Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), held a lengthy and important hearing on high skilled immigration: “Immigration Reforms Needed to Protect Skilled American Workers.” The hearing was a good contribution to a long overdue but widely suppressed genuine debate in Congress over skilled visas. Is there validity to the tech industry’s chronic claims that more high skilled visas are desperately necessary to relieve shortages of labor in the industry and rescue American innovation, or are they in fact merely the self-serving assertions of those who stand to profit from stagnant STEM wages?

While the hearing illuminated a number of important details about our current skilled guest worker programs, the Committee, to some extent, inadvertently revealed how much of the “debate” on Capitol Hill occurs within a very narrow frame. For instance, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) opened with the statement that he felt confused, because he thought the debate was only about illegal immigration, and that no one wanted to reduce legal immigration. And yet, in January, Gallup showed that more than five times as many American adults want to reduce immigration than want to raise it. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he thought that those who criticized our current H-1B and L-1 visas were somehow trying to have it “both ways” because, apparently, they had rejected the Gang-of-Eight bill (which he called not wanting to reform immigration laws.) But there is no inconsistency in rejecting a bill for greatly expanding a guest worker program and, at the same time, believing the currently existing guest worker programs ought to be curtailed. “Immigration Reform” has been used as a euphemistic short hand for amnesty and guest worker expansion for too long…

Stay tuned to FAIR Legislative Updates next Tuesday for a full summary of this important hearing…