Following Senate passage of sweeping immigration reform legislation last month, attention has turned to the House, where the path forward for immigration reform remains unclear.
The House Republican Conference held a closed-door meeting last Wednesday, July 10 to discuss options for addressing immigration reform. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has indicated that the House will not consider the Senate-passed immigration bill. One alternative under consideration is for the House to vote on a set of piecemeal immigration bills, including one offered by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that would allocate an additional 55,000 new green cards to graduates of U.S. universities with STEM degrees.
While high-skilled provisions like this remain popular in both parties, sharp differences remain about how to handle provisions dealing with border security and undocumented immigrants. These disagreements threaten to sidetrack efforts to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which is seen in some quarters as the only viable vehicle for high-skilled reform.
SIA’s message to Congress remains the same: With so much at stake for the U.S. semiconductor industry, the broader tech sector, and the overall U.S. economy, failure to enact high-skilled immigration reform should not be an option. And time is short, with the need for access to the world’s top talent growing more urgent by the day, looming debates on other issues like the budget and the federal debt ceiling, and the 2014 election season right around the corner. We will continue to work with leaders in the House to stress the critical need for action on immigration reform.