Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 9:22 pm | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

Joe Guzzardi: U.S. Employment’s Biggest Threat Is Legal Immigration

Federal government must curtail immigration to foster job growth for American workers

Californians for Population Stabilization recently began an advertising campaign to draw attention to how legal immigration undermines American workers.

Joe Guzzardi
Joe Guzzardi

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Santa Barbara-based organization that works to stabilize California’s population focuses its message on the destructive nature of federal immigration policy, especially as it pertains to jobs.

Currently, the United States accepts more than 1 million new immigrants annually, even though America’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate is at its highest level in decades. The majority of the new arrivals are prospective employees.

California, with its unemployment rate above 12 percent, is particularly hard hit. More legal immigrants settle in California than any other state.

For several decades, illegal immigration has been the target of restrictionists. But even some of illegal immigration’s most vocal critics also support higher levels of legal immigration. Favoring more legal immigration or supporting its current 1 million rate is uninformed.

The driving engine behind unsustainable legal immigration are the myriad visas for every conceivable category of visitor, worker or student. Most of these visas could be eliminated. The terms of those few visas that may legitimately be considered essential should be strictly enforced to ensure that the visa holder returns home when his or her term expires.

An excellent place to start to reduce legal immigration would be to end the practice of status adjustment. Under what is known as AOS, foreign nationals already in the United States (likely as holders of a nonimmigrant visa) can apply for lawful permanent residence status with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, assuming he or she has a petitioner and meets the qualifications of a green card holder. To have the status adjusted, he or she doesn’t have to leave the United States.

This scandalous procedure allows the applicant to maintain valid status while the application is being processed — however long that might take. If denied AOS, an appeal can be filed.

Under the worst of the AOS provisions, while an application is pending, an employment authorization document also can be filed. In other words, the AOS candidate can work while waiting.

During the past decade, more than 5 million nonimmigrant visas have been issued to foreign-born nationals who adjusted their status after arriving in America. Most remain in the country indefinitely, possibly for the rest of their lives, and many of them take jobs away from American citizens.

To lessen legal immigration, eliminating AOS is step one. But, as CAPS points out, the job market for Americans is so depressed that additional action must be taken.

First among the objectives is to stop issuing new categories of visas since they are immediately exploited. Second, existing visas that have a long history of fraud associated with them, such as the “R” (religious) and K-1 (fiancée), should be eliminated.

Although creating more jobs for Americans is the top priority in curtailing legal immigration, other dire consequences will evolve if it isn’t controlled.

The 5 million who adjusted their status will have spouses and minor children join them and eventually, through another legal maneuver known as chain migration, bring brothers, sisters and other relatives to America.

The collective effect of increasing levels of legal immigration puts additional strain on America’s infrastructure and social services, and creates more sprawl and reduces the quality of life for everyone.

With no end in sight to more foreign-born potential workers, the federal government must strictly limit legal immigration to give struggling American workers a fair opportunity at full employment.

— Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns — mostly about immigration and related social issues — since 1990 and is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). After 25 years as an English as a Second Language teacher in the Lodi Unified School District, Guzzardi has retired to Pittsburgh. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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