NEC Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill
Business Group Applauds Increase in H-1B Visas, Inclusion of STEM Fund
BOSTON –As the Senate Judiciary Committee continues its hearings today on comprehensive immigration reform legislation proposed last week by the Senate’s “Gang of Eight,” The New England Council, a non-partisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations, applauded the bipartisan proposal for including provisions meant to address the shortage of highly-skilled.
“The bipartisan immigration reform bill proposed by the ‘Gang of Eight’ is a step in the right direction toward addressing the shortage of highly-skilled workers in the STEM fields that is impeding economic growth in our region,” said James T. Brett, President & CEO of The New England Council. “Our region is home to a thriving innovation economy and workers with advanced training in science, technology, engineering, and math are in high demand. By increasing the cap on H-1B visas and dedicating funding to support STEM education initiatives, this bipartisan legislation provides both a short-term and a long-term solution to the STEM skills gap.”
The New England Council—whose members include a wide range of employers in need of workers with STEM training—has long supported increasing the cap on H-1B visas. Earlier this year, the Council endorsed the provisions of the bipartisan Immigration Innovation Act, known as I-Squared. In addition to increasing the number of H-1B visas and STEM green cards available, I-Squared would also provide a comprehensive STEM-dedicated stream of funds to all states and allow states the flexibility to target funds to any of the STEM fields including computer science. In addition to supporting this legislation, the New England Council has also been an active member of inSPIRE STEM USA, a broad-based coalition launched to support I-Squared.
“While the STEM fund put forth in the legislation before the Senate Judiciary Committee today differs from the proposal we have supported, we are encouraged that this provision was included and will continue to work with inSPIRE STEM USA and other partners to advocate for expansion of the fund in the final bill,” Brett added.
The New England Council, the country’s oldest regional business organization, is an alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the region. The Council is dedicated to identifying and supporting federal public policies and articulating the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England. The NEC is also committed to working with public and private sector leaders across the region and in Washington through educational programs and forums for information exchange. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.