WASHINGTON (April 16, 2013) - Following the announcement of the most substantive immigration reform plan in almost thirty years, Rob Atkinson, President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, releases the following statement:
"We commend the bipartisan group of Senators, known as the "Gang of Eight," for taking on this critical task and creating a comprehensive package that will address the central immigration challenges America faces, while also enhancing economic competitiveness.
In particular, the inclusion of specific measures to enhance high skill immigration, including an easier path to green cards for foreign recipients of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate degrees and nearly doubling the H-1B Visa cap will greatly improve access to highly skilled technology workers in key industries. As we have noted in Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage, the United States is in an increasingly robust competition with nations around the globe for the best talent and technical capacity, and America risks falling further behind economically if we do not improve the environment necessary to draw the world's best engineers, scientists and innovators to our shores.
However, we cannot rely on high skilled immigrants forever, which is why ITIF has advocated for a dedicated fund, using H1-B Visa fees paid by companies, to enhance domestic training and education programs in STEM fields. This would provide a constant funding stream, in a time of budget austerity, to directly address our high skill worker shortage, while also spurring further technological innovation, business creation and overall economic growth.
As Congress begins its deliberations regarding the reform package we urge legislators to recognize the impact STEM training and education has on innovation and competitiveness and include a substantial dedicated fund in the final legislation that is adopted."