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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Another Twist to Immigration Reform

The principal focus of the immigration bill now being discussed in Congress is to deal with undocumented immigration (e.g., secure the border) and undocumented immigrants (e.g., a path to citizenship). But it turns out that there is another component to the bill that is related to high-tech guest worker programs and the New York Times reports that there is now some big money pushing the immigration bill precisely of this.
What emerged was a Senate measure that allows American technology companies to procure many more skilled guest worker visas, raising the limit to 110,000 a year from 65,000 under current law, along with a provision to expand it further based on market demand. The bill would also allow these companies to move workers on guest visas more easily to permanent resident visas, freeing up more temporary visas for these companies.
But it requires them to pay higher wages for guest workers and to post job openings on a Web site, so Americans can have a chance at them. And it draws a line in the sand between these technology firms and the mostly Indian companies that supply computer workers on H-1B visas for short-term jobs at companies in the United States.
“This provision accomplishes the goal of discouraging abuse of the program while providing an important incentive for companies to bring top talent to work in the United States for the long-term, where they will contribute to our economy,” said Mr. Kaplan, the former Republican White House aide who is now the vice president for United States public policy at Facebook.
The bill has a good chance of winning passage in the Senate. The hardest sell will come in the House, where many conservative Republicans see the deal as too generous to immigrants who came to this nation illegally.
With any luck, this angle to promote the economic advancement of technology firms with more H-1B visas will be the antidote to the poison pills that seem to exist in the bill at the moment. 

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