Shusterman’s Immigration Update speculates about the incoming administration’s policy on immigration, and forecasts that it will be supportive of expanding the H-1B program (Bill Gate’s programmers). Since the Bush administration has been supportive of H-1B against Congressional resistance, this does not herald a change in White House policy.
Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona, will head the Department of Homeland Security. Arizona has been perhaps the most contentious state in dealing with illegal immigrants. I hope that she has learned from that how to craft reform legislation that will appeal to moderates. Credibility of enforcement will be a key element in getting a reform bill enacted.
Excerpt from the Update:
We believe that the fact that Hispanics and Asian-Americans voted two-to-one to elect Senator Obama, and supported many other pro-immigration legislators, the new administration and Congress will take steps to acknowledge this support including passage of the DREAM Act and other long-stalled legislation.
President-Elect Obama was not specifically asked his positions on easing immigration restrictions on high-skilled workers. However, just after the election, Computerworld magazine had this to say about Obama’s likely policies concerning H-1B visas:
“President-Elect Barack Obama has supported the H-1B visa program and wants to make changes to green cards that would help tech firms. There wasn’t much said about this issue during the presidential campaign, especially after Wall Street collapsed. It also never came up in the debates between Obama and Republican John McCain. Now we’re in a recession and unemployment is rising. Can Obama push ahead on tech-related immigration issues at this time? He might, and in this FAQ, here’s an explanation of how that might happen.”
Google’s CEO Eric Schimdt, an economic adviser to Obama would clearly like to see the H-1B program expanded according to Computerworld:
“Schmidt laid out a wish list for legislation in the next Congress, with patent reform and loosened standards for allowing foreign graduate students to stay and work in the U.S. at the top of the list. Schmidt’s call for allowing more foreign workers to come to the U.S. may conflict with Obama’s; the president elect has been cool to the idea of expanding immigration programs such as the H-1B skilled worker program.
The U.S. should want the best and brightest workers to remain here, Schmidt said. Making foreign students go home after educating them is ‘bizarre, it’s disgusting,’ Schmidt said.”
Significantly, President-Elect Obama’s choice of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as the new DHS Secretary may be good news for foreign-born professional workers. Governor Napolitano is clearly in favor of expanding the H-1B program. She signed on to a bipartisan letter to President Bush supporting the expansion of the H-1B program. As Arizona’s Governor, she expressed reservations about the building of a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. She famously stated that deporting 11 million workers was a “joke” and was not “reality-based”. However, Napolitano’s immigration views are more nuanced than can be explained in a single paragraph. See an excellent analysis of her views at