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Senator Schumer Takes a Step Forward with Highly Skilled Immigration Hearing

It may have gotten lost in the shuffle amidst all the turmoil this week on the debt ceiling, so I think it’s worth highlighting the hearing on highly skilled immigration reform in Senator Schumer’s Immigration Subcommittee on Tuesday.

The title of the hearing alone tells me that some of the points we’ve been making about highly skilled immigration are starting to resonate: “The Economic Imperative for Enacting Immigration Reform.” As Senator Schumer so clearly stated, “there are two issues that will determine America’s global competitiveness for the 21st century…education and immigration.” In other words, welcoming highly skilled professionals to our shores is critical to our economic future. The Senate hearing this week included powerful testimony that supports this view.

For example, Bob Greifeld, CEO of Nasdaq cited research by the National Foundation for America Policy that shows for every H-1B worker requested, U.S. technology companies increase their employment by five workers .

Further, Mr. Brad Smith, General Counsel of Microsoft, discussed 2010 research that shows every job at Microsoft supported 5.81 jobs elsewhere in the Washington state economy through a multiplier effect. Smith also point out that Microsoft’s economic contributions have been possible only by combining American brainpower with the talents of some of the brightest professionals from around the world.

And finally, Dr. Puneet Arora, representing Immigration Voice, noted that foreign nationals create opportunities for employment and invent valuable products for U.S. companies to sell in America and around the world. Like too many of Qualcomm’s own employees, Dr. Arora has been caught in a visa backlog, and has been waiting for fifteen years for a green card.

As they say, a journey of 1000 miles begins with one step. Let’s hope that the Senate hearing this week represents the first step on a journey of reforming highly skilled immigration laws to the benefit of the U.S. economy.

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