Microsoft tells lawmakers to reform high-skill immigration

But Ronil Hira, a professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, argued that foreign workers are actually displacing American workers in the technology industry. 

“For at least the past five years the employers receiving the most H-1B and L-1 visas are using them to offshore tens of thousands of high-wage, high-skilled American jobs,” Hira said, referring to visa programs aimed at recruiting high-skilled workers. He said the technology industry is suffering from job losses along with the rest of the economy.  

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyCruz: Precedent exists for keeping Supreme Court short-staffed Sanders to Justice Department: Block AT&T purchase of Time Warner Freeing the False Claims Act MORE (R-Iowa) said companies should hire American workers before turning to foreigners. He asked Smith, “Why is it so much to ask for your company to look for American workers first and foremost?” 

Smith argued further bureaucratic restrictions on hiring foreign workers would hamper businesses.  

Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsMcCain: Accepting election results is 'American way' GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORE (R-Ala.) took Smith to task for Microsoft’s role in supporting comprehensive immigration reform.

“I just have to say to my high-tech friends, you guys made a mistake when you endorsed a bill that did little for high-tech workers that basically would have undermined the lawfulness of our immigration system,” Sessions said.

Democrats and Republicans agreed reforming high-skill immigration programs should be a priority.

“If we agreed to deal with this problem, we could fix this,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynPotential Cruz challenger: 'Don't close off your options' Report: Investor visa program mainly funds wealthy areas GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Texas) said. But he expressed skepticism for the prospects of comprehensive immigration reform that Democrats on the panel said they preferred.

"This is an area that America aches for reform," said Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerChasing away scalpers only hurts consumers Reid: 'I have set the Senate' for nuclear option Immigration was barely covered in the debates MORE (D-N.Y.).