Donors, officials urge GOP to pass immigration bill

Both parties agree on need to increase visas for skilled professionals.

By The American Bazaar Staff

NEW YORK: Pressure continues to pile up on the Republican Party to pass a comprehensive immigration bill in the US House of Representatives: in yet another indication that a vast majority amongst them favor that move, nearly a 100 top Republican donors and Bush administration officials sent a letter to the House GOP to pass the bill and legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

The donors were led by former Bush administration Cabinet officials Carlos Gutierrez and Spencer Abraham, reported The Washington Times, today. The duo argued that by giving the illegal immigrants a path to legalization, the immigrants would be potential Republican voters in the future.

“Doing nothing is de facto amnesty. We need to take control of whom we let in our country and we need to make sure everybody plays by the same rules,” the donors said in their letter, reported The New York Times.

The donor letter came the same day that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 400 other businesses and umbrella groups fired off a letter to House leaders of both parties, urging them to pass something — though the business leaders did not specifically call for legalizing illegal immigrants, said The Washington Times.

Also supporting the move to pass the bill, and one of the architects of the Gang of Eight bill that passed the Senate, is Republican Senator John McCain/ He said at a meet in New York today that business and religious groups need to press reluctant House Republicans next month to get the deal done on immigration reforms.

Bloomberg reported McCain plans to spend time over Congress’s recess, scheduled to start August 2, visiting House Republican districts in Arizona to make the case for a comprehensive immigration bill. He said he will encourage evangelical groups, Catholic groups and business organizations to wage a campaign.

According to Politico, one thing that almost all Republicans agree with the Senate version of the bill is the need to increase visas for high skilled workers. The Skills Visa Act is a core component of the House GOP’s immigration strategy, it said. The bill is backed by a slew of industry groups, among them Compete America, the Information Technology Industry Council and the Consumer Electronics Association.

On its face, the House bill for high-skilled workers is pretty similar to the Gang of Eight’s bill, says Politico.

Both bills would lift the current 65,000 cap on H-1B visas — the House to 155,000, with an additional 40,000 for immigrants who graduate from a U.S. university, said Politico. In the Senate, the cap is set at 110,000 — it can go up to 180,000 — with 25,000 more visas set aside for foreigners who earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math.

And both the House and Senate would create a new visa for entrepreneurs, capped at 10,000 per year. The House’s legislation also doles out 55,000 green cards for immigrants with advanced degrees in STEM fields from U.S. schools.

Democrats, however, say the legislation falls short on several points. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), for instance, said that the bill doesn’t clear the current backlog of green cards, which is a critical point to fix the broken immigration system.

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