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.
Greg Flakus

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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid