Ted Cruz and US Immigration
Politics – Ted Cruz’s Immigration Plan
As the presidential race heats up here in the United States, we wanted to make sure that our readers understand the landscape of possible changes that might be brought to the immigration system after the 2016 election. We have been profiling the US Immigration positions for each of the main candidates and spent last month focused on Bernie Sanders‘ plan.
This month we are going to be shifting back to the Republican side of the race and look at the new frontrunner in the Republican Primary, Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
A Brief Overview of Ted Cruz’s Immigration Reform Goals
When tackling the issue of Immigration, Ted Cruz lists three broad goals:
1) Strengthening national security,
2) Enhancing the value of citizenship, and
3) Stopping illegal immigration.
Cruz’s plan to reach these goals is outlined in three steps:
- First: Secure the border, once and for all. No other reform is meaningful if we do not fix our porous southern border.
- Second: Strengthen and enforce our existing immigration laws. We must reverse President Obama’s enforcement “priorities,” which allow a large number of criminal aliens to unlawfully remain in the United States.
- Third: Pursue reforms to the legal-immigration system that will prioritize the interests and well-beings of Americans. As a nation built by those fleeing persecution and seeking freedom, we must once again welcome and celebrate legal immigrants while at the same time protecting American jobs and interests.
So what does this really mean?
Criminalization of Visa Overstays
While Cruz devotes a lot of time to discussing how he will enforce immigration laws to punish, deport and stop illegal immigration, hidden in the details of his plan is a proposition that could negatively affect a number of lawful immigrants. Ted Cruz intends to make overstaying a visa a federal crime and classify the crime as a felony for repeat offenders. This means that simple mistakes, miscalculations or travel delays could rise to the level of a criminal offense with fines, jail-time and a criminal record. Yikes!
While this will certainly seem over-burdensome to many immigrants, Cruz argues that a huge number (40%) of undocumented immigrants came to the US legally and overstayed their visa. Current regulations impose a ban preventing those who overstay their visas from returning to the US for a period of three to ten years. Cruz notes that perhaps criminalizing the behavior could incentivize immigrants to ‘play by the rules’ and subsequently make more room for those who intend to honor their visa commitments.
Comprehensive H-1B Visa Reform
The H-1B Visa Program for Graduate / Skilled Workers, which allows employers to sponsor certain qualified workers for a US Visa, has been a hot topic for years within US immigration circles.
Currently, these workers only need to have a bachelor’s degree (or twelve years of experience in their field). Companies are required to complete a labor certification process, recruit domestically, provide evidence that no qualified US workers could be found, and then attest that they are paying foreign workers at least as much as they pay domestic workers in the same position.
Like his political contemporaries, Cruz has a plan that would create additional requirements for companies seeking to hire H-1B Workers, and for foreign workers seeking to come to the United States under an H-1B Visa.
Additional Requirements for Companies Hiring H-1B Workers
Under Cruz’s plan, companies who “lay off” (or “fire”) any worker would have to wait 1 to 2 years before being allowed to bring in any H-1B foreign workers. Additionally, companies who hire H-1B foreign workers would have to assist those foreign workers in the Green Card process, or be barred from bringing in any future H-1B workers. Companies will also have to provide sworn statements and documentation detailing their efforts to hire Americans before being allowed to start the H-1B Visa process.
The added costs imposed on companies from these requirements could make them more reluctant to beginning the process of hiring a foreign worker. Cruz couches these severe limitations in language that points to his desire to protect American workers from being “replaced” by foreigners competing for their jobs.
Additional Requirements for Foreign Workers
Cruz’s plan would also change the H-1B program to allow only individuals with advanced degrees to apply for an H-1B Visa. Individuals with advanced degrees would be required to provide proof that that school is recognized by US Immigration as a valid, accredited school; preference would be given to workers with degrees from US schools.
Furthermore, if unemployment in the US remains high, Cruz has indicated that he would halt any attempts to increase the H-1B quota, leaving it at its current level of 65,000 per year.
The Reason for Additional Requirements
Cruz argues that there has been widespread abuse of the H-1B system, citing reports of companies replacing American workers with cheaper foreign workers, contrary to the stated intent of the H-1B visa program. In fact, based on these reports, Cruz has indicated that he will suspend the H-1B program for 180 days to conduct audits and reform.
Increasing the Cost of Citizenship
In addition to the changes to the H-1B system, Cruz has his eye on changes to the US naturalization process. Currently, if you have had a Green Card for a certain number of years, maintained continual residence during that time and demonstrate a good moral character, then you can become a United States Citizen.
Cruz wants to develop a points-based “citizenship program” that evaluates eight different factors that would determine which immigrants can “best contribute to the advancement and prosperity of our society.”
These factors are:
(1) Formal education or training
(2) Valuable professional experience or trade skills
(3) Resources available to invest or create jobs
(4) Lifetime earning potential
(5) Civilian public service of military skills
(6) Language skills
(7) Ties to the United States, and
(8) Other skills, resources, or attributes that contribute to our nation
In addition to making it more difficult for immigrants to become US Citizens, Cruz also stated an intent to “end birthright citizenship.” Cruz argues that it makes no sense to provide the “tremendous incentive of automatic citizenship” to the children of those who enter the country illegally. Cruz further contends that the original reasons for birthright citizenship was only meant to guarantee citizenship to the children of slaves, and thus no longer exists.
Cruz wants to complete the biometric tracking system designed to record entries and exits of US visa holders. Cruz likened US visa holders to Amazon and FedEx packages, and noted the need to be constantly aware of their movements by tracking them. Cruz’s administration, should it come to power, is also considering reporting requirements for all immigrants with the subsequent fees to help pay for these systems. In fact, one news article suggests that “the price for setting up and maintaining the screening system could be covered by nominal fees added to visa applications.” Speaking of fees…
Increased Immigration Fees
Aside from the immigration process, candidates are equally focused on how to secure the US border and prevent illegal entrants. Cruz’s plan for securing the border involves building a border wall, tripling the number of border patrol agents, increasing the use of aerial surveillance at the border, providing additional equipment and technology along the border, and finishing a biometric tracking system. All of these measures are expensive and could possibly mean higher immigration fees for lawful immigrants. The American Immigration Council estimated that tripling the number of Border Patrol agents alone would cost billions of dollars.
What to Expect?
There is no way to predict what will come next in this election. While the number of Republican candidates has dwindled, there are still five major candidates who remain in contention (only one of them can secure the nomination). While Senator Cruz is the frontrunner in one recent poll, this can change quickly.
As we said last month, we do not endorse any candidate, and 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
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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.
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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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