Hatch Dispatch: Immigration Reform

Senator Orrin Hatch
2013-05-03 16:20:10
Immigration ReformDear Friend:This week I had the opportunity to address about 200 Utah business and community leaders at a lecture series hosted by Zions Bank regarding immigration reform. As Congress prepares to begin work on a comprehensive immigration reform package next week, I appreciated the opportunity to more fully discuss two immigration proposals I have been working on.Need for High-Tech WorkersGiven Utah’s strong presence in the tech community, high-skilled immigration has been an issue I’ve worked on for a long time. As the Chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force for the last four years, the issue of high-skilled immigration has been at the forefront of many of our discussions.Let me give you some interesting facts regarding this issue:• Between 2010 and 2020, the American economy will annually create more than 120,000 additional computer science jobs that will require at least a bachelor’s degree. But the country’s higher education system is currently producing only 40,000 bachelor’s degrees in computer science annually.• U. S. based companies have a great need for those trained in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM), but at least right now, there are not enough Americans trained and ready to fill these jobs.• Continued inaction causes us to miss out on an important opportunity, especially since as the American Enterprise Institute has confirmed, 100 foreign-born workers with STEM degrees create an average of 262 additional jobs for native-born workers.• Other countries love to have their American-educated Ph.D.s and other highly educated individuals return and boost their economies – not only from their acquired skills, but also by creating new jobs.• This year, U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received about 124,000 applications in five days for only 85,000 available H-1B visas (high-tech visas).To address the immediate, short-term need to provide American employers with greater access to high-skilled workers while also addressing the long-term need to invest in America’s STEM education – I recently introduced the Immigration Innovation Act, or I-Squared.The I-Squared Act allows the annual H1-B cap to float depending on market conditions and existing demand; and removes the cap on U. S. advanced degree H1-B visas among other initiatives. To date, the I-Squared Act has 25 bipartisan co-sponsors and over 60 companies, associations, and organizations supporting it including Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Oracle, HP, and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.Agricultural Worker ProgramOur nation’s agriculture sector is important and relies heavily on immigrant workers. Utah has not been immune from this issue and I have heard from many of Utah’s farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural entities regarding the need to fill seasonal work.In an effort to find a solution for this problem, I recently joined with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to devise an Agricultural Worker Program that has become part of the larger immigration reform proposal Congress will begin debating next week.The agricultural immigration program includes the following basic elements – among others:• Current undocumented farm workers would be eligible to obtain legal status through the Blue Card Program• It will contain two work options.• For the first five years, there is a visa cap of 112,000 per year.• After five years, the Secretary of Agriculture will determine the cap on an annual basis based on established criterion.• The program provides for statutorily-defined wages, housing and transportation allowances for guest workers.The impending comprehensive immigration reform proposal is 844-pages and I am still evaluating the impact of this legislation in preparation for the Senate Judiciary Committee to begin work on it next week. This is a vitally important issue and I want to be sure everyone – myself included – fully understands the complicated bill. I commend my colleagues who have been working so hard on this issue. However, as I have said before, the devil’s always in the details, and I am taking my time to review the proposal before making any final determination of support.If you would like to read more about the two immigration proposals I discussed above, please visit my website here.Sincerely,Orrin Hatch
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Immigration Reform

Dear Friend:

This week I had the opportunity to address about 200 Utah business and community leaders at a lecture series hosted by Zions Bank regarding immigration reform. As Congress prepares to begin work on a comprehensive immigration reform package next week, I appreciated the opportunity to more fully discuss two immigration proposals I have been working on.

Need for High-Tech Workers

Given Utah’s strong presence in the tech community, high-skilled immigration has been an issue I’ve worked on for a long time. As the Chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force for the last four years, the issue of high-skilled immigration has been at the forefront of many of our discussions.

Let me give you some interesting facts regarding this issue:

• Between 2010 and 2020, the American economy will annually create more than 120,000 additional computer science jobs that will require at least a bachelor’s degree. But the country’s higher education system is currently producing only 40,000 bachelor’s degrees in computer science annually.

• U. S. based companies have a great need for those trained in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM), but at least right now, there are not enough Americans trained and ready to fill these jobs.

• Continued inaction causes us to miss out on an important opportunity, especially since as the American Enterprise Institute has confirmed, 100 foreign-born workers with STEM degrees create an average of 262 additional jobs for native-born workers.

• Other countries love to have their American-educated Ph.D.s and other highly educated individuals return and boost their economies – not only from their acquired skills, but also by creating new jobs.

• This year, U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received about 124,000 applications in five days for only 85,000 available H-1B visas (high-tech visas).

To address the immediate, short-term need to provide American employers with greater access to high-skilled workers while also addressing the long-term need to invest in America’s STEM education – I recently introduced the Immigration Innovation Act, or I-Squared.

The I-Squared Act allows the annual H1-B cap to float depending on market conditions and existing demand; and removes the cap on U. S. advanced degree H1-B visas among other initiatives. To date, the I-Squared Act has 25 bipartisan co-sponsors and over 60 companies, associations, and organizations supporting it including Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Oracle, HP, and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.

Agricultural Worker Program

Our nation’s agriculture sector is important and relies heavily on immigrant workers. Utah has not been immune from this issue and I have heard from many of Utah’s farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural entities regarding the need to fill seasonal work.

In an effort to find a solution for this problem, I recently joined with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to devise an Agricultural Worker Program that has become part of the larger immigration reform proposal Congress will begin debating next week.

The agricultural immigration program includes the following basic elements – among others:

• Current undocumented farm workers would be eligible to obtain legal status through the Blue Card Program

• It will contain two work options.

• For the first five years, there is a visa cap of 112,000 per year.

• After five years, the Secretary of Agriculture will determine the cap on an annual basis based on established criterion.

• The program provides for statutorily-defined wages, housing and transportation allowances for guest workers.

The impending comprehensive immigration reform proposal is 844-pages and I am still evaluating the impact of this legislation in preparation for the Senate Judiciary Committee to begin work on it next week. This is a vitally important issue and I want to be sure everyone – myself included – fully understands the complicated bill. I commend my colleagues who have been working so hard on this issue. However, as I have said before, the devil’s always in the details, and I am taking my time to review the proposal before making any final determination of support.

If you would like to read more about the two immigration proposals I discussed above, please visit my website here.

Sincerely,

Orrin Hatch

 

 

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Senator Orrin Hatch
104 Hart Office Building Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5251
Fax: (202) 224-6331