The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has once again reached out to Congress to advocate for CIR specifically urging action to insure that the U.S. has access to the top talent the world has to offer.
On Tuesday night, President Obama gave the annual State of the Union address and immigration and CIR were not featured very prominently and that may be a good sign. If you did not catch the address, here is what President Obama said about the need for immigration reform,
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
The lack of specifics and a seemingly deferential attitude toward allowing the legislative process to work, a stark contrast to other portions of his speech and certainly not characteristic of his Presidency, gives us hope that he believes the two sides are close and an agreement is possible. Comments made later by influential Democrat, Nancy Pelosi echo this sentiment. Although this may all be wishful thinking, in the midst of a bitterly cold winter, wishful thinking is often all we have.
Following the election, after the Republicans took a nice beat down, in part for their restrictionist views on immigration, many key Republicans have been touting a willingness to work together on CIR. See reports from the LA Times and the Huffington Post among many. But, is this good news for business immigration where the real needs are a solution to retrogression, more H-1bs, more options for entrepreneurs and most importantly, an administration that will force the Service Centers and U.S. Consulates to follow well-established legal precedent when adjudicating H-1b and L-1b petitions ? Unfortunately, these topics are not even making the discussion table. The proposal being passed around by Senators Schumer and Graham creates a path to citizenship for those persons that are currently here in an undocumented status (illegally) after ten years but, does nothing for the Indian engineer who is here legally but, is in a line that will take him thirty years to simply achieve residency. Further, their proposal makes it easier for low skilled labor to enter and work in the U.S. but, does not address the major problems that IT, engineering, and healthcare employers are facing in getting their highly skilled workers approved by the USCIS and then visas issued by the U.S. Consulates. Obviously, there is time for employers and pro-business immigration advocates to get behind measures that would address these and other key pro-business topics but, the time is now.
The DOS showed scrooge-like holiday spirit in its December Visa Bulletin released last week. In addition to the lack of movement for most categories, the DOS confirmed that they do not expect the India EB2 category to move at all and they indicated that they expect the Philippines EB3 category to creep along at a pace of only 1-3 weeks per month. The world-wide category is not much better, projected to move along at a pace of only 3-5 weeks per month. With the election behind us, we once again put our hope in Congress taking action on retrogression. Since all politicians keep all of their campaign promises, I firmly believe that CIR will happen and 2013 will see an end to long visa lines. Hey, it could happen !