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At least 3 million foreign nationals were granted work permits, work visas, and green cards in 2013, with most being granted to individuals from Mexico, China, and India, according to the most recent data issued by the Congressional Research Service.
While the 2014 numbers have not been disclosed, recent statistics provided to Congress reveal that work permits continued to be issued at record numbers, according to congressional sources and statistics provided to the Washington Free Beacon.
This includes about 1 million green cards with work authorization, 1 million employment-based nonimmigrant visas for foreign workers, and 1.2 million work-permit authorizations for foreign nationals.
The disclosure of the ongoing uptick in visas and green cards comes amid a larger debate on Capitol Hill about tightening immigration restrictions in light of recent terror attacks and concerns about the U.S. workforce.
The total number of foreign workers in the United States stands at 26 million as of 2014, according to numbers issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“All foreign nationals who gain lawful permanent resident status in the United States are eligible to work, regardless of what preference category or class they entered through,” according to a congressional research memo obtained by the Free Beacon.
These numbers are likely to increase in the next year as Congress prepares to approve a sprawling funding bill that critics say will do little to alter Obama administration plans to boost work permits and visas, as well as permit some 10,000 Syrian refugees to relocate to America.
“The omnibus will fund 100 percent of the continued issuance of work permits, work visas, green cards and refugee admits, continuing to accelerate the U.S. beyond all known historical immigration precedent,” said a congressional source familiar with the yearly spending bill. “The U.S. presently has four times more migrant residents than any other country in the world, regardless of population.”
The U.S. immigrant population—both legal and illegal—hit a “record” 42.4 million in 2014, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
Congressional critics, among them Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), have criticized the funding bill for giving the Obama administration a “blank check” on the immigration front.
"As currently written, this year's appropriations bills … amount to a blank check for the president to carry out his refugee resettlement plans," Sessions said in a recent statement.
"Not only will the president be allowed to bring in the 85,000 refugees he has announced on top of current record immigration levels, but this will include at least 10,000 refugees from Syria who will subsequently be able to bring in their foreign relatives,” Sessions said, noting that all of the refugees “are eligible for lifetime government assistance and can draw funds from Social Security and Medicare at Americans' expense.”
More than 90 percent of recent Middle Eastern refugees who have come to America are on welfare, according to Sessions.
The U.S. Census Bureau “projects that, on our current immigration policy baseline, every single year the total number of immigrants in the United States will increase, the annual rate of immigrant admissions will increase, and the foreign-born share of the population will increase,” according to information published by Sessions’ office.
Additional polling data collected by Pew shows that 83 percent of the public would like the level of immigration frozen or reduced, including at least 92 percent of Republicans polled.
Sessions has further warned that the costs associated with resettling refugees and providing them welfare benefits have not been offset.
“The net cost of resettling 10,000 refugees averages out to $6.5 billion over the lifespan of those refugees,” Sessions wrote in a recent letter to congressional appropriators. “The president’s proposal to resettle 85,000 refugees this fiscal year alone will result in a net cost of approximately $55.25 billion.
On the work permit front, non-Middle Eastern immigrants account for the largest percentage of foreign nationals in the workforce, according to labor statistics.
“Hispanics accounted for 48.3 percent of the foreign-born labor force in 2014 and Asians accounted for 24.1 percent,” according to the most recent numbers.
Lawmakers are further seeking to boost background screenings for new immigrants. One such measure being considered by the Senate would mandate that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, among others, review an individual’s social media accounts to see if there are links to terrorists.
The State Department was recently sued for withholding information from the public about the administration’s refugee resettlement plan.
Homeland Security has had difficulty providing Congress with concrete statistics on the number of Syrians currently in the United States and of those how many are in the country on expired visas.