(Senate - January 25, 2018)

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[Pages S521-S524]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


      By Mr. HATCH (for himself and Mr. Flake):
  S. 2344. A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to 
authorize additional visas for well-educated aliens to live and work in 
the United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the 
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the pressing need 
to reform our high-skilled immigration system. This is an issue I've 
championed for a number of years and one that becomes only more urgent 
with each passing season.
  It is also an issue that I believe ties in directly with the recent 
discussions we have been having about merit-based immigration. As I 
said on the floor last week, high-skilled immigration is merit-based 
immigration. It is immigration targeted at the best, the brightest, and 
the most highly educated. It is immigration targeted at individuals who 
have the skills employers need. If we want to have a discussion about 
individuals who will add value to our economy, who will bring critical 
skills to the table, and who will help keep our country competitive, 
high-skilled immigration is what we should be talking about.
  For years, we have had a system for bringing high-skilled workers 
from other countries to the United States to fill jobs for which there 
is a shortage of American labor. This system does not replace American 
jobs. Rather, it supplements our workforce with talent from other 
countries in industries where there are simply not enough qualified 
American workers to meet demand.
  But the system is badly out of date. To begin with, it caps the 
number of high-skilled worker visas--also called H-1B visas--that 
employers can obtain each year at a number that is far below demand. 
This year, just like last year and the year before, USCIS reached the 
annual cap on H-1B visas within the first week that visa petitions 
could be submitted. In fact, during that single week, USCIS received 
over twice as many visa petitions as there were available visas.

[[Page S522]]

  Our laws also lack a straightforward path for companies to hire 
American-educated students from other countries on a permanent basis 
after graduation. We educate some of the world's best and brightest 
here in America and then send them back home because they can't get 
permanent work in the United States. That makes no sense. In fact, it 
is just plain stupid.
  There is also a significant backlog for skilled professionals and 
advanced degree holders who want to come to the United States on green 
cards. These are the very individuals we should be encouraging to come 
to our country--individuals who have the technical skills our science 
and technology companies need and who will earn good salaries and 
contribute meaningfully to our economy--and yet we respire them to wait 
years and years to obtain a green card. Again, you want to talk about 
merit-based immigration? These are the folks we should be welcoming to 
our country with enthusiasm. Instead, we throw up barrier after barrier 
until many simply give up.
  At the same time, a handful of companies have found ways to game the 
H-1B system to displace American employees with lower paid foreign 
workers. We have all seen the news stories: American workers told they 
are being replaced with foreign personnel and that if they want to 
receive a severance package or a positive employer reference, they 
better train their replacements. These stories disgust me as they 
should disgust all Americans. Under no circumstances should an employer 
be able to use a program that was designed to mitigate workforce 
shortages to put hardworking Americans out of a job. That was never the 
intent of the H-1B program, and it must not be allowed to continue.
  There are also other problems with the H-1B program that we need to 
fix. Too often, large employers crowd out small businesses by 
submitting far more visa petitions than they actually need. This 
practice can lead to wasted visas and puts small employers at a 
significant disadvantage in the H-1B lottery.
  Another problem concerns H-1B workers who wish to transition to green 
card status. Because of the significant backlog in employment-based 
green cards, high-skilled workers who wish to come to the United States 
on a permanent basis often start out on H-1B visas, and because of 
quirks in our immigration laws, these workers must stay with their 
original sponsoring employers until green cards become available, which 
may take 10 years or longer. During this time, the employee may be 
forced to accept below-market wages or suboptimal working conditions 
just to stay in the green card queue. If the employee were to take a 
higher paying, or better, job at another company, the employee would 
lose his or her place in the green card line. This creates a power 
imbalance between H-1B workers and employers that leads to a whole host 
of issues.
  So there are a number of problems we need to address with our high-
skilled immigration system.
  That's why today I am introducing my Immigration Innovation Act, or 
I-Squared, to bring our high-skilled immigration system into the 21st 
century. This critical legislation contains reforms that will end 
abuse, provide a clearer path for individuals educated in the United 
States to stay in the United States, and enable employers more easily 
to hire the talent they need.
  I would like to thank my good friend from Arizona, Senator Flake, for 
cosponsoring I-Squared. Senator Flake and I have worked together for a 
long time on this issue, and I am grateful for his leadership.
  Many of my colleagues are familiar will I-Squared. I have introduced 
previous versions in the last two Congresses. The version I am 
introducing today, however, has a number of important changes. In many 
ways, it is a different bill. Allow me to highlight some of the 
  Like previous versions, my updated I-Squared bill raises the annual 
H-1B cap to better meet market demand. In fact, it ties the cap to 
market demand so that the cap increases and decreases as demand 
increases and decreases. It also enables H-1B workers to change jobs 
without losing their H-1B status and allows foreign students attending 
American universities to declare an intent to stay in the United States 
following graduation so they can more easily secure full-time 
employment. Lastly, the bill authorizes the recapture of unused green 
cards from previous years and eliminates per-country green card caps, 
which unfairly discriminate against individuals from countries with 
larger numbers of applicants.
  Here is what is new to I-Squared this Congress.
  First, and most importantly, the bill creates an express prohibition 
on hiring an H-1B worker with the purpose and intent to replace an 
American worker. That was never the intent of the H-1B program and must 
not be allowed to happen.
  Second, the bill creates an express prohibition on conditioning an 
employee's pay or severance on training an H-1B replacement.
  Third, the bill raises the level-1 wage employers must pay to prevent 
employers from using H-1B workers to undercut labor costs.
  Fourth, the bill updates the 1998 law that exempts H-1B employers 
from certain recruitment and non-displacement requirements if the 
employer pays its H-1B employees a high enough salary. Specifically, 
the bill raises the salary threshold to match inflation and eliminates 
the exemption altogether for particularly heavy users of H-1Bs.
  Fifth, the bill imposes penalties on employers who file more H-1B 
petitions than they need to prevent large, cash-rich employers from 
freezing out small businesses. All of these provisions will work to 
tamp down on the abuses we have seen in the H-1B system.
  My updated I-Squared bill will also end the problem of H-1B workers 
who are on the path to a green card from being locked into their 
current jobs by enabling such workers to change jobs earlier in the 
process without losing their places in the green card line, and it 
creates a new, streamlined green card process for high-skilled workers 
who wish to come to the United States on a permanent basis to obtain 
conditional residency without having to use the cumbersome H-1B system.
  Many of the problems with our current H-1B program stem from the fact 
that workers seeking temporary employment and workers seeking long-term 
employment are funneled into the same system. My updated I-Squared bill 
will help separate these two employment streams in ways that will 
benefit both employers and employees.
  Finally, my updated I-Squared bill will provide nearly $1 billion in 
new funding for STEM education and worker training programs without 
raising a single cent in taxes. It does this by increasing fees for H-
1B petitions and green cards and directing the new funding to State 
block grants for STEM training.
  In many ways, this last piece is the most important provision of I-
Squared. The STEM disciplines--science, technology, engineering, and 
math--are going to be critical to our country's success in the coming 
decades. Increased funding for STEM education and worker training 
programs will help ensure that we have the workforce we need to succeed 
in the global economy. It will help produce more graduates with the 
computer science and engineering skills high-tech employers require. It 
will enable workers displaced by globalization and the changing economy 
to acquire new, in-demand skills so they can restart their careers, and 
if we're successful, increased STEM funding may even reduce the demand 
for H-1B and other skilled visas in the first place because it will 
better align our workforce with employer needs.
  I-Squared is supported by a broad coalition of tech commies, trade 
associations, and other job creators. I ask unanimous consent at this 
time to be printed in the Record a number of letters in support of the 
bill, including letters from the Information Technology Industry 
Council and the Semiconductor Industry Association. Other key 
stakeholders who will be issuing statements of support include 
Microsoft, Facebook, the Internet Association, and the Software 
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

[[Page S523]]


                                 Washington, DC, January 22, 2018.
     Re Immigration Innovation Act of 2018.

     Hon. Orrin Hatch,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Hatch: On behalf of the 60 members of the 
     Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), I write to 
     express our strong support for your legislation, the 
     Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act of 2018. ITI is the 
     voice of the high-tech community, advocating for policies 
     that advance U.S. leadership in technology and innovation, 
     open access to new and emerging markets, protect and enhance 
     consumer choice, and encourage domestic and global 
     competition. Our membership includes companies from all 
     verticals of the technology sector, including semiconductor, 
     network equipment, software, digital services, hardware, 
     mobile device, and internet companies.
       We have long advocated for changes to our immigration 
     system that allow employers to attract and retain the world's 
     best and highly-educated employees so that we can continue to 
     innovate and compete in a global marketplace. Our members are 
     committed to growing the U.S. economy and creating jobs for--
     and protecting--American workers. In fact, in the tech 
     sector, we are producing jobs faster than we can fill them. 
     In 2016, there were approximately 3.3 million science, 
     technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) job openings 
     posted online. By contrast, in that same year, U.S. 
     universities graduated 568,000 students with STEM degrees. To 
     meet this job demand, it is vital we not only provide STEM 
     education and training to more American students and workers, 
     but that we also ensure U.S.-based employers can recruit the 
     top talent from American universities and from abroad.
       The United States is in dire need of a renewed skilled 
     immigration system and the economic benefits of such reforms 
     could not be clearer. For example, over 230,000 additional 
     computer-related jobs would have been created for American 
     workers if not for the 2007 and 2008 H-1B visa petition 
     denials. Furthermore, more than half of the startup companies 
     valued at over $1 billion in the United States were founded 
     by at least one immigrant, many of whom initially came here 
     on H-1B visas. On average, each of these companies now 
     employs 760 Americans. Yet, our broken immigration system 
     continues to stymie such talent and future innovation.
       ITI welcomes the introduction of the I-Squared Act of 2018. 
     This critical legislation would upgrade our immigration 
     system for the 21st century economy in several ways. First, 
     it will reset the number of H-1B visas and allow their 
     availability to adjust to meet market demands. Second, it 
     reforms the green card system in ways that will reduce the 
     current backlog, and enable the most exceptional and highly-
     skilled foreign-born individuals to innovate, start new 
     companies, and advance their professional development and 
     success in the United States. Third, the legislation reflects 
     our industry's commitment to protect American workers, as 
     well as our support for domestic STEM education and training 
       The I-Squared Act is much-need legislation that will enable 
     skilled workers who wish to work in the United States to 
     propel American innovation, engender growth in our economy, 
     and help create jobs here at home. We commend you for your 
     diligence on this important issue and urge both the House and 
     Senate to support this important legislation.
                                                 Dean C. Garfield,
     President and CEO.


                                         Industry Association,

                                 Washington, DC, January 24, 2018.
     Hon. Orrin Hatch,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Hatch: On behalf the Semiconductor Industry 
     Association (SIA), I am writing to express our strong support 
     for the Immigration Innovation Act of 2018 (``I-Squared 
       High-skilled immigration reform is a critical priority for 
     the U.S. semiconductor industry. In order to compete 
     globally, SIA member companies require the talent of the best 
     and brightest scientists and engineers in the world. U.S. 
     colleges and universities attract the best students to 
     America to obtain advanced degrees in science, technology, 
     engineering and mathematics (STEM). Many of these students 
     significantly contribute to the U.S. innovation ecosystem 
     through federally and privately funded research during their 
     graduate training. Upon graduation, these highly educated 
     STEM graduates very often want to work in the U.S., but are 
     too often compelled to return to their home countries where 
     they compete with U.S. companies. This has the impact of 
     reducing the competitiveness of U.S. companies and 
     restricting growth of our economy.
       The I-Squared Act would strengthen the U.S. economy and 
     promote innovation by making important improvements to the H-
     1B and the green card programs. These necessary reforms will 
     help spur innovation and create thousands of high paying 
     manufacturing and research jobs here in America.
       SIA appreciates your leadership on the I-Squared Act, and 
     we look forward to working with you to ensure its prompt 
     enactment into law.
                                                     John Neuffer,
     President & CEO.

         Council for Global Immigration and Society for Human 
           Resource Management,
                                                 January 25, 2018.

        CFGI and SHRM Applaud Immigration Innovation Act of 2018

    The I-Squared bill is the right solution for employers and the 

       Alexandria, Va.--The Council for Global Immigration (CFGI) 
     and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) applaud 
     today's introduction of the Immigration Innovation Act of 
     2018 (I-Squared). The bill includes provisions to modernize 
     the high-skilled employment-based immigration system in a way 
     that would work for all who have a stake in immigration, 
     including employers and the workforce.
       The legislation, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) 
     and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), would establish a voluntary 
     trusted employer program, among other provisions. Consistent 
     with a CFGI proposal, a trusted employer program would make 
     the system more efficient for employers and the government.
       ``This legislation would ensure that employers acting in 
     good faith have access to the top global talent they need to 
     compete, while providing additional resources to train and 
     educate U.S. workers in high-demand STEM fields,'' said Lynn 
     Shotwell, executive director of CFGI. ``It would also reform 
     the H-1B program with enhanced protections for U.S. workers, 
     an important change that CFGI supports.
       ``We endorse the bill's provision that would keep today's 
     green card system in place, but provide a more direct path to 
     a green card when there are no able, willing or qualified 
     U.S. workers available,'' Shotwell continued. ``This option 
     would make it easier for professionals to accept employment 
     with new employers, a key change we support. We will include 
     this legislation in Congress as part of our advocacy efforts 
     to advance fair, innovative and competitive immigration 
       The members of CFGI and SHRM are working to create a 21st 
     century workplace that empowers employers and the workforce 
     to compete and win in an increasingly competitive global 
     economy. Building an immigration system that is fair, 
     innovative and competitive is a critical component to 
     realizing this goal.
       ``We applaud Senators Hatch and Flake for their commitment 
     to invest in the future of the U.S. workforce and modernize 
     our nation's outdated employment-based immigration system in 
     a way that works for the workforce,'' said Mike Aitken, 
     SHRM's vice president of government affairs.
       ``This legislation addresses many of the serious challenges 
     facing employers navigating the current maze of immigration 
     laws and regulations, including eliminating green card 
     backlogs and modernizing the H-1B visa system,'' Aitken 
     added. ``These reforms are a critical component to building 
     and supporting a 21st century workplace in which employers 
     and the workforce can thrive.''
       CFGI and SHRM are eager to work on the bill as it moves 

    SIIA Says I-Squared Act Is Critical for U.S. Economy and Global 

                            [Jan. 25, 2018]

       Washington D.C.--The Software & Information Industry 
     Association (SIIA) today welcomed the introduction of the 
     ``Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act of 2018,'' by 
     Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
       SIIA Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Mark 
     MacCarthy, issued the following statement:
       ``The U.S. IT industry--and the American economy more 
     broadly--has long benefited from the contributions of highly-
     educated workers, regardless of where they were born. The I-
     Squared Act will make critical reforms to the U.S. 
     immigration laws to help U.S. companies attract and retain 
     the best and most innovative employees from around the world.
       ``This bill will greatly enable continued U.S. innovation, 
     job creation, and economic expansion, while preventing abuses 
     of the H-1B program that could harm U.S. workers. The 
     legislation also promotes the American education system by 
     funding state grants to promote STEM education and training 
     in the U.S.
       ``SIIA thanks Senators Hatch and Flake for co-sponsoring 
     the I-Squared Act, and we look forward to working with them 
     and other congressional leaders to enact this critical 

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, there is a lot of debate about immigration 
right now. We all know that we need to do something about DACA. I know 
that as well as anyone. I have been working on a solution for the 
Dreamer population for a very long time, and we are going to find a 
solution. We also need to do something about border security and 
interior enforcement so we don't end up back in the same place 20 years 
from now.
  But we can walk and chew gum at the same time, and I think talking 
about merit-based immigration is a good thing. It is an important 

[[Page S524]]

  As we do so, we need to remember that we already have merit-based 
programs built into our existing immigration laws. The problem is those 
programs aren't working the way they are supposed to. They are not 
properly aligned with employer needs, and in their current set-up, 
there is too much room for waste and abuse.
  My I-Squared bill will fix both of those problems. It will help 
ensure we have the talent in our country that we need to succeed. It 
will also help equip the next generation of Americans to meet the 
demands of our increasingly tech-driven economy.
  I-Squared will also help put an end to the troubling abuses we have 
seen in the H-1B program and ensure that the program is used as it was 
intended--to supplement, not replace, American labor.
  I repeat what I said at the outset: High-skilled immigration is 
merit-based immigration. It is immigration targeted at the best, the 
brightest, and the most highly educated.
  As we debate how to improve our immigration system, let us keep in 
mind that we already have merit-based programs in our existing laws. 
Thinking outside the box is important, but it is also important not to 
overlook what is right here in front of us.
  My I-Squared bill will help ensure that we have a high-skilled 
immigration system that works, that meets employer needs, that keeps 
America competitive, and that prepares the next generation of Americans 
to succeed. It is commonsense legislation; It is balanced legislation; 
and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.
      By Mr. CORNYN (for himself, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Tillis, Mr. Brown, 
        Mr. Cruz, Mr. Heller, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Portman, and Mr. 
  S. 2345. A bill to amend the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 
2000 to provide additional resources to State and local prosecutors, 
and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of 
the bill be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be 
printed in the Record, as follows:

                                S. 2345

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Justice Served Act of 


       (a) Debbie Smith Dna Backlog Grant Program.--Section 2 of 
     the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 (34 U.S.C. 
     40701) is amended--
       (1) in subsection (a), by adding at the end the following:
       ``(9) To increase the capacity of State and local 
     prosecution offices to address the backlog of violent crime 
     cases in which suspects have been identified through DNA 
     evidence.''; and
       (2) in subsection (c), by adding at the end the following:
       ``(5) Allocation of grant awards for prosecutors.--For each 
     fiscal year, not less than 5 percent, but not more than 7 
     percent, of the grant amounts distributed under paragraph (1) 
     shall, if sufficient applications to justify such amounts are 
     received by the Attorney General, be awarded for purposes 
     described in subsection (a)(9), provided that none of the 
     funds required to be distributed under this paragraph shall 
     decrease or otherwise limit the availability of funds 
     required to be awarded to States or units of local government 
     under paragraph (3).''.
       (b) Prosecution of Cold Cases.--Of the amounts made 
     available to the Attorney General under section 2 of the DNA 
     Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 (34 U.S.C. 40701) 
     for a DNA Analysis and capacity enhancement program and for 
     other local, State, and Federal forensic activities for the 
     purpose described in section 2 of the DNA Analysis Backlog 
     Elimination Act of 2000 (34 U.S.C. 40701) under the heading 
     ``state and local law enforcement assistance'' under the 
     heading ``Office of Justice Programs'' under the heading 
     ``DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE'' in fiscal years 2019, 2020, 2021, 
     and 2022 not less than 5 percent, but not more than 7 
     percent, of such amounts shall be provided for grants for 
     prosecutors to increase the capacity of State and local 
     prosecution offices to address the cold cases involving 
     violent crime, where suspects have been identified through 
     DNA evidence.