Schwarzenegger continues immigration push

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has joined 12 of his colleagues in calling on congressional leaders to increase the availability of visas for highly skilled workers.

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In a letter sent Tuesday to Democratic and Republican leaders, the governors say their states face a critical shortage of highly skilled professionals in math and science. Until this shortage is addressed, the governors wrote, “we must recognize that foreign talent has a role to play in our ability to keep companies located in our state and country.”

Besides calling for relief through an increase in the 65,000 H-1B visas allotted for skilled workers, the governors point to the huge backlog in applicants for green cards.

“While wholesale immigration reform may not be possible in the 110th Congress, we urge congressional action this year that recognizes states’ immediate need to recruit and retain professionals in key sectors while we continue to produce here at home the skilled workforce our companies need in the long term,” the letter said.

Besides Schwarzenegger, the letter was signed by Govs. Christine Gregoire (D-Wash.), Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.), Bill Ritter (D-Colo.), Dave Freudenthal (D-Wyo.), Deval Patrick (D-Mass.), Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.), Janet Napolitano (D-Ariz.), Jim Doyle (D-Wis.), Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusJerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Mark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE (D-Kan.), Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) and Rick Perry (R-Texas).

Efforts to approve a comprehensive immigration reform bill failed in the Senate, but there has been talk about moving parts of that larger bill, such as provisions intended to deal with the shortage of agriculture workers, and an increase in H-1B visas for highly skilled workers.

“The urgency for additional H-1Bs and green cards hasn’t changed, which is why we’re continuing to talk to members of Congress about short-term and long-term relief,” said Robert Hoffman, vice president of congressional and legislative affairs for Oracle Corp.

He noted that there is a huge backlog of highly skilled green card applicants in the U.S., many of whom have been waiting in excess of five years for a green card.