Hi-tech firms who are looking to bring in more skilled workers to the United States yesterday pushed for further concessions in the immigration reform bill that is currently under discussion in the Senate. However, labor unions say that Silicon Valley has gotten plenty from the legislation already and that any further changes risk removing protections for American workers.
The debate is likely to play out in a hearing room on Capitol Hill this week with the Senate Judiciary Committee resuming their consideration of amendments to the sweeping legislation that looks set to remake the country’s immigration system. One of the hottest topics is the issue of the much sought after H-1B US visas that enables companies such as Microsoft and Google to bring workers to the United States in order to fill openings for computer software experts, engineers and other positions where employers claim there is a shortage of workers in the US.
The legislation increases the amount of visas that are available but also includes a variety of restrictions intended to make sure that American workers get the first chance for such jobs, restrictions that were championed by Senate Judiciary Committee member Senator Dick Durbin.
However, another member, Senator Orrin Hatch, has prepared a number of amendments to help the high tech companies’ cause, but is opposed by a number of Democrats. “High tech got an awful lot it wanted,” notes the AFL-CIO immigration campaign manager Tom Snyder. “Now they want to compromise the compromise.”