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Editor's Note: The following is in response to Gary Endelman's article "What Really Matters: Immigration and National Interest" which appeared in the April 18, 2001, issue of Immigration Daily.

Dear Editor:

I have known Gary Endelman for a long time. I immensely admire both his intellect and his energy. That said, I find his April 18 article intriguing but, ultimately, unsatisfying. Without getting into the demographics of our future workforce needs and/or how many immigrants the economy can effectively absorb, it is clear to me, after two decades working in labor certifications, that the only appropriate modification to current program is to nuke it. The $35 or so million that DOL spends in culling which aliens qualify for EB 2 and 3 visas is largely wasted. Gary is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The permanent program is a failure because it is based on the fallacious notion that "permanent" entry into the United States can be based upon the inevitably transient needs of a particular employer. The day the alien gets her green card, she can quit or be fired. The only "permanent" element in the labor certification is the beneficiary"s "permanent" presence in the United States. How can any factor other than what she brings to labor force be a controlling force in admission? I do not claim to be a student of how a "points" system would operate. I am sure such a system has its flaws and critics. But whatever those flaws, they cannot be worse than the status quo. Intending no offense, the only people who benefit from the current labor certification system, and the only ones likely to defend it, are the immigration lawyers who profit from it. To the extent employers support it, it is because they find it a valuable carrot (or stick) to keep their H-1B workers in line.

In this context, I see no conceivable value in Gary's suggestion allowing governments to file for labor certifications (or submit LCAs for that matter) other than as the employer - a practice that now routinely occurs. It is difficult for me to conceptualize how it would work or how it improves on the status quo. Maybe the City of Gary (no pun intended) can sponsor some workers, but how are you going to keep them from moving to Texas or North Carolina or Nevada? If there were steps that government could take to stem the migration out of the rust-belt, why haven't they been taken already? With all the visas available for family unification and humanitarian grounds, not to mention the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of documented illegals, the tough issue for the future is not how to allocate 140,000 EB visas, but what will we do with the moves towards an expanded guest worker program. Does Gary think that the benefits produced by increased permanent immigration will be equally achieved by programs that tie workers to particular employers? This will be the interesting debate in the next few months and years.

The opinions expressed above are wholly personal and do not represent, in any way, the position of the Department of Labor.

Harry Sheinfeld
Counsel for Litigation
Office of the Solicitor
U.S. Department of Labor

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