Three Immigration Plans Recently Introduced

January 30, 2013

pic-tech-worldThis week, three proposals on immigration were announced. The first two are broad reform proposals: one from a bipartisan group of Senators, the so-called “Gang of Eight,” and one from President Barack Obama; both of which include positive language to address the shortfall of available highly-skilled workers. However both also include language that would mandate businesses participate in an E-Verify system. The third proposal was introduced by four bipartisan Senators and targets the highly-skilled worker shortage. 

 Senate Proposal

Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) have agreed to a “Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform” released Jan. 28.

To read the roughly four page proposal, click here.

The framework would:

  • Establish “a tough but fair” path to citizenship for unlawful immigrants currently living in the U.S. that is contingent upon better securing U.S. borders;
  • Establish an accelerated path to citizenship for individuals who entered the U.S. as children;
  • Track whether legal immigrants have left the country when required (e.g. when a student or employment visa expires);
  • Increase employment-related visas; and
  • Create an “effective employment verification system.”

The framework specifically endorses visas for students receiving a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) graduate degree from an American university (NSBA supports), appears to endorse increases employment-related visas such as H-1B (specialty occupations) and H-2B (temporary non-agricultural) visas (NSBA supports) and endorses some unspecified version of mandatory E-Verify (NSBA opposes).

Legislation based on the framework is being drafted.

Administration Proposal

On Jan. 29, the President released  the outline of a comprehensive immigration plan.  To read the President’s plan, click here

The proposal would strengthen border security, establish a mandatory E-Verify system with significantly higher employer penalties, create a path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants and an accelerated path for individuals who entered the U.S. as children, provide green cards to foreign STEM graduate students graduating from an American University  and increase employment-related visas.

The proposal also would increase the penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers to “skirt the workplace standards that protect all workers.”  And it creates a “labor law enforcement fund” to help ensure that industries that employ significant numbers of immigrant workers comply with labor laws.  It also would require employers to pay a fee to support education and training of American workers in STEM careers.

Highly-Skilled Workers Proposal

Yesterday, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013. This is yet another positive development on the highly-skilled immigration front and one which, if enacted, would help to promote and facilitate entrepreneurship, job creation and new business formation. For a detailed summary and link to legislative text, please click here.

This bill would, among other things:

  • Increase the number of employment-based nonimmigrant H-1B visas;
  • Make it easier for foreign-born students graduating from an American university with an advanced degree in a STEM field can secure permanent residency in the U.S.; and
  • Eliminate the annual per-country limit for employment-based visa petitioners.

According to an informal NSBA poll, 75 percent of respondents support increasing the number of visas for foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities with an advanced degree in a STEM field to help small businesses hire and retain the workers they need to expand their firms.  

Please click here for NSBA’s stance on E-Verify

Please click here for the latest from NSBA on the STEM visa debate.