While much political attention has been paid to the issue of illegal aliens entering the country, the overwhelming majority of immigration to the United States is the result of visa policies. Millions of visas are issued every year to temporary workers, foreign students, refugees, those seeking asylum, and permanent immigrants for admission into the United States.
The vast majority of these visas are for low-skilled and low-wage workers and their dependents. Because they arrive on legal immigrant visas, most will be able to draw a wide range of taxpayer-funded benefits, and corporations could be allowed to directly substitute these workers for Americans.
The most significant of all immigration documents issued by the U.S. is, by far, the green card. When a foreign citizen is issued a green card it guarantees them numerous benefits inside the United States including lifetime work authorization, access to federal welfare, access to Social Security and Medicare, the ability to obtain citizenship and voting privileges, and the immigration of their family members and elderly relatives.
Under current federal policy, the U.S. issues green cards to approximately 1 million new Legal Permanent Residents each year. Department of Homeland Security statistics show that the U.S. issued 5.25 million green cards since 2010, for an average of 1.05 million new legal permanent immigrants annually.
Perhaps the most startling statistic in the report is the comparison drawn between the number of green cards to be issued over the next decade and the population of three American states.
By 2025, the U.S. will legally add 10 million or more new permanent immigrants; a bloc larger than populations of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina combined.
Senator Sessions has also called into question the use of H-1B visas by companies that he believes are replacing Americans with cheap foreign workers.
“There is a surplus—not a shortage—of skilled, talented, and qualified Americans seeking STEM employment. Each year, universities graduate twice as many students with STEM degrees as find STEM jobs,” Sessions said in July.
Pure number of laborers in the U.S., Sessions argues, is not the true motive, but rather the wages those workers make.
“The H-1B visa has become a highly lucrative business model of bringing in cheaper H-1B workers to substitute for Americans,” said professor Ron Hira of the Rochester Institute of Technology in a hearing before Sessions’ committee. “Most of the H-1B program is now being used to import cheaper foreign guestworkers, replacing American workers, and undercutting their wages.”
Polling from Gallup and Fox shows that Americans want lawmakers to reduce immigration rates by an astounding 2:1 margin. Reuters puts it at a 3:1 margin, and polling from GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway shows that by the huge margin of nearly 10:1 people of all backgrounds believe U.S. companies seeking workers should raise wages for those already living here instead of bringing in new labor from abroad.