Bernie Sanders and US Immigration
Politics – Bernie Sanders’ Immigration Plan
As someone perhaps looking to relocate to the US, it is good to learn about the political landscape here while Americans try to decide who to support for the 2016 Presidential Election. To ease you into this 2016 political cycle we are profiling the US Immigration positions of each of the main candidates.
Last month, we discussed Donald Trump’s immigration plan. This month, we want to hop to the other side of the aisle and introduce you to a man who might soon become the frontrunner for the Democratic Nomination: Senator Bernie Sanders, the ranking minority member on the United States Senate Budget Committee.
Recently, Senator Sanders has unveiled an exhaustive plan for reforming US Immigration policy. While it is full of the usual political stuff, we were surprised by several of the specific immigration policies that Sanders chose to embrace.
The Goals of Bernie Sanders’ Immigration Reform
We are going to begin by looking at Sanders’ broad immigration goals. According to his website, www.berniesanders.com, Sanders’ immigration plan has six intended outcomes:
- Dismantle inhumane deportation programs and detention centers;
- Pave the way for a swift and fair legislative roadmap to citizenship for the eleven million undocumented immigrants;
- Ensure our border remains secure while respecting local communities;
- Regulate the future flow of immigrants by modernizing the visa system and rewriting bad agreements;
- Enhance access to justice and reverse the criminalization of immigrants;
- Establish parameters for independent oversight of key U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies.
So what does this really mean?
Expanding Benefits and Limiting Access to H-1B Visas
The H-1B Visa Program for Graduate / Skilled Workers allows employers to sponsor certain qualified workers for a US Visa. Workers must have a bachelor’s degree or twelve years of experience in their field. Historically, these workers are allowed to come to the United States with their families for 3-6 years, but their spouse and children are not given work permits. H-1B visa holders then have to reapply for a new H-1B visa every time they change jobs. The current laws cap the number of H-1B visas given each year at 65,000.
Sanders, a long time H-1B visa skeptic, would want to place one additional significant limitation on the H-1B approval process. Sanders has recommended that employers be required to pay above average wages to foreign workers to prove that there is a job scarcity before hiring an alien. While this may sound good for the protection of American workers and their jobs, it could result in far fewer employers hiring foreign workers because of the added cost, or create a rise in the cost of production for many companies who are so short of staff that they have to hire them anyway. Moreover, think of the legal challenges if foreign workers were paid more than their US Citizen counterparts who are doing the same job. Clearly, this all needs to be thought through better.
However, while the barrier of entry would be more difficult for H-1B applicants, Sanders would grant two significant additional benefits to H-1B Visa workers: 1) allowing the family of workers to receive work permits, and 2) changing the program so H-1B workers would not be tied to a single employer, but could change employers at will. Sanders argues that these changes to the H-1B program will help end the economic exploitation of immigrant workers.
Rejecting “Merit-Based” Immigration Options
Sanders’ US Immigration plan includes language that could mean rejecting “merit-based” immigration policies. Currently, the United States rightly recognizes that certain aliens merit special immigration privileges because of their talents and offers options like the EB1 Green Card for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, the O1 Visa Work Authorization for Aliens at the Top of their Profession and the National Interest Waiver Green Card for Aliens Who Could Greatly Benefit the US Economy. In all of these options, aliens only have to show that they have made certain achievements in their career, and then they are fast-tracked into the United States based on their own individual merit.
When Senator Sanders says he “rejects the so-called ‘merit-based’ ‘social engineering’ immigration policies that discriminate against women,” he is signaling an intention to end the practice of issuing EB1 Green Cards, NIW Green Cards, and O1 Visas. While Sanders argues that these “merit-based” immigration options discriminate against women, in our experience, many of our “merit-based” clients are women, and closing off these options would be a blow to the United States’ ability to attract talented individuals of both sexes to this country.
Pathway to Citizenship and Humanitarian Treatment for Undocumented Immigrants
These issues aside, the main part of Sanders’ plan addresses his desire to grant new rights, protections and safeguards for undocumented immigrants in the United States. Not only would Sanders seek to provide a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants, he would also seek to end the injustices of our current detention and deportation system.
What to Expect?
There is no way to predict what will come next in this election. Given that Senator Bernie Sanders has had a great deal of experience working with immigration issues in Congress, we hope, if he is elected, that he would be able to enact common sense immigration reform for our broken immigration system. However, many of our clients might be concerned by some of his other radical policies. We do not endorse any candidate. We will be sure to discuss the immigration plans of more candidates in our next issue.
US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
Tel: 310 496 4292
Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.
Please note that nothing contained in this website or link therefrom shall be regarded as providing legal advice. Please contact us directly for legal advice specific to your situation. Thank You.
Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.
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