National Day of Action: Immigration Advocates Head to DC
Friday April 7 is the National Day of Action for immigration. Immigration lawyers, activists, advocates, and immigrants descend upon Washington DC and Capitol Hill to vocalize their concerns with the immigration system. Last year’s Day of Action occurred on May 19, which was the day that President Obama’s Executive Actions – DAPA and new DACA – were supposed to begin. They have not yet taken effect. A federal judge in Texas struck them down for abrogating the Administrative Procedures Act and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld that decision. The Supreme Court is expected to make its decision in June of this year.
The National Day of Action is not limited to one piece of the immigration system. Advocates will be championing other aspects of immigration reform, such as changing the H-1B cap, increasing entrepreneurial opportunities, and giving migrants fleeing persecution access to counsel and a chance to have their cases heard.
The main motivation of the National Day of Action is to exhort members of Congress to understand facts about immigration, how it benefits the United States, and demonstrate that immigration reform is desired by the country at large. A booklet distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association highlights important facts about immigration in the United States.
Immigrants have created businesses and generated business income in their states. California, Texas, Florida, and Ohio are four states in which a combined 1.3 million immigrants started businesses and generated over 58 million dollars in business income. Immigrant-owned small businesses employ 4.7 million people. Legalization of undocumented immigrants would have a significant impact on the tax revenue, to which undocumented migrants contribute to (state and local taxes) already.
The National Day of Action urges reform in all aspects of immigration: humanitarian, family, and business. Immigration reform has been oft-discussed but not enacted. AILA is touting the election year as an impetus to change.
H-1B Facts and Information (And What About This Cap?)
In honor of April 1 being the first day that H-1B cap-subject petitions can be filed, here is some information about the H-1B program from the American Immigration Council. The first link is a fact sheet. The second link is a column about the cap and the possibility of increasing it.
2015 DHS Statistics for Enforcement and Removal
The Department of Homeland Security has released statistics for immigration enforcement for Fiscal Year 2015. DHS apprehended 406,595 with a total of 462,463 removals and returns. The Border Patrol made 337,117 apprehensions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed or returned 235,413 individuals. 91% of the returned individuals were convicted criminals, which has been a priority in reducing threats to public safety, border security, and national security. The data also indicate that fewer individuals are attempting to cross the border without authorization
H-1B Visa from Houston
The Houston Chronicle published an article on H-1B visas, angling with the usual focus on Silicon Valley but also adding a focus on Houston. It notes that Houston is a city with many businesses relying on the H-1B visa, which allows skilled foreign national workers to work in the United States with a sponsoring employer for a maximum of two 3 year periods.
The article’s focus (outside the geographic locations) is on the number available. It recites the history of the H-1B visa: Congress set a cap of 65,000 in 1990 and added 20,000 visas with a specific Master’s and above category in the United States. There is an unfortunate conflation with the H-1B visa as the sole work visa program, as there are plenty of other employment-based visas in the United States: E, L, O, P. Regardless, the article’s concentration on the H-1B visa situation highlights the geographic and wider country limits on the visa and how certain employers are lobbying for more availability. The cap has not always remained stagnant. There was a period of increasing availability that ended in 2004. (the article omits this).
The practical implications of the low supply of H-1B visas versus the high demand is that applicants are subject to a lottery. Rather than being adjudicated on the merits, the application must first be selected to be adjudicated. Last year, there were 250,000 applications vying for adjudication. All H-1B visa applications must be submitted within a specific timeframe and the visa, if approved, begins on October 1. There are exceptions, as there are certain H-1B visas that are “cap-exempt.”