With the current Congressional focus on discretionary spending and revenue issues surrounding Sequestration, it may seem like little attention can be paid to other policy reforms. In comprehensive immigration reform, however, a traditionally divergent group of interests see tremendous political gain. Both the President and Republicans believe that their leadership on immigration reform will reap political benefits into the foreseeable future that capitalize on the country’s changing demographics. Corporate interests and investors believe that an influx of STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) trained workers could result in a new wave of American innovation. And now, labor unions see new workers in the U.S. as a way to bolster their membership rosters while supporting the interests of their workers.
Recently, a key bipartisan group of eight Senators (Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake) agreed to a framework to achieve immigration reform. A reform deal based on that framework would include the following features:
- A plan that focuses on attracting and retaining the best and brightest from anywhere in the world, by awarding a green card to those immigrants who have earned a Ph. D. or Master’s degree in any STEM field from any American university;
- Increased access to visas for highly skilled workers;
- Priority visas for agricultural workers who are already in the U.S. without legal status;
- Employer hiring for lower-skilled immigrant employees under certain circumstances prescribed by the reforms: Where a company can demonstrate that it was unsuccessful in recruiting an American to fill an open position, and where hiring an immigrant will not displace an American worker.
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