There’s a small office within the Department of Homeland Security that is supposed to help aliens with problems with the DHS bureaucracy.
You know, “your poor, your huddled masses” and so on.
Who is that office worried about at the moment? Farm workers confused by complex rules? Sewing machine operators having trouble with their visas?
Far from it. This band of problem-solving cavalrymen is charging off to rescue …
… spouses of physicians!
If you thumb through the government’s statistics on what occupations earn the most you will find that physicians earn more than even chief executives. Even if you ignore the really well-paid specialists and look at the annual incomes of the less-well-paid family and general practitioners, the BLS reported 2011 annual incomes of $177,330, compared to chief executives with $176,550. (Some CEOs, of course, do rather better than that.)
Meanwhile, the White House is trying to reduce the gap between the really, really prosperous and the rest of us. A group with an annual income to $177,330 is in the former class.
So with that as background, we find that the Citizenship and Immigration Ombudsman is urging USCIS to make it possible for a very small group of alien spouses of alien physicians here on a J-1 “exchange visitor” visa to move into the labor market, where, I am sure, they will quickly get jobs that would otherwise go to some of the millions of unemployed Americans.
The local doctor knows people, some of whom feel indebted to the doctor; the local doctor’s spouse probably has a pretty good education; so the doctor’s spouse is highly likely to land a job, and a reasonably good one, if the government will allow it — and that is exactly what the Ombudsman Office is lobbying for.
To translate: CISOMB is the aforementioned agency; a derivative is a relative of an alien; Conrad is a former senator from North Dakota; and the Conrad State 30 Physician Program allows up to 30 J-1 (nonimmigrant) physicians per state per year to go to work in medically under-served areas.
Under the current rules, the spouses of such doctors are not allowed to work — after all, the exception to the immigration law that allows these physicians to enter the labor market, a huge boon to them, relates to the J-1’s education and skills, and nothing else.
Physicians’ spouses are obviously an elite, well-cared-for group, even if they are living in, say, rural North Dakota. But this is not the first time that the Office of the Ombudsman (who is a political appointee) has used its limited resources to aid the privileged.
As we reported last year, fully 10 percent of the agency’s case load consisted of alien millionaires wanting to use the EB-5 (immigrant investor program) to buy green cards for themselves and their families at half a million dollars for a full set of such cards. These aliens should be hiring lawyers, not burdening the Ombudsman’s Office.
The number of U.S. jobs to be lost if the Conrad 30 recommendation is accepted by USCIS will not be large, but it is a continuation of the nibble-nibble process of this administration as it seeks to open up U.S. jobs for more migrants of all kinds, in groups both large and small.
My suspicion is that USCIS already knows about this issue, and felt that a decision along these lines would come more easily were it to follow an Ombudsman’s Office recommendation. We will see.
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