On January 17, 2017, new rules will go into effect to amend, “modernize and improve” certain aspects of the employment based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs. Administrative law requires that a Federal Agency (such as the Department of Homeland Security) first publish a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) and solicit comments prior to enacting regulation. In this case, following an NPRM and 60-day public comment period, DHS received 27,979 comments! If you are not amazed at the sheer volume of these comments, you should at least be curious as to what some of them sound like.
For instance, here are a few that I found interesting:
This proposed rule from the Department of Homeland Security will issue an infinite number of work permits to foreign workers above the levels set by Congress. At a time when Americans continue to struggle and find work and wages are stagnant. I find it incomprehensible that the Administration would make the situation worse by increasing the number of foreign workers. I OPPOSE THE RULE
Here is another:
THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!
The federal government is giving in to the wishes of greedy corporations looking to keep wages down by increasing the number of foreigners authorized to work in the United States. This proposed rule from the Department of Homeland Security will issue an infinite number of work permits to foreign workers above the levels set by Congress. At a time when Americans continue to struggle to find work and wages are stagnant, I find it incomprehensible that the administration would make the situation worse by increasing the number of foreign workers. I oppose this rule. WE MUST DO BETTER FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!
We’ve seen the recent impact the H-1B visa program has had on American tech workers. Hundreds of American tech workers have been fired from Disney, Toys ‘R’ Us, Northeast Utilities, and more and replaced with cheaper foreign workers. Meanwhile, thousands of experienced American tech workers have been pushed out of their jobs and replaced with younger, cheaper foreign workers, driving down wages and driving thousands of older tech workers out of the industry.
HOW DARE YOU!!! When American companies are sending jobs to India, China and Mexico, to have the few jobs we have left in this country go to MORE of these same people in our own country. Well, that is treason. Why would you do that to the tax payers. I even want to see that AMERICAN land is not sold to these people while we have so many homeless in the USA.
The USCIS countered with this:
DHS is not modifying immigrant or nonimmigrant numerical limits set forth in the INA and is not changing the classes of foreign workers who qualify for employment-based immigrant or nonimmigrant visas. Contrary to commenters’ statements, the provisions contained in this rule reflect a clear congressional mandate with respect to H-1B beneficiaries who are pursuing LPR status, but face long waits due to backlogs resulting from the statutory limits on immigrant visas or certain other adjudication or processing delays.
The USCIS further states:
DHS continually seeks to strengthen its abilities to detect and combat immigration-related fraud. Possible consequences for fraud already include detention and removal, inadmissibility to the United States, ineligibility for naturalization and other benefits, and criminal prosecution… USCIS verifies information and combats immigration fraud using various tools, including the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP), under which FDNS conducts compliance review site visits for petitions in the H-1B, L-1, and religious worker programs. USCIS also conducts checks of various USCIS and other databases, including the FDNS-DS and the Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE). USCIS has formed a partnership with ICE, under which FDNS pursues administrative inquiries into most application and petition fraud and ICE conducts criminal investigations into major fraud conspiracies.
The comments that I have summarized here clearly show that several U.S. Citizens either do not fully comprehend the various immigrant and nonimmigrant programs, or the USCIS and various pro-immigration lobbies are not doing a good enough job of dispelling and countering some of the misinformation out there. There is no gainsaying the fact that immigration as a subject is currently extremely polarizing and divisive. We have to find common ground soon, or face an even bigger challenge four years from now.
 There were several comments from nonimmigrants both supporting and rejecting these new rules, but I have ignored these because they are self-serving at best.