How one act could impact billions globally.
H.R.3648 - EAGLE Act of 2021
Bonny’s dream is about to come true! Hailing from the Sichuan province of China, Bonny has applied for an employment-based visa or an H-1B visa, so she can work in the United States of America to support her family and herself without financial strife. Unfortunately, the Immigration and Nationality Act passed in the mid-twentieth century places an equal limit on work visas from foreign countries; Immigrants from China-- totaling more than two million per year-- have the same quota as immigrants from a smaller country like Finland. Bonny is now upset because her friend Finn from Finland has gotten his work visa, but she knows for a fact she is more hard-working and has demonstrated more merit on her application. She asks herself, “Will the U.S. ever amend their immigration laws to base work visas on merit rather than country!” Lucky for her, the U.S. has just proposed the EAGLE Act of 2021 which slowly walks the U.S out of its 7% visa limit on every country. Bonny is ecstatic at the thought of working in America and providing for her family!
WHY THIS POLICY?
Proposed by Representative Zoe Lofgren in early June 2021, The EAGLE Act (The Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act) works to ease America out of its 9,800 applicant cap on work visas per country by allocating by making the requirements merit-based rather than nationality-based. This means applicants will be evaluated and given visas based on their skillset and prior accomplishments rather than rejecting them because their country’s visa cap has been reached. The act attempts to approach this change through small steps: from 70% in year 1 to 90% in year 9. As put by Zoe Lofgren, the act can “benefit the US economy by allowing American employers to focus on hiring immigrants based on their merit, not their birthplace”. Today, many large-country immigrants like Chinese and Indian work visa seekers are sent into an application backlog (an accumulation of something, especially uncompleted work or matters that need to be dealt with) reaching up to 84-year wait periods, while people from a smaller country barely have to wait for their work visa. The prior immigration laws didn’t take into account the major population differences between a country like China and Iceland, so the Eagle Act counts on solving the population-to-work visa application cap disproportionality.
As of present-day Early September 2021, the Eagle Act has yet to be voted upon. However, the H.R.1044 - Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2020 proposed by the same representative (extremely similar to the EAGLE act in pushing to clear the work visa backlog) was voted on and received “overwhelming bipartisan support” with the House passing it 365-65. In the house, 203 Democratic and 108 Republican cosponsors were for the act, and 15 Democratic cosponsors and 19 Republicans in the Senate were for it. The overwhelming bipartisan support stemmed from the plan accompanying both party’s best interests and signifies how impactful this plan truly is on a global scale. The majority of Republicans support this act because many of them believe this is the first step to fixing a “broken immigration system” and curbing illegal immigration. According to these supporters, the previous immigration system was based on a first-come, first-serve basis, which promoted illegal crossings out of desperation for work. The Democrat party overwhelmingly supports this act because there has been an ongoing push by their agenda every year to loosen and create fair immigration laws in order to value merit over birthplace. There were a few non-sponsors who didn’t favor the act as it might create a backlog for smaller countries or they just did not wish to further open our borders.
Today, the EAGLE Act has not been voted on yet, only proposed. Some outside the political hemisphere have dissenting opinions. Lakshmi Sridaran of India Abroad, a weekly newspaper, believes that the Eagle Act would favor and focus solely on the backlog of large countries like India creating a byproduct of a backlog of work visas for smaller countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. The plan aids the U.S. as the overall skill of immigrating workers will be higher than before proving beneficial to the economy. Larger countries as a whole will not benefit as their skilled workers will be poached, and there won’t be much change in small countries as their total number of visas won’t change too much. The general consensus is yet to be seen, so one can only predict the overall consensus from the Democrat and Republican Party; will they vote like last year for it or will they refrain from passing the act as it makes another attempt to further loosen immigration laws?
This act is vital in creating fair opportunities for all work-visa applicants, especially in countries with larger populations who suffer from a disproportionate cap. The previous 7% cap equally placed on each country doesn’t account for the difference in population, and every year, applicants with more merit from larger countries who apply first are overlooked, while applicants with less merit breeze by from their small countries. By transitioning the nationality-based work-visa system into one heavily based on merit, America can promote a more fair process and reward the harder working. Qualified but overlooked applicants from populated countries could grasp deserved opportunities to provide for their families, in turn, changing their lives for the better. And for small countries worried about not having enough visas after this transition, the plan enlists 30% of visas to small countries in the first year of the plan.
Moreover, the U.S. Constitution emphasizes a fair process and equality, so the EAGLE Act is a beneficial step in forming “a more perfect Union, establish Justice,...promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...” - Preamble of the Constitution of United States of America 1789 (rev. 1992)
Source Links https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3524 https://hill.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=5848 https://immigrationforum.org/article/fairness-for-high-skilled-immigrants-act/ https://www.stilt.com/blog/2021/06/eagle-act/ https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1044/text https://www.indiaabroad.com/opinion/why-the-fairness-for-high-skilled-immigrants-bill-is-a-dangerous-compromise/article_5804906e-f203-11e9-8172-6f4105252306.html https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/United_States_of_America_1992 https://reimaginingmigration.org/chinese-immigrants-to-the-us-past-and-present/#:~:text=Chinese%20immigration%20to%20the%20United,44%20million%20immigrant%20population%20overall.