With the New Year comes a new Congress and the potential for new legislation. Both houses of Congress are firmly in Republican hands, and so all legislation proposed and passed by this Congress will be Republican in nature.
Over the New Year holiday several publications indicated that an increased H-1B cap may be first up on the Republican immigration agenda. Computerworld suggests that the new Congress may move swiftly on increasing the H-1B cap. Reporter Patrick Thibodeau says that the Congress may move on the I Squared Act. The I Squared Act, which was authored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had bipartisan support when it was first introduced in 2013.
The I Squared Act (Immigration Innovation Act) calls for the H-1B cap to increase to 115,000 per year, from its current 85,000. Additionally, the H-1B cap would contain a “market-based escalator” that would increase or decrease the H-1B cap as employer-demand ebbed and flowed, although it could never fall below the 115,000 threshold. It could conceivably rise as high as 300,000 over several years.
Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Sen. Hatch reiterated that
“The new Congress has an opportunity to enhance America’s competitive workforce through immigration reform that will streamline the hiring process for high-skilled individuals entering the United States and by investing in STEM education and training.”
Presumably Sen. Hatch’s “opportunity” includes reviving last year’s I Squared Act.
President Obama has already laid down his marker with a bold Executive Order, which includes giving work permits to about 5 million undocumented aliens. In using his Executive Order, President Obama has shown that he understands the power of the government to effect change. His power is however eclipsed by Congress’. It is Congress’ turn to act on that power.