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On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1044, the Fairness For High-Skilled Immigrants Act, by a 365-to-65 margin. This legislation, if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available to 15% and eliminates the 7% cap for employment-based immigrant visas.

It would also remove an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China. The bill would also establish transition rules for employment-based visas from FY2020-FY2022, by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the most significant number of recipients of such visas. Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85% shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044) is the latest incarnation of legislation that has been introduced in Congress multiple times but never enacted. Its future remains uncertain, as several Senators on both sides of the aisle, including former co-sponsor Rand Paul (R-Ky.), already have placed holds on the Senate companion measure.

However, Sen. Paul's hold on S. 386, the Senate companion bill, is based on his desire for the bill to include a provision for immigrant nurses. The nurses, most of whom come from the Philippines, by some estimates could see a wait time of seven to eight years for green cards if per-country caps are eliminated. Unlike other professionals, nurses aren't eligible for H-1B visas and therefore cannot work in the U.S. until their green cards are approved, as reported by Bloomberg

According to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) who introduced the bill:

[H.R. 1044 is a] modest but important change to our immigration laws, [the bill would] alleviate hardships associated with lengthy visa backlogs without increasing the total number of visas.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a co-sponsor of H.R. 1044, stated that per-country caps and the resultant backlog are,

depressing wages, hurting American workers, and hindering further economic growth. Seventy-year backlogs are only going to dissuade talented individuals from coming to the United States.

Despite its bipartisan appeal, the bill would reward companies that bring in large numbers of Indian workers on H-1B specialty occupation visas, who displace U.S.-born tech workers. According to Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies:

This bill would dramatically change our employment green card distribution system by eliminating a safeguard that prevents green card numbers from being monopolized by citizens of one or two countries. Known as the “per-country cap,” this provision ensures that the employment-based visas are available to a truly global pool of talent in a wide variety of occupational sectors. It should not be scrapped; eliminating it would benefit one industry (Big Tech) and two groups of applicants (Indian tech workers and Chinese investors) and squeeze out all others.

If this legislation is passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump, applicants from high-population countries like China and India would undoubtedly crowd out applicants from other countries. Not only would this reduce diversity, but it would also harm American workers. Workers from certain countries, such as India, tend to be lower-skilled and are willing to work for lower wages while flooding the U.S. labor market, resulting in Americans being at an even greater disadvantage competing against foreign workers.

According to the Congressional Research Service:

Shorter wait times for Legal Permanent Resident status might actually incentivize greater numbers of nationals from India, China, and the Philippines to seek employment-based Legal Permanent Resident status. If that were to occur, the reduction in the number of approved petitions pending might be short-lived. In addition, absent a per-country ceiling, a handful of countries could conceivably dominate employment-based immigration, possibly benefitting certain industries that employ foreign workers from those countries, at the expense of foreign workers from other countries and other industries that might employ them.

For a fact sheet on H.R. 1044, please visit CIS.org
For the Bloomberg article on H.R. 1044, please click here.

Here are the 65 Members who voted AGAINST H.R. 1044:

DEMOCRATS

  • Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA2)
  • Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD4)
  • Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI13)
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN5)
  • Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY9)
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH9)
  • Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH11)
  • Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC6)

REPUBLICANS

  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL3)
  • Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL4)
  • Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL5)
  • Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL6)
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ4)
  • Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ5)
  • Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA4)
  • Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA50)
  • Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL2)
  • Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL3)
  • Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL8)
  • Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL11)
  • Rep. Gregory Steube (R-FL17)
  • Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL19)
  • Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA1)
  • Rep. Drew Ferguson IV (R-GA3)
  • Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA9)
  • Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA11)
  • Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA12)
  • Rep. Steve King (R-IA4)
  • Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA1)
  • Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA3)
  • Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA4)
  • Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA5)
  • Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA6)
  • Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD1)
  • Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI1)
  • Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI2)
  • Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS1)
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC5)
  • Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC6)
  • Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC8)
  • Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC11)
  • Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE1)
  • Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE3)
  • Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH8)
  • Rep. John Joyce (R-PA13)
  • Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC3)
  • Rep. Ralph Norman Jr. (R-SC5)
  • Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD)
  • Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN2)
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN4)
  • Rep. Mark Green (R-TN7)
  • Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN8)
  • Rep. Louie Gohmert Jr. (R-TX1)
  • Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX6)
  • Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX11)
  • Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX19)
  • Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX21)
  • Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX24)
  • Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX26)
  • Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX27)
  • Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI5)
  • Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI6)
  • Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI7)
  • Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV2)
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY)

Updated: Wed, Jul 17th 2019 @ 8:43am EDT