Hutto: Reform immigration to help U.S. businesses compete

November 15, 2013 

Hutto

— To remain competitive in a global marketplace, America must ensure its immigration policy attracts top talent from around the world. Businesses must be allowed to hire the workers they need to compete effectively with foreign companies.

In South Carolina, technology and service companies cannot hire the skilled workers they need because of limitations on visa availability or restrictive immigration policies. Whether ensuring the reliability of sophisticated information systems for online retail websites or upgrading security for personal information online, skilled technology workers play a vital role in our modern economy.

Many foreign students come here to receive advanced degrees and then leave because of restrictive immigration policies. While efforts to encourage American students to pursue math, science and engineering-related degrees are underway, we face a growing skills gap that cannot be closed overnight. A 2011 report published by McKinsey & Co. found that by 2020, the United States will have 1.5 million more job openings for skilled workers than talent to fill those positions.

The immigration bill that has passed the U.S. Senate contains a handful of harmful clauses that would place arbitrary restrictions on hiring for critical positions. Unnecessary fees and layers of red tape will limit businesses’ ability to hire a skilled workforce through the H-1B visa system. This system was designed to allow our companies to access a global talent pool in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Now is not the time to place roadblocks in the path of American companies’ ability to compete.

American employers need to be able to hire highly educated professionals with specific skills in order to compete effectively. In particular, employers should have access to foreign nationals earning advanced degrees from U.S. universities. Now is the time for Congress to expand the H-1B program. Eliminating onerous regulations will make it easier to attract the best and brightest from around the globe to establish business roots here in America instead of in competing foreign economies.

Comprehensive immigration reform is vitally important if the American economy is to remain competitive.

The House of Representatives must ease the H-1B visa restrictions that put U.S. companies at a disadvantage. Congress must help American business, not harm them.

Sen. Brad Hutto

Orangeburg

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