Hatch joins group of bipartisan senators, introduces high-skilled immigration bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Chris Coons, D-Delaware, Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, introduced legislation Tuesday to bring long overdue reforms to the nation’s immigration laws for high-skilled workers.

The Immigration Innovation, or “I-Squared”, Act of 2015 focuses on areas vital to ensuring the United States can maintain its competitiveness in the global economy: the quantity of employment-based nonimmigrant visas or H-1B visas, allowing for their growth depending on the demands of the economy while making reforms to protect workers; increased access to green cards for high-skilled workers by expanding the exemptions and eliminating the annual per-country limits for employment based green cards; and reforming the fees on H-1B visas and green cards so those fees can be used to promote American worker retraining and education. The bill was first introduced in the 113th Congress.

View the full text of the bill here: I-Squared Act of 2015

“Our bill is a commonsense, bipartisan approach to help ensure that those who have come here to be educated in high-tech fields are able to stay with their families and contribute to the economy and our society,” Hatch said. “I’m calling on everyone – the President, members of both parties, and stakeholders in the tech community – to support this bill and help make it the first step towards real immigration reform. We must make concrete progress to solve some of the many critical problems facing our nation. I-Squared is an obvious solution to an undeniable need, and I want to work with everyone to get it done now.”

The bipartisan legislation is the result of constant outreach with leaders in the business and high-tech industries.

“This is a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to help ensure the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs get their start in America, no matter where they are born,” Klobuchar said. “We need to move forward on immigration reform for the good of our economy and the good of our country, and I will continue to push for action.”

 America deserves an immigration system that works for our economy, drives innovation, and creates good paying jobs for our people,” Rubio said. “An immigration system for the 21st century will be judged by whether it provides the conditions for both security and economic growth. The reforms in this legislation lead the way to such a system, which I believe we can ultimately achieve after meeting the immediate challenges of securing our borders and improving internal enforcement.”

 “The creativity, ingenuity, and determination that immigrants have brought to this country have been a large part of our economic success,” Coons said. “Our immigration system is broken, though, and while I still believe the Senate should come together again on comprehensive immigration reform, it’s important that we make progress in the areas that Democrats and Republicans do agree on, like steps to ensure that the world’s best and brightest do their work here in the United States. Inspiration is a precious resource, and if we want those ideas to be turned into job-creating innovations here in the U.S., we need to ensure those individuals can earn status here.”

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue to push for critical reforms to benefit high-skilled legal immigration and ensure that the U.S. economy has the talent it needs to be competitive in the global marketplace,” Flake said.

“The United States cannot afford to exclude talented immigrants who have the skills, initiative and desire to fuel innovation and economic growth in America,” Blumenthal said. “Welcoming skilled workers and making it easier for them to protect their rights at work must be key components of any comprehensive immigration solution. The I-Squared Act is true to American values and good for the American economy.”

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41 Comments

  • Big Guy January 14, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I am in favor of increased immigration to this country in general and I’m especially in favor of encouraging high-skilled workers to immigrate or stay after completing their education in this country. The fact that this is truly a bi-partisan bill should give it a high chance of becoming law. Good show for all involved.

  • sagemoon January 14, 2015 at 11:20 am

    We might as well tear down the Statue of Liberty, Mr. Hatch. What do you suggest we put in her place?

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    • Evil Twins Mommy January 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      It’s not far from being there now

    • Koolaid January 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Hatch replaced it with “Give me your campaign contributions. Money talks.”

    • Big Guy January 15, 2015 at 5:12 am

      Not sure what your comment means. Nothing in this bill would limit immigration by anyone or any group now eligible. That includes all who are now admitted because they have family members who are citizens. None of the “tired, poor huddled masses” will be affected by this bill…unless they are highly skilled in which case their immigration chances will be greatly enhanced.

    • Steve Jones January 15, 2015 at 11:49 am

      The Statue of Liberty was created to celebrate LIBERTY, not IMMIGRATION. You are quoting from an Emma Lazarus poem.

      • John Doe January 20, 2015 at 5:09 pm

        Yeah, but all you … anti immigrants immigrated here to this country yourselves.
        Ed. ellipsis.

      • John Doe January 20, 2015 at 5:10 pm

        Yeah, but all you anti immigrants were immigrants to this country yourselves.

  • IN THE GAME January 14, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Good ol’ Grandpa Hatch. He was at a family party over the holidays and quite frankly he looked like he had just received another transfusion of formaldehyde. Other than that he was as sharp as a pin. He was sure entertaining the kids was well, he was going around the house playing the “pull my finger” game with them.

  • Wilbur January 14, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    also known as the “giving your high-paying tech job you sweated to get to an India immigrant willing to do the same for half the pay while he gets his green card and brings over the entire family” immigration bill.

    Scum bBg Hatch

    • Big Guy January 15, 2015 at 5:50 am

      High tech companies pay all their workers on the same pay scale. No large or middle sized company pays its STEM workers based on citizenship. If you have data to the contrary, please provide a reference. A glib and blanket statement like yours is both untrue and irresponsible.

      This bill is supported by almost all high tech companies who don’t want to see the “best and the brightest” graduate from our universities and be forced to return to their home countries because we severely and unnecessarily limit H-1B visas. Requests for H-1B visas always greatly exceed supply.

      • Dolores January 20, 2015 at 5:06 am

        You are either completely misinformed about work visa abuse or else you are a shill for the international labor arbitrage companies.

        • John Doe January 20, 2015 at 5:12 pm

          And you are a fat slob who rants on online forums after seeing Vietnam war movies. Your IT skills are probably way out of date and the money that you demand is no longer competitive when compared to the brilliant engineers from India and China.

    • Big Guy January 15, 2015 at 5:50 am

      High tech companies pay all their workers on the same pay scale. No large or middle sized company pays its STEM workers based on citizenship. If you have data to the contrary, please provide a reference. A glib and blanket statement like yours is both untrue and irresponsible.

      This bill is supported by almost all high tech companies who don’t want to see the “best and the brightest” graduate from our universities and be forced to return to their home countries because we severely and unnecessarily limit H-1B visas. Requests for H-1B visas always greatly exceed supply.

  • NDB January 14, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Every systematic study done shows there is NO shortage of STEM workers in this country. But then Orrin Hatch has been bought off by the rich tech owners like Zuckerberg. Money wiins — always. Who cares about American workers even if they are very well qualified!

    • Big Guy January 15, 2015 at 5:28 am

      Not true. There have been a variety of studies done by a variety of organizations that have produced a variety of results: some saying we (and most advanced countries) have plenty of STEM workers and others that say we are seriously short. And if Hatch has been “bought off,” so have a large number of Democrat Senators and Representatives.

      This is a complicated issue and you do no service to the debate by making glib generalizations. How about letting the companies doing the hiring make the call? The high tech industry can’t find the STEM workers it’s looking for: both Obama and I will take their word for it.

      • NDB January 15, 2015 at 9:32 am

        You can dismiss every study by every organization as not correct, but leaving such an important issue to hiring managers is probably the WORST idea ever. Hiring managers have no reason whatsoever to worry about national policy, STEM education in the country, etc. All they have to worry is whether their company makes money at the cheapest rate. Politicians like Hatch do not read elaborate studies, all they care about is their re-election.

      • NDB January 15, 2015 at 9:36 am

        Of course, you can dismiss every study as “glib generalization” – most easy thing to do!! As if, Zuckeerberg’s statements are all glazed in eminent truth! Read anecdotal comments from many many hi-tech American workers – Phds included – and you may gain some wisdom. Please don’t dismiss them as meaningless, just because you have a good life. I leave it at that.

        • Big Guy January 15, 2015 at 11:22 am

          Please provide links to these “anecdotal comments” by American PhDs who’ve been passed over for foreigners. Surely studies and peer-reviewed papers have been prepared on such an important topic of national interest.

          Your comments reflect a desire for companies to comply with some “national policy” instead of their own best interests. We do have a national policy and it is to encourage STEM education without excluding foreigners from our universities. That also happens to be in hiring managers’ interest as well.

          Every company from IBM to a local fast food restaurant strives to “make money at the cheapest rate.” Karl Marx and other socialists found fault with free markets in part for this reason. You fit right in.

          • NDB January 15, 2015 at 7:11 pm

            I will give you just one recent link to illustrate the point – you can certainly search or join groups as well as I can. https://www.numbersusa.com/comment/134826#comment-134826

            Before you dismiss as one comment and cannot be generalized (typical reply), try to understand why everyone is angry.. People like Hatch funded by Zuckerberg make policy without even caring for what people in the trenches say..

      • Steve Jones January 15, 2015 at 11:51 am

        NDB should have qualified his comment. “Every systematic study [not] done [by industry lobbyists] shows there is NO shortage of STEM workers in this country.

        Every independent study, including those done for the government, have found either no shortage or a surplus of workers.

  • St. George Senior January 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    IEEE: New H-1B Bill Will “Help Destroy” US Tech Workforce
    http://www.slashdot.org/story/212307

    Straight from the Institute of Electronic & Electrical Engineers

    • Big Guy January 15, 2015 at 5:43 am

      The law of supply an demand is the best answer to this complex question. There are many more applications for H-!B visas each year than current law allows. Why would companies go through the costly and time consuming process of applying for the limited number of these visas if they had plenty of other options? Salaries are not the answer: all tech companies pay citizens and non-citizen H-1B workers on the same pay scale.

      The IEEE is acting like a typical union (although it isn’t one): keep “imports” out, hire only local folks, pay us higher wages. Same arguments were used to oppose NAFTA and all free trade measures.

      • Steve Jones January 15, 2015 at 11:57 am

        Big Guy, no need to look at the research. Every study done that has taken geography into account has found H-1B workers are paid substantially less than Americans (There have been studies that ignore geographic wage differences–programmers salary in Indiana $68,000 vs. $99,549 in SF–and pick the right age group to show H-1B workers earn comparable wages). The H-1B prevailing wage rules allow an employer to pay an H-1B programmer in San Francisco $65,021 a year when the actual prevailing wage is over $99,000).

      • St. George Senior January 15, 2015 at 5:24 pm

        Sorry Big Guy. I worked in Silicon Valley for six years before retiring. I’ve worked side-by-side with H1B from India. Most could not afford an apartment and had to share space with 4 or 5 other guys. I used to buy them lunch when we went out as they couldn’t afford anything but McDonalds $ menu. They were forced to work weekends under implied threat that they would be fired and sent back to India. They are terribly abused often making 50% less than US citizens. Modern day slave labor.

        • John Doe January 20, 2015 at 11:10 pm

          Sorry George “Senior”, I am on H1B and I make more than 300k per year.

  • Koolaid January 14, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Dontcha just like how Hatch sugarcoats letting illegals into this country? Wasn’t he just lambasting Obama a month ago about immigration and illegals in this country?

    • Big Guy January 15, 2015 at 5:32 am

      Another foolish comment from a foolish source. No large or middle-sized tech company can afford to hire illegal immigrants. Many of them scramble each year to get H-1B visas for their valuable employees and often fail since these visas are limited by current law at the same time we allow almost anyone to immigrate who has a family member who is a citizen. Uncles and aunts are allowed in while Ph.D. tech workers are sent away. Go figure.

      • Steve Jones January 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm

        Actually, very few PhDs are forced to return home. They can qualify for higher preference categories.

  • Evil Twins Mommy January 14, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Dang tweeker. LOL.!

    • sagemoon January 15, 2015 at 8:28 am

      I wish, then we’d have a reason to get him out of office. Hatch is too slow to be a tweeker. I think IN THE GAME had it right with the formaldehyde. Hatch needs to stop his formaldehyde transfusion addiction.

      • One for the road January 15, 2015 at 9:03 am

        Well I’m pretty sure it was a joke as to the LOL posted in that post sage….

        • sagemoon January 15, 2015 at 11:20 am

          Meth, formaldehyde, it all destroys brain cells. Ha, ha! Can you tell I’m not a fan of Hatch?

  • McMurphy January 15, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Wilbur, NDB and St. George Senior have it right.
    Better to hire foreign workers who will work for less than US workers. Also, if the worker gets too uppity their visa can be cancelled and the worker shipped back to where they came from.

  • Maggie January 15, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Am I the only one that is confused by the fact that taxpayers are footing the bill for so many American kids in college and yet we have to import workers from other countries? That we have so many unemployed in many fields from entry level to highly skilled workers ,yet we need illegals. Do we not have the ability or time to determine what immigrants we need ,and do it legally? What is the hurry to overwhelm our schools,hospitals and docs,entitlement programs and culture ?
    Is it not better to utilize our own citizens so that we can offer those that come legally their chance for success also?

  • Big Guy January 15, 2015 at 9:59 am

    For those above who oppose expanding the H-1B visa program for highly skilled workers, let me follow your thinking to its logical conclusion.

    We have an H-1B visa program now. Many high tech firms submit applications annually for workers they would like to hire/keep. Some are approved, others rejected because of the limited number available. Your positions expressed above imply you’d prefer to end this program entirely; you’d tell Google and Apple and all the others to only hire U.S. citizens. You must believe that these companies are overlooking equally qualified U.S. citizens. Do you really believe that Google, Apple and the rest are such poor judges of talent or are so biased against American citizens that they reject Americans? Really? You’ve got to be kidding.

    Over 30% of all U.S. science and engineering Master’s degrees are awarded to foreign citizens and almost 50% of PhDs are awarded to foreigners. http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/c2/c2s3.htm The vast majority of these graduates are Asian. Many of these graduates would like to stay in the U.S. but are forced to return home because visas are not available. If you believe the H-1B program should be eliminated, why shouldn’t we prohibit foreigners from enrolling in U.S. universities even though almost all of them pay full tuition? If you believe this, your thinking matches the isolationists of the 1930’s.

    Many of those counted as working in STEM fields in the U.S. are junior high and high school math and science teachers. How many of these folks, who are counted among the “surplus” of U.S. STEM graduates, do you suppose could successfully apply to Google or Apple? Are these the folks who could bring us iPhone apps? We certainly need these teachers and I value what they do, but these are not the folks who will keep the U.S. ahead of the world technologically. They are teaching some who will.

    You’re entitled to your opinions about Sen. Hatch, but to oppose anything he favors displays closed mindedness and a lack of perspective. Believe it or not, BIG GUY supports a number of things Obama favors, including this legislation.

    • Steve Jones January 15, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Very few H-1B workers go to google and apple. Most go to foreign offshoring companies (e.g., Infosys, Tata) that use the visas to provide on-site support to work moved overseas. In fact, IBM has placed advertisement on their own corporate web site in which they said only foreign workers could apply for jobs in the U.S.

      So what about the graduate degrees. We have a glut of PhD’s, that’s why colleges are able to use adjuncts to teach their classes. In order to pack their bloated graduate programs beyond what the economy can use, colleges resort to foreign students. And, because there are not enough jobs for PhDs, the length of post-doc terms has soared.

  • john80224 January 15, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Infosys alone has over 30,000 H-1Bs and they predominantly are paid just enough to clear the minimum salary to be compliant, an amount roughly equivalent to first year salary out of college in Milwaukee.  This is common practice among offshoring companies.  Norm Matloff and Ron Hira are good sources to search.  Or better yet, pull the LCA data for yourself and ask yourself how Cognizant IT managers in California average $93K.
     
    The easy to logic but difficult to prove point is also what should the salaries be?  Big tech companies have oversaturated small areas like SV then complain there are not enough workers available.  Under such prolonged conditions, one would expect software engineers to be paid attorney rates, yet they are not.
     
    My requests for supermodels in Maseratis always greatly exceed the supply, as well, but that doesn’t mean I have a right to import them.  The O-1 visa is for the legendary “best and brightest”.  The H-1B is used for the bright enough to do the job.  In its primary use, offshoring, it is absolutely underpaying.  Even in the now secondary cases like big tech companies where pay scales are more on par, it is underpaying by virtue of skipping older workers bringing in predominantly young workers. 
     

  • NDB January 16, 2015 at 5:23 am

    I am totally in favor of bringing top-notch people in this country always; after all the H-1B system was meant to do that. But the past has shown how the system has been subverted by the rich ably aided by politicians of both parties. So I totally oppose this bill by Hatch and his cohorts underwritten by Zuckerberg to keep tech worker salaries in the trenches. They do not care at all for the common person.. So this bill will likely pass since the rich always win; but at least we know that the “STEM worker shortage” myth propagated by them is baloney.. Not like the oast when we thought they may be right. So terrible job Senator Hatch and your cohorts…

  • John Hull January 23, 2015 at 1:34 am

    To make the story short, I left the US right when I finished my PhD program. I had a Colombian wife and by unplanned events of life (or simply by God’s will), I had also a US born daughter who came to our lives while I was a student at MIT, and I had to face the decision of staying in the US versus leaving the country during the final years of my PhD. At that point, I knew that I wanted to stay in the US and serve the country that gave me the best education and where I met several people that influenced me greatly. In spite of those spirited and idealistic considerations, the truth is that the H1B Visa’s restrictions, caps, conditions and rules (which were at that time essentially the same as they are today) for myself and my family were just not worth throwing a very bright future in the world and the ability to help millions of people’s lives to the trash. Sadly, and yes, even for me very sadly, my business in China completely obliterated its newborn competition in the US, who just went off-market in bankruptcy last year simply because it lacked the technical and technological knowledge and expertise it required. Our Chinese partners did have that expertise and were able to catch up easily with our US-inspired Colombian technologies. My daughter is American, not Chinese, and I have a tremendous gratitude and admiration for the US, but the circumstances of life and basic economical considerations took my company along the specific path that it ended up taking, which led us to thrive in Colombia, France, Germany and China, and sadly not on the US. My story is an important story where America is losing power, and you guys need to think straight and be realistic on this discussion of the H1Bs. I can tell you something from my own experience as an F1 student, but please be warned that my words carry no disdain but only a crude but necessary reality, so take them as such. At the highest level of the “high-skilled workers”, there is indeed a serious under-representation of Americans. First of all, it needs be said that there was a vast and notable difference in terms of intellectual skills between my colleagues in university X (about 85% of which were Americans) and my MIT colleagues (less than 20% of which were Americans). A US company may hire a guy from the university X program, sure they may, but in its right mind that company will prefer to hire a guy from the MIT program, because they will undoubtedly get a lot more from that! I can guarantee you that! Now, you make the calculations of what that means for American STEM students. To be clear, the vast majority of students (more than 80% in some cases) from top American graduate programs (I think here PhDs) in science and technology were and still are from abroad and go to the US on F1 visas, and it takes a minimal amount of intellectual curiosity to just sit down and use Google to verify this. You people should have done this or become conscious of the implications of what I’m claiming here, as I know many close successful American friends of mine have done in the past by all sorts of means, because it is the future of a great country that is in jeopardy, your future, that is at stake in decisions such as giving your H1Bs a clear chance to succeed. Since high IQs are pretty much equally likely to occur among 1,000 Colombians (or just put here any nationality to be precise) than among 1,000 Americans, I can share the story of a close high school friend of mine, who studied in a top university in France (ENS), let us say “the MIT of France”, and who immediately had the opportunity to become a permanent resident of the European Union once he finished his program. He is now a main business partner and that is largely the reason why France is one of the great beneficiaries of our business…the guy is French and at the same time my dear and trusted friend, so you get the point. You see guys, that is opportunity, that is progress. For H1Bs, sure. But mainly for you. I agree with you that the H1B program should be better structured, but not with regards to your sometimes naive but always uninformed comments. It can be improved as per real life stories like the one I just shared with you above. To (hopefully) concern you now, I’ll let you know that my story is far from being unique or special, it’s just the sheer consequence of statistics: EXTRAORDINARY INTELLIGENCE HAPPENS RANDOMLY IN THE WORLD, AND IT IS NOT FOR YOU TO CULTIVATE IT BUT TO EMBRACE IT, AS YOUR ANCESTORS HAVE DONE. Good luck!

    • John Hull January 23, 2015 at 1:35 am

      I obtained a PhD in a pure science program at MIT many years ago, and had obtained prior to that a Masters degree in the same discipline in a not so renowned university in California, which I’ll refer to as university X. I’m now a millionaire owning a company that makes annual revenues of more than hundreds of millions (sometimes billions), and which can only grow even more in the future as the world-wide monopoly it is now. What we do, nobody else can do in the world because no other company has the combination of skills and knowledge that we have. Here is the catch, my company is not headquartered in the US, but in Colombia, where I grew up and was educated until the completion of my undergrad program. The company has equally sized operations in France, Germany and most importantly, in China.

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