Historically, America has been a place that welcomes people from all walks of life. But the United States has built a wall blocking immigrants, instead of being the light by the golden door, the United States has become a gate or a wall.
What is happening at USCIS is a philosophy change that is a catalyst for structural change.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
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Dave Kelso: Hi there, and welcome to another episode of OnlineVisas.com, The Immigration Show. I'm your host, Dave Kelso. Here with me today, CEO of OnlineVisas.com, Mr. Jon Velie. Jon, how are you?
Jon Velie: I'm doing great, Dave. How are you?
Dave Kelso: I'm doing well. There's been some immigration stuff in the news lately, and I'm glad to get a chance to sit down and talk with you about it.
Jon Velie: Excellent.
Dave Kelso: Maybe you heard that acting USCIS Director, Ken Cuccinelli, did an interview with NPR the other day.
Jon Velie: Yeah.
Dave Kelso: Paraphrased Emma Lazarus's great poem that is on the base of the statue of liberty, which says, "Bring me your tired, your huddled masses, yearning to be free." He added on, "That can stand on their own two feet and won't be a burden on the US government." And that, of course, has caused quite a bit of controversy. It should be said that the Trump Administration is not advocating to change the poem on the statue as some headlines have said, but it is worth addressing that it seems that the attitude at USCIS has changed.
Dave Kelso: Instead of being the light by the golden door, to continue the analogy of the Statue of Liberty, we have now become a gate or a wall.
Jon Velie: We've become a wall.
Dave Kelso: Right.
Jon Velie: We've changed our icon from the Statute of Liberty.
Dave Kelso: To a wall.
Jon Velie: Which liberty is right in there with happiness and freedom.
Dave Kelso: And freedom, right.
Jon Velie: And right there, that's what-
Dave Kelso: Those are the three.
Jon Velie: What America is, The Golden Gate Bridge for the west, the Statue of Liberty for the east. Come to America. We're from every different race. We're from both genders and anything in between-
Dave Kelso: All the genders.
Jon Velie: All the genders. Any different religion is acceptable here. That's what makes America great. We are not one people. We're all people.
Dave Kelso: Yeah.
Jon Velie: We can take and mold the worst in the world, the huddled, the poor, to become something excellent. We have so many generations of excellence, and all of us, except for our Native American brothers and sisters, have come from immigrants. We all have some story that there was when our folks came over here. We're replacing the Statue of Liberty with a wall, in exclusion instead of an inclusion place.
Jon Velie: Look, we all understand that people should be able to provide for themselves-
Dave Kelso: Stand up on their own two feet, right.
Jon Velie: That's absolutely fine. But, you don't insert into the Statute of Liberty when you're making it a wall. The irony of that is Donald Trump is upset because USCIS and ICE haven't deported enough people. There are 11 million people still in this country that are illegal, so he fires the last person, brings in the new person, and says, "Let's harden it up." This is just a rallying cry to his political base to try to get re-elected.
Dave Kelso: But these aren't the illegal people. These are people who are coming legally, who want to work. Just the other day in Mississippi, we rounded up 600 or 700 people who were working illegally, and now we're saying we don't want people who are going to come here and be a drain on the economy. So, do we want you to work or not want you to work?
Jon Velie: ICE is raiding workplaces. They're not raiding the unemployment or the benefits counters.
Dave Kelso: Exactly.
Jon Velie: Because you know what? Not that many people are using them. To be honest, there are not too many benefits that are available if you're not a US citizen.
Dave Kelso: You mostly have to be a US citizen to collect that.
Jon Velie: Yeah, right that's who collecting these things and they need them. That's what our government should do. So in any case, it's just disingenuous at best. But here's the really weird part, and this is what we're going to talk about today.
Dave Kelso: Right.
Jon Velie: Is, how this is impacting lawful immigration. What is really happening is this agency, USCIS and those related to it, whether it is ICE that is doing raids and site visits, or whether it is the state department that is allowing people through their consulates. The tune has changed from just being a service provider that goes through to see if things make sense, and it is a very vetted system. It is not like immigration is easy, as they sort of pointed out. It is a really, really tough process.
Jon Velie: It does determine whether somebody merit-based, and all that exists already. They are creating new reasons to deny cases. Creative, nasty, got you knocking cases down. Now, the great thing about our system-
Dave Kelso: Well, let's talk about one of those in just a second.
Jon Velie: Okay.
Dave Kelso: We're talking with Jon Velie, the CEO of OnlineVisas.com, and you were talking about the business of legal immigration, and how this is hurting businesses who are trying to grow the American economy. There was one suit filed not very long ago, and I was wondering if you could tell me about that one.
Jon Velie: Well there is. There has been a number of suits?
Dave Kelso: Right.
Jon Velie: The Trump Administration has a really bad track record when it comes to violating immigration. We have seen that from the Muslim ban to all this other stuff. When it comes to legal immigration there is a number. One of the groups that I've been involved in, and I'm a big fan of, is ITServe Alliance. They have brought a lawsuit against the Secretary of Interior for acting arbitrarily and capriciously. That one is still pending. But another one just came down on August 5th called RELX, Inc. v. Baron. RELX, Inc. does business as LexisNexis, a big database company that provides lots of knowledge to lawyers and companies.
Jon Velie: In that case, it is a very classic example, there is an Indian lady named Ms. Chattergy. She is an F-1 student, which means she went to a university in the United States. She is part of a large number of people that come from a lot of countries to United States universities. After all, we have the best universities in the world.
Dave Kelso: Yes, we do.
Jon Velie: We rank the Top 10 under U.S. News and World Report. The United States has eight out of 10. Oxford and Cambridge are in there, but they are like six and seven. If you keep going down, it is ours.
Dave Kelso: It is ours.
Jon Velie: We do not educate a lot of people in our high school with STEM. So, these really smart kids are coming from around the world like Ms. Chattergy, going to a United States university. They get one year under what is called OPT, Optional Practical Training, to go out, try on a job and if that company likes them, they can apply for an H1-B Visa.
Dave Kelso: Sure.
Jon Velie: So LexisNexis wants to hire Ms. Chattergy as a Data Analyst. That is what they do. They have smart people with technical backgrounds that analyze data so that they can give that data to their clients.
Dave Kelso: That is a skill.
Jon Velie: That is a skill. That is a merit-based visa. They applied for this visa and said, "Well, this job requires a specialized degree and it can be any of the number of the degrees: business analytics, statistics, math, operations, research," those sorts of things.
Dave Kelso: Lots of things associated with data analytics.
Jon Velie: Yeah, but these are all related.
Dave Kelso: Yes, absolutely.
Jon Velie: These are all STEM and you can't be an English major. You can't be a philosophy major. History isn't going to help.
Dave Kelso: No, all of those make sense with data analytics.
Jon Velie: Right, they all make sense. Well, immigration took the ridiculous position that because there were too many different degrees that could lead to the job, it wasn't specialized enough and denied the case. So, they sued them and they won. Ms. Chattergy and her bosses sued them. So, what we're talking about is USCIS is denying American companies from the ability to hire really talented, skilled people in positions they need.
Dave Kelso: To get the job done.
Jon Velie: Because of these arbitrary mean-spirited decisions. This is not about a wall. This is not about keeping out illegals. It is not about illegals stealing jobs. As a matter of fact, these tech-based jobs, our tech industry is on fire but yet we don't produce enough STEM graduates from the high schools in American to fulfill those jobs. We have hundreds of thousands of jobs that are open every year. Jobs are going back to countries like India from American companies that are relocating. They are taking jobs away from Americans because our government is making decisions to not allow our companies to hire who they need. That is what is happening.
Dave Kelso: The argument could be, just playing devil's advocate here-
Jon Velie: Okay, please do.
Dave Kelso: That if our schools are not producing enough STEM graduates to supply American companies, then the problem is not in immigration. The problem is in the schools, and we ought to be filling that with our people instead, and Cuccinelli and USCIS are giving American kids cover to do that.
Jon Velie: Well, but there are not enough American kids to do it. We'd love to have more of that, but we just don't have enough. Look, we're complaining... The same people that are supporting this are complaining our manufacturing jobs left America. Well, the reason our manufacturing jobs left America, amongst other things, is that Americans demand to have a livable wage. There are countries in the world that will pay a worker $1.00 a day. No American can live on $1.00 a day. You can't do it.
Jon Velie: But here we have a red hot industry, one of many, that is doing very well and we're stopping that industry. If you just look at it from a commercial place and not a civil rights issue. A commercial reason "why are we stopping American companies from being able to hire the people they need?" And "why are we implementing policies that are in violation of our own laws?" We're basking in under that, because immigrants are bad, and it's us versus them, and this is the situation.
Jon Velie: So, it all goes back, do we want to be the Statue of Liberty or do we want to be an exclusive wall? At the end of the day, it is going to hurt our economy. That doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
Dave Kelso: Immigrants are a good idea. We are a light by the golden door. If somebody wants to get their immigration process started. If somebody wants to begin their American dream, how do they get ahold of you to start that?
Jon Velie: Well, I'm glad you asked that because where do we fit in this? While I've litigated a lot of cases, been to the Supreme Court three times. What we're doing in immigration is really helping these cases get approved. We're still batting 95% on these cases on H-1Bs last year alone. And the reason is that with IT Serve Alliance, we broke down a lot of denials from different companies. We saw how other lawyers were doing their cases and other companies were handling them. Then we created strategies that work.
Jon Velie: A lot of that is we inherit cases, and we call them "2016 Cases." That is the last year of the Obama Administration. 88% approval then. 2017, it dropped down to 59%. So, what we're doing is we-
Dave Kelso: Oh, that's a philosophy change, isn't it?
Jon Velie: It is. It is a philosophy change. It is a structural change. What we can do is look at these old cases, the old way people are doing it as a Table of Contents with some evidence, and then allow immigration to figure it out. We see that people are continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different relationship. Many are going to court, and we totally back those wanting to litigate. We like these decisions. It helps us.
Jon Velie: But really what we need to do is look at the change in regulations. Now what is frustrating to a lot of people is those changes in regulations are to my industry as an immigration practitioner, not to their particular industry. It's not like the petroleum industry has a new regulation on what sort of hose you can use.
Jon Velie: So a lot of people don't know that these regulations have changed, and they are just frustrated. So what we do is we help look at how their organic documents are organized. What do their contracts say, what is the language in them? What do your job descriptions and contracts with your people say? How is that job being described, which is really important? How is it being named? How are you working with other people and who is in control of those folks?
Jon Velie: These are the sort of issues that immigration is cherry-picking and denying. So, knowing where that comes from. That is how we do it. You asked how to find us. You can come to our website, OnlineVisas.com. It has really been on fire lately. We've gotten almost 2000 people a day coming by. We're getting 20+ questions from complete strangers and we're there for our existing clients and new clients. We offer free strategy that can be for the individual who wants to know, "Hey, do I get a Visa?" Or the company that is saying, "Look, we're getting knocked down. Can you help us out? Can you show us what is going on and create strategies so we can do a lot of these visas and do them right."
Jon Velie: Everywhere from compliance to, "Hey, we're getting a site visit. Or, we may get raided. Can we get something to deal with that?" So, come to OnlineVisas.com. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me 405-310-4333.
Dave Kelso: Of course, you can subscribe to the YouTube channel. You can follow us on Facebook and we're on LinkedIn as well. Immigrants are a good idea. Jon Velie and OnlineVisas.com want to act as the light by the golden door. Please come bring your American dream to our country. We are OnlineVisas.com: The Immigration Show. Thanks for watching.