Big Tech companies are expressing their support of an embattled immigration bill that would abolish per-country caps on employment visas ahead of a key House vote — just as the legislation faces opposition from both Republicans and Democrats.
The House is scheduled to vote on the bipartisan Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act later on Tuesday, one of a number of votes scheduled during the lame duck session of Congress.
The bill, which deals with legal immigration and has Republicans and Democratic co-sponsors, would remove per-country caps on the numbers of employment-based green cards available to nationals as a way to end an enormous backlog of green card applications. It would also increase the cap on family-based visas from 7% to 15%.
Most employment-based green cards are applied for from workers already in the U.S. on temporary visas, but due to the large number of Chinese and Indian nationals brought in by U.S. companies on those visas, nationals from those two countries face the largest backlogs.
The bill was supposed to be voted on last week but was delayed amid opposition from both conservative groups and some House Democrats.
As that vote looms, tech companies — which have long favored the reduction of per country caps — have re-asserted their backing for the bill, which will benefit many of their workers who are brought in on the H-1B high-skilled worker visa.
‘We are proud to support the EAGLE Act and are continuing advocate for common sense immigration reform on behalf of our employees and their families.,’ Amazon said in a statement. ‘We urge Congress to pass the #EAGLEAct, lifting unfair per-country visa caps for employment-based green cards.’
Intel said in a statement that it ‘strongly supports’ the passage of the bill, arguing that caps are ‘partially responsible for harmful, decades-long backlogs for high-skilled nationals of certain countries—including many valued Intel employees.’
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s associate general counsel tweeted that the tech behemoth has ‘long supported the #EagleAct and its core provisions of eliminating EB [employment-based] per country limits and improving fairness in the green card process.’
However, it is unclear if the backing from the tech groups will be able to move the needle amid both Democratic and GOP opposition.
Immigration hawks have been out in force opposing the bill, arguing that it would lead to Indian and Chinese nationals dominating the immigration system and incentivizing more applications. Meanwhile, Heritage Action last week highlighted what it said were fears about a national security threat from members of the Chinese Communist Party.
Journalist Pablo Manriquez reported that House Republican leadership was whipping against the bill, while it is unclear how much of the entire Democratic caucus is aligned with the bill.
Last week, Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-NY, warned in a letter to members of the Congressional Black Caucus that eliminating the country caps without a corresponding increase in visas would ‘result in a dearth of immigration opportunities for hopeful migrants outside these nations, with particular concern for those from African and Caribbean nations.’
‘This legislation comes up short in my estimation and I cannot support efforts that would perpetuate the current inequalities in our immigration system. I believe we can do better,’ she wrote.
The White House has issued a statement of support backing the bill.
‘As currently written, these changes would take effect over a nine-year transition period to ensure that no countries are excluded from receiving visas while the per-country caps are phased out,’ the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said in a statement of support, in which it said the bill would improve the immigration system and ‘ease the harsh effects of the immigration visa backlog.’