Senate Immigration Group Courts Hatch to Generate Support

Image: Senate Immigration Group Courts Hatch to Generate Support

Friday, 17 May 2013 10:46 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The bipartisan group crafting the Senate's immigration reform legislation is working behind the scenes to secure the support of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch with the hope he can influence fellow GOP lawmakers to back the bill.

According to The Washington Post, a strong vote in the Senate with Hatch's help could also prompt House Speaker John Boehner to allow a vote even if many of his Republican colleagues oppose it.

Hatch has filed a number of amendments with the aim of relaxing visa limits for high-tech workers and eliminating a provision that requires companies to advertise jobs to U.S. applicants before opening them up to foreigners. He said he's concerned that if the bill is not amended, "high-tech companies will be forced to go overseas, they'll be forced to go there to get the help they need. If they accept what I think are changes that have to occur, they'll stay here."

According to the Post, some Democrats are skeptical of Hatch's commitment to immigration reform and say negotiations with him have been difficult. But other members of the bipartisan group of eight senators who authored the reform measure, including New York Democrat Chuck Schumer and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, are keen to get Hatch's support while protecting the most important elements of the legislation.

"I'm literally a man in the middle here," Graham said about Hatch's proposals to relax restrictions on H-1B visas for high-tech companies. "I understand that demographics are changing and we need robust access to labor, but I'm not in the camp of bringing the cheapest person you can find anywhere on the planet. I want to protect American workers, but I want to preserve access to affordable, legal labor."



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