Immigration reform advocates have come to rely on the tech industry in the U.S. to help support its cause. For a long time now, leaders in the tech industry have encouraged lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Tech companies throughout the country care a great deal about immigration reform changes because these companies hire highly-skilled foreign workers. For many companies, economic success depends on these workers and their contributions.
In general, the relationship between immigration reform advocates and tech companies has been positive. However, in the recent weeks, these companies have come out in support of a bill that would increase the number of visas available to skilled foreign workers. This has led to a concern among various pro-immigration agencies that worry these companies may subsequently want “to cut [their] own deal and abandon the larger cause of comprehensive immigration overhaul.”
To help combat this fear, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., sent a letter to tech industry leaders asking them to not abandon the overall, larger goals that are important to all immigrants and immigrant advocates. One such goal is creating a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants who currently reside in the U.S. But is this concern premature? The tech industry has come out with comments reminding the public that it is “committed to comprehensive change.”
Whether this fear is well founded or not, the core of the issue is most likely the fact that federal lawmakers simply cannot come to an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform. There was reason to be encouraged last summer when the Senate approved a proposed immigration reform bill (S. 744), but the bill stalled in the House and there has been little action since then.
This problem is summed up nicely by Louis DeSipio, a political science and Latino studies professor at the University of California-Irvine. "Until a coalition like this has a tangible success, there are going to be inherent suspicions among the partners. The inaction of the House on immigration reform is creating tension. Each of the coalition partners is unsure of how committed the other partners are."
There is speculation that this growing concern is what sparked the recent op-ed in Roll Call by Scott Corley, the executive director of Compete America. In his piece, Corley demands that Congress act on legislation related to the SKILLS Visa Act. This act would “increase the cap on the number of H1-B visas from 65,000 to 155,000, allowing U.S. companies to bring in more computer scientists, engineers and other highly skilled workers from foreign countries.”
Unfortunately for Corley and the rest of Compete America, some of its allies in the broader fight for immigration changes considered the op-ed piece to be proof that the tech industry is clearly looking for a way to secure a deal that would benefit only itself.
If you have questions about U.S. visa policies and procedures, it is best to work with an experienced attorney in your area who is skilled in the area of immigration law. If you are seeking representation for an immigration-related matter, do not hesitate to contact my office and schedule an initial consultation.