Tech says GOP principles a 'step forward'

Tech companies and groups rallied behind a set of immigration reform principles released by House Republican leaders Thursday.

The tech industry has been a vocal supporter of immigration reform, saying that companies need more high-skilled immigrants to meet the demands for talent within the tech sector and boost the economy overall.

The GOP principles released Thursday — which include endorsing a path to legal status for immigrants who are currently here illegally — are a promising step in the right direction, tech companies and trade groups said.

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“If America is going to remain the global leader of the innovation economy, we need a more robust high-skilled pipeline that will feed our growing industries with the best talent available to build jobs in the U.S.," Microsoft Vice President of Government Affairs Fred Humphries said in a statement, calling the GOP principles "an important step forward."

Humphries called for immigration reform "as soon as possible."

"The principles specifically support the need for high-skilled foreign professionals in the United States, which research shows will enhance the employment prospects for tens of thousands of America workers," he said.

Joe Green — president of the Mark Zuckerberg-backed FWD.us, a vocal pro-immigration reform voice for the tech industry — called the GOP principles "another important step toward fixing our broken immigration system."

In his statement, Green called on Congress to pass an immigration reform bill this year.

"We believe the time for reform is now, and we join Americans of all backgrounds in calling for passage of reform in 2014," he said.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association — which includes Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo — said the principles indicate that Congress could pass a bill this year.

“The document’s commitment to a bipartisan solution responds to the President’s call for both parties in the House to get reform done this year," the group's CEO Ed Black said in a statement.

Black, citing the Republican principles, said his group looks "forward to enactment of immigration reform that results in visa and green card allocations that 'reflect the needs of employers and the desire of these exceptional individuals to help grow our economy.' "

Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Industry Technology Council, applauded the principles and called on Congress to act this year "for one simple reason: Immigration is innovation."

Garfield's group includes Google, Apple and IBM.

"If we want next-generation industries to be founded in the U.S., then our policymakers must seize this moment and produce bipartisan legislation," he said in a statement.