In a recent communication to Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Barbara Boxer (D-C.A.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-C.A.), the Long Island Association, once again, stood in the gap for the interests of Long Islanders by showing strong support for immigration reform that would strengthen the Island’s growing innovation economy.
The LIA joined forces with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in support of the federal government’s efforts to reform immigration laws that would allow highly-skilled immigrants to legally travel to and work in the United States to advance the economies of Long Island, New York and California.
In particular, the LIA and SVLG communication confirmed support the following initiatives:
- Provide green cards to entrepreneurs who create jobs and advance STEM degree graduates from U.S. universities.
- Expand the H-1B cap, a U.S. Immigration Service visa classification that permits aliens to be employed in the United States up to six years in a specialty occupation, including occupations in information technology, together with the establishment of a market-based H-1B escalator that would allow the cap to adjust to market demands.
- Provide green card cap exemptions for U.S. advanced degree graduates and foreign advanced STEM degree graduates who have work experience in the U.S.
- Expand opportunities for temporary seasonal workers through streamlining applications and increasing visa opportunities. This initiative would bolster the agricultural and tourist industries on Long Island's East End and in many of California's communities.
- Support new visa fees for STEM education.
Many of the initiatives proposed by the LIA and SVLG have been included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill proposed by eight bipartisan senators dubbed “The Gang of Eight.” Voted on for the first time today, the bill could involve weeks of discussion and numerous amendments.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the “Gang of Eight” and a major proponent of the current legislation, pointed out earlier this year that, “Legal immigration is good for this country; and the legal immigration system that we have in place does not work for America in the 21st century.”
About 120,000 computer-engineering jobs are created in America annually, but only 40,000 college students graduate each year with a computer science degree, Rubio continued in a statement with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The companies with those vacant jobs will not wait for more U.S. graduates, and they might move to other countries looking for qualified workers, he said.
“For every 100 foreign-born STEM workers, they create 260 some odd jobs,” Rubio said. “This is a net positive for our economy.”
The LIA and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group communication, addressed to four senators who have a “significant stake” in the outcome of the current legislation, cautioned them that unless major reforms are passed this year, we will forfeit our economic competitiveness and ability to attract and retain high-tech workers. It urged them to “lead the way in passing meaningful, common sense immigration reforms, which will spur economic activity and create jobs.”
What’s your opinion? We’d like to know. Include your comments below or on our Long Island Living Discussion Forum.