CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
May 11, 2012 – 10:24 p.m.
Cornyn Answers Silicon Valley’s Request for Additional Visas
By Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff
“This is a problem we need to solve,” the Texas senator said, referring to demands from high-tech companies for a relaxation of restrictions on foreign graduate students and technicians.
A broad immigration overhaul remains at a standstill, and members of both parties realize that movement on any related issue will require significant bipartisan backing and numerous compromises. A narrowly targeted bill could quickly take on added weight.
Cornyn plans to unveil legislation this week that is likely to draw from several bipartisan measures inspired by the growing demand for talented foreign workers and entrepreneurs. “This would be a way of not increasing net new immigration, but yet targeting our immigration visas to people who have graduate degrees and skills,” Cornyn said.
Such measures are intended to encourage highly skilled workers to stay in the United States and provide a bridge to permanent resident status for those who come here with student visas or one of the 65,000 H1B non-immigrant temporary visas issued to skilled workers each year.
Cornyn has not said whether he would accept such language. But other Republicans, including Rep.
Rubio said he and Cornyn, who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, are trying to reshape the GOP’s message on immigration by emphasizing “legal immigration modernization” along with tighter border security.
But Menendez says the push by high-tech companies for more visas is sure to run into resistance. “It’ll be hard because every time I’ve seen one element of the private sector look for relief, then the ag sector wants relief. The hotel sector wants relief. The restaurant sector wants relief. . . . And all of a sudden we’re back to a comprehensive bill,” he said.