With the Southwest Border under the control of cartels and American workers struggling to make ends meet, the House of Representatives is spending this week considering a bill to eliminate limits on legal immigration to the United States. The bill is H.R. 3648, the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act of 2022, otherwise known by the somewhat-tortured acronym EAGLE. No doubt our national bird is flying far and fast away from any association with this misguided legislation as should any Member of Congress with common sense.
The EAGLE Act eliminates per-country caps on employment-based green cards and allows almost all guestworkers who apply for admission temporarily to stay permanently with employment authorization. (Per-country caps were created to ensure opportunity for people worldwide and diversity of applications, so that a small number of nationalities couldn’t dominate the visa system.) The bill also allows the children of aliens applying for green cards to qualify for green cards based on their parent’s application regardless of their own age. So, a 30-year-old “child” of an applicant would qualify for a green card based on being a minor dependent when the application was filed. That “child” would even qualify if the primary applicant parent were deceased before the application was approved. Instead of limiting chain migration, Congress is expanding its scope and scale.
This legislation would turn the legal immigration system, presently designed to provide temporary relief to employers when no American worker is available to fill the job, into an express lane for permanent residence in the United States. It makes clear that the intention of Congress and the American business community is not to train and employ Americans, but instead use immigration as a perpetual assembly line of new cheap workers to permanently remove jobs from access by American workers.
If you’re wondering how this helps American workers desperate for a life raft in the present economic situation, I cannot provide any clarity. The EAGLE Act offers some limited H-1B reforms that are needed, but the price paid for such narrow reforms is overwhelming. It is also telling that limited reforms to prevent fraud and discrimination against workers in one visa category requires such a cost at all. One would think Congress would see preventing fraud in the immigration system as the point, in and of itself, as opposed to using it only as a cover as they blow up the legal immigration system at the behest of corporate America.
At a time where there is plenty to fix in the immigration system, this legislation fixes nothing and instead makes it more likely that backlogs will expand as almost every temporary visa holder will be offered the chance to apply for permanent residence along with their dependents. Only in Congress could the fix for overwhelming backlogs be to increase the number of potential applicants exponentially. The EAGLE Act does not include any corresponding staff increases at the Departments of State, Homeland Security, or Labor to accommodate the increase in demand or authorities that the legislation creates. So, what will the outcome be for already overburdened and under-staffed agencies if the EAGLE Act becomes law? Anyone who has had their boss respond to complaints of overwork with yet more assignments knows how this will end. Either the agencies cry havoc and rubber stamp approvals with no concern for fraud, or the backlogs grow even longer at a faster rate than before.
Instead of legislation to help American workers, the government is transforming the immigration system to help corporate America hire the lowest bidder. Current Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, the supposed guardian for LABOR, is going around talking about how we need to expand our dependence on foreign labor. He said, “When I talk to employers in this country, almost every single person I bring it up with all agree with immigration reform.” I hope you notice who he said he was talking to. Marty Walsh, the Secretary of Labor, is talking to employers, but no mention of employees. The business community already has the Department of Commerce, but they have apparently taken over Labor and every other Department as well in pursuit of their goal of cheap labor.
The EAGLE Act is the latest sign that Congress is furiously waiving the white flag of surrender to the business community. They are seeking to expand our economy’s dependence on perpetual waves of foreign workers to prop up a business community that refuses to pay American workers a fair wage or innovate their business models. American workers are hurting, and Congress appears intent on hurting them more.
JARED CULVER is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA