Given the hateful rhetoric directed against undocumented immigrants by so many—from presidential candidates to TV hosts—you could be forgiven for thinking that the anti-immigrant movement simply wants all immigrants to come to the United States with papers. (Even though that is an impossible task for many immigrants, given our deeply flawed immigration system).
But you would be wrong.
The organized anti-immigrant movement opposes immigration of all kinds—including immigration with temporary visas. Just as nativist leaders work to make undocumented immigrants’ lives nearly impossible (a strategy called “self-deportation,” or “attrition through enforcement”), they also advocate to close doors to legal immigration. This advocacy against legal immigration points to the anti-immigrant movement’s founding principles of white nationalism and furthers its original goal of maintaining a white majority in the United States
Recently, anti-immigrant leaders have been targeting legal visa programs from a couple different angles.
CIS Rails Against Number of Visas Issued
The Center for Immigration Studies, the anti-immigrant movement’s “false-fact think tank,” recently released a new report examining visa issuance rates under the Obama administration.
The report, Nonimmigrants Surge Under Obama Administration, is authored by CIS fellow David North and claims the number of nonimmigrant visas issued has increased by 71 percent in the last six years. The report also asserts that the denial rates for visa applications has decreased by 19 percent.
North writes (emphasis mine): “That’s a bothersome combination of trends. One must assume that, with the large increase in arrivals and the accompanying reduction in denial rates, the number of visa overstayers must, of necessity, have increased as well.”
CIS has increased its targeting of particular visa programs.
See that? Pretty tricky. They’re trying to make their opposition to visas seem like it’s about unauthorized immigration, even while admitting that this conclusion is based on nothing but an assumption.
Mark Krikorian, CIS executive director, followed up on this report with an article published in the National Review. He argues that those opposed to immigration should be more concerned about visa overstays than building a wall on the southern border, and that the U.S. government should track all immigrants who enter on a visa to ensure that they leave. Krikorian concludes, “Until we have a visa-tracking system in place, we can’t even pretend to be serious about immigration control.”
CIS is not just broadly focused on nonimmigrant visas, however. Largely through North’s work, CIS has increased its targeting of particular visa programs including EB-5, H2-A, and L-1. John Miano, a lawyer and CIS fellow, is also working with the Immigration Reform Law Institute to legally challenge work authorization provisions with H-4 visas and the Optional Practical Training program.
And it seems CIS is gearing up for a fight. “It took years of steady, unrelenting political pressure to get improvements at the border,” Krikorian writes. “The same commitment to fight the anti-borders crowd will be needed to force implementation of an effective visa-tracking system.”
FAIR Advocates Against Immigrant Investors
The Federation for American Immigration Reform shares CIS’s interest in reducing all immigration, including legal immigration. But FAIR’s recent work has a more specific target: the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. The flagship anti-immigrant organization recently released a new policy brief calling on Congress to allow funding to expire for regional centers for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
Given what we know about FAIR, it is not hard to guess that this brief may be disingenuous.
The main complaint of FAIR’s four page brief, titled “Why Congress Must Let EB-5 Regional Centers Expire,” seems to be that the regional centers make it easier and less costly for immigrant investors to successfully participate in the program. As opposed to the regular EB-5 visa system, investors who participate through the regional centers benefit from a lower required investment and less stringent job creation requirements. So if the EB-5 visa program is intended to facilitate immigrant investment in the U.S., and the regional centers lower the barriers for immigrant investors to invest and move to the United States — what’s the problem?
The brief’s authors argue that the EB-5 regional centers have not properly guarded against fraud, but if fraud is truly FAIR’s concern, why not suggest measures to strengthen oversight instead? If, as FAIR says, current Americans do not benefit enough from investments made through the EB-5 regional centers, why not suggest ways to increase the benefits?
Given what we know about FAIR, it is not hard to guess that this brief may be disingenuous. Perhaps FAIR’s real problem with EB-5 regional centers is simple: They allow more immigrants to come to the United States.
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