened the door for international talent to help positively change the U.S. and the world. It is difficult to imagine how our lives would be different if our government rashly and unwisely chose a different path and built artificial walls around our nation’s workforce and economy.
Those who trumpet free markets favor competition over complacence. Complacence results in flaccidity, stagnation, and resting upon exhausting laurels. Competition drives, it excites, it empowers. It is embodied in the marketing theme of Garmin, a global GPS technology leader, “Beat Yesterday.” It doesn’t matter if we like the change that competition presents or not. It persists. One cannot hide from the traffic of a global economy elevated high above the city streets deluding that it will bend to arbitrary dictates. Our country has enabled and advanced growth around the world for the last century. Skilled immigration has greatly contributed to these gains in recent decades. It is misguided and foolish to disengage from the global economy we helped create, yet the Administration has set immigration policies in place to do just that.
Wisdom can be gleaned from wise people or it can come from making new mistakes. It is critical that informed opinions from industry and pro-immigration groups be aired and evaluated publicly alongside the Administration’s policy makers and the agency heads. Our country should recognize and correct the reality-based perception that we are closing up shop, abandoning current leadership positions, and foregoing future opportunities in fields like AI, energy, telemedicine, and driver-assisted transportation.
International talent has significantly contributed to our country’s greatness. The unaltered laws enacted by Congress have made this possible. Policies and regulations affecting employment-related immigration should be administered consistently with the statutes, our rule of law, and with the time-tested, pro-immigration policy goals that have significantly enhanced job opportunities for U.S. workers.
Congress should exercise immediate oversight over the Administration and its agencies that seem to be on a neverending, restrictionist joyride. There is a cliff directly ahead and wise leaders don’t intentionally drive off of cliffs.