Tech Industry May Cut a Deal on Immigration, Killing Gang of Eight Bill
With the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill dead-on-arrival in the House of Representatives, the tech industry may be ready to break ranks and cut a deal.
So far, Silicon Valley – one of the wealthiest segments backing comprehensive immigration reform – has held out hope that their goal of expanding H-1B visas for foreign-born workers will come to fruition when House Republicans finally get around to passing the Senate’s bill.
But with the Gang’s bill looking less and less likely to get even a vote in the House, immigration’s tech supporters are exploring other options. The announcement came in the form of an op-ed published by the leader of Compete America, the industry’s immigration-focused political action committee. In it he called on both houses of Congress to pass the SKILLS Act, which would give Compete everything it wants, but would also leave its members with no real reason to stay in Washington pushing for the rest of the Senate’s bill.
That possibility drew a swift rebuke from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), who wrote in a letter to Compete America, “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.”
The daylight emerging between the tech industry and its comprehensive immigration reform allies presents an opportunity to House Republicans, says Byron York. “If the House were to pass H-1B expansion, the GOP would win support from at least some in the tech world. And Democrats would be standing in the way of admitting more high-skilled workers into this country.”
Liberals like Durbin know that the only way to legalize a controversial pathway to citizenship is to hold hostage popular reforms like expanding the H-1B visa pool. This turn of events may be just what House Republicans need to make that ploy crystal clear.