In the final hours of 2015 the Obama administration has quietly proposed a host of rule changes that critics say will end up being a bonanza for foreign students and illegal immigrants seeking work in the U.S. while putting a dagger in the hearts of thousands of American workers.
The rules, as proposed by Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, make it easier for employers to hire and retain foreign workers who have not yet received their green cards or “lawful protected resident” status.
The U.S. already hands out approximately 1 million green cards per year, but under the proposed changes those foreigners who apply unsuccessfully for a green card can enter the workforce with a temporary work permit.
The proposed changes, all 181 pages of them, showed up in the Federal Register on New Year’s Eve. They would ease regulations that govern the way work permits are handed out to foreign nationals, including some who enter the U.S. illegally or who come on visas that would not allow them to work.
One of the most pernicious of these new rules, according to immigration-watchdog groups, is the treatment of illegal immigrants who enter the U.S. seeking asylum.
Buried on page 113 of the document is a provision that says “Aliens who have properly filed applications for asylum or withholding of deportation or removal” will automatically be eligible to receive a work permit.
Anyone in the U.S. illegally who has filed an application for a suspension of deportation would be allowed to work legally under these new rules.
“Someone could just show up at border, file for asylum, and get a work permit — without even having to meet asylum criteria,” said one congressional aide on Capitol Hill.
Another change buried in the document is a proposal to provide work permits to spouses and children of the foreign workers.
Many of the changes would apply to work permits issued to foreign college-graduates who will compete against Americans primarily for white-collar positions. The new rules, which completely bypass Congress, will make foreign graduates cheaper for U.S. employers to hire than many U.S.-born college grads.
One of the more controversial aspects of the rule changes is a proposed automatic renewal of the work permit for 15 categories of foreign nationals. Several of the categories who would benefit from the automatic renewals include persons who entered the U.S. illegally while others may have come legally as a refugee, asylum seeker or one of the myriad temporary visa programs but have not yet received a green card.
The new rules would vastly increase the number of “employment authorization documents,” commonly referred to as a “work permit,” issued to foreign nationals each year.
The EAD or “work permit” allows a foreign national to work in the United States on a temporary basis, typically for two years although the time-frame can vary, and should not be confused with the more permanent “green card.”
It’s unclear how many foreign nationals would be allowed to stay in the country every year under these new rules who otherwise would be forced to leave, but it could run into the tens of thousands, according to critics.
“It’s theoretically not limited except by the number of applications,” said the congressional aide. “Think of it this way: the Obama administration can approve an unlimited number of green card applications, knowing they are in excess of the cap and going into the ‘backlog’ and then they can give everyone EADs, creating a kind of parallel immigration program.”
And here’s the kicker. The administration has already, since 2009, been granting work permits to people who have merely “applied” for asylum, according to research and reports from Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies. This extends that policy, and formalizes it.
“Because neither lawful permanent residents (green card holders) nor temporary work visa holders need a work permit, this amounts to a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the numerical limits and categories set by Congress,” Vaughan writes. “The huge number of work permits being issued above and beyond these limits inevitably reduces opportunities for U.S. workers, damages the integrity of the immigration system, and encourages illegal immigration.”
Approximately 2.1 million work permits were issued to aliens with temporary visas or who entered under the Visa Waiver Program between 2009 and the end of 2014. Of these, about 1.4 million (66 percent) had a visa status for which employment is generally prohibited under the law, except in what are supposed to be rare cases, Vaughan reports. For example, more than 548,000 work permits were issued to aliens on tourist visas and 593,000 were issued to foreign students. More than 213,000 were issued to dependents of students and guest workers — all categories in which the law prohibits employment except in rare circumstances.”
The Hill aide said the rule changes amount to semantical chicanery.
“Ask yourself: why would an asylum ‘applicant’ need a new work permit? How long are they going to be allowed to live and work here before they have even been approved?” he said. “And, if rejected, they will obviously never leave. These are eligibility criteria invented by the administration.”
And all of these inventions showed up in the Federal Register while Congress is away from Washington for the holidays.
There is also a national security aspect to the changes not lost on some observers.
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration or ALIPAC, said most of these asylum seekers and college grads given work permits will not be properly screened and the result will be chaos.
“Obama and his socialist billionaire backers like George Soros want to attract and import as many people into America as possible before the end of his term to secure their long-range plans to overthrow the American republic from within,” Gheen told WND. “They want more people with views that are foreign to American principles and our Constitution that are also dependent upon the corrupt federal government for their presence and livelihood here. Obama can do these things because Ryan and his 150 RINOs in Congress are funding, protecting, and facilitating Obama’s betrayals of the Constitution and our citizens.”
The purpose of the changes, as stated by Obama’s DHS, is “to provide additional stability and flexibility to employers and workers” who benefit from the employment-based visa programs by “improving job portability” for foreign workers.