While the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (“CIR ASAP”), introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) may be a step in the right direction for comprehensive immigration reform, with the “good” comes some “not so good” provisions for employment-based immigration. The “good” includes proposals for more effective border enforcement, a fostering of family unity and a conditional path to legalization for illegal immigrants. CIR ASAP also removes the cap on employment-based green cards for foreign graduates who attain a master’s degree or higher from an American university. The “not so good” includes a proposal to burden U.S. employers with new regulations regarding the H-1B program and the establishment of a “Commission” that is charged with making annual recommendations that effectively would determine quotas and categories for both permanent and temporary workers. Such recommendations, according to the bill, would become law unless blocked by Congress—in essence, placing the decision making of your business employment needs (as well as the “protection of U.S. workers”) in the hands of a few commissioners. Like the arbitrary H-1B cap, CIR ASAP tends to inhibit any meaningful say by U.S. employers to maintain competitive in this increasingly more global economy. Perhaps it is about time that Congress realizes that the employment of a diverse, smart and energetic workforce (which includes the employment of highly skilled foreign nationals) is not a bad thing.
In the coming months, the Chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) are expected to introduce a bipartisan immigration reform bill in the Senate. Since the Senate bill will be bipartisan, we expect that the bill will contain tougher worksite enforcement provisions, more requirements to secure our nation’s borders, and a less generous legalization program, than does Congressman Gutierrez’s House bill. However, one thing is clear about Senator Schumer -- he understands that if the U.S. does not improve the H-1B program (i.e. increase the H-1B quota), that U.S. jobs will be lost to outsourcing professional positions abroad, like the 1,200 U.S. jobs that National Grid USA was recently reported to have been considering to outsource to India.
According to yesterday’s article in Computer World, Senator Schumer, in a speech in June, summarized his position on foreign labor this way: "We must encourage the world's best and brightest individuals to come to the United States and create new technologies and business that will employ countless American workers, but must discourage businesses from using our immigration laws as a means to obtain temporary and less-expensive foreign labor to replace capable American workers."
Only time will tell what, if anything, the bipartisan Senate bill will do in an effort to reform the H-1B program.
For additional information and frequent updates on a variety of employment-based immigration law issues, please click here to navigate to Meyner and Landis LLP's "Corporate Immigration Law News" Blog.
Post Authored By: Anthony F. Siliato, Esq. and Scott R. Malyk, Esq. of Meyner and Landis LLP