On Jun 24th, 2021, All of Us submitted testimony to Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship of the US House of Representatives. The testimony highlights the dangers posed by the Eagle Act to the nation’s interests and the fairness and effectiveness of the immigration system.
You can find the testimony below. It was followed by testimony from numerous All of Us members who are scientific and medical researchers in leading US institutions. Find the PDF version of the testimony here.
Testimony Of Maz Rostamian
Founding Member – Director of
All Of Us
FOR THE HEARING
“Oh, Canada! How Outdated US Immigration Policies Push Top Talent to Other Countries”
PRESENTED TO THE
Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY OF THE
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
June 24, 2021
My name is Maz Rostamian. As a newly minted, naturalized US citizen, I am honored to again have the opportunity to make a statement to this subcommittee on these important matters.
Immigrants are Americans by choice. I chose the United States over Canada, and indeed, many other countries. This Congress should make that easier for highly skilled people from all over the world.
So you also face a choice: you can recognize that Congress has promised more green cards to the world’s best and brightest than you have delivered. The employment-based backlog, like the one for family, is a not enough problem. Please, recognize that the obvious solution is more green cards. Then act on that fact.
Or you can pass the EAGLE ACT, which is zero sum: no one can wait less, until someone else waits longer. No matter how many amendments delay its implementation, or carve out parts of the system for valuable purposes, zero simply cannot fix not enough.
America is not a zero sum nation.
Before again attempting to suspend the rules on the EAGLE Act, we urge this Committee to notice a hearing that focuses specifically on the nature of zero sum legislation in this area, and to hold a markup which allows for amendments. All of Us humbly suggests witnesses from the Biden Administration, who might explain why the employment-based provisions of the Biden bill – which also repeals per country distribution – are better for America because they are not zero sum. We also suggest an objective witness from the Congressional Research Service to show just how bad the backlog gets unless Congress delivers what it promises.
Because that is what is driving people like me away from the United States.
Let me elaborate on who we are: I am a founding member and the director of outreach for All of Us, a grassroots organization with roughly 5,000 members who hope and expect that because of our skills, we will get green cards to live as legal permanent residents in the United States – and eventually, to become citizens of the greatest country in the world.
Our members are from more than 60 countries: Armenia, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Belarus, Canada, China, Columbia, Croatia, Cyprus, Philippines, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Taiwan, and others.
We study at MIT, Stanford, Rensselaer, University of Texas at Austin, Penn State, Cornell, University of Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon, Clemson, Indiana University, Pitt, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Brandeis, Virginia Tech, Duke, LSU, the University of Illinois, West Virginia University and many others.
Our professional fields include medical and scientific research (chemistry, computer science, physics, neurology, climate change, marketing science, and artificial intelligence, among others).
Yet we face an obstacle that only the Congress can clear: there are not enough green cards.
I am typical of All of Us membership – I have a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with experience as a Multibody Dynamics Engineer. My specialty is in Virtual Prototyping of Mechanical Systems with aerospace and automotive applications.
Nearly all of our members are scientific and medical researchers, as you see from the attached document.
Our work saves lives and creates jobs.
So we’re not making a statement to simply oppose the EAGLE Act. We aren’t just opposed to zero sum; we’re for legislation to solve the backlog for everybody because that benefits our country.
All of Us supports the US Citizenship Act of 2021, introduced in the House by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, and in the Senate by Senator Robert Menendez, and proposed by President Biden. We ask that this Committee not undercut this legislation.
This bill has many parts reforming the entire broken immigration. No matter what, we urge that you move forward the provisions that increase green cards to eliminate backlogs and deliver to the current demand. The House has already passed two parts of the Biden bill – as Stepping Stones to complete reform – the DREAM and Promise Act, with 10 Republican votes, and the Farmworker Modernization Act, with 30 Republican votes. Perhaps the Biden bill’s employment-based provisions could also get a vote in the House.
We expect it will pass, if this Committee is very clear: the backlog for employment-based green cards is a not enough problem. So the answer is equally clear: we need more green cards.
We also expect it to pass because, despite their differences, we recognize that both parties in Congress want America to prosper: the benchmark estimate of the economic value of adjustment from an H-1B to an employment-based green card is $11,860, as workers are emancipated from their indenturement to an employer while they are backlogged.
There are at least half a million such workers in the US – eager to take higher paying jobs with other employers, or even to start their own businesses and become employers themselves. Yet they can’t while they wait in the egregious delays imposed by Congress – which zero sum would simply shift to others. H-1B increases without more green cards just makes that worse – and, as CRS points out, it’s going to get worse no matter what.
Without more green cards.
I’m an engineer, but this isn’t complicated: so few employment-based green cards is just trying to pour 25 pounds of sugar into a 12 pound bag. We’ve already spilled it all over the floor: that’s why Canada is so attractive to backlogged H-1Bs.
This is also simple: the Biden bill’s employment-based provisions would add a half trillion dollars to America’s GDP — $11,860 apiece times 500,000 workers with new green cards. There can be no question of job displacement – if that happened from these workers entry into the economy as H-1Bs, that happened long ago. The only question now is how long Congress will delay their green cards, knowing the damage backlogs create.
There’s no labor supply effect from finally delivering the green cards Congress promises – these workers are all already here, and working – legally.
As CRS has documented, the mostly Indian H-1Bs who are stuck in the backlog have a legitimate grievance. No one should have to wait 10 years after approval for a green card.
So it’s just arithmetic: the only way to solve that is more green cards. How many half trillion dollar boosts to the US economy does this Committee have on its agenda?
Zero sum isn’t it.
“This analysis projects that, by FY2030, the EB1 backlog would grow from an estimated 119,732 individuals to an estimated 268,246 individuals; the EB2 backlog, from 627,448 individuals to 1,471,360 individuals; and the EB3 backlog, from 168,317 individuals to 456,190 individuals. In sum, the total backlog for all three employment-based categories would increase from an estimated 915,497 individuals currently to an estimated 2,195,795 by FY2030.” [Page 15]
Zero sum can’t even solve the problem for Indians in the backlog: of the 2.2 million CRS calculated who will be waiting in 2030, roughly 150,000 are people born in India who are already waiting today – who will still be waiting ten years from now.
So the backlog itself will have more than doubled. What’s now a 10 year wait for one source country will become a 17 year wait for all source countries. A system that now doesn’t work for Indians (and some Chinese) won’t work for anybody.
When your hair is on fire, don’t reach for a hammer to put it out.
The Biden/Menendez/Sanchez bill solves the employment-based immigration backlog the only way it can be solved: with more green cards. It also repeals the so-called “per country cap”, which of course is not a cap at all: people born in India have gotten as much as five times the ostensible “cap”. For example, one piece of disinformation circulating is that: “The law, in effect, gives the same number of green cards for employment to India as it does Iceland.”
In fact, just to pick a year, in 2014 people born in India got 40,859 employment-based green cards. Iceland got 47. According to the
State Department Office of Visa Statistics – from 2008-17: people born in India got 288,119 employment-based green cards. In all that time, Icelanders got 444.
We urge this Committee to look at the facts, and down the road on to what some call merit-based immigration issues. It is true that because of COVID, by the end of this fiscal year, roughly a quarter million family based green cards will have been reallocated to the employment-based categories. This has been a substantial relief to many in the backlog.
Yet like the Titanic approaching the iceberg, the signs must not be ignored: one professional society surveyed its foreign graduate students and found that nearly 90% might simply leave the US and never return, if they were burdened with the delays that now afflict those born in India, and some from China.
Critical health care professionals like nurses and doctors also urgently need a supply of green cards. Let’s be blunt: without enough nurses and doctors in this pandemic, people will die.
Just consider the space program. Varmi Verma, chief engineer for robotic operations for the Perseverance rover now exploring Mars told the Wall Street Journal: “She reels off a list of colleagues’ countries of origin: “Greece, Russia, India, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Mexico”—she pauses, then continues—“Argentina, France, Italy, the U.K., Colombia. It’s almost every place I can think of.”
All of those professionals who seek green cards would be indefinitely cut off by zero sum legislation.
Surely this Committee doesn’t want to indefinitely exclude virtually all professions – except IT – and 190+ source countries from employment-based green cards, when MORE is the obvious solution. That would seriously damage higher education, the space program, and America’s technological lead in dozens of fields. Please don’t do it.
All of Us believes that America is not a zero sum nation. We do not believe that the only way for anyone to benefit is to make someone else suffer.
We urge this Committee to support the Biden/Menendez/Sanchez legislation to not only deliver green cards to everyone now in the employment-based backlog, but also to provide enough green cards so that, as CRS warned, we don’t double the backlog in the next ten years.
Thank you for your consideration.