Schwarzenegger says immigration bill could send jobs 'offshore'

Here we go again. Just when President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) thought every crazy, right-wing wacko had gone hoarse screaming about the incomprehensive immigration bill, yet another Republican chimes in to express concerns over the specifics of the bill. Except this Republican is anything but right-wing. In fact, he’s about as liberal as they come. And he’s related to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the bill’s authors.

That’s right, rabidly moderate California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter today to Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressing reservations with the bipartisan immigration bill that fails to ensure an adequate number of work visas for highly skilled workers and went so far as to imply the immigration bill could result in the unintended consequence of outsourcing labor to foreign markets.

Schwarzenegger warns:

“California's knowledge-based businesses are the most innovative in the world and have fueled much of our nation's economic growth over the past decades. … To remain globally competitive, these industries must have the skilled workers they need and be able to draw from a pool of foreign talent. Although I support the bill's effort to increase temporary H-1B visas it is critical that the annual level be based on the actual workforce needs of these sectors and not an arbitrary cap. The current caps of 65,000 for skilled professionals and 20,000 for holders of advanced degrees have proven to be far less than what is needed. … The H-1B program must also be enforced in a way that does not impose unnecessary, costly administrative burdens on law-abiding U.S. businesses. I am concerned that the current bill may make the H-1B program harder to administer, especially for smaller businesses, such as technology start-ups, and force these companies to consider moving critical functions, including product development, to facilities offshore.” (Emphasis added.)

The governor goes on in the letter to express his “greatest concern,” which is the proposal’s points-based system for awarding green cards, stating: “Replacing the current employer-based system, where companies can identify the specific skills needed and sponsor qualified immigrants, with an untested system run by the government threatens the very foundation of the program and must be amended.”

There may be no greater advocate in America today for immigration than Arnold Schwarzenegger — a once-scrawny kid who made his way to this country with less than $50 in his pocket and achieved enormous success as a bodybuilder, actor, businessman and politician. And yet he has legitimate concerns about this immigration bill.

Then again, the Austrian Oak may just be another “bigot,” as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calls opponents of illegal immigration, who needs to “shut up.”