In the final hours of 2015 the Obama administration has quietly proposed a host of rule changes that critics say will end up being a bonanza for foreign students and illegal immigrants seeking work in the U.S. while putting a dagger in the hearts of thousands of American workers.
The rules, as proposed by Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, make it easier for employers to hire and retain foreign workers who have not yet received their green cards or “lawful protected resident” status.
The U.S. already hands out approximately 1 million green cards per year, but under the proposed changes those foreigners who apply unsuccessfully for a green card can enter the workforce with a temporary work permit.
The proposed changes, all 181 pages of them, showed up in the Federal Register on New Year’s Eve. They would ease regulations that govern the way work permits are handed out to foreign nationals, including some who enter the U.S. illegally or who come on visas that would not allow them to work.
One of the most pernicious of these new rules, according to immigration-watchdog groups, is the treatment of illegal immigrants who enter the U.S. seeking asylum.
Buried on Page 113 of the document is a provision that says, “Aliens who have properly filed applications for asylum or withholding of deportation or removal” will automatically be eligible to receive a work permit.
Anyone in the U.S. illegally who has filed an application for a suspension of deportation would be allowed to work legally under these new rules.
“Someone could just show up at the border, file for asylum, and get a work permit – without even having to meet asylum criteria,” said one congressional aide on Capitol Hill.
Another change buried in the document is a proposal to provide work permits to spouses and children of the foreign workers.
Many of the changes would apply to work permits issued to foreign college-graduates who will compete against Americans primarily for white-collar positions. The new rules, which completely bypass Congress, will make foreign graduates cheaper for U.S. employers to hire than many U.S.-born college grads.
One of the more controversial aspects of the rule changes is a proposed automatic renewal of the work permit for 15 categories of foreign nationals. Several of the categories who would benefit from the automatic renewals include persons who entered the U.S. illegally while others may have come legally as a refugee, asylum seeker or one of the myriad temporary visa programs but have not yet received a green card.
The new rules would vastly increase the number of “employment authorization documents,” commonly referred to as a “work permit,” issued to foreign nationals each year.
The EAD, or “work permit,” allows a foreign national to work in the United States on a temporary basis,…