July 22, 2012
Employer discrimination based on national origin has been illegal in the United States since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, yet American immigration law has continued to discriminate in that exact manner. If the government insists on restricting foreign workers’ access to U.S. markets, it should do so on the basis of merit, not nationality. Last week, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) took an important step toward that goal, but it is a flawed one.
The Senators struck a deal to allow the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 3012) to move forward in the Senate. The bill would allocate employment-based green cards irrespective of national origin by eliminating country-specific limitations. Current law limits any particular country to 7 percent of the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued each year. This has resulted in extremely long waiting periods for workers from large countries like India and China that often extend for years, and even decades.