Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 30th 2013 Contents A42
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 30, 2013
WASHINGTON—More than any other group, the
high-tech industry got big wins in an immigration
bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee
last week, thanks to a concerted lobbying effort, an
ideally positioned Senate ally and relatively weak
The result amounted to a bonanza for the industry:
unlimited green cards granting permanent residency
status for foreigners with certain advanced US degrees
and a huge increase in visas for highly skilled foreign
And thanks to the intervention of Republican Sen.
Orrin Hatch of Utah, the industry succeeded in greatly
curtailing controls sought by Democratic Sen. Dick
Durbin of Illinois, aimed at protecting US workers.
In exchange, Hatch voted for the bill when it passed
the committee, helping boost its bipartisan momentum
as it heads to the Senate floor next month. For Durbin
and his allies in organised labour, winning Hatch’s
support was a bitter victory.
“There was an agreement with the tech industry
and Sen. Hatch said he wanted more, and that was
what it took to get his vote,” Durbin said in an inter-
The tech industry “really used Senator Hatch’s vote
to improve their position in the bill. I understand that,”
“But I think in fairness now, I hope the industry
is satisfied and they will not push this any further.”
Hatch countered: “Look, these are companies looking
to contribute to the American economy in a way that
benefits American workers and American-trained for-
eign workers.” Even before the Judiciary Committee
took up the bill, the industry had seen key pieces of
its wish list granted. The legislation written by four
Democratic and four Republican senators awards a
permanent resident green card to any foreigner with
a job offer in the US and an advanced degree in science,
technology, engineering or math from a US school.
It also raised the limit on the H-1B visas that go to
highly skilled immigrants from 65,000 a year to as
many as 180,000.
But the increase in H-1B visas was accompanied
by new requirements aimed at ensuring American
workers get the first shot at jobs. High-tech industry
leaders say they never agreed to those provisions;
Durbin insists they did.
Once the bill’s language became public last month
and tech industry officials began absorbing the details,
they turned their attention to the next front in the
battle: the Senate Judiciary Committee.
They found their champion in Hatch, whose state
is an increasingly significant high-tech employer. For-
tuitously, he had maximum leverage. Viewed as the
one Republican swing vote on the committee, he was
courted by the senators who wrote it, Durbin and Sen.
Chuck Schumer of New York, among them.
Even as the tech industry remained largely supportive
of the legislation in public, its lobbyists began working
behind the scenes with Hatch’s office on a series of
amendments he would introduce in the committee
to undo key provisions Durbin had pressed for.
The industry objected to using the unemployment
rate in determining how much the number of H-1B
visas could increase. One Hatch amendment would
have taken the joblesss rate out of the equation.
A provision that required tech companies to offer
a job to an equally qualified US citizen over an H-
1B holder was seen as unworkable by industry. Hatch
sought to limit that requirement to companies most
dependent on H-1B visas, thereby excluding many
major US companies.
The bill sought to bar companies from displacing
a US worker within 90 days of filing an application
Immigration bill slants in key direction...
a big beneficiary
for an H-1B visa. The tech industry pledged its support
for the bill, and promised not to seek additional changes,
according to Scott Corley, executive director of Compete
America, which represents high-tech companies includ-
ing Google, Intel and Microsoft. (AP)
Sen Orrin G Hatch chats with Senators Chuck Schumer, left, and Chuck Grassley
during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting to address immigration reform on
Capitol Hill in Washington recently. AP PHOTO
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