High Tech Visa Reform

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a full committee hearing this week on “Immigration Reforms Needed to Protect Skilled American Workers.” Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-Iowa) will be chairing the hearing and the existence of the hearing begs the question – are Republicans in the Senate willing to march forward on immigration reform this year? If so, what will that reform look like?

There is a strong consensus that an improved system of border security and a means to make it impossible for people on a work visa to overstay are two issues that need to be addressed before any other issues can be addressed. Border security and improvements to address visa holder overstays are two issues that would make it far easier to address immigration reform in small bites.

The fight at the end of February to fund the Department of Homeland Security shows that there is no appetite right now for comprehensive reform. If our immigration system is to be improved, then Congress needs to proceed issue by issue and pass small reforms.

One idea that should be discusses is increasing visas and green cards for high-tech workers. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sens. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 43% (R-Utah) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 5% (D-Minnesota) have a bill that “would increase the number of high-skilled visas available each year to as many as 195,000 from the current cap of 65,000 and otherwise allow for more legal immigration to the U.S. They call the measure the Immigration Innovation Act, or I-Squared Act.” Right now there is a race to hit the cap every year and an increase to the higher number will go a long way to meet the needs of American companies.

Another idea that makes sense is (also from the Wall Street Journal) also reports that “a second measure, backed by Sens. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) 74% (R., Kan.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) 10% (D., Va.) and four others would create an ‘entrepreneur’s visa’ to allow people who want to start companies to stay in the country. Both measures would create new visa or green-card opportunities for foreign students who graduate from U.S. schools with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math—something President Barack Obama supports as well.” Makes sense to keep job creators money in the United States to employ more Americans and to create wealth domestically.

These are two common sense ideas that should be discussed at the hearing.

It makes no sense for the brightest of the world to come to America for an education then they have to leave to find a job. If they are truly the best and the brightest, then they should stay here to help our economy grow. High tech workers create jobs and create wealth and having wealthy foreign-born individuals create companies in the United States is another excellent idea.

Because of the political melt down on the issue of the funding of the Department of Homeland Security, every inside the beltway pundit knows that comprehensive immigration reform is dead for this Congress. Yet, smart smaller bites that fix our immigration system still have a chance and should be considered.

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