Increased border security and “amnesty” for past undocumented migrants to the United States are the elements of the immigration bill that grassroots campaigners seem most fired-up about. But these are far from the only things in the bill, and arguably they’re not the most important things to the typical American. Here’s the other stuff:
— The H-1 B visa cap would be raised from 65,000 to 110,000 with provision for it to go as high as 180,000 if certain conditions are met.
— Spouses and children of workers with employment-based green cards will no longer be counted against the quota for such green cards.*
— The complicated W-visa arrangment for lower-skilled non-agricultural workers would basically let employers bring in guest workers except to metro areas with unemployment over 8.5 percent and with protections against the use of W-visa workers to bust unions.
— Basically implementation of the AgJOBS bill to offer an expedited path to citizenship for undocumented agricultural workers and increase the flow of legal seasonal non-immigrant migrant workers into the agricultural industry.
— Replacing the 55,000 visa “diversity lottery” with a program for 120,000 “merit-based” visas that will grow up to a maximum of 250,000 visas.
— Curtailing of family unification visas, so that siblings of permanent residentsand adult (i.e., over 30) children would no longer be eligible.
All in all it promises a very substantial change to the future flow of legal migrants in favor of a population that has a higher skill level and probably a lower share of Mexicans than what we saw during the recent immigration wave.
* CORRECTION: An earlier draft of this article erroneously conflated the change in the treatment of dependents of employment-based green card holders with the treatment of dependents of H1-B visa holders.