The long-awaited comprehensive immigration reform bill is currently being debated in Congress. But judging from the summary released by the Gang of Eight, it's shaping up to meet the demands of the technology sector through additional visas as well as provisions to prevent outsourcing and wage problems.
As described in a New York Times report recently, the bill proposal is "a clear nod to a prosperous and more politically powerful technology industry." In fact, the article indicates a shift away from "family unity" as a primary goal of immigration reform, and toward job creation.
The bill has yet to reach its final stages, and we can expect to see the various provisions debated extensively. Strengthening the economy, though, is something that legislators from both sides of the aisle can get behind.
Referring to the shift towards a more economic focus, lobbyist and vice president of the Information Technology Industry Council, Robert Hoffman, was quoted as stating, "That major reorganization tells me this Congress recognizes that the knowledge economy is going to drive the overall economy."
The Gang of Eight's summary also contains a provision that would place an economic burden on companies that are bringing in short term technology workers. This practice has been blamed for depressed wages in the industry, and the added expense would presumably discourage companies from primarily employing short-term foreign workers.
However, in other sectors of the economy, many have called for increases in temporary work visas. For example, the agriculture and construction industries depend on foreign workers to meet vast labor demands.Thus, the current number of H-1B workers allowed - 65,000 per year - is projected to rise to between 110,000 to 180,000.
Other noteworthy provisions in the bill include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in America.