Tech immigration legislation has been stymied for many reasons, mostly due to lawmakers who favor comprehensive immigration reform over a series of bills that take up the major issues piecemeal.
The H-1B provisions of in this draft proposal are almost certain to face opposition from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), both of whom are on the Senate immigration subcommittee with Hatch, where immigration bills are vetted.
The H-1B cap increase provisions will be very controversial for many reasons. The visa is seen as a tool by offshore companies to replace U.S. workers. Some critics see it as instrumental in age discrimination with an impact on wages. On the other side are U.S. tech companies, such as Microsoft and Google, which argue that H-1B visa is essential to hiring workers.
Grassley and Durbin have been critical of the H-1B program and want restrictions on visa use.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who heads the immigration subcommittee, has been leading a separate effort to develop a comprehensive immigration bill that may include high-tech provisions of its own. The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 could also be used as a bargaining chip in pursuit of a comprehensive bill, but that prospect remains uncertain.
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 email@example.com.
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