With the current stalemate over the implementation of President Obama’s Expanded DACA (Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the new DAPA (Differed Action for Parental Accountability) it seems that the proponents of these temporary executive office programs have failed to generate the broad support from the American people that would push the Congress to support even for this very modest expansion of this temporary program. Most politicians and the general public seem to agree that the current situation of over 11 million undocumented residents in the U.S. is not acceptable but executive orders or laws to change the status quo have run into strong opposition. Even the recent Oregon legislation to authorize driver’s license issuance to out of status residents was roundly defeated. As we move into the 2016 election cycle it is hoped that the candidates that are opposed to President Obama’s Executive Orders that favor temporary inclusion of a small segment of the immigrant population with the closest ties to American citizens will articulate their solutions to how to handle the 11 to 13 million out of status resident who now live and work in the U.S.
There is also the problem of the very limited number of temporary work visas (85,000) available to companies to hire foreign skilled professional workers. In the past two years the company petitions have far exceeded the available visa slots. For Fiscal Year 2015 there were 172,500 H-1B petitions received. For Fiscal Year 2016, this number increased to 233,000 H-1B petitions received against these 85,000 slots. The growth of businesses, especially the hi-tech industries and new start-ups, has been particularly hampered by the lack of availability of professional workers. Many of these workers were schooled in the U.S. but have been forced to seek jobs in other countries because the employers that were permitted to hire them for a year, after their graduation, could not get professional temporary work visa for their continued employment. For every professional worker employed in the U.S. it is estimated that 2.6 other workers are necessary to support him or her so the multiple effect of the loss of these foreign workers is even greater in regard to employment in the U.S.
These are just two of the many problems within our broken immigration system. It has become such a political football that very few of our national legislators are willing to take positions and debate solutions. It is time to get candidates to take a position on immigration reform and to then, if elected, follow through and work to pass bi-partisan comprehensive reform.