Weekly Immigration Round-Up: Congressional Reps Propose Increased Health Care for Immigrants; Fear of Undocumented Immigration Drops Significantly in New Jersey; New Wage Requirements Delayed For Highly-Skilled Foreign Workers
New Bill Proposed to Make Health Care Coverage More Accessible to Immigrants
Several House Democrats have introduced a new bill aimed at making health care benefits more accessible to immigrants in the United States. One of the bill’s main sponsors, Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, stated that “we must finally guarantee health care to everyone as a human right – regardless of immigration status, income, employment, or anything else.”
The bill would eliminate a five-year waiting period that lawful permanent residents of the United States currently must undergo before being able to enroll in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The bill would also expand access to different types of coverage for DACA recipients, or “Dreamers,” who entered the United States as children. Finally, the bill would eliminate restrictions that prevent immigrants without lawful status from purchasing health insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.
The bill faces an uphill battle; while more than 80 lawmakers have already expressed support, it still has no Republican backing. The Norris McLaughlin Immigration Law Blog, “Immigration Matters,” will continue to monitor this story as it develops.
Fewer New Jersey Residents View Undocumented Immigrants as a Serious Problem
A recent poll conducted by Monmouth University indicates a majority of New Jersey residents no longer view undocumented immigrants as a “very serious problem” for the state – a stark contrast from public opinion only ten years ago. These new attitudes have led to growing statewide support for making every resident eligible for a driver’s license regardless of immigration status, in addition to allowing undocumented immigrants to attend New Jersey’s public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates.
Support for providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants has nearly doubled over the past decade, with 57% of New Jersey residents saying they support the policy, compared with 33% of those polled in 2009. Opposition to the policy dropped from 62% to 41% in that same period, as did attitudes about undocumented immigrants as a whole. While 51% of New Jersey residents in 2009 stated that undocumented immigrants posed a very serious problem, only 24% feel that way today. Additionally, the poll found that approximately 75% of people believe undocumented immigrants should be able to attend public colleges and universities, although the issue of whether in-state or out-of-state tuition should be paid was much more divided.
USCIS to Delay Wage Increases for Foreign Workers
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced this week that it would delay the implementation of a plan to increase the wages American companies must pay to foreign workers who come to the U.S. to work in high-skilled positions. The rule was implemented by former President Trump in his final week in office.
The Department of Labor announced that the new rule, which was scheduled to take effect today, May 14, will not be implemented until at least November 2022, stating that it “will provide a sufficient amount of time to thoroughly consider the legal and policy issues raised in the rule, and offer the public” a chance to comment. Wages for highly skilled workers (H-1B visa holders) are set based upon the experience and skills needed for the job and the location of the position. Under existing rules, wages are set somewhere between the 17th and 67th percentile of salaries earned in a particular geographic area; the new rule would increase the minimum and maximum percentiles to 35 and 90, respectively.
Public comments are due by June 1, 2021.