On Tuesday, a Senate panel approved immigration reforms to set millions of undocumented immigrants on a 13-year path to full citizenship. A provision restricting recruiting skilled foreign workers that mandated U.S. companies must search for an “equally qualified” American before hiring foreigners was dropped, making tech companies happy.
President Barrack Obama praised the Senate Judiciary Committee and said, “I encourage the full Senate to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor at the earliest possible opportunity and remain hopeful that the amendment process will lead to further improvements.”
In a last moment, but not entirely unexpected development, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy withdrew his proposed amendment to provide U.S. citizens the right to sponsor their same-sex partners for green cards.
Before withdrawing his amendment, Leahy said, “I’m committed to ending that discrimination.”
Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, a gay rights group said in a statement, “Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for not defending LGBT families against the scapegoating of their Republican colleagues.”
On a similar vein, but on the hiring of tech-workers angle, Marc Apter, president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers stated, “It would be nice if Congress would look out for its citizens rather than the profit-driven interests of employers.” Apter referred to the removal of the provision in the tech-worker agreement that had been there to ensure U.S. companies searched for an “equally qualified” resident of U.S. before going out to hire foreign workers.
Under the new reforms that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 13-5 vote, depending on unemployment levels and other factors, the number of highly skilled workers allowed to be admitted to the country can rise from 85,000 to 180,000 each year.
However, the bill also spelled out that companies with 15 percent or more foreign workers would be subjected to tighter scrutiny in applications made for H-1B visas.