Caveats in President Obama’s Stimulus Package

Houston immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee is generally pleased with the new President’s nearly $800 billion Stimulus, except for a few caveats that have crept in “like mice in the flour.”

Many members of Congress are applauding the passage of President Barack H. Obama’s Economic Stimulus Package; even without much bipartisan support it is a landmark achievement and will benefit the country much more than doing nothing during this severe recession. “But at the risk of seeming like a naysayer, I don’t like everything about it,” Ms. Banerjee admits. Her bones of contention primarily rest with apparently misguided proposed immigration policy embedded in the massive bill.

Not everyone in Congress has been cheering the President on. Immigration is a home for naysayers, with few Republicans even voting for President Obama’s Stimulus Package in its entirety, let alone supporting any provision regarding immigration matters that smells liberal or progressive. Republicans and some Democrats from what used to be called “Red” states have not given up about leveraging the economic recession to promote insular, protectionist, “Pat Buchanan-like” policies. These politicians murmur that in order to regain our economic footing, immigrants must be denied admission and prevented from gaining employment in the United States (or else they must be removed if already here). An amendment to the Stimulus Bill, offered by Senators Sanders (Independent-Vermont) and Grassley (Republican-Iowa), is a caveat that Ms. Banerjee opposes. “The net effect of this amendment is that banks and other institutions receiving funding under the financial industry bailout program (passed during the waning days of the Bush Administration just a few months ago) will be virtually prevented from hiring any foreign nationals, or even extending the Visas of already employed foreign workers for a 2-year period,” she says, “In other words, if an employer wants to hire a new H-1B worker, they will assume the obligations of H-1B dependent employers. This is awful. With this provision hiding in the Bill, the stimulus is a lot less stimulating.” A second thought in Ms. Banerjee’s mind is the Kingston E-Verify amendment. “Even voluntary E-Verify has been beset with problems since it was introduced in 1997. I can just imagine what a mandatory E-Verify federal policy will mean, and what I’m imagining isn’t pretty.”

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