The "Other" Immigration Problem

When Americans talk about immigration, they picture those they want to keep out: undocumented people sneaking across the southern border. But, as Bloomberg's Kathleen Hunter reports, when U.S. businesses talk about immigration, they picture people they’d like to bring in: ones with science, math or technology skills, notable artists or those willing to pick tomatoes. The U.S. wants these immigrants. The 'other' immigration problem, then, is in deciding who and how many should be admitted.


Both U.S. tech and agriculture employers say there are not enough Americans able to fill all the available jobs.

As Bloomberg adds,

Facebook, Google, Intel and Cisco Systems are among the companies lobbying Congress to increase the number of technology workers, who enter the U.S. on H-1B visas. In fiscal 2014, it took just six days for the federal government to reach the 85,000 allotted petitions for H-1B visas for the year.




U.S. businesses bring in seasonal agriculture workers under the H-2A visa program; these are limited to 66,000 per fiscal year.


Meanwhile, movie stars, distinguished academics and professional athletes face less trouble getting special U.S. work visas set aside for those with “extraordinary ability.”


Extraordinary bank accounts allow the rich to receive visas if they’re willing to invest at least $500,000 in the U.S. and create at least 10 jobs within two years.




The U.S. Senate immigration reform bill passed in 2013 initially would raise the annual H-1B visa limit to 135,000 from 85,000; it could increase in later years to 180,000. Some House Republicans didn’t like the sweep of the Senate bill, which included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and instead want to move separate legislation for the expansion of technology worker visas. Democrats who control the Senate have resisted that approach; they want to use the promise of more H-1Bs as the sweetener to help get broader immigration reform legislation enacted. So Congress stands at an impasse.

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so much for "slack"