Don’t Forget the Immigration Bill
With all the talk of Obamacare and Syria lately, there is another issue still on the table that needs not be forgotten about: Immigration reform and the “gang of eight” bill that threatens a tremendous amount of damage to the American economy.
Among the multitude of problems with the bill as a whole, Section 4211 essentially guts the H-1B program by imposing heavy new restrictions that makes the program almost unworkable.
To remain competitive in a global marketplace, America must ensure its immigration policy attracts and maintains top talent from around the world. Businesses must be allowed and able to hire the workers they need to compete in a global marketplace.
Too often in our innovation and services-based industries, companies cannot hire the skilled workers they need to grow because of limitations on visa availability or restrictive policies that make filling empty positions even more challenging than it already is.
Global access to highly skilled technical workers is critical to the U.S. economy. While efforts to encourage American students to pursue math, science, and engineering-related degrees are underway, we face a growing skills gap that cannot be closed overnight. A report published by McKinsey & Co. last year found that by 2020, the United States will have 1.5 million more job openings for skilled workers than we have talent to fill those positions.
Raising the H-1B visa cap will allow companies to hire the highly-skilled workers they need, which will help American businesses to remain competitive and continue creating jobs. But placing onerous limitations on which companies can use these visas, and how many they can employ, puts our economy at an unacceptable and untenable disadvantage in the global economy.
The Senate’s bill contains a handful of harmful clauses that would place arbitrary restrictions, fees and layers of red tape on businesses’ ability to hire a skilled workforce through the H-1B visa system.
- Pay higher wages to most H-1B employees than to U.S. workers;
- Advertise the job for at least 30 days in a Department of Labor online database;
- Offer the job to any “equally or better qualified” American who applies;
- Not displace any of their U.S. employees for a six-month window surrounding the H-1B visa application unless they can show that they have not decreased the number of workers in the same “job zone” for the past year; and
- Follow even stricter regulations if more than 15 percent of their workforce uses the program.
Now certainly I would hope that any American business would seek to hire an “equally or better qualified” American before turning to this program, but what a completely subjective law. A business should be allowed to hire whomever they desire and “qualifications” goes well beyond just what degrees someone holds. Stronger applicants might share the same background, but some may be a better fit based purely on personality and buy-in to a company’s vision. This can’t be determined by a government metric.
Comprehensive immigration reform is vitally important. It should make our businesses stronger, promote job development, allow companies to remain competitive in a global marketplace and spur economic growth. The H-1B visa program is an effective tool used by businesses to accomplish these goals and its use should be broadened, not narrowed, if the American economy is to remain competitive in a global marketplace.
While the Senate has passed an anti-competitive bill that will drive work and global talent overseas, the House of Representatives continues to debate on of the most important updates to our nation’s immigration policy. The House should advance provisions that help American businesses, not harm them.
While you are calling your House Reps on Obamacare and Syria, don’t forget to remind them to oppose the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.
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