Category Archives: Immigration

Would ObamaCare Cover Illegal Immigrants?

Brendan thinks so.

The mechanism would be as followed: while ObamaCare has paper-prohibitions on numerous things (such as the rich getting means-tested care, and illegal-immigrants signing up for the plan), the law provides that the Internal Revenue Service share income data, but not that Homeland Security share legal residency status.

If this is true, ObamaCare contains a double-standard, holding Americans to a “trust-but-verify” standard while illegal immigrants are held to a “trust without verification” standard.

Relatedly, NPR notes that half of all illegal immigrants already have health insurance.

A Home Investment Visa Program?

There are already investment visas for people who want to buy factories or ethanol plants, so the legal structure for a Home Investment Visa program is largely written. While the flurry of activity a Home Investment Visa program would cause would require some extra workers at the Internal Revenue Service (to collect the extra income in taxes), Homeland Security (to process the visa paperwork), and elsewhere in the government’s bureaucracy, even this spending would be directly tied to jobs and help stimulate the economy.

Note that the multiplier on the “buy a house, get a visa” strategy would be much larger than any possible domestic multiplier since the money would come from outside the economy (and efficiency would improve as well.)

I think there would be considerable support among economists that immigration (buy a house, get a visa), a payroll tax cut and maintaining state and local funding would be reasonably good policies in this recession (albeit not necessarily sufficient) yet these policies seem to be the ones that the political system rejects out of hand.  (See also Matt Yglesias here and here).  Now, I can understand rejecting these policies as compared to doing nothing, ala a precautionary principle, but why these policies are rejected compared to taking a trillion dollar gamble is puzzling even to someone like myself schooled in public choice. 

via Marginal Revolution: Buy a House, Get a Visa.

Alternatively, we could nationalize Citi, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan, or give tens of billions in subsidies to the shareholders in these companies until they’ve recuperated their losses from the federal balance sheet.

It is the call of two men and one woman: Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi.

What will be their decision? What would be yours?

More Military Positions Open to Visa-Holders

Good news from the Pentagon that raises the predictable howls of protest from Democratic Underground: the U.S. military is opening some positions to non-immigrant visa holders, such as highly skilled workers already in the U.S., those on student visas, and so on.

The Associated Press: AP Exclusive: Pentagon to recruit aliens on visas
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has authorized the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to recruit certain legal residents whose critical medical and language skills are “vital to the national interest,” officials said, using for the first time a law passed three years ago.

Though the military previously has taken recruits with green cards seeking permanent residency, Gates’ action allows the services to start a one-year pilot program to find up to 1,000 foreigners who have lived in the states legally for at least two years on certain types of temporary visas.

The new recruits into the armed forces would get accelerated treatment in the process toward becoming U.S. citizens in return for serving in the wartime military in the United States or abroad.

“The services are doing a tremendous job of recruiting quality personnel to meet our various missions,” sometimes with bonus pay and tuition for medical school, said Bill Carr, deputy under secretary of defense for military personnel policy. There are currently about 24,000 doctors, dentists and nurses in the Defense Department.

The article goes on to emphasize the new reach of the program: while there is a long history of foreigners serving in the American military (all the way back to the Revolutionary War), this is the first time in modern times that non-green-card holders are being recruited.

The U.S. military is not a protectionist jobs program: it is an organization designed to provide peace and security both to us and to others in the world. It is a force for good: a force for trade, connectivity, and most importantly the Constitution.

Employers such as Microsoft, General Electric, and IBM have long recognized that the best talent may not hold a U.S. passport, or even a U.S. greencard. I am glad that Secretary of Defense Gates (who has the confidence of both President Bush and President-Elect Obama) knows this too.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Good news, courtesy of The Weekly Standard, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sees comprehensive immigration reform as a priority for the next Congress:

Q: With more Democrats in the Senate and the House and a Democrat in the White House, how do you see congressional efforts playing out on such issues as health care and immigration?

A: On immigration, there’s been an agreement between (President-elect Barack) Obama and (Arizona Republican Sen. John) McCain to move forward on that. … We’ll do that. We have to get this economy stuff figured out first, so I think we’ll have a shot at doing something on health care in the next Congress for sure.

Q: Will there be as much of a fight on immigration as last time?

A: We’ve got McCain and we’ve got a few others. I don’t expect much of a fight at all. Now health care is going to be difficult. That’s a very complicated issue. We debated at great length immigration. People understand the issues very well. We have not debated health care, so that’s going to take a lot more time to do

The most recent entry on’s comprehensive immigration reform page is from January 2008. Hopefully, under an Obama Administration, it will be more active.

Obama captiulates on foreigner-bashing!

Good news! Both Slashdot and Weekly Standard note the news, but both miss the story. Obama has always been a flake, a candidate of the establishment who can be trusted to do what he is told because he does not know any better. Today, we see more evidence of that. Given the choice between bashing China or following the Democratic Party elites, Obama flops. Good.

Versionista has the comparison. Obama’s old webpage pushed the view that H1Bs were in general not particularly qualified, and we could get away with less immigration if our schools were better. But that nonsense is now gone! The old page was full of language like this:

Most H-1B new arrivals, for example, have earned a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent abroad (42.5%). They are not all PhDs. We can and should produce more Americans with bachelor’s degrees that lead to jobs in technology. A report of the National Science Foundation (NSF) reveals that blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans as a whole comprise more that 25% of the population but earn, as a whole, 16% of the bachelor degrees, 11% of the master’s degrees, and 5% of the doctorate degrees in science and engineering. We can do better than that and go a long way toward meeting industry’s need for skilled workers with Americans.

The implication of lines like this is that if we spend more money on “blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans,” we would need less Asians. Thankfully, the establishment got to Obama, and this 19th century racial-politics/bundle-of-work nonsense is gone.

I previously criticized Obama for hinting that he would kick the forigners out of the country. I am glad he came around.

Here’s hoping Obama’s next move to betray his original supporters and befriend the establishment is changing his tune on Colombia.

Chinese Visas (The Other Kind)

Previously I discussed the difficulties I encountered on my way to obtaining my third Chinese tourist visa. My problems were nothing compared to Chinese who wanted American tourist visas: Until very recently, there weren’t any available. Fortunately, as part of the ongoing institutional talks supported by the Bush and Hu administrations, this is changing:

US Opens to Chinese Tourists, but Limitations Still Exist
Although the US is expected to welcome the first Chinese visitors issued tourist visas before the forth China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) next month, problems still remain, as it is not easy for Chinese citizens to get access to these visas. Presently, only residents of some of the richer areas can obtain these visas, and those issued the visas will have to travel with tour groups.

Shao Qiwei, Chairman of the Chinese National Tourism Administration (CNTA), and the visiting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Carlos M. Gutierrez announced in Beijing on May 15th that starting on June 17th Chinese tourists would be able to travel to the U.S in group tours.

The first tourist visas from China to the United States are restricted. Essentially, Chinese needs to prove that they have no desire or need to move to the United States, and so need to show proof of employment, a title to a home, money in a bank account, and so on.

Hopefully the comprehensive immigration reform long championed by George Bush and John McCain (and tepidly endorsed by Barack Obama) will be passed in the next Congress, shrinking the grey market of unskilled immigrant labor and allowing more tourists from oversees to visit our country.

Democrats, Pro-Globalization-Republicans Fight for Immigration Reform

Props to Red State for passing on the good news that the Democratic majority in Congress, joined by pro-globalizatoin Republicans, are fighting to provide an “earned path to citizenship” for agricultural workers who are currently in the country illegally. Obviously a comprehensive immigration proposal (such as McCain-Kennedy) would be preferable, but due to the know-nothingness of Congressional republicans and political cowardice of Barack Obama (who vaguely supported the legislation while not being involve in the negotiations that could actually have gotten it passed) that’s not currently feasible.

It looks like the Democrats and amnesty-loving Republicans slipped the AG Jobs bill into the Senate emergency supplemental appropriations bill during committee markup today. This bill relates to giving amnesty to illegal aliens who work as migrant workers.

Early intelligence reports that it probably has provisions similar to the last AG Jobs bill that was considered – including amnesty provisions. It was supposedly a Feinstein/ Craig amendment and was accepted with a vote of 17 – 12.

If Harry Reid offers this version of the supplemental as a substitute to the House version, he will block out all other senators from any opportunity to strip this Ag Jobs provision, which will ultimately keep potential amnesty provisions in the war funding bill.

The doom-and-gloom tone of Red State is typical of the know-nothing right, which is as hostile to immigration as the know-nothing left is to trade.

Bush Right, Democrats Wrong, on Immigration and Free Trade

Homeland Security (which is under President Bush’s control) extends the work permit of foreigners who graduate from American universities with Master or Doctoral degrees from 12 to 19 months.

Congress has not acted to increase the H1-B limit, meaning perhaps 100,000 high-skilled workers will be turned away, leading to a large loss of human capital and moving high-skill industries away from the United States. In spite of this, Bush’s USCIS will accept as many applicants as possible — even perhaps exceeding the Congressional cap.

And meanwhile Bush pushes for a free-trade agreement for Columbia, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unfavorable compares to ‘a foreign-aid package’!

As the Asia Times writes:

In any case, the AFL/CIO and its cheerleaders among the Democrats in Congress appear to have found a way to kill even bilateral trade agreements, by demanding US levels of union protections, benefits and environmental restrictions in the relatively poor countries with which they are generally negotiated. A world full of bilateral trade agreements is not flat but mildly bumpy; a world in which even these have become impossible requires serious landscaping.

The issues are too important to trust the Democrats with the Presidency.

Vote John McCain.

Bill Gates Right on Immigration

Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates combines mastery of details and persuasive logic to argue in favor of increased skilled immigration to the United States.  Pay attention to the bit about the current calendar for transitioning from a student (F-1 OPT) to a skilled work (H-1B) visa:

Gates to Congress: Microsoft needs more H-1B visas
Disputing claims that skilled immigrants would cost American jobs, Gates argued that Microsoft hires four Americans for supporting roles for every high-skilled H-1B visa holder it hires. He also cited a study by a Virginia-based group that found a similar pattern held in other American high-tech companies.

Gates singled out the timing of the H-1B process for particular criticism. Visas for the coming year become available each April, and immigrants are permitted to begin work in October. Because a college degree is required before a worker can apply for an H-1B visa, foreign students who graduate from an American university in May are forced to wait until October of the following year to begin work at an American company. Not surprisingly, many highly skilled workers choose to take jobs outside of the US rather than wait for 18 months for the opportunity to take a job in the US.

Finally, Gates urged changes that would dramatically increase the number of skilled workers who could achieve permanent residency status in the US. In addition to the H-1B visa increase, he advocated an easier process for highly skilled immigrant workers to become permanent residents, and the elimination of country-based quotas for the issuance of green cards.

Let’s hope Congress listens to Bill Gates, and a pro-immigration candidate is elected this November.