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  1. #1
    Senior Member moosetracks's Avatar
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    Jun 2005

    Immigration bill would add visa's for tech workers

    Immigration bill would add (H-1b) visas for tech workers

    Submitted by jgm

    Chronicle Washington Bureau

    March 10, 2006 by Carolyn Lochhead

    Buried in the Senate's giant immigration bill -- hardly noticed amid a fierce debate over a guest-worker program for unskilled laborers -- are provisions that would open the country's doors to highly skilled immigrants for science, math, technology and engineering jobs.

    The provisions were sought by Silicon Valley tech companies and enjoy significant bipartisan support amid concern that the United States might lose its lead in technology. They would broaden avenues to legal immigration for foreign tech workers and would put those with advanced degrees on an automatic path to permanent residence should they want it.

    The measures include nearly doubling the number of H-1B skilled-worker temporary visas to 115,000 -- with an option of raising the cap 20 percent more each year. H-1B visas were highly controversial in the Bay Area when their numbers reached a peak of 195,000 in 2003.

    Congress had increased the visas during the late 1990s dot-com boom, when Silicon Valley complained of tech-worker shortages, although native-born engineers complained that their wages were undermined by cheap labor from India and China.

    With the tech crash and the revelation that some of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had entered the country on student visas, the political climate for foreign workers darkened, and Congress quietly allowed the number of H-1B visas to plummet back to 65,000 a year.

    The cap was reached in August -- in effect turning off the tap of the visas for 14 months. A special exemption of 20,000 visas for workers with advanced degrees was reached in January.

    "We're in a bad crunch right now," said Laura Reiff, head of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a business umbrella group backing more immigration. "We are totally jammed on immigrant visas, the green card category, and totally jammed on H-1B visas. You can't bring in tech workers right now."

    Alarm in Washington has shifted from student hijackers to U.S. competitiveness. Indian and Chinese students face brighter prospects in their own booming economies, and the fear now is that they no longer want to come to the United States.

    The new skilled immigration measures are part of a controversial 300-page bill by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., now being rewritten by the committee with the goal of reaching the Senate floor by the end of the month.

    Other provisions include a new F-4 visa category for students pursuing advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. These students would be granted permanent residence if they find a job in their field and pay a $1,000 fee toward scholarships and training of U.S. workers.

    Labor certification rules also would be streamlined for foreigners holding the desired advanced degrees from a U.S. university. Immigrants with advanced degrees in the desired fields, as well as those of "extraordinary ability" and "outstanding professors and researchers," would also get an exemption from the cap on employment-based green cards and slots for permanent residence.

    "The U.S. is educating these people," said Kara Calvert, director of government relations for the Information Technology Industry Council, a tech industry group. "This allows these students to remain in the U.S. and contribute to the U.S. economy."

    The provisions for highly skilled workers enjoy support in both parties in the Senate and in the Bush administration after a raft of high-profile studies have warned that the United States is not producing enough math and science students and is in danger of losing its global edge in innovation to India and China.

    Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy echoed many in the tech industry at a conference in Washington on Wednesday when he warned that if skilled immigration is not expanded, "There will be a great ******* sound of innovation out of the U.S.'

    Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr suggested at a technology summit last fall that the United States "should staple a green card to every kid, every foreign national that graduates with a degree in engineering and science, so that they stay here. Imagine innovation in America without Andy Grove, without Jerry Yang, without Sergey Brin -- Hungarian, Chinese, Russian. These immigrants have contributed enormously to innovation and our well-being."

    But House Republicans are cool toward any increase in legal immigration, including skilled workers, and are at sharp odds with the White House. They passed a bill in December to crack down on border enforcement, calling for construction of a 700-mile fence on the border with Mexico.

    House Republicans omitted skilled immigration from their "Innovation and Competitiveness Act," released with much pomp last week, prompting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, to blast the proposal as doing nothing "to ensure that the best and brightest from around the world are able to contribute to innovation in the United States."

    (Now I have yet another reason to despise Pelosi. Also this also proves that the Democratic "leadership" is as corrupt as the Republican leadership. Looks like the only hope to stop this is the rank and file Republicans in the House. - jgm)

    Nor has Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, shown much enthusiasm for more skilled workers, preferring her own plan for a guest-worker program limited to agriculture. Feinstein questioned the tech proposals in an interview last week.

    Her stance has angered California's high-tech business community. Industry officials said CEOs from California and across the country have pleaded with Feinstein to no avail. They complain that she is ignoring the technology industry, which they contend is vital to the state's economy, but is willing to provide amnesty to 900,000 Mexican farmworkers, most of whom work in California.

    Opponents of broadening immigration for skilled workers said doing so would defeat efforts to get more Americans interested in science, math, engineering and other technological fields.

    "It sends the message to students in those fields now, why bother if you're going to have a hard time getting a job in the U.S. because we're importing workers in those fields who are working for less than it would take to hire an American worker," said Caroline Espinosa, spokeswoman for NumbersUSA, a group opposed to expanding immigration.

    NumbersUSA estimated, using Department of Education figures, that 250,000 nonresident aliens are studying math, science, engineering and related fields in the United States.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Coto's Avatar
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    Jan 2006

    Blood Suckers!

    Here we go again.
    GW promised India, in the Nukes for Mangoes Trade Agreement, that the US will drastically increase the H-1B visa cap, and double the amount of offshoring to India. Folks, we're looking at tens of millions of America's jobs going to Tata* employees in India who

    have never paid taxes in America
    who have never served in America's armed forces
    who have never fought for America
    who have never died for America
    who have never been injured in combat
    who have never done anything for America

    What we have are returning veterans from Iraq who cannot get jobs for which they are fully qualified, because priority of hire goes to Tata and to illegal aliens.

    Remember the quote "blood suckers?" "They take, and they give back nothing in return."

    * Not only Tata, but also Wiprospectramind, Dell, IBM of India, Accenture, Sat-yam, HCL, Infosys, and many others.

    What part of "We don't owe our jobs to India" are you unable to understand, Senator?

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