“We should do everything possible to retain highly educated foreign professionals already in this country whose companies want them to stay, and those individuals seeking advanced degrees at our college and universities,” they said in the letter.
Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have gotten behind Schumer, who listed high-skilled immigration as one of seven pillars he would incorporate into his overhaul. A Schumer-Graham bill is expected to be introduced in February.
The Center for American Progress, the think tank led by John Podesta, is the primary outside group working with the White House and Senate members on the issue. High-skilled workers will only be part of the debate, which will also include curbing illegal immigration, a biometric-based employer verification system and a proposal to create a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
CAP will also be working with a number of industries—technology, agriculture, healthcare—and minority and community groups that all have different concerns and priorities when it comes to immigration.
“It’s about job creation,” said Ralph Hellmann, senior vice president of the Information Technology Industry Council. “High-skilled people come here and create businesses. When we innovate, we create big companies.”
He pointed out that some of the biggest technology success stories—Intel, Google, Ebay and Yahoo—were founded by people born outside the United States.