Menu
GOP presses ahead on H-1B, green cards with vague, muddy statement

GOP presses ahead on H-1B, green cards with vague, muddy statement

House Republicans will need help from Democrats to win immigration reform

WASHINGTON - Republican leaders on Thursday released a broad framework for immigration reform as difficult to understand, and about as long, as a Dead Sea scroll fragment.

The immigration principles released by GOP House leaders lack detail. The section addressing H-1B visas and green cards, for instance, is just 179 words and wide open to interpretation.

Nonetheless, the principles produced a flurry of "important step forward" reactions from the tech industry. From more critical observers, the consensus was that there was little to take away from it.

The most important thing about the release of the GOP's immigration reform principles is to signal a willingness to work on an immigration bill. But to get something passed, Republicans will need the help of Democrats similar what occurred last year in the Senate.

Although the House principles shed little light on what the Republicans might do, the House Judiciary Committee last year backed legislation to hike the H-1B cap and increase green cards for high-tech workers.

Did House Republican leaders offer anything new about their goals on tech-related immigration in this documents? It's hard to know.

For instance, in a section that covers the H-1B visa, one principle states that "goal of any temporary worker program should be to address the economic needs of the country." It then says "of particular concern are the needs of the agricultural industry, among others. It is imperative that these temporary workers are able to meet the economic needs of the country and do not displace or disadvantage American workers."

In reference to the wording about protecting American workers, Russ Harrison, IEEE-USA's senior legislative representative for grassroots activities, said the line seems to be directed at agricultural workers, "although you would think they would apply it to everyone.

"It is hard to say, at this point, if the sentence is an important policy point or just rhetorical cover," said Harrison.

Daniel Costa, an immigration policy analyst at Economic Policy Institute, didn't see anything revolutionary or new in the statement.

Costa, who offered up an in-depth analysis of the principles in a blog post, believes that the Skills Visa Act will be the template for the Republicans.

That measure, approved by the House Judiciary Committee in June, would raise the base H-1B cap from 65,000 to 155,000 a year, and double the H-1B visas set aside for advanced degree graduates of U.S. universities from 20,000 to 40,000.

The Skills bill also raised the green card cap from 140,000 to 195,000, and included a set-aside of 10,000 green cards under a start-up program for entrepreneurs. It would also overhaul the prevailing wage by replacing the four-wage-level system used to bring workers in at low wages with a new three-wage-level system.

The Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), adopted the Skills bill without Democratic support.

There are 232 Republicans and 200 Democrats in The House, with 218 votes needed to pass a bill. But there are at least two dozen Republicans who are against almost any immigration reform whatsoever.

This means the Republicans will have to work with House Democratic leaders on immigration, notably U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley, and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who is one the leaders on the broader immigration reforms.

Lofgren, in a statement, said that while the Republican's principles "indicate an interest in reform, it's important to note that principles are very broad statements that do not reveal much detail. Those details matter and I look forward to working across party lines for immigration reform."

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

See more by Patrick Thibodeau on Computerworld.com.

Read more about gov't legislation/regulation in Computerworld's Gov't Legislation/Regulation Topic Center.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags regulationIT outsourcingGov't LegislationGov't Legislation/RegulationNoneSenaGT

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments