An immigration bill you’ve never heard of will solve US’s labor shortage
by Richard Burke
We are facing a critical shortage of skilled labor in America.
According to the Labor Department’s latest jobs report, we’re in the strongest labor market in decades. But that has left the country with a severe shortage of skilled workers.
In some Rust Belt states, there are as many as 15 science, tech, engineering and math-related job postings for every unemployed STEM worker, according to a new report by New American Economy, a coalition of business leaders and mayors working toward immigration reform.
The Immigration Innovation or “I-Squared” Act has been proposed to tackle this issue. But it’s gotten lost amid our nation’s divisive immigration debate.
Sponsored by Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Jeff Flake, the I-Squared Act promises to strengthen the US job market, enable the Trump Administration’s “Buy American, Hire American” policy and address concerns regarding visa abuse.
How would it do this?
First, it would increase the total number of available H-1B visas, a fiercely-debated pathway into the US for skilled foreign workers.
The current H-1B allotment is capped at 85,000, but applications have approached three times the cap in recent years, with 236,000 in 2016.
The I-Squared bill would allow for up to 110,000 additional H-1B visas to be available if vacancies remained after the initial visa cap was met.
But welcoming highly skilled workers into the country is at best a short-term solution. Immigration policy that sets the stage for long-term economic prosperity must provide a path for foreign national workers to make a life here with their families.
I-Squared acknowledges this reality.
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