Google executive: Split high-skilled immigration from other reforms

Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt is calling on Congress to separate high-skilled immigration reform from other comprehensive changes. 

"All I'm asking is separate out this specific thing which will materially improve economic growth, it is good for many, many industries not just our own, it's good for politicians, more revenue more jobs," he said during a conversation Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute. 

ADVERTISEMENT

At a later point, he added, congress can "deal with the other immigration issue, which are very serious and very important, separately."

Schimdt said there is widespread support for increasing the number of high-skilled — or H-1B — visas. But lawmakers have tried for decades to attach those reforms to more politically difficult immigration issues, like a path to citizenship. 

The technology industry has been making the case to separate high-skilled immigration out for the past two decades, he lamented. 

"You can never get a political solution because that is seen as a good thing and all the other political issues involving immigration are difficult," he said. 

President Obama and other Democrats for years have advocated a comprehensive approach. That prospect is unlikely given the current climate. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced proposals that would raise the number of high-skilled visas from 65,000 per year to between 115,000 and 195,000 per year, depending on the market and demand. But a hearing Tuesday showed that proposal is far from gaining universal support.

— This post was corrected 5:44 p.m.