Senate to take up long-stalled high-tech visa bill : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Senate to take up long-stalled high-tech visa bill

By BART JANSEN The Associated Press 9/15/00 5:52 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A long-stalled bill to increase the number of visas for foreign high-tech workers gets the Senate's attention next week, facing an "extremely uncertain" future because of a partisan battle over other immigration issues.

The bill has significant support in Congress and appeared headed for passage until President Clinton announced in May that any visa increase had to be linked to changes in immigration policies mainly involving Hispanics.

Clinton's move stalled the bill, because Republicans insist that the issues were unrelated and should not be paired. After months of inactivity, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., filed a motion Friday for a vote as early as Tuesday on whether the Senate should consider the visa bill.

"We think this is a hostage the Democrats are not willing to shoot," said John Czwartocki, Lott's spokesman.

For each of the next three years, the bill would increase from 115,000 to 200,000 the number of H-1B visas, which allow skilled workers entry for specified periods to do jobs that American workers cannot be found for. Without the bill, the number falls to 107,500 in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 and 65,000 a year after that.

The high-tech industry has labeled the bill a top priority, contending there are too few qualified American workers to fill necessary jobs. The visa quota ran out in March this year, and the industry claims to have openings for 300,000 more workers.

Labor unions oppose increasing visas. They argue the industry is looking overseas chiefly to hold down wages.

Ranit Schmelzer, a spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Democrats are expected to vote to consider the bill. They also plan to try to attach two amendments backed by Clinton and Hispanic organizations, including the National Council of La Raza.

One amendment would offer permanent residence to political refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti similar to that granted those from Cuba and Nicaragua. Another amendment would grant amnesty for illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States since 1986. The current registry deadline is 1972.

Supporters say working-class immigrants who already live in the United States deserve help if more white-collar foreigners are allowed in.

Sen. Phil Gramm, a bill sponsor, said the measure won't pass with such additions.

"The Democrats claim they are for it, but they want to be paid tribute to let it pass," said Gramm, R-Texas. "There will not be a tribute."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Judiciary Committee that recommended approval of the visa bill in April, said Clinton's proposals were "unrelated, costly and far-reaching."

"I hope we can get this done," Hatch said, but allowed that the bill's fate is "extremely uncertain."

A similar partisan conflict over amendments has hindered consideration of pending visa bills in the House. Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., said Senate approval of a bill without "politically charged" amendments "may help restore the bipartisan atmosphere in the House" necessary to approve a bill.

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, said he's glad to see some movement, even if it remains unclear what will happen.

"I think it is admirable of Senator Lott to move this along and smoke everybody out in the open," he said.


The bills are S. 2045, H.R. 3183 and H.R. 4227.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 16, 2000


I received the following from the Programmer's Guild. BTW, the big eight accounting firms are now bleating: "we can't find enough CPA's". I guess accounting jobs will be the next to filled by indentured servants over Americans and Green Card immigrants in the name of corporate greed. It reminds me of the poem about WWII called "And Then They Came For Me". I wonder which profession (and people's hopes and dreams) will be the next to be sold out due to the corporate buyout of America and the corruption of our politicians.

******************************* Programmer's Guild Members:

Well folks, the battle we have been preparing you for is now here. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has announced that he wants the Senate to vote on an H-1B bill NEXT WEEK! (Sept 18th)

Not only does the H-1B program allow employer to hire foreign workers at lower wages, it actually allows them to replace Americans with foreign guest workers.

Current proposals would raise the H-1B quota to 200,000 per year from 115,000 this year.

A year ago I told the folks at my current employer that they needed to fight against H-1B. They all laughed at me. Since then the company started replacing it's American programming work force with H-1B guest workers. They aren't laughing any longer....but now it's too late for them.

We need EVERYONE to contact their Congressman and Senators to tell them to vote NO on H-1B!

We have information on how to do this, including links to a mechanism that sends free faxes at:

Spread the word to your friends and coworkers.

John Miano Chairman, The Programmers Guild

Our politicians on H-1B:

Rep. Davis (R-VA) [Head of the "eContract with America"] New York Daily News, May 3rd

"This [H-1B] is a very important issue for the high-tech executives who give the money."

Washington Post, May 16

"I have heard that regardless of our 'limitations,' we need to do something for Abraham if we want to see something [h-1b] moved in the Senate," Jenifer Verdery, a lobbyist for Intel Corp after meeting with Trent Lott.

Detroit News, September 5th

Michigan Sen. Spencer Abraham, a leading sponsor of a bill to increase the number of immigrant visas for highly skilled workers, has received $270,000 from companies that obtained a large number of visas between Oct. 1, 1999, and Feb. 29, 2000, according to a Detroit News study of campaign finance reports.

-- K (, September 16, 2000.

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