Immigration policy in the United States is an important issue in the tech industry, where companies rely on foreign skilled workers to help create the software, systems and devices that are helping to fuel business and the economy. President Obama is predictably getting pushback from the Republican Party for the executive decision he announced Nov. 20 designed to ease the threat of deportation for more than 4 million immigrants living here illegally.
Many in the tech field are applauding the action. One such company is Intel, which is calling for the president and Congress to work toward more comprehensive immigration reform. In a post on the company blog, Peter Muller, director of immigration policy for Intel, said that ultimately what is needed is for Congress to enact new laws in order to remake immigration policies so that Intel is “able to hire enough talented people to support our advanced manufacturing and R&D operations in the United States,” adding that Intel intends to work with lawmakers toward that end.
However, he noted Obama “announced some promising initiatives of his own that if fully realized would make needed, though incremental, improvements to the high-skilled visa program that would help Intel employees better manage their lives and careers.” Some of the improvements Muller noted include making it easier for workers with green cards to more easily travel outside of the United States, to change jobs and to enable family members to work in the country.
However, more far-reaching and permanent solutions are needed, he said, and those will have to come from a highly Balkanized and partisan Congress. Intel is one of more than three dozen members of Compete America, a coalition of businesses and other organizations that advocates for changes in U.S. immigration laws that will help highly educated foreign workers. Other members include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Amazon, Facebook and Google. The group will continue to work with lawmakers and the Obama administration to push for reforms, he said.
“As we consider how the executive order may impact Congressional action, there is hope that the President’s action to address the most contentious part of the immigration debate—the millions of people living in the United States without documentation—may provide an opening for bipartisan agreement on business immigration,” Muller wrote. “The President and Congress both have an opportunity to follow-through on their often-stated pledges to boost the U.S. economy by fixing the high-skilled immigration system. We stand ready to work with anyone interested in making it easier for Intel and our employees to navigate that system. The time for that to happen is now. The question is whether the President or Congress can get the job done first.”