Washington • The House overwhelmingly approved a bill spearheaded by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, that would make it easier for companies to recruit international talent from nations that often run out of visas.
The two-term congressman pitched his legislation, which passed Tuesday on a vote of 389 to 15, as a campaign promise fulfilled. When he first ran for office in 2008, he said part of the solution to fixing the nation's illegal immigration problem is to fix legal immigration. He sees this bill as a step in that direction.
"American companies treat all high-skilled immigrants equally regardless of where they come from," Chaffetz said on the House floor. "Our immigration policy should do the same thing."
No House member spoke in opposition to the bill, which was fast tracked through the House only two months after he introduced it. His legislation removes the caps on the number of skilled laborers who can immigrate from each country, though it does not change the number of visas available annually. The current law says no nation can use more than 7 percent of the visas available in a given year. His bill also boosts the limit on family-based visas from 7 percent per country to 15 percent per country.
The idea, says Chaffetz, is to allow companies to find the best available talent, instead of finding the best available talent from among those who have unused visas.
His bill attracted noteworthy Democratic support, including from Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. The legislation must pass the Senate and get the president's signature before becoming law.