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Alex Brandon, AP Photo, File

Sen. Orrin Hatch aims to eliminate caps on employment-based green cards

By Dennis Romboy, KSL  |  Posted May 22nd, 2018 @ 2:46pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — There is no good reason to force workers from large countries to wait longer for a green card simply because they come from highly populated nations, Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a speech Tuesday.

The Utah Republican said caps on the number of employment-based green cards — which give immigrants lawful resident status in the United States — have caused a backlog that favor small countries over large ones.

People from countries with relatively few emigrants to the United States face relatively short green card waits, while those from large countries like India and China face decadeslong delays, he said.

"We should care about skills, not country of origin," Hatch said at a panel discussion held by Compete America, which describes itself as a coalition of American employers aiming to create new jobs for Americans.

People from large countries who come to the United States on temporary worker visas end up stuck in limbo for years, unable to change jobs or seek advancement for fear of losing their place in the green card line, Hatch said. That, he added, creates a power imbalance between employer and employee that can lead to low wages and subpar working conditions

"It’s a real problem," he said.

In January, Hatch introduced the Immigration Innovation Act, or I-Squared, to ensure that employers are able to hire and retain workers with the skills they need.

The measure would end the per-country cap on employment-based green cards. It would also allow people on the path to a green card to file for adjustment of status once their employer has satisfied the labor market tests and obtained an approved immigrant petition.

"Immigration is a thorny subject, but these are two common sense changes that I believe can gain broad support and make a real difference for our country," Hatch said.

In an op-ed earlier his year, Hatch said he's not calling for a reduction in legal immigration, which he said has and always will be essential to the country’s success and economic prosperity.

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