Sessions criticizes Gates's call for visas amid Microsoft layoffs

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) criticized Microsoft founder Bill Gates for calling on Congress to increase STEM worker visas while the company plans to cut 18,000 jobs next year.

“Super billionaires aren’t happy apparently. … They declare we need to import more foreign workers,” Sessions said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Mr. Gates says we need to let more and more people into our country to take those kinds of jobs.”

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Sessions was referring to an op-ed in which Gates called on the House to pass the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill. That legislation would increase the number of worker visas for immigrants in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Sessions pointed out that Microsoft announced Thursday that it plans to layoff nearly 20,000 workers in an effort to streamline. He said those workers should take priority over immigrants.

Sessions also cited a recent U.S. census reports that stated 75 percent of U.S. citizens with STEM degrees aren’t working in that field.

“We need them working first before we bring more people in,” Sessions said. “I don’t think you can make the argument that we have a labor shortage.”

Sessions has been an ardent critic of the Senate-passed immigration reform bill, which also would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants within the United States and increase spending for border security.