'Americans-In-Waiting': Conservatives Say White House Is Playing Fast And Loose With Immigration Terms

| by Jared Keever
article imagearticle image

A new immigration term, coined by the Obama administration and found in the announcement of a rule change regarding the work status of certain visa holders, has some conservative news sites crying foul.

The announcement of the rule change came from the Council of Economic Advisors and was posted earlier this week on the White House website. The bulletin, titled “Taking Action to Unlock the Economic Contributions of Americans-in-Waiting,” announced a new rule that would allow employment authorization for the spouses of “certain high-skill workers who are here on H-1B visas, as long as those workers have begun the process of applying for a green card.

“These women and men are Americans-in-waiting,” the bulletin continued, saying that such people often get stuck the country’s deep, green card backlog, forcing their families to survive on a single income while here. 

It was the term “Americans-in-waiting” that many took exception to. Conservative site Weasel Zippers first drew attention to the term, according to The Washington Times

“No Joke: White House Now Calling Illegal Immigrants ‘Americans-In-Waiting,’” was the headline from Weasel Zippers.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” was the posting’s only sentence, accompanied by a screenshot of the bulletin’s title and a lengthy quote from the announcement. 

The Independent Journal Review followed suit, but stopped short of calling those affected by the rule change “illegal immigrants.”

“President Obama’s White House has pulled a language switcheroo, replacing the immigration terms ‘alien’ and ‘immigrant’ with the term ‘Americans-In-Waiting,’” the article read. 

Proponents of the rule change say it is a victory for working families and has nothing to do with illegal immigrants. 

Prerna Lal, with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, told NBC News the rule applies to those with H-4 visas, or spouses of H-1B visa holders. 

“Anyone on an H-4 visa, could not obtain work authorization even though they were legally in the U.S.,” Lal explained. “So they couldn't get a Social Security Number, a license to drive, a bank account. They could not be independent. They couldn't contribute financially to the household or to the American economy.”

The Independent Journal Review also pointed out the change will likely please employers in the technology sector, many of whom rely on workers holding  H-1B visas. 

“The move is a big victory for Silicon Valley employers, who have heavily lobbied presidential administrations for years to increase the number of  H-1B visas and to allow the spouses of their workers to also work,” the article read.

The new rule will take effect in May.

Sources: White House, Weasel Zippers, The Washington Times, Independent Journal Review, NBC News 

Photo Credit: White House