Tech Companies Promote Immigration Reform in Meetings with Congress

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Impatient with the current state of immigration discussions in Congress, some high-tech companies have started their own programs to support undocumented children and young adults who want to attend college and legally build careers in the United States. Tech companies have also lobbied Congress to allow more legal immigration, explicitly stating that to do so will allow America to remain competitive globally. They are pushing for Congress to enact the DREAM Act, legislation that would have offered a path to legal status for certain youths, but which failed to pass in 2010.

A group of technology companies known as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is lobbying Congress for immigration reform. The news is currently dominated by the highly controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and other pending bills that deal with technological privacy, security, and intellectual property issues. Immigration plays a role in these discussions, since the tech companies want as many highly-educated and motivated youths studying technology in the United States as possible. Allowing as broad a base of students as possible to study in the U.S. and then stay here for jobs after they graduate, these companies argue, will improve America’s competitiveness with other countries.

Members of Congress have introduced various versions of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act since 2001. It passed the House of Representatives by a slim margin in December 2010, but the Senate failed to pass it during that session. The bill, had it become law, would have given certain qualified undocumented youths an opportunity to gain permanent residence. Youth who spent two years serving in the military or enrolled at a four-year college could obtain temporary residency valid for six years. If they completed a degree program or served at least another two years of honorable military service during those six years, they could obtain permanent residence. Congress has not considered a similar bill since 2010.

Several California tech companies, reportedly frustrated by the lack of progress on immigration reform in Washington, have been providing funding and support to undocumented youths seeking to attend college. Some companies fund scholarships directly, while others support organizations that offer career counseling, legal support, and scholarships to undocumented students. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, described the lack of reform from Congress as “devastating for these young students and tragic for the country,” according to the Wall Street Journal. She was one of the first tech leaders to actively promote the DREAM Act several years ago.

Laws regulating the employment of immigrants make it difficult to provide undocumented students with opportunities to gain work experience. The law imposes both civil and criminal sanctions against companies who knowingly hire employees without legal immigration status. Some tech companies are considering offering unpaid internship to students in these programs. While it may not pay a college student’s bills, an unpaid internship can give an undocumented student an opportunity to gain relevant work experience, connect the student with prospective employers, and even introduce the student to the company that will sponsor them for a work visa after they graduate.

The United States immigration system is often complicated and confusing. For a free and confidential consultation with a skilled and experienced Ohio immigration visa lawyer, contact Gus Shihab online or at (800) 625-3404 today.

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