News / USA

    US Business Leaders Argue for Immigration Reform

    US Business Leaders Argue for Immigration Reformi
    X
    Greg Flakus
    August 21, 2014 11:39 PM
    U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed comprehensive immigration reform remains stalled in a politically divided Congress, but business leaders around the country say immigration reform is needed to keep the economy growing. The situation was the focus of a recent business forum in Houston, where VOA’s Greg Flakus filed this report.

    U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed comprehensive immigration reform remains stalled in a politically divided Congress, but business leaders around the country say immigration reform is needed to keep the economy growing. The situation was the focus of a recent business forum in Houston.

    In recent years, thousands of the world’s best and brightest people have been denied H1-B visas that are issued to immigrants with special skills or education.

    Former governor of New Mexico and U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson says the system needs to change, “so that skilled workers, engineers, computer specialists that are here on student visas, can stay and create jobs in the American economy."

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations favor a large expansion of H1-B visas especially for talented people from around the world who study at U.S. universities on student visas, but cannot stay after they graduate.

    The ones who do stay are in high demand, according to Massey Villareal, president of Precision Task Group in Houston.

    “We spend over $30,000 a month just on recruiting costs, just trying to find these employees, so my clients are asking for highly qualified skill sets that I have a hard time finding, and then when I find them, my competitor offers them $10,000 a year more and they are gone," said Villareal.

    Last year, 172,000 petitions for H1-B visas were filed, but current law allows for only 85,000 each year.

    Attorney Charles Foster headed a task force on immigration for the Greater Houston Partnership.

    “It is a dysfunctional system; one day a year you can petition for the brightest people in the world, and then you have a 30 percent chance," he said.

    Many pro-reform business executives are Republicans, but Foster says the party’s immigration policy is controlled by the Tea Party movement.

    “Their anger, their opposition, is mostly based upon rumor and anecdotal stuff that has little to do with the truth. When you get before them and explain what real immigration reform means, they have a very different position," he said.

    Still, most conservatives remain opposed on principle to any reform that would provide what they see as amnesty for people who entered the country illegally.

    Bill Richardson, a Democrat, says his party is right to insist on legalization, as well as a pathway to citizenship.

    “We need to bring the 11 million undocumented workers that are currently in this country out of the shadows; make them productive players in the U.S. economy," he said.

    Republicans in Congress favor a bill that would increase the number of H1-B visas for skilled workers and leave the larger reform package for later.

    But Democrats reject that, saying it should be part of an overall reform that would open the door to citizenship to those living here illegally, and that stalemate, according to studies done by business groups, is costing the nation tens of thousands of jobs as well as a more competitive edge in the world economy.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.