Today is the opening day for companies seeking foreign workers to file H-1B visa petitions, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) used the opportunity to ask tech companies to stay committed to their role in the immigration reform movement. In a letter to nine of the nation’s top tech firms, Durbin asked them to renew their push for immigration reform and reject efforts to pass stand-alone legislation increasing the H-1B visa cap. Last year, visa petitions hit the cap only a week after opening day, highlighting the serious need for immigration reform that helps the country attract and retain some of the best overseas workers.
As Durbin wrote to the CEOS of Accenture, Amazon, Cisco, Deloitte, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle today:
I write to ask you to renew your commitment to passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation and to pledge that you will not support stand-alone legislation to increase the H-1B visa cap. It was my understanding that high tech was committed to supporting [Comprehensive Immigration Reform] because the industry’s top priorities are addressed in our legislation. I am troubled by recent statements suggesting that some in the technology industry may shift their focus to passage of stand-alone legislation that would only resolve the industry’s concerns. This ‘divide and conquer’ approach destroys the delicate political balance achieved in our bipartisan bill and calls into question the good faith of those who would sacrifice millions of lives for H-1B relief. I hope that you will join me in renewing the push for comprehensive immigration reform. Will you commit to working to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation and not supporting stand-alone legislation that increases the H-1B visa cap?
Durbin is right. The tech industry can’t go out on its own now. They need to recommit and redouble their effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. The tech industries have huge lobbying operations here in DC. They need to use their influence with House Republicans to get legislation passed. For example, last month, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was raising money from the high tech community.
View one of the letters (to Oracle’s Lawrence Ellison) in its entirety below: