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Tech Titans: We need more skilled immigrants now

Friday, September 2, 2016

During July’s Democratic National Convention, representatives from some of the most powerful tech firms in the United States held a forum, urging lawmakers to take the steps needed to allow more skilled workers to immigrate.
The leaders, who represent companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google and Salesforce, are members of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a non-partisan group that champions advancement in science and technology. According to ITIF, the United States simply cannot remain competitive without an influx of skilled foreign workers to fill lingering job vacancies.
A federal government study in November 2015 estimated that nearly half a million of the nation’s job vacancies are in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. In the U.S., colleges and universities simply are not graduating enough students with STEM degrees to fill the open positions. The members of ITIF say that immigration and education reform has to happen quickly. They also believe that federal government needs to lead the way by easing immigration quotas and instituting programs that encourage more STEM education in the U.S.
Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, told CNET, "This is no longer a Microsoft, Facebook, or Amazon issue," said Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer, according to CNET. "Companies are only as good as the people we hire."
Obviously, the 2016 presidential candidates have differing opinions on how to encourage more skilled foreign workers. Donald Trump advocates continued use of the current H-1B program, and does not believe that a STEM shortage exists. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, proposes “stapling” a green card onto immigrants with masters or doctorate-level STEM degrees.
The makeup of Congress, along with its immigration proposals, could also change significantly in November. While it is unclear what any proposed immigration reform will look like, for American businesses, it has to happen sooner rather than later.

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