Immigration Reform Needs a Strong Push Now Panelists Say

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Congressman Lloyd Doggett and John Holmes, vice president with Freescale Semiconductor

Congressman Lloyd Doggett and John Holmes, vice president with Freescale Semiconductor

Congressman Lloyd Doggett said some immigration reform bill must be passed this year, because if Congress waits until January, the hurdles will be even greater.

Rep. Doggett spoke Monday morning at Capital Factory on a panel about immigration reform sponsored by FWD.US. Other panelists included Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, Peter French, founder at FreeFlow Research in San Antonio that works with small businesses and immigrants to help identify routes that would let qualified STEM workers remain in the U.S., Michael Golden, partner with Boulette & Golden with handles employment and immigration law. The panel was moderated by John Holmes, vice president, legal at Freescale Semiconductor.

The immigration reform issue has many facets. On one hand it tackles how to deal with illegal immigrants. Some conservative factions want to build a fence between the U.S. and Mexico and allow medical facilities to report illegal immigrants who come in for treatment. Doggett has voted against those measures. But more pertinent to the audience Monday was the talent shortage for STEM companies, especially small businesses that would happily hire recent grads from U.S. universities—the majority of whom are not citizens–but for uncertainty of being able to keep them in the country. In addition, many startups are founded by immigrants, creating jobs and boosting the economy in general.

Goodbye Gang of Eight

Immigration reform panelists: Michael Golden, partner with Boulette & Golden, Peter French with FreeFlow Research, Bill Hammond, with the Texas Association of Business, Rep. Lloyd Doggett and  John Holmes with Freescale Semiconductor.

Immigration reform panelists: Michael Golden, partner with Boulette & Golden, Peter French with FreeFlow Research, Bill Hammond, with the Texas Association of Business, Rep. Lloyd Doggett and John Holmes with Freescale Semiconductor.

Rep. Doggett co-sponsored the “Attracting the Best and Brightest Act” to expand visas for applicants with STEM backgrounds and supported measures to slow illegal immigration while encouraging more avenues for residency and citizenship. He said he thought there would be action on the bill last summer. But then the Gang of Eight pushing it forward began to dissolve as various members dropped out saying they “didn’t trust President Obama.” Doggett said he suspected they hadn’t trusted President Obama before they worked on the bill either, but that was their reason for abandoning it.

“I still hope that there could be action this year,” Doggett said. “There are several ways to get this issue up in front of the House. The only way we ended the government shutdown or passed the Violence Against Women Act was to let a majority of the House rule.” Doggett is talking about getting a discharge petition which would have to be signed by all the House Democrats and 18 or 19 Republicans and would force the bill out of committee and up for a vote.

Linking With Bibles and Badges

Hammond pointed out that the opponents of immigration reform would be “melting down” the phones of their representatives and that supporters of immigration reform had to do the same. But they have to speak the language of the Republicans they’re trying to sway. Hammond, who is a member of a group called Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform, suggested finding a law enforcement officer or member of the Evangelical community to petition Republicans.

“They are the natural allies of Republicans,” Hammond said. “You need to get them engaged…. All these groups need to work together.” Speaking for himself, Hammond said, he’d like to take all the immigration caps off and let the marketplace “tell us what to do.”

French said that there were more than 800,000 foreign born students in the U.S. and only 85,000 H-1B Visas every year. “They are encouraged to go back to their home countries and compete against the United States. That’s a problem for the competitiveness of the United States as a whole.”

In addition French said, many of the spouses of people with H-1B Visas are not allowed to work while in the U.S. But they, too, have master’s degrees or PhDs and could be making valuable contributions to innovation and the economy.

Golden said the worst part was the uncertainty. Last year there were 124,000 applicants for the 85,000 H-1B Visas and the numbers may double or triple this year. The process for choosing who gets to stay is a lottery. He’s known people who were waiting since 2007. These are people who might build businesses if they had confidence that they would not have to pack up everything and leave once they’d established themselves. They’re also people who could contribute to existing companies if those companies had confidence they would not lose a key employee because the lottery didn’t pick them. Those immigrants, French and Golden said, are being wooed by countries like Canada who will then have a competitive advantage over the U.S.

Simple Majority

Doggett pointed out that there are definitely people who will never be swayed to reform immigration to allow more people to stay, regardless of their qualifications.

“We have to all move forward together or we won’t move at all,” he said. The House may pass some measures individually and pass them to the Senate where they’ll be formed into a cohesive law. But debate in Congress, he said, isn’t fact based. A lot of it has to do with emotions. Proponents need to come up with the stories that will appeal to the sensibilities of opponents.

“Some people will never be persuaded,” he said. “But we just need a majority. We don’t need to win over the entire population on this issue. “

Comments

  1. Dave Francis says:

    THE TIME IS NOW to join the forces of the National branches of the TEA PARTY, THE PEOPLE’S PARTY. That Congress introduces a mandatory ID for citizens to vote, for job opportunities (end illegal aliens stealing low income jobs; lowing wages) and also adopted to stop credit fraud. Go to Tea Party dot org and download a free E-Book on the front, middle page of the website; alternative to the IRS. The Tea Party believes in a policy of abolishing The Internal Revenue Service and introducing “The True Tax” law. Not the present law that exorbitantly rewards the rich–but a fair and equitable tax. The IRS has become an enforcer of the Obama administration and must be held accountable. Many issues which terrorize taxpayers, grass root organizations, our liberty are a cause for alarm. THE IRS has grown into a malignant cancer, which must be removed; especially now the government is using this bloated agency with a growing history of intimidation.

    Today corruption, cronyism and cover ups are abundant in both political parties. How much more are you willing to take before America fully becomes a country run by a dictator and a dysfunctional congress? America is under attack by our own president and the bloated machine he’s created. We’re now under surveillance every hour of every day. Unprecedented power is being granted to agencies like the DOJ, NSA and IRS while the DHS is being granted free reign to build an arsenal of weapons, ammunition and riot gear. Remember, all this while the Obama army of bureaucrats wants to take our guns away. With every issue taking place from bypassing Congress with executive orders to preparing to grant amnesty to 30 million illegal aliens. Behind this facade is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and following like Lemmings to the slaughter is the Religious hierarchy, Unions and majority ethnic groups, who believe that the 12 million plus illegal aliens already here should gain citizenship and public benefits they never paid into. How can these people press for amnesty, when our nation has 10 million jobless, and at least 6 million in the temporary workforce.

    Do NOT underestimate the TEA PARTY, as next MAY there is going to be a call to Arms; a March of millions of Tea Party patriots, reminiscent of the African American March back in October 16th, 1995 to the steps of the Capitol.

    THE PROMISE OF THE TEA PARTY
    1. Illegal aliens are here illegally and should be deported. NO MORE AMNESTIES.
    2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
    3. A strong military is essential.
    4. Special interests must be eliminated from influencing Senators and Congressman that is corrupting the principles of the Oath of office.
    5. Gun ownership is sacred.
    6. Government must be downsized.
    7. The national budget must be balanced.
    8. Deficit spending must end.
    9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
    10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must. Abolish the IRS agency altogether and introduce a FAIR and Equitable tax FLAT TAX.
    11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
    12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.
    13. Intrusive government must be stopped.
    14. English as our core language is required.
    15. Traditional family values are encouraged

    The TEA PARTY mission is to bring awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation. Join the mega-millions in the TEA PARTY dot org and bring an end to the monopoly of the Democrats and Republicans. Stop the destruction of our beloved America.

    • Hey Dave good to see your posts again!

    • When Ailes fired Glenn Beck he changed the course of our country. Beck kept us informed, so we showed up. I am sorry everyone appears to be turning on Americans, you know, the ones picking up the tabfor the illegals.

      numbersusa dot com

    • Nice post!
      Immigration Reform needs to be pushed out the door and down the stairs! Head first!
      NO AMNEST!Y!
      SECURE OUR BORDERS!
      ENFORCE EXISTING IMMIGRATION LAWS!
      BEGIN DEPORTATION!
      Rewarding Criminal/Illegal Alien Invasion is WRONG! All the while punishing hardworking Americans simply for being hardworking and successful is WRONG!
      Abolish the IRS, institute a FLAT TAX!
      Eliminate ALL Federal Government Departments that are NOT enumerated powers in our Constitution and remand them to the States! It is high time to get back to being the REPUBLIC our Constitution created in the first place!

  2. If the big issue is the need for more skilled Stem workers then there really is no controversy over this. Republicans would write and vote for a bill expanding merit based visas and also look favorably on a bill to give visas to foreign stem graduates of american universities. In fact they have already introduced a bill which eliminates the “diversity lottery”, and redirecting the 55 Thousand visas thus freed to outstanding young kids with advanced STEM degrees from american universities. This would be a 50% increase over the present number of visas in this category. Unfortunately the democrats have rejected this simple approach. Their reason is not because diversity is so important, but because they want to use the STEM issue as a hostage to force republicans to agree to amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. This trade off is against every republican principal and makes a mockery of the rule of law. So it is effectively a poison pill and has blocked all movement. Thus the real bottleneck is the democrat refusal to consider any change in immigration law unless it includes amnesty. The “code” for this is their demand for “comprehensive” immigration bill (i.e. a bill that deals with all issues at once). They will not accept targeted bills that solve one problem at a time.

    • Typical political thinking…doing the same thing & expecting different results. After all, the comprehensive health care bill is working so well.

      Amnesty is the one thing moderate D’s & R’s (read working Americans) should be able to agree on…no amnesty.
      Join numbersusa dot com to help stop on this atrocity

    • Fred Bosick says:

      I’m sorry, you must be joking!

      There is *no* shortage of STEM workers. Business merely wants more indentured servants. That’s the *only* reason business is funneling money into immigration policy groups.

    • The “Cheap Labor Lobby”, (Chamber of Greed, Silicon Valley execs, business “leaders”) want immigration to depress wages, Yes, it is that simple and Greenspan even stated as much. And these folks don’t give a hoot about American workers, they want to pay less so they can collect bigger bonuses because the .01% aren’t yet rich enough. Thee people are parasites and should be treated as such.

      Tech workers shortage? hardly! Perhaps a shortage of workers willing to work 70 hours per week for peanuts. Many thousands of tech workers are on the sidelines, wages have been flat for many years. This alleged “shortage” is a lie.

      La Raza and the other racist Latino groups want us to “Let Their People Come”. They have convinced themselves that immigration to the US is somehow a “right” and borders are immoral. (Except the Mexican border! Cross than illegally and see what happens!) Of course they couldn’t care less about America or American workers.

      Problem is that these groups have the ears of the parties. WE THE PEOPLE need to rise up an oppose this! Join NumbersUSA and help fight this nonsense!

  3. Fwd.US is a group created by technology immigrants and wealthy tech CEO’s to increase profits and eliminate American positions in company’s owed by immigrants. Those who have immigrated through the false shortage of skills, want to promote more of their kind and do not agree with American Patriotism.

    It’s time American’s wake up to the attack on our country. We are a society of values, and not profit at any expense.

  4. Not sure why we ever need a strong push for amnesty or immigration reform. do we really need to burden our struggling economy with more of the world’s unhealthy, unskilled, uneducated and unmotivated. The people that are coming to this country are fleeing countries where the governments have promised to take care of them. When those promises are not kept they come here. Not looking for the American dream of “work hard and prosper” but instead they are looking for the government to take care of them. That’s what they have always been told should happen.
    If you side with Mark Zuckerberg and say we need more skilled tech workers you are really saying that we need to drive down the wage of existing tech workers.

    • mobilebay says:

      Tim, you can add Bill Gates’ name. He just became the wealthiest person in the world, surpassing Carlos Slim of Mexico. He lobbies for cheap labor and stacks up the bucks. To me, those who ignore American labor, both skilled and unskilled, are nothing but traitors. All illegal aliens need to be deported, but this administration and several previous ones, don’t have the courage to do it. Mexico has been calling the shots for years. We are becoming a third world, multi-lingual dumping ground.

  5. David Sroud says:

    This article is WRONG!! One of the things I have to agree with John Boehner is that he is hesitant to do anything concerning immigration reform because he doesn’t trust Obama & said so. That observation is right on target. When Obama gets a chance, as he has one with the disastrous Obamacare, he takes it upon himself unilaterally to change it without involving Congress, a complete denial of what the Constitution, as to the separation of powers, which was put in place to prevent an Obama from happening, yet he keeps doing it with abandon!! And he is getting away with it which is why he should have long ago been impeached & removed from office! He would completely ignore securing the border because he WANTS more illegals here to give them perks to illegally make them able to vote. They have already been given drivers licenses which is abominable & help make it possible to register to vote. One or more have been allowed to get law degrees without being citizens!! This is totally a nightmare for those who have immigrated legally as well as those who were born citizens & been here as citizens all their lives! Obama wants an immigration law to alter at will & do anything he wants as he has with Obamacare! It would be a springboard for doing anything he pleases having gotten away with it & nothing being done to stop him. He could have been already impeached since the GOP controls the house but to remove him from office he has non-patriots of his own party who would put politics above what is best for the nation, as they have done in the past, & he wouldn’t be removed from office. This is why before anything is done about immigration or anything else, for that matter, we should wait until after the November elections hoping the Senate will be won by conservatives who will act like Americans & do the proper things for those who put them there!!!!!

    • Boehner is part of the problem. A statist like most of his fellow congresscritters. Neither side really cares if they are in power or control. Both sides answer to the same monied people. It is more important to them to remain in office and feed at the government tit. Neither party is looking out for the citizens of this country as a whole. They pick and choose which action will gain them the most support or financial rewards. None have the integrity to make the tough decisions to keep this country a float.
      If Boehner really was concerned about Obama’s executive actions, he would allow and bring up impeachment charges. It will never happen, because he doesn’t give a twit about his oath, the Constitution or the rule of law.

  6. There is not a shortage of STEM workers. What there is is an over abundance of greedy tech companies who want educated and talented people to work for nothing. Interestingly Zuchyberg just purchased WhatsApp for a reported 19 billion. Yet when the founders of that company, both over the age of 30 American professions, applied at Facebook for a job, they were rejected. Why? because they were older and because they wanted a realistic American wage.

    There is currently near 30% of recent American college grads, some with advanced degrees in STEM fields who can’t find employment. I know of one young man who was in the top 1% of his optical engineering class who has yet to even get a reply after sending out resumes. Another gentleman with a PHD, after a year of unsuccessful job searching took a job at Starbucks. A little over a year ago it was reported that there was at a minimum 80,000 engineers who were either unemployed or working in fields totally unrelated to their degrees.

    Big money is trying to move us towards a two tier society. Them and the working poor they employ.

  7. Cindy Whoo says:

    Billionaire tech owners are not going to win this issue. There isn’t a STEM shortage. Even the liberal “left-leaning Economic Policy Institute reinforces what a number of researchers have come to believe: that the STEM worker shortage is a myth.” You can read the study here-

    http://www.epi.org/publication/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis/

    It’s time that Silicon Valley start partnering to put Americans to work or face the consequences. Zuckerberg and Facebook are quite vulnerable and if Zuckerberg wants a fight tell him to continue to push the immigration issue. Americans are tired of high unemployment and the importation of foreign workers to displace them in jobs. This will end poorly for Silicon Valley.

  8. DrVeruju says:

    What a bunch of nonsense, these panelists conveniently forget is that there are already 20 + million* unemployed US citizens and millions more who have no job but have ceased collecting UE benefits and still more millions who are under employed.
    The type of immigration reform they promulgate is the diametric opposite of that which is required. There is no shortage of STEM workers, never has been.
    The correct course of action would be to stop all employment based immigration with immediate effect and make E-Verify a national mandate.
    The US labor market is being gamed by the robber barons who own the US government, and is completely awash with excess foreign labor. This is a devils cocktail that artificially suppresses incomes by cynically using the resulting unemployed as a weapon of mass income suppression.
    Let’s help organizations like numbersusa and fairus in their fight to restore balance to our immigration system and thus our labor market.
    *numbersusa

  9. Allen Rogers says:

    Let’s Start Promoting the Most Disadvantaged:
    Special attention should be devoted to ensuring that policies don’t reduce incentives for employers to recruit and train workers from U.S. demographic groups with persistently high joblessness and poverty, including Black, Indigenous and Hispanic Americans, veterans, the disabled, young adults, the less-educated and ex-offenders. If we continue to allow in millions of new foreign workers to compete with the most disadvantaged Americans, these Americans will be unable to improve their lives.
    Let’s Start Promoting the Family:
    U.S. citizens should be allowed to bring in immigrants through marriage and adoption, and new immigrants should be able to bring their spouse and minor children. Currently, our “chain migration” system allows U.S. citizens and new immigrants to bring in numerous extended relatives. This harms those who simply want to bring in close relatives and makes it harder for Americans to find jobs.
    The country would be most helped by one simple new law: Every person applying for a job or ANY form of tax-payer provided benefit should pass an E-Verify check. This one requirement would free up millions of jobs for US Citizens and Legal Immigrants and eliminate a lot of the fraud in federal and state benefits.
    An amnesty in any form will only encourage many millions more people to come here illegally and end up making the problem worse.

  10. Food for Thought: If so many of taxpayers dollars were not going for ESL classes for illegal aliens we would be able to afford math and science instruction for our American children…..why are BILLIONS & BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars being spent to help foreigners instead of Americans. Our children are the best & brightest but are being held back from their potential because our schools are focused on teaching illegal alien children or children of illegal aliens to speak English & how to work the system. My friend is a teacher in Texas, she says their school is full of illegal alien children that get free education, free breakfast, free lunch, free clothes, free school supplies plus they are given enough of “everything” to make it thru the weekend…then when she is on pick-up duty the illegal alien parents of these same “low-income” students pick-up their kids new brand new Lexus, Mercedes & Cadillacs…. Then there is the $4.3 BILLION in tax refunds last year due to child credits. Of course, the illegals do NOT have to provide any documents to prove these children even exist as most are supposedly in the “home country”
    How long are Americans going to “let” our hard earned tax dollars be spent on/for anything illegal that is destroying our country?
    Call Boehner, Cantor and any other Republican or Democrat that has turned on our country, us and our children & grandchildren!
    numbersusa dot com

  11. Mike Hanauer says:

    Our open borders Immigration policy is short-term oriented and very selfish…
    I have been studying population and environmental issues for over 25 years and have come to believe that for the US, for other countries, and for the world – the most humane and environmental tact is to HELP PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE – not to encourage them to migrate.

    Migration to the US increases our own very unsustainable and growing population level with its devastating local and global environmental impacts, relieves us from training and hiring our own many low wage workers, takes pressure off of source countries to deal with their own population growth and related economic problems, and draws away from those countries the very people who are most likely to be leaders in their native lands to help improve conditions. Some countries have asked us, in fact, to better enforce our laws to help them better their own conditions. We must set an example and stop being selfish.
    Population is the great multiplier!

    Don’t be a deep feeler and a poor thinker. – George C. Marshall, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1953.

  12. Allen Rogers says:

    There are plenty of US Citizens and LEGAL immigrants with the training and skill sets needed by business. What many of these dishonest employers are trying to do is to import cheap foreign workers, simply because they don’t want to pay the going rate to legal workers. The US Chamber of Commerce is full of BS spouting liars. There are way more than 11 million illegal aliens in the USA – probably much closer to 25-30 million. Those already here are stealing jobs from US Citizens and LEGAL immigrants, pulling the wage scale into the gutter and committing a much much higher percentage of crime than Legal Immigrants. Why would a dishonest employer want to pay an electrician $30/hr, when he can hire an illegal for $9-10/hr. Who cares if the illegal doesn’t know the National Electric Code, or how to install equipment properly? The dishonest employer is smiling all the way to the bank. This is not a ‘could happen’ story, it really did happen to an electrical contractor friend of mine who kept losing bid jobs to the dishonest contractor. There is a very simple solution – make the use of E-Verify mandatory for every person who applies for or currently holds a job, and for every person who applies for or now receives taxpayer provided benefits of ANY type. If an illegal alien can’t get a job, or benefits, the vast majority will simply pack up and return to their country of origin. This has already happened to those few states which have implemented this approach.

  13. One thing that is very important is that the 30-40 million illegals, less with Obama’s abuse of powers making illegals of various ages legal, and not enforcing BOTH Title8USC1325 and 1324 which is felony encouragement, aiding, abetting, employing, being encouraging in written word and polls of probably up to 10 million traitors. The Oath to uphold the Art4 Sec 4 of the Const. is not being done during this 28 year invasion from Mexico and the gross overpopulation caused by a bunch of people who never helped us in WWII and in percentages 20 to 40 times historic. The fines would come to a thousand times the National Debt disgrace, and pay for deep deportations, infrastructural repair, and much more—perhaps restitution to Americans out of work because of gross over immigration and non-enforcement of the 1986 laws above. There have been probably 100,000 American dead from various homicides by illegals, several bad eradicated diseases that have developed drug resistance , drugs brought in, people whose hopeless lowered wages and unemployment have lead to death from inability to get free medical like the illegals or have a good enough diet.
    We need an Ike and another good General to sweep the country collecting fines and deporting the illegals. Finally get our country , culture and language back to dominance. We need smartening up, not dumbing down, and we need a much lower population to have a chance of sustainability.

  14. Isn’t it funny how it is the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and individual corporations and agribusiness, who stand to gain from cheap labor and lower wages, who are front and center pushing this? Yet polls show that American citizens and voters are overwhelmingly opposed to “immigration reform”, aka “amnesty”. It’s the people versus corporate special interests.

    By now, of course, it is common knowledge that the STEM shortage is a fabricated myth. Numerous studies have debunked it.

    John Boehner, who has violated the “Hastert Rule” at least five times in less than two years, passing measures with a minority of Republican votes and a majority of Democrat votes, is Nancy Pelosi in drag. If Republicans want to be elected to Congress they had better not introduce “immigration reform” legislation in the House or they will see a boycott of the November elections which will dwarf the three million registered Republicans who did not vote in the last presidential election!

  15. What a disingenuous and disgraceful group of men.
    Advocating for more immigrants when MILLIONS of able-bodied, intelligent Americans are unemployed.

  16. We don’t need foreign workers, we need to put Americans to work.
    We don’t need Amnesty, in any form; we need to capture and deport.
    We don’t need new immigration laws, we need to enforce the laws we already have.
    IMPEACH OBAMA!
    IMPRISON HOLDER!

  17. We do not need immigration “reform,” or at least not what the current pols mean by it. If the billionaires in Silicon Valley want cheap STEM labor, let them amend the statute for additional visas. If the farmers need more field workers, they can ask for more migrant worker visas. Why must they demand amnesty for 15 million unskilled illegals?
    Another more fundamental question is why they can’t pay higher wages for American workers to do these jobs? That’s the market working, right?
    We got suckered by the 1986 amnesty. We got many million illegals converted under the amnesty, and 15-20 million more who came knowing that we’ll never ever enforce our immigration laws. Good work, Congress. You want to tell the whole world that we’ll issue an amnesty every few decades, so come along in illegally.

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