Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Sen. Orrin Hatch, shown in June 2012, has introduced an immigration bill that would increase the number of foreign-born scientists and engineers who are allowed to live and work in the U.S.
Hatch wants more visas for skilled immigrants

First Published Jan 29 2013 12:07 pm • Last Updated May 05 2013 11:33 pm

Washington • A new immigration bill led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would greatly increase the number of foreign-born scientists and engineers who are allowed to live and work here.

It’s a bipartisan idea touted by President Barack Obama that joins the touchy topic of immigration reform with the employment need for many companies.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

As an example, Hatch noted there are on average 120,000 openings each year for computer scientists but only 40,000 graduates with legal status.

"At least right now there are not enough Americans trained and ready to fill these jobs," Hatch said. "We cannot continue to ignore this problem. It is that simple."

He introduced the bill with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Chris Coons, D-Del.

Their legislation would give legal status to foreign-born students who get a doctorate or master’s degree in a science, math, engineering or technology field.

And it would boost the number of highly skilled immigrant visas by at least 50,000 each year to a total of 115,000 and depending on economic need that number could rise all they way up to 300,000.

Companies who recruit these foreign workers would pay a federal fee that would be used to boost science and technology education in the United States.

"We must be a country that makes stuff again, that invents things, that exports to the world," said Klobuchar said. "And to do that we need the world’s talent."

Klobuchar and Rubio linked their proposal with efforts at broad immigration reform that would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, and even Hatch said he hopes this is just the first in a larger attempt at reforming the immigration system.


story continues below
story continues below

So while Hatch called for quick Senate action on his new bill, it’s possible that it could become part of a broader reform package.

Obama hopes that happens, including a similar idea in his immigration proposal released Tuesday.

"If you’re a foreign student, who wants to pursue a career in science or technology, or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business, with the backing of American investors, we should help you do that here," Obama said in Las Vegas. "Because if you succeed, you’ll create American businesses. And American jobs."

The House passed a bill last November that would boost the visas for highly skilled workers but it also eliminated other visas awarded through a lottery system, which Democrats largely objected to. Utah’s three House members at that time supported the bill.

Rubio, a Cuban-American and a Republican leader on immigration, tried to head off potential criticism that the Hatch bill would take jobs from Americans or that it would lead to a rush of new immigrants, arguing that like the nation’s professional sports leagues, U.S. businesses should employ the world’s best minds.

"The smartest, hardest working most talented people on this planet, we should want them to come here," Rubio said. "I, for one, have no fear that our country is going to be overrun by Ph.D’s."

The senators also argued that failing to boost the number of highly skilled visas would hurt America’s economic competitiveness.

Hatch has heard the same thing from Jonathan Johnson, president of Overstock.com, a Utah-based company.

Johnson said his company is always looking for engineers and software developers and can’t find enough domestically, which has slowed the company’s growth.

"Frankly, they are hard to find and it makes no sense to me that we bring the world’s best and brightest here," he said. "We educate them, train them and then force them to leave the country and compete against us."

Johnson described immigration reform as a complicated puzzle.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.