Immigration reform tops Obama menu

WASHINGTON (TIP): US President Obama on October 24 asked the Republican-majority House of Representatives to pass by the year end a stalled immigration bill over which India has expressed concern. “Let’s see if we can get it done this year. Let’s not wait. It doesn’t get easier to just put it off. Let’s do it now. Let’s not delay. Now it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not,” Obama said in a White House speech.If enacted into law the bill will pave the way for citizenship of 11 million undocumented people and accelerate immigration of science and technology professionals from India and China. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed India’s concern over the comprehensive immigration bill, already passed by the Senate. Certain provisions of the bill, in particular those related to H-1B and L1 visas, will adversely impact top Indian IT companies doing business in the US. Obama said the current immigration system is broken. “It’s not smart; it’s not fair; it doesn’t make sense. We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long,” he said.

“It’s not smart to invite some of the brightest minds from around the world to study here and then not let them start businesses here. We’ve sent them back to their home countries to start businesses and create jobs and invent new products someplace else,” he said. The Senate passed the bill in June. The plan, crafted and approved with Senate Republican support, would strengthen the border with Mexico and reorganise the visa system to give priority to high-demand fields, including engineers and farm workers.Meanwhile, the US-India Business Council (USIBC) is keeping a close eye on the bill on the House version of the bill to protect the interest of the Indian companies. PTIand US businesses with ties with India. “USIBC plans on being absolutely vigilant in the coming weeks and months with its Coalition for Jobs and Growth, with Patton Boggs leading the lobby effort, to ensure that when the Immigration Reform Bill reawakens and begins to gain traction that we are in front of it and doing our best to educate lawmakers to make certain the discriminatory provisions are excised from any final Bill,” USIBC president Ron Somers said. “We will continue to sensitise the Senate as to these harmful provisions, while working with the House to ensure a clean bill, so that when legislation goes to conference we will have champions in both chambers to ensure a clean outcome,” Somers said.

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