Tech flips the script on immigration foes

A group representing major U.S. tech companies is renewing the industry's calls for immigration reform by keeping track of the number of jobs that it says are not created under the current system.

"Every few seconds of every business day, America loses another job that would have been created by a high-skilled immigrant who couldn’t get a work visa," Scott Corley, executive director of Compete America, said in a statement.

Corley's group — which includes Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and the Chamber of Commerce — added to its website Wednesday a counter that tallies the number of U.S. jobs not created due to limits on H-1B work visas.

The tactic flips the script on immigration reform foes, who have argued that an overhaul would cause wages to fall and unemployment to rise.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) last year said that the tech industry's push for more H-1B visas would allow companies to export more jobs.

"What you won’t hear from these companies is that the ‘reform’ they have in mind is doubling the number of guest workers who are brought in each year just to fill jobs — despite high unemployment," he said.

The H-1B visas allow companies to bring on high-skilled immigrants for specialized jobs. Increasing the number of H-1B visas available to tech companies has been a top priority for the industry, as it pushes for immigration reform in Congress.

Corley said his group's new counter "takes an abstract debate and brings it to life with real numbers."

According to Compete America, the country does not create 500,000 jobs every year due to immigration limits, including "not only scientists and engineers who could fill vacant high-skilled jobs, but also the additional jobs that these scientists and engineers would create." Divided by 50 work weeks, the American economy loses 2,000 new jobs per workday or one job every 63 seconds, the group said.

"The most efficient and effective way to create jobs in America is to increase the number of H-1B visas issued," Corley said.

"Until that happens, we’ll keep track of how many jobs are being lost on the Jobs Loss Calculator.”

— This story was updated at 3:50 p.m.