United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Legal immigration reform proposals : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, May 17, 1995 online

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grants, not just at how we determine who comes in, but what hap-
pens to people after they have entered. Here we're particularly con-
cerned with the issue of naturalization, particularly looking at this
diversity issue in terms of the diverse national origins and other
backgrounds of current immigrants, how we can serve both the
ends of diversity and of shared civic culture.

And, finally, we are looking at the refugee and humanitarian
policies, and here we're looking at this in the context of both our
broader refugee policies in terms of our international commitments
and the role that refugee resettlement, in particular, should be
playing in a post-cold-war era. These issues on refugee issues we're
also looking at in conjunction with work that's ongoing in terms of
mass migration emergencies into the United States.

Again, I want to reiterate in closing the Commission's intention
to have specific recommendations by June and Professor Jordan's
interest in being before you to speak more specifically on the sub-
stantive recommendations.

Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Ms. Susan Martin follows:]

Prepared Statement of Susan Martin, Ph.D., Executive Director, U.S.
Commission on Immigration Reform

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the work of the Commission on
Immigration Reform as it relates to leggd immigration reform. As you know, the
Commission is mandated to examine and report on the impact of legal immigration
on the U.S. economy, labor force, social relations, demography, natural resources



8

and foreign policy and national security. We have underway a number of research
projects designed to provide a systematic analysis of these effects of immigration
policy. In addition, the Commission undertakes site visits, field hearings and expert
consultations to better inform us of the strengths and weaknesses of U.S. immigra-
tion policy.

In the Commission's 1994 report to Congress, we provided a preliminary picture
of legal immigration under the Immigration Act of 1990. The Commission is now
considering options to improve legal immigration policies. The Commissioners plan
to complete their deliberations by the end of this month. Barbara Jordan, the Com-
mission's Chair, instructed me to teU you that she would be pleased to testify as
soon thereafter as is convenient for you.

Today, I will present a brief profile of recent legal immigration, based on our 1994
report as updated by more recent statistics on FY 1994 admissions. I will also de-
scribe the process that the Commission has been following in developing the interim
recommendations that will be available in June, and touch briefly on the issues that
the Commission is considering.

The legal immigration provisions of the Immigration Act of 1990 [IMMACT, P.L.
101-649] attempted to balance a number of competing interests by (1) encouraging
overall limits on legal immigration through establishment of annual numerical tar-
gets for total immigration, (2) permitting continued reunification of close family
members with a guaranteed minimum for family preference visas if there are in-
creases in the number of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens seeking entry, (3)
meeting present and future labor market needs by increasing the proportion admit-
ted for employment-based reasons, giving higher priority to the entry of profes-
sionals and highly skilled persons, and retaining a procedure for helping to ensure
that foreign workers do not adversely atflfect employment opportunities of U.S. work-
ers, (4) providing greater national origin diversity by offering new opportunities for
migration from countries that have not recently experienced much emigration to the
United States, and (5) establishing a timely and more efficient naturalization proc-
ess.

IMMACT EFFECTS ON IMMIGRATION LEVELS

To accomplish these objectives, Congress significantly revised the INA. A note,
however, about the statistics available to judge its effects: The principal provisions
of IMMACT were not implemented until 1992 and immigrant admissions in 1992
were primarily from the pre-IMMACT backlog. Only the 1993 and 1994 admissions
are reflective of the new poUcies on family and employment based immigration. The
Diversity Program did not go into effect until this fiscal year. The following analysis,
therefore, must be considered preliminary.

LEGAL IMMIGRATION

Immigrants fall into two major categories: those who numbers are subject to an-
nual statutory limits and those whose numerical Umits can change each year (pri-
marily refiagees) or who have no numerical limits at aU. Overall admissions of legal
immigrants averaged about 640,000 annually during the five-year period prior to
the implementation of IMMACT. These numbers include all immigrants, whether
admitted within or outside any statutory limits. As the attached Table shows, over-
all admissions since IMMACT, just over 800,000 in FY 1992 and about 880,000 in
FY 1993, dropped in FY 1994 to 798,394. (These numbers do not include adjust-
ments to permanent resident status of the 2.7 million illegal aliens legalized under
IRCA.)

STATUTORY CAP

IMMACT established a flexible worldwide level of 700,000 family-based, employ-
ment-based, and diversity immigration visas for FYs 1992-1994. In FY 1995, the
worldwide level reduces to 675,000. Separate ceilings were set for each of these im-
migrant categories, and, as described below, subceilings were created within each
category.

The total admissions under the statutory cap were about 662,000 in FY 1994.

FAMILY-SPONSORED IMMIGRATION

Concerned that a worldwide Umit on family-sponsored immigration had a poten-
tial to disrupt family reunification. Congress established an overall cap which could
be pierced if the number of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, for whom there are
no numerical limits, exceeded expectations. IMMACT established a minimum floor
of 226,000 per year for numericsilly-limited family-sponsored preferences to ensure



that these visas would continue to be available. Should the number of unrestricted
immediate relatives exceed 239,000 (465,000 less 226,000) in FYs 1992-1994 or
254,000 (480,000 less 226,000) after FY 1994, the family-sponsored cap would be
pierced. Under the flexible cap, the number of spouses, minor children, and parents
of U.S. citizens admitted in the previous year is subtracted from the overall num-
bers available for family sponsorship, and (as of FY 1994) the number of unused
employment-based visas from the previous year is added to the total. In no event,
however, can the remaining family-based visas be less than 226,000.

The family numbers were less than 500,000 in FY 1994. More specifically, the
family numbers are divided as follows:

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens. There are no numerical limits on the admis-
sion of the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens or the parents of U.S. citi-
zens. The number of immediate relatives entering in FY 1994 showed a modest de-
cline from previous levels, mostly attributed to a drop in the number of parents of
U.S. citizens who entered. The total number of immediate family was just under
250,000.

Unmarried Adult Children of U.S. Citizens (FB-1). The FB-1 limit is 23,400 visas,
plus any unused numbers from the siblings of U.S. citizens (FB— 4) category, a re-
duction from the previous limit of 54,000 because Congress recognized that this cat-
egory has always been underutilized (averaging 11,000 in the second half of the
1980s) and annual increases have been low. In FY 1994, about 13,000 immigrants
entered in this category.

Despite the worldwide low usage, waiting lists for FB-1 visas have existed for cer-
tain countries due to per-country limits, which are prorated among the various pref-
erences. Prior to the implementation of IMMACT, some 29,000 Filipino applicants
were on the waiting list, and those who had applied six years before were being ad-
mitted. Some 52,000 Filipino and 4,000 Mexican applicants are now on the waiting
list. Mexicans who have been waiting for one year and Filipinos who have waited
nine years are being admitted. This wait for unmarried Filipino adult children of
U.S. citizens is considerably longer than the current five-year wait for unmarried
adult children of permanent residents. IMMACT has thus exacerbated the backlog,
which will continue to grow, as only 1,600 Filipino applicants will become eligible
for admission in this category annually. While the real wait for new applicants can-
not be predicted wit certainty due to changing factors over time, even if the maxi-
mum number of Filipinos receive visas every year, it will take more than thirty
years to admit the cvurent 52,000 on the waiting list.

Spouses, Minor Children, and Unmarried Adult Children of Permanent Residents
(FB-2A and 2B) and Legalization Dependents. IMMACT increased the family second
preference allotment from 70,200, plus any unused first preference numbers, to at
least 114,200 visas, plus unused FB-1 numbers. In FY 1994, 115,000 immigrants
were admitted in FB-2A and 2B. An additional 34,000 spouses and minor children
of legalization petitioners also entered in FY 1994.

One objective of IMMACT was the reduction in the waiting period for reunifying
spouses and children of permanent residents, particularly those from countries with
significant backlogs. Prior to IMMACT, applicants from most countries were admit-
ted after about two years. For applicants from a few nations, the waiting period was
far longer. The elimination of the per-country limits for a proportion of the FB-2
visas was adopted with the purpose of reducing the waits for such groups. IMMACT
accomplished that goal: it equalized the FB-2 waiting time for Mexican, Filipino,
and Dominican spouses and children with the worldwide one.

The waiting list for the FB-2 category, however, remains very large and is in-
creasing annually. As of January 1995, it was some 1.6 million, composed largely
but not exclusively of the spouses and children of legalized aliens. Demand for 2A
visas for spouses and children of legalized aliens appears to have peaked, but the
relatives of other legal permanent residents are behind them on the waiting list.

Of the FB-2 backlog, more than 1.1 million are in the 2A category, some 850,000
of whom are spouses and children of legalization immigrants. 2A applicants from
all countries who have waited about three years are being admitted. While the ac-
tual 2A wait for new applicants is not known, it would take at least ten years at
the expected FY 1994 usage of 2A visas (about 95,000) to work through the more
than one million waiting applicants. The wait may be reduced if large numbers of
those who legalized under IRCA naturalize and their spouses and minor children
enter under the exempt immediate relative category.

The 2B visas aire now available for applicants who have been waiting about four
and one-half years. The real wait for a new 2B applicant is estimated at more than
fifteen years if the 28,500 limit were reached each year, unless naturalization rates
increase significantly. Should the petitioner become a citizen, the 2B beneficiaries



10

would be transferred to the first preference category (unmarried sons and daughters
of U.S. citizens), thereby increasing that backlog, particularly for Mexico.

Married Children of U.S. Citizens (FB-3). The annual visa limit was lowered from
27,000 to 23,400 (plus any unused FB-2 visas) by IMMACT, which was about the
average for this category in the latter part of the 1980s. In FY 1994, about 22,000
immigrants entered in this preference.

About 250,000 applicants are waiting for a visa in this category. Prior to
IMMACT, visas were available for applicants who had waited about one year, with
the exception of those from Mexico and the Philippines, where visas were available
for those who had waited about eight and nine years, respectively. Visas are now
available for those who have waited about two years from most countries. Those
from Mexico and the Philippines who have waited about eight and eleven years, re-
spectively, now have visas available to them.

Siblings of U.S. Citizens (FB-4). IMMACT essentially maintained the 65,000 visas
in this category (adding any unused FB— 3 visas). About 62,000 immigrants were ad-
mitted in FY 1994.

There are over 1.6 million FB-4 registrants. Prior to IMMACT, visas were avail-
able for applicants who had waited nine years from most countries; now they are
available for those who have waited ten. The longest wait is for those from the Phil-
ippines; visas were available for those who had waited fourteen years prior to
IMMACT; ciurently they are available for those who have wgiited eighteen years.
While for certain nationalities the wait continues to grow in this category, the num-
bers added each year to the backlog are decreasing, perhaps due to the very exten-
sive waiting period. Nevertheless, it is estimated that a new applicant from the
Philippines would not reach the top of the list until 43 years after approval of a
petition.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED IMMIGRATION

IMMACT extensively revised the employment based categories and numbers to
emphasize skill and, for the first time, include immigrant investors. Prior to
IMMACT, 54,000 visas were available annually for occupation-based immigration,
not including the special immigrants now admitted under the employment-based
categories. IMMACT allows up to 140,000 employment-based visas to be issued each
year to applicants and their spouses and children.

EmplojTnent-based immigration rose from an annual average of 58,000 in FY
1987-91 to 147,000 in FY 1993 (the latter includes unused FY 1992 employment-
based numbers) and then fell to 123,000 in FY 1994. These numbers are deceptive,
however, since they includes some 27,000 and 21,000, respectively, who adjusted
status under the Chinese Student Protection Act [CSPA]. The economic recession
may have led employers to petition for fewer immigrant workers than the number
possible under the new employment ceilings. Of the 100,000 FY 1994 admissions
that actually involved immigrants coming to work and their dependents, about
42,000 were the principal workers.

The emplojTnent-based numbers break down as follows:

Priority Workers (EB-1). Approximately 40,040 visas (plus unused EB-4 and EB-
5 visas) are available annually for priority workers with extraordinary ability in the
sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, and for outstanding professors and
researchers and certain mviltinational executives and managers. Some 21,000 prior-
ity workers and their dependents were admitted in FY 1994. Of these, 8,000 were
the actual workers, with a majority of these being multinational executives and
managers.

Professionals with Advanced Degrees (EB-2). About 40,040 visas (plus unused
EB-1 visas) are available annually for professionals with advanced degrees or per-
sons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Some 14,400 EB-2
workers and dependents were admitted in FY 1994; the number of principal workers
was about 6,700. FY 1994 numbers appear to be an accurate reflection of current
demand (lower than in FY 1992-1993), as both the FYs 1992 and 1993 EB-2 figures
included a significant number of pre-IMMACT third preference applicants and their
dependents who had been waiting for available visas.

Visas are immediately available for EB-2 workers from all countries. Prior to
IMMACT, visas were available for professionals and highly skilled immigrants
(former third preference) who had waited about a year and a half, except for the
Philippines, where visas were available for applicants who had waited for sixteen
years.

Skilled Workers, Professionals with Baccalaureate Degrees, and Unskilled Workers
(EB-3). About 40,040 visas (plus unused EB-2 visas) are available annually to EB-
3 applicants. A maximum of 10,000 of these is allotted to unskilled workers. "Un-



11

skilled" jobs are considered to be those requiring less than two years of training or
experience. Some 77,000 skilled workers, professionals, unskilled workers and their
dependents were admitted in FY 1994. The 77,000 included about 21,000 Chinese
Student Protection Act visas. The actual number of skilled workers and profes-
sionals was about 18,000; unskilled workers numbered some 4,100.

Prior to IMMACT, visas were available for skilled and unskilled workers (former
sixth preference) who had waited about four years, though visas were unavailable
at times for applicants from mainland China and India and were available for appli-
cants from the Philippines who had waited about five years. Visas are now available
for skilled workers from most countries, though backlogs exist for about 5,000 main-
tain Chinese and almost 8,000 Filipinos: for Chinese who have waited almost 2
years and for Filipinos who have waited one year.

The only worldwide wait for employment visas now is for unskilled workers, some
79,000 of whom make up the waiting list. Unskilled worker visas are now available
for those who have waited five and one-half years, regardless of nationality. Given
the large waiting list, if 10,000 unskilled workers were admitted annually, it would
take several years to work through the current list. The waiting list total in this
category dropped by about 15,000 in the past year, perhaps in part because the long
wait for a visa discouraged new applicants.

Special Immigrants (EB-4). IMMACT placed the formerly numerically-exempt cat-
egory of Special Immigrants in the numerically-limited employment-based cat-
egories. The EB-4 category is a catch-all for a variety of different groups, including
ministers of religion, religious workers other than ministers, certain former U.S.
government workers, and certain juvenile court dependents. About 10,400 special
immigrants and dependents were admitted in FY 1994. The actual number of prin-
cipals was about 4,600.

Investors (EB-5). IMMACT created a new category for employment-creating inves-
tors and set the limit at 9,940 annually, of which 3,000 are reserved for new com-
mercial enterprises in targeted employment areas. About 600 investors and depend-
ents were admitted in FY 1993 and 444 in FY 1994.

A number of explanations have been offered about why the entry of investors is
substantially below the anticipated level. Some experts believe that U.S. tax laws
are largely responsible for the relatively small show of interest; unlike some other
countries, the U.S. taxes all of an investor's worldwide income if an investor obtains
permanent residence. Others have argued that the job-creation requirements of the
original law were unrealistic. In 1992, Congress enacted legislation to create a pilot
program designed to take into account the indirect creation of jobs. The pilot pro-
gram began October 1, 1993. So far, no one has been admitted in the EB-4 category
under the pilot program. INA provisions offer another reason for low EB— 4 admis-
sions: investors enter under a conditional status, and the final rules to remove the
conditions were not issued until April 1994. Investors may have been unwilling to
begin a process until they knew the conditions they must meet to obtain permanent
status.

DIVERSITY IMMIGRATION (DV-1)

The Diversity Immigrant provisions contained in IMMACT aim to increase na-
tional diversity in the immigrant population by widening access to immigration to
individuals from underrepresented countries who have neither family nor job ties
to the United States. This permanent diversity program began in October 1994. It
will provide 55,000 visas to nationals of a country that has sent fewer than 50,000
legal immigrants to the United States over the previous five years. Each applicant
must have a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience
in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience. In PT
1995, the numbers are to be apportioned as follows: 20,200 to Africa; 6,850 to Asia;
24,550 to Europe; 8 to North America; 2,600 to South America; and 800 to Oceania.
No single country may receive more than 7 percent (3,850) of the numbers available
worldwide.

As a transition toward the permanent program. Congress allocated 40,000 visas
in each of three years (FYs 1992-1994) for persons from countries "adversely af-
fected" by the 1965 Amendments to the INA, which removed national origins as the
principal determinant of U.S. immigration policy. In FY 1994, 41,000 immigrants
entered under the transitional diversity visas.

IMMIGRANTS OUTSIDE THE STATUTORY CAP

As Table 1 shows, some 136,000 immigrants not subject to a numerical cap were
admitted to the U.S. in FY 1994.



12

REFUGEES

IMMACT made no changes in the refugee admissions program and the Refugee
Act of 1980 continues to govern. Prior to the beginning of each fiscal year, the Presi-
dent, in consultation with Congress, reviews the worldwide refugee situation, deter-
mines the number of refugees in need of resettlement who are of special humani-
tarian concern to the U.S., and establishes the authorized number of admissions for
that fiscal year. Such refugees are initially admitted under conditional status. In FY
1994, 115,000 of these refugees adjusted to permanent residents.

ASYLEES

The Refugee Act of 1980 established the statutory basis for granting asylum to
refugees who present themselves in the U.S. or at a port of entry, rather than over-
seas as in the refugee admissions program. There are no legal limits on the number
of individuals who may be granted asylum in the U.S. in a fiscal year. Asylees who
have been in the U.S. for at least one year after being granted asylum are eligible
to become permanent residents. Although asylee adjustments are exempt from the
worldwide annual limits, the law places a ceiling on the number of asylees who may
adjust to lawful permanent resident status each year. IMMACT increased the ceil-
ing from 5,000 to 10,000 including dependents. Some 12,000 asylees and their de-
pendents became permanent residents in FY 1993. This number included some
asylees and their dependents eligible for and awaiting adjustment prior to IMMACT
who were permitted to adjust under the new law without being subject to the an-
nual limit. There is no current wait for asylees adjusting status, and some 6,000
asylees and their dependents adjusted in FY 1994.

PAROLEES

Special provisions have allowed for the entry of Indochinese and Soviets who were
paroled into the U.S. between August 15, 1988 and September 30, 1992, after being
denied refugee status. These parolees can adjust to permanent resident status one
year after their admission to the U.S. The numbers are variable. About 5,000 parol-
ees adjusted status in FY 1991, 14,000 in FY 1992, and 16,000 in FY 1993. About
8,000 parolees adjusted in FY 1994.

AMERASIANS

Special provisions also have applied in recent years to the entry of Amerasians
bom in Vietnam between January 1, 1962 and January 1, 1976 and fathered by a
U.S. citizen. Eligible Amerasians are issued permanent resident visas for entry.
Some 11,000 Amerasians were admitted in FY 1993. These numbers include accom-
panying family members and guardians. Some 3,000 were admitted in FY 1994.

OTHER IMMIGRANTS

Immigrants can enter under a number of other categories, including categories for
Cuban/Haitian entrants, registered nurses, and individuals granted suspension of
deportation. (An alien otherwise deportable is eUgible to adjust status under the dis-
cretionary suspension of deportation if that person has been in the U.S. for at least
seven years, is of good moral character, and his deportation would result in extreme
hardship.)

CHARACTERISTICS OF LEGAL IMMIGRANTS

IMMACT has not significantly changed the characteristics of the immigrants en-
tering the United States, which is not surprising given the relatively short period
IMMACT has been in effect. The categories of immigration revised or added by
IMMACT accounted for less than 30 percent of the annual number of immigrants
admitted in fiscal year 1992 (employment-based preferences — maximum of 140,000;
legalization dependents — maximum of 55,000; and the transitional diversity pro-
gram — maximum of 40,000). Most immigration continues to be based on family re-
unification; thus the new immigrant pool primarily reflects the characteristics of the
recent immigrant pool and is not likely to change in the immediate fiature.

The Commission is midway through an analysis of the characteristics of immi-
grants entering in FY 1994. Our September report provided data on the characteris-



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JLegal immigration reform proposals : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, May 17, 1995 → online text (page 2 of 30)