We quoted comments from a specialist in immigration law in “When you’re strange.” I emailed him a follow-up question and he elaborated his comments through the day. I thought those of us trying to understand what Obama has wrought might be interested in taking a look at the rest of our correspondence.
I asked whether the authorities have have discretion to grant work authorizations to the law abiding in order to equalize their disfavored treatment. He responded:
Well – who knows what the hell they can do?! Seemingly anything they want. I mean, what they are doing here – among other things – is stopping deportation (removal) proceedings for undocumented people in certain categories (parents of US citizens/green card holders who have been here 5 years) and then letting them apply for what I believe is “Deferred Enforcement” – which is a quasi-status and at the same time they are applying for work permits.
By the way, there is already discussion in the immigration bar that if you are not currently eligible because you don’t have a kid, you better get going on that! Perhaps we will see a baby boom in 10 months….
In the high skill area – where I know the most – there is a lot of back story about Silicon Valley lobbying. It is clear from those of us “in the weeds” that the Zuckerberg crowd “had its way.” They even got a guy named Bill Carlson canned. He was the head of the Foreign Labor Certification Unit at DOL. That’s the unit that requires labor market tests for employers seeking green cards for foreign workers. He was very tough (kind of obnoxious actually) and he had all kinds of policies that made the system tough on employers. He got canned something like a day after the elections. (“Reassigned” – not truly canned of course.)
This gets a bit outside my scope of expertise but it seems like Silicon Valley has been getting all kinds of stuff – they have a Christmas tree of gifts in this EA (executive action), expanded visa availability for Chinese, changes in the labor market test under a new director at DOL, heck – even net neutrality is a payback to Google, right?
According to the New York Times, Google has been an ardent supporter of regulation of the Internet in the name of “net neutrality.” At this point, however, it is exercising its right to remain silent on the administration’s push. Perhaps Google’s silence is “the perfectest herald of joy,” as one of Shakespeare’s characters has it. I’m guessing it is.
Further to his original point, the attorney adds:
My main point on this stuff is that the Executive Action violates very basic understandings of fundamental fairness. The Left is always telling us about fairness and even as wayward as the country is, I think there are a lot of people who do have a core sense of right and wrong and the fact that people who are in the US legally are in a worse position than people in the US illegally – that strikes a chord, and for Republicans looking for a way to engage on this issue, I think this is a perfect way to do it – to say that they oppose Executive Action because not only because it is Executive overreach but substantively it puts people who broke the law in a better position than many people who have abided by the law and for that reason it should be opposed.
And on the technicalities, he adds:
Procedurally what happens is an undocumented person applies for ‘deferred action’ and then after receiving this ‘quasi-status’ – he/she is eligible for work authorization.
See the last paragraph on page 4 of this key memo: “Applicants must file the requisite applications for deferred action pursuant to the new criteria described above. Applicants must also submit biometrics for USCIS to conduct background checks similar to the background check that is required for DACA applicants. Each person who applies for deferred action pursuant to the criteria above shall also be eligible to apply for work authorization for the period of deferred action, pursuant to my authority to grant such authorization reflected in section 274A(h)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
This is similar to what was done for the “Dreamers” in the summer of 2012, but this announcement is like Dreamers on Steroids, as it impacts/benefits 10x (estimate?) the number of people….But I still think the beginning of pushback can come by Republican officeholders saying, “I oppose immigration reform that is done unilaterally by the executive branch and I oppose immigration reform, as dictated by the President, that would allow those who broke the law to be in a better position than those who complied with the law.”
We will have to return to these issues.