Sen. Hatch Tells Obama to Expand H-1B, Geithner agrees
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During a Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah, in a discussion about  President Obama's proposed 2012 federal budget, voiced concern that the U.S. is not letting enough foreign workers into the nation to take our jobs. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner agreed with Hatch but hinted that the administration hasn't figured out the best way to pass an H-1B increase. Could it be that Geithner and Obama know full well that it's going to be very tough to sell the American public on the idea that we need more foreign workers to take jobs in the United States?


Hatch said,

One of the things that would help our country a great deal is to expand the H-1B and allow these Ph.D.s who are educated here who want to stay here, who are brilliant, who can help us in the high-tech world and other worlds, to stay here. ... It's ridiculous that the administration doesn't weigh in on [H-1B], and I know why they don't — but it's ridiculous not to. ... And we've now created real competitors in India and China, just to mention two places, but others as well. ... We are not doing things that we really ought to do to get competitive. ... Weigh in on this H-1B thing. That would help us a great deal.

In response, Geithner said,

I agree with you on H-1B, by the way. It's just a question about how best to do it." Hatch wants White House to seek H-1B expansion, Treasury secretary says he agrees with Hatch on need to increase H-1B visa program, By Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld, February 17, 2011.

Perhaps just as ominous, the Computerworld Article hinted that an employment based green card expansion might be in the works:

Legislation to accomplish that may soon emerge from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). Lofgren drafted a proposal that would create a new employment-based permanent residency, or green card, category for advanced-degree graduates. It would bypass the need for an H-1B visa.

Dr. Norm Matloff recently issued a newsletter that warned about a possible attempt at a green card increase:

As you know, I have frequently written in opposition to various proposals that would give automatic fast-track green cards to any STEM graduate of U.S. universities. It would expand a labor pool that is already way too large, and in particular would exacerbate what I regard as the worst impact of the H-1B program—age discrimination. Since most of the beneficiaries of these proposals would be young, it would make things even worse for over-35 Americans.


Yesterday I was contacted by a congressional staffer whom I know well. Although he didn't say so, I gather that the mere fact that he wrote to me means that these green card proposals, after having been discussed for several years, are now about to go past the talk stage. I've always observed that the proposals have bipartisan support, but in the past they were forestalled by the fact that the Democrats wanted comprehensive immigration reform, while many Republicans opposed. But I gather that now there may be consensus to move forward with a separate bill on green cards.


In addition to the age issue, the proposals would be a de facto INCREASE in the H-1B cap. The reason of this latter is that the fast-track green card program would probably carry its own temporary work visa (called F-4 in one previous proposal). Thus the total number of temporary work visas would increase.


As I myself do not lobby, I don't have any specific advice. But I would hope that the Programmers Guild etc. get on top of this problem and let Congress know that they oppose the proposals.

Be sure to read the blog with more on Matloff's take on what is happening on green cards: Dr. Norm Matloff On A Brookings Institute/GMU High Tech Immigration Conference, Vdare, February 18, 2011

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