With over half a million legal immigrants residing in the Bay area, high-tech firms in Silicon Valley are calling on immigration reform to allow their employees, who already hold green cards, to find it easier to become fully-fledged citizens of the United States.
25 technology companies from Silicon Valley listened to advice from a panel of experts on Wednesday on how the skills gap can be closed by making use of citizenship. Cisco’s director of employee talent services, Katherine Marrufo, says that current immigration policy in the United States is effectively handcuffing companies such as hers and that these companies need to be given the option of hiring more employees who desire legal status.
“Partly because of the slowness that we talked about, the red tape and bureaucracy, when you look at companies like Cisco and other technology firms, the market transitions out there are moving so fast and so that war for talent we talked about is about speed and agility,” Marrufo notes. “If we have to sit and wait, we’re losing the edge.”
The National Immigration Forum’s executive director, Ali Noorani, added that it is not only high-tech firms that are being affected but also other industries, such as agriculture. He added that there is no such thing as high-skill or low-skill in the forum’s opinion and that skills that go across the entire spectrum of the labor market are required by the economy.