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The Three Things That Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Other Tech Leaders Want From Immigration Reform


Zuckerberg and other tech players are behind a bill that would double the number of H-1B visas for immigrants that start new companies or are PhDs in math, science, or engineering.

A briefing paper issued last week by the progressive Economic Policy Institute noted that under the Gang of Eight H-1B cap increase half of all IT jobs requiring a college degree would go to guest workers.

"What are the consequences of having that much of an occupation taken up by these temporary workers?" said Ross Eisenbrey, EPI's executive vice president. "The conclusion is it does lead to lower salaries. And when salaries are depressed, it leads to US workers and students being turned off from those fields."

Comprehensive -- Not Piecemeal -- Reforms: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., said last week that he plans to take any overhaul bit by bit.

The GOP lawmaker plans to begin with an immigration bill for immigration workers, followed by a proposal to mandate that employers verify the residency status of potential employees.

Not quite what the tech community has in mind. Zuckerberg's specifically supports "comprehensive" reform.

Why? Because past attempts to rewrite the standards for legal immigration tend to fail. One former Senate aide compared visas for start-up founders to a fullback rushing into the end zone. Because the measure looks so strong, it will get so loaded down with amendments and pet projects that scoring a touchdown becomes impossible.

"Our experience has been that comprehensive has to happen," said Emily Mendell, spokeswoman for the National Venture Capital Association. "Individual pieces don't have much of a chance passing on their own."

Overwhelming Senate Support: For the Gang of Eight bill to become law, it has to clear a Republican majority House with some members who are highly skeptical about any benefits coming from amnesty. Among their objections is the argument that a pathway to citizenship will ultimately lead to higher costs for government programs such as Social Security.

The Senate can't just pass the bill. To break down any resistance in the lower chamber, it must clear immigration reform with minimal dissent. This could mean more than 70 "yeas," particularly if 20 of the 45 Senate Republicans back the measure.

In the most prominent example of bipartisan cooperation this year -- the fiscal cliff deal that averted a tax hike on 99% of the country -- the Senate voted 89-8.

Editor's Note: This article by Josh Boak originally appeared on The Fiscal Times.

For more from The Fiscal Times:

21 Surprising Facts About Illegal Immigration

Immigration Reform Costs: $7 Billion or $2.6 Trillion?

The Hot-Button Immigration Issue Everyone's Ignoring

Follow The Fiscal Times on Twitter @TheFiscalTimes.
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