Irish Immigration Bill Raises Questions in Latino, Asian Communities

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) recently announced that an immigration bill he filed last year was “about to pop.”

The measure, dubbed the Irish immigration bill, would qualify Ireland for the E-3 visa program which currently applies exclusively to Australian nationals. The bill would increase the number of work visas allocated to the Irish by 10,500 per year.

Brown’s measure has been added to a broader bill introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) that would make it easier for high-skilled foreign workers to obtain work visas in the U.S. Schumer’s bill is a version of the Fairness for Highly Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011 (H.R. 3012) -which passed the House with broad bipartisan support in November.

Brown argued that this is a “no brainer” in his state where there is a strong demand for such a visa program because of “family and cultural ties.”

The senator, who is facing a tough re-election bid this November and stands to gain from the support of Massachusetts’ large Irish population, lobbied the powerful ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), to allow the piece of legislation to move forward and provide a legal pathway for Irish to come to the U.S.

“Supporters argue that the strong cultural ties between the US and Ireland should be recognized in immigration policy,” wrote Noah Bierman in the Boston Globe,  “especially as the Irish economy falters and thousands of skilled workers are clamoring for opportunity across the Atlantic.”

But why should the Irish get a special bill? Filipinos and Chinese have been in the United States since the 1700s, and the Philippines has had a “special bond” with the U.S. which continues to the present. The borders, citizens, economies, and politics of Mexico and the U.S. have been and will always be inextricably linked. Thousands of professionals from the Philippines, China, Mexico, and other nations also clamor for America’s promise of opportunity.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Immigration Task Force Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, does not believe any one nationality should be favored.

“I would not support Senator Brown’s standalone bill to add Ireland to the E-3 visa program,” he said.

The author of the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 1796), Honda would rather see comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the family-sponsored and employment-based visa backlogs in many nations, rather than just one.

Michael Innis-Jiménez, a University of Alabama professor and expert on Latino and Labor issues said focusing on just one ethnic group won’t fill the high and low-skilled gaps in the American workforce.

“Although I admire Scott's advocacy for an extremely vibrant and influential ethnic and national group within his constituency of Massachusetts, the underlying problem is that the immigration system needs a complete overhaul,” Innis- Jiménez said.

Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration tossed race into the mix, arguing that measures like Brown’s favor white immigrants.

“They’re basically upset because they don’t have the special privileges that they once had,” Beck told the Boston Globe, referring to Irish advocates. “They have to share those privileges with Latinos and Africans and Asians.”

Innis-Jiménez, who is of Irish and Mexican descent, admitted that he thinks race is a factor.

“Sure, I think race is always in play with national-level U.S. immigration policy,” he said. “But I think it is a bit more complicated.  It is also about economic class and political clout.  Few Americans are going to complain about more white, educated Irish immigrants. Most of them will end up in the Northeast.”

Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national organization that links 25 state-based business coalitions and advocates for immigration reform, is just glad that steps, albeit small ones, are being taken to address the fraught and complex issue.

“After five years of people in Congress, and especially Republicans, not willing to touch immigration at all, I’m very encouraged – and this isn’t the only bill – to see some Republicans taking small bites of the apple,” she said.

There’s no hard evidence that Brown prefers one color of immigrants over another. Jacoby argues that the impetus behind Brown’s measure is purely political. “It’s not because Scott Brown’s a racist,” she said. “It’s because he has Irish people in his state and he needs to get re-elected.”

But Brown’s tough stance against unauthorized immigration and opposition to the DREAM Act which mainly impacts Latinos, raises suspicion and protest from other ethnic groups that are as much part of America’s history and future as the Irish.

Moreover, America’s sordid history of excluding, and at times oppressing, non-European immigrants has left a bad taste in the mouths of ethnic minorities.

Despite appearances, the U.S. remains the land of opportunity and promise. Millions worldwide want the chance to come and toil for their American dream. We should have clear-eyed, reasoned, and fair policy that picks foreign workers based on what our economy demands not on country of origin. Most certainly not on the color of skin.

At any rate, this entire discussion may be moot. Politico reports that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is opposing Brown’s pet bill out of concern that it could “hurt high-skilled American jobs.”  And this is an election year. No one will seriously attempt, much less pass, anything before November.


You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog.


Feet in Two Worlds is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and the Sirus Fund.


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Comments [24]

Immigration Business Plan from USA

I think your post is very worth reading. I really admire your way of writing and I wish I could do the same. Immigration Business Plan

Jan. 18 2013 03:45 AM

Europeans are greatly discriminated against when it comes to immigration. Remember, the Irish came here BEFORE labor laws and unions and built much of America. Latinos came AFTER. What did the Indians build? Tepees?

May. 18 2012 03:31 PM
James from USA

Indians are not wanted anywhere in the world, including India. Wherever they immigrate, they do so in large numbers, have large families, re-unite and bring in extended families. In other words, they take over the country/town they immigrate to. The UK, parts of Canada, Australia, Scandanavia etc. all bear witness to their rapid growth in numbers. However, with their fake degrees, fake work ethic, scams, and the speed with which they turn neighbourhoods into slums by overpopulation is what turns people against immigration from these countries. Most Indians aspire to be pen pushers, what countries need is risk takers, blue collar workers, not welfare dependent immigrants. Surely if these people were so talented, India would not be the begging bowl slum country it is.

May. 05 2012 09:25 PM
Tom from Minnesota

We need to allow more northern European immigrants in the US. They were the ones who made this country great in the first place.

Apr. 21 2012 01:50 PM

In the case of Australia (the only country which has the option of the E-3 visa currently), the E-3 does not lead to permanent residency/green card, which would likely be the case if the E-3 were granted to the Irish as well. This is why it is classified as a "non-immigrant visa", which is an important distinction from an "immigrant visa". While renewable "indefinitely", this will obviously continue to be an issue. IBV Advisory Group specializes in E-3 visa processing.

Apr. 09 2012 06:40 PM
Steve Sagala from Pennsylvania

As a lifelong liberal with a blue-collar heritage, I have to say that the the immigration issue is of importance to 1) immigrants, 2) Republicans of the Romney model, and 3) Democrat politicians on the coasts. My friends and neighbors are suffering because of the dearth of remunerative employment opportunities and the strain on the healthcare system, and I believe it is disingenuous (to say the least) to keep trumpeting this issue. To subject the "average American" to this is unforgivable.

Feb. 27 2012 08:23 AM
Bill K from USA

OK, if Indians want FIFO, fine. USCIS should revoke all I-140s that are based on labor substitution (using someone else's priority date and labor certification) and get them to reapply. 80% of all green card applicants from India jumped the queue with labor substitution. Then they should carefully inspect all the applications for fraudulent education and experience. That will clear up the backlog in no time. Problem solved.

Feb. 25 2012 10:01 AM
jack from MI

NO to HR3012. This is NOT BENEFICIAL to USA at all.

Indians and Chinese already get 35% of EB green cards. Most H1b frauds are related to Indians. Abusers are in the line of GC.

Indians have an obsession, H1B, EB, IT, because it's the only way to immigrate in US. In all other areas of science and technology Indians are out of order, low contribution to the progress of mankind.

US need specialists in all fields, H1B, L1 and EB green cards is for architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, biotechnology, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, arts.

Indians know some of Indians around the are here because of fake resume. So, now say: "Why not steal it from other people? So we can all be here and turn America into India?" If Indians are truly BRIGHTEST, why don't go back to the country which has 1.4 billion BEST people?

India, with population of 1.4 billion, only has 7 winners of Nobel prizes. Germany, with population of 81 million, has 102 winners. What does that tell us? Bigger population doesn't guarantee more talents. HR3012 is giving them 85% to 90% of green cards. The rest of the world only 15

Feb. 25 2012 01:56 AM
Ravii from MA

Many in EB3 I know have masters from US universities. Just to be clear, it is not that we can't find really good jobs where we come from, but we want to do more than just make a pay, make the next generation, make the money for retirement & die. Towards that there is lot less drama in US compared to India or China. If just making a paycheck is your goal there are many countries you don't even have to pay income taxes, who will welcome people with MS degrees with open arms.

I read a comment about foreign employess working for low wages.

My wife and I have three degrees each and for your general knowledge purpose, all foreign guys with masters degrees I know will ask you to go fish if they have to work for low wages, & if that is what you have in mind what ever your are smoking you need to stop. I will give 3 years more towards GC. If I don't get it by then I will just write the GC crap off and move on with life.

Feb. 25 2012 12:48 AM
Mike t Harris from Orlando, FL

Is is a known fact and proved also that HR 3012 will only benefit indians especially. Also that bill was lobied by The reason of the backlog is too many fraudulent H1B candidates from Indian, plain in simple. Also Indias keep saying that it will take 70 years to get a GC. That is pure lie. Say no to Hr 3012.

Feb. 24 2012 09:06 PM
Dave Francis from Indianapolis, IN

Everybody taxpaying American is complaining about both parties in Congress, but those same people cannot find a few minutes to contact their Senators or Congress persons at 202-224-3121 and demand the vote for both federal MANDATORY E-Verify or amend the ‘Birthright Citizenship' Bill. Once enacted into law a massive exodus will begin, as illegal aliens and family members will return to their country of origin unable to find a job; perhaps find it even more difficult to live a normal life, without looking over their shoulders for ICE agents?

Link to a chapter of your local TEA PARTY. Bring to a halt this financial fiasco, by giving away taxpayers money to subsidize illegal aliens? Only the TEA PARTY LEADERSHIP has the moral fiber to shred the current tax code and provide a fair and equitable tax system, without any loopholes for anybody. Every possible means available currently and in the future will be utilized to secure our borders, to halt Sanctuary Cities, Chain Migration. The TEA PARTY will adopt a regulated Guest Worker program, without a path to citizenship. It is solely the obligation of every American voter to check for non citizens registering for all future elections and inform the authorities. That every person voting must display official Picture ID, as there has been progressive voting by non citizens. The laws of the 1986 Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA) will be reanimated as original was to work. Sanctuary Cities will be banned and official who subscribe to any ordinance protecting illegal aliens will be sanctioned every possible means will be used to remove illegal aliens from this country and benefits stopped. Illegal aliens will be prosecuted for using stolen ID, including Social Security numbers and birth certificates.

All Americans must insure that every voter is checked against their official picture ID. Non citizens have been voting and will again, with the Democratic-Liberal aid such as ACORN, including illegal aliens. Those who believe in the principles of the U.S. Constitution and Conservative must be vigilant of absentee ballot fraud and voter registrations.

Feb. 24 2012 08:16 PM
NABNYC from SoCal

These bills are simply one part of the global international corporate take-over of our nation. When our politicians promote the use of foreign labor, flooding our labor markets, they do so at the request of multinational corporations who want to crush American working people even further than they already have. Stuff the nation full of desperate unemployed people, fire all the engineers, teachers, CPAs, lawyers, and replace them with foreign labor at radically reduced salaries. My heart is with the people of Ireland, my own relatives, but they should not be allowed to come to the U.S. and take American jobs. We should halt all immigration until our own unemployment is zero percent, and we also should have a law requiring the government to provide work for every unemployed American at a living wage -- say $15/hour, to be funded by a special tax on the rich. The reason our own people are out of work is because the rich have stolen all the money. As for the Irish, they need to throw out the WTO, refuse to pay the banks the money being extorted from them, and set an example for all other nations by making it, growing it, using it, buying, selling and recycling whatever they need inside their own country.

Feb. 24 2012 04:40 PM
Ramesh from Golden State

So let me get this straight. I have been waiting for my green card through EB3 India since May 2003 and that is ok so long as the other countries get to zip in within 1-2 years. If more Indians are in line its because more Indians are here LEGALLY. All we ask is to level the playing field. If not HR 3012, why not just give out a Citizenship option to folks that have been in the green card line for more than 10 years? That will keep the balance in the green card lines, and be fair to anyone who comes from high volume countries.

Feb. 24 2012 03:39 PM

Whoever is portraying that HR 3012 is for Indians and Chinese please stop spreading the wrong rumor. HR 3012 basically is to enforce FIFO and that is fair. Yes it does benefit the Indians and Chinese because they are the ones who had been waiting the longest but if there are thousands of waiters from XYZ country then they would benefit as well. Also if thousands of people from XYZ country can file for green card today then so be it as they would be processed according to the position in the queue rather than whatever country they are from. Unlike E3 which specifically benefits the Irish, HR 3012 does not specifically benefit one specific country.

Feb. 24 2012 03:06 PM
Prav from CA

To those who are opposing HR 3012. You are right. It will be unfair to you.
And guess why? Because you all had unfair advantages from the beginning. Indians and Chinese have been the one on the receiving end so far. And I guess these opponents never thought of discrimination then. I hope the bill passes. Honeymoon time must end for ROW. It past time.

Feb. 24 2012 02:34 PM

As a preface, I have been a legal immigrant in the U.S. (from Canada) for 24+ years (~ half my life), including for past 16 years under TN and H-1B visas (paying all my federal, income and other taxes in the U.S. during this time). Due to some unfortunate legal advice and company changes, I was only able to start my permanent residency process and filings -- EB3-ROW -- a couple years ago.

(As it stands, my son, who has been legally in the U.S. since kindergarten, lost his right to derivative permanent residency (just turned 21), and I had to change him to a F-1 visa so he would not be kicked out of the U.S. and could at least complete his biology degree. He will have to leave the U.S. when he finishes his degree, even though almost all my and my wife’s family are in the U.S. and citizens.)

With respect to H.R. 3012, there are two facets of “fairness” that I have not seen discussed in the numerous articles, blogs, and forum postings on this bill, especially in those promoting it.

First, not all immigrates seeking an employment based category 2 or 3 (EB-2, EB-3) visa are the same, i.e. IT professionals. This is something that proponents of H.R. 3012 do not recognize or want to acknowledge. EB visas cover MANY professions, including engineering, geosciences, biomedical, etc., etc. Since the majority of Indian immigrants (especially in EB-3), and to a somewhat lesser degree Chinese immigrants, are IT professionals, H.R. 3012 would have the effect of overwhelmingly favoring IT professionals over other professionals from other countries. This is neither fair nor good for the United States.

Second, the United States has always recognized that fairness is a relative -- not absolute -- concept. For example, take congress itself. The founders of the country astutely recognized that proportional representation by itself was not fair, as populated regions would have undue influence, and there was a duality to fairness. Thus, they crafted a legislative branch with both equal proportional representation, the House of Representatives, and equal regional representation, the Senate. A pro-diversification immigration policy is not only fair, but also good for the United States.

Feb. 24 2012 02:10 PM

@ Hey "Pundit from new York", go an work in your country why you are crying here in US.

Feb. 24 2012 12:31 PM

I 100% agree with you Annie. H.R. 3012 is a completely UNFAIR bill if you look at the future consequences of this bill. I strongly oppose "H.R. 3012".
It's not that Indians are limited to 7%, they are always enjoying spillover visas. Records show that they got 21% green cards in 2011.
If the bill is passed, more than 90% employment-based green cards will be consumed by Indian and Chinese nationals.

Feb. 24 2012 12:28 PM
Pandit from New YORK

Hi everyone

I small comment . If all the INDIANS and CHINESE on H1 LEAVE US
IMAGINE where will US be will 70% was COLLEGE DROPOUTS working at 10 USD per hour in STORES

Feb. 24 2012 11:36 AM
ho from California

Racism at it's best. Folks from Europe have had a privilege that 3012 takes away. It creates a level playing field - one where your skin color or country of birth doesn't give you a special place in the line.

3012 is for fairness. Say YES to 3012!

Feb. 24 2012 11:07 AM

HR 3012 is a complete unfair bill based on the lies by Immigration voice who manipulated the House to vote for it based on their lobbying efforts. Its nobody's fault that too many indians want to immigrate and they r able to do this thru bodyshops like Infosys. The employment based Green card categories are fair with 7% cap for every country. If India and China gets a 85% share to reduce their backlog, then this is an UNFAIR bill to all the other countries. Immigration should not favor one country over another. All needs to have an equal share. There is already too many Indians here.

Feb. 24 2012 10:20 AM
narasimha from Edison, NJ

This is reply for our friend Durant E. James mentioned about only EB1 and EB2 categories what about EB3. where people from INDIA are waiting more than 10 years now and for your kind information as soon as enter into country many people will not apply for green cards. They will see the conditions and other situations then will apply for green cards so that means the waiting period is more than 12 or 14 years now for INDIANS in EB3 group. where as people from other than CHINA and couple countries EB3 is also current. So tell how that is FAIR getting green cards not FIFO(first in first out). whether they are getting INDIA and CHINA more than 7% the reason is spill over from EB1 to EB2 only. But that should not be reason here whomever applies first let them get their green card first and why this is based per country. If u need more info I can provide u on this.

Feb. 24 2012 10:06 AM
Durant E. James from Detroit

This article is inaccurate on a number of points. Leaving aside the merits of the Irish E3 component of the bill HR3012 will accomplish exactly the same thing for Indian and Chinese employment-based immigrants, and it will result in nationals from those countries consuming 80%-90% of all EB green cards. Because it does not increase the overall number of green cards, this increase will be at the expense of applicants from every other country.

The entire bill is based on the false premise that applicant from these countries face substantially longer waits than others. According to the committee report for H.R. 3012, there are already a number of modifications to this per country rule in each of the five employment-based preference categories. As a result, natives of India received 31,118 or 22% of all employment-based immigrant visas in 2010, while natives of the People’s Republic of China received 17,949, rather than the 9,800 that 7% of the 140,000 available employment-based immigrant visas would represent.

I don’t know what is considered fair, but I would say that two countries consuming 35% of available employment based Green Cards each year amounts to a pretty fair share already.

According to the most recent VISA bulletin, there is no wait at all for EB1 applicants (the most highly skilled category) from any country. The wait for EB2 applicants from India and China is currently less than 2-years, much less than just about every Family Based category, and unlike Family Based applicants, they can legally work and reside in the U.S, while they wait for Green Cards.

In reality, there is nothing fair at all about the so-called “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act”. It is instead, a blatant attempt by a single group to to cut the line and do an end run around the current immigration system at the expense of everyone else. That is why American IT workers and every single Employment Based immigrant community — except India — vehemently oppose these bills.

Feb. 24 2012 09:27 AM
Jack from Central New Jersey

If your brown, on the ground...
If your yellow, stay mellow...
If your ghostly white, catch a flight.

Feb. 24 2012 09:00 AM

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