National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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Yes They Can! House Republicans and Democrats Work Together on Immigration Legislation

November 30, 2011

Washington, D.C.The House approved on Tuesday legislation adjusting the distribution of employment and family-based immigrant visas. By a vote of 389 to 15, the House passed H.R. 3012, “the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.”

“The passage of H.R. 3012 proves that both Republicans and Democrats can work together for important immigration reforms,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “The legislation is a small but important step in recognizing the value of skilled immigrant workers to the U.S. economy.

We hope that this legislation would lay the groundwork for much needed comprehensive reforms to our immigration system. More must be done to match our economic reality with our need for a skilled workforce. Whether it is a skilled engineer or a skilled farmworker, America depends on its immigrant workforce.

It is important to note there is a complementary relationship between the immigration of skilled workers and the competitiveness of the American workforce. We need to invest in the training and education of U.S. workers at the same time we recruit immigrants. One without the other will not move us forward.”

The bipartisan legislation eliminates the exiting per-country quotas on the number of employment-based visas. Current law limits any one country to 7 percent of immigration visa quotas, causing enormous backlogs for legal immigrants from countries, like India and China that provide the U.S. with large numbers of employer-sponsored immigrants. The bill also changes family-based visa limits from 7 percent per country to 15 percent per country, an adjustment that could slightly shorten the backlog for permanent residents and naturalized citizens, particularly from Mexico and the Philippines, trying to reunite with their loved ones. The legislation does not add to the total number of available visas.

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