Could Obama Try To Increase — Legal Immigration Without Congress?

by Marguerite Telford –
Center for Immigration Studies –

Exempting dependents from employment visa caps would double annual admissions

WASHINGTON, DC (January 28, 2015) — A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies analyzes a visa-counting scheme long sought by advocates of increased immigration under which the Obama administration would ignore numerical caps set by law. Despite being rejected by Congress in the past and contrary to broad public opposition to increased immigration, the administration’s immigration decrees released two months ago open the door to this scheme and could more than double employment-based immigration at a time of high unemployment.

Since the employment-based immigrant program was created in 1965, the law has required that a recipient’s dependent family members who are accompanying him or her be counted toward the numerical caps; this is how the system has operated for half a century. But advocates have been calling on the Obama administration to not count family members toward the annual visa limit, and consequently double immigration in this visa category. The logic of such a move would apply to all other immigration categories as well.

View the entire report at:

In 2013, approximately 161,100 visas were issued in the employment-based categories and 53 percent of those were issued to the spouses and children of the principal workers. If the administration were to give the 161,100 visas only to principal workers and not count the accompanying family members toward the annual limit, it could mean that more than 340,000 immigrants would be allowed entry each year. Generally, all of these recipients of permanent work visas qualify to apply for citizenship after five years.

Jon Feere, the Center’s legal policy analyst and author of the report, stated that, “Any effort on the part of the Obama administration to increase immigration by lawlessly changing visa counting would be a rejection of the legislative process laid out in the Constitution, a rejection of the will of a majority of the American people, and a political move designed to benefit special interests.”

Although the administration has not specifically promised this change, advocates have called for such a move for a long time and it has been included in various (so-far unsuccessful) legislative proposals, including the I-Squared Act of 2015 (S.153), introduced in the Senate earlier this month.

Obama’s November immigration memos directed his agencies to come up with as-of-yet unreleased plans and guidelines to carry out his controversial immigration changes. The details of these plans should be made public in March 2015.

Contact: Marguerite Telford

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