On January 13, a bipartisan team of senators reintroduced legislation now being called the Immigration Innovation Act or I-squared, to reform the immigration system for highly skilled workers. The bill was introduced back in 2013 but failed to move through Congress. While comprehensive immigration reform appears to be dead in the water, many tech lobbyists are hoping that a tech targeted bill could gain traction even in a Congress controlled by Republicans. The highlight of the bill is to increase the number of H-1B visas to 115,000 and allow the annual cap to increase up to 195,000, depending on demand. Also, spouses of people with those visas (H4) would also be able to work in the U.S. (a nod to President Obama’s Executive Action). AILA has shown its support for the legislation.
The Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) published an article discussing the impact of President Obama’s Executive Action on staffing companies and HLG partner, Mike Hammond is quoted.
The American Immigration Council recently released a chart that shows that many U.S. Presidents have used their executive power to remedy immigration issues that they found to be unjust. Since 1956, every U.S. President has granted some form of temporary immigration relief to at least one group that was found to be in need of assistance. Some specific examples include President Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon’s parole of up to 600,000 Cuban asylum seekers who were fleeing the Cuban revolution, President Ford and Carter’s parole of over 300,000 Southeast Asians who were fleeing the conflict in Vietnam, and President Reagan’s order to defer deportation for up to 200,000 Nicaraguans. Many of these actions were taken to provide relief to affected groups while legislation was pending. In other cases, the Presidents reacted to a humanitarian crisis. President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals follows a long line of historical actions by U.S. Presidents who used their executive authority to address immigration problems. The Hammond Law Group hopes that President Obama will remedy some of the current immigration challenges facing the U.S. by using his “broad executive authority to shape the enforcement and implementation of immigration laws.”
For those of you holding out hope for Executive Action to address some of the needs of the immigration system, stop holding your breath. President Obama recently announced that he will still take action but, not until later. Many believe that he received significant negative reaction from within his own party over his planned actions and the fear was that his actions would sway the mid-term elections and hand the Senate to the Republicans. For now, we continue to live with antiquated laws and an agency beating its own drum.
With President Obama promising Executive Action to address U.S. immigration problems, many stakeholders including those from the tech industry have heavily lobbied for him to use his pen to address not, only the border crisis, DACA children, and the deportation system but, also retrogression, H-1b visas, and the like. The conventional wisdom says that the President will stay true to his core constituents and offer no relief to employment based (legal) interests beyond the H-4 employment rule which has already been subjected to a comment period and merely awaits final regulatory approval but, until he speaks, we can all dream a little. Check out Computerworld’s take on this subject.