Apple CEO Tim Cook calls on U.S. Senate to pass immigration reform

Today Apple CEO Tim Cook called on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that would phase out per-country limits on green cards.

Kif Leswing for CNBC:

The support for the stalled legislation is both a sign of Cook’s personal interest in immigration policy as well as Apple’s interest in making immigration easier for many of its employees who live in California but often face challenges obtaining a green card.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants act passed the House in September by a vote of 365-65 and now needs to be passed in the Senate and approved by the president before it goes into effect. It’s been referred to the Senate Judiciary committee but no vote is scheduled.

The legislation, if passed, would substantially change the current immigration system by eliminating a per-country cap that advocates say effectively makes it harder to immigrate from a bigger country versus a smaller country. Many migrants with visas face long backlogs to get permission to permanently immigrate, called a green card.

MacDailyNews Take: The bill’s sponsor, U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), said in a statement in September:

…Section 1152 of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that the total number of employment-based visas “made available to natives of any single foreign state… in any fiscal year may not exceed 7 percent… of the total number of such visas made available.”

That rather antiseptic language, technical and clinical on its face, is, on closer inspection, deeply out of step with this country’s commitment to nondiscrimination and equal treatment before the law.

In practice, section 1152’s seven percent cap on immigrants from any one country means that, if two immigrants apply for an employment-based visa at precisely the same moment, and have the exact same skills and education, one of them may wait 12 months for a green card while his counterpart languishes in the green card backlog for decades. The only factor that accounts for this gross and unfair disparity of treatment is the fact that the second immigrant happened to have been born in a different country than the first.

This is because, under the per-country cap system, immigrants from larger countries are only eligible to receive the same number of green cards annually as immigrants from smaller countries. As a result, the wait times for immigrants from larger countries have grown and grown, decade after decade, with no end in sight.

This amounts to de facto country-of-origin discrimination – plain and simple – and no amount of legalese or wonkish policy arguments can cover up that fact.

Fortunately, the solution to these problems is not only straightforward, but agreed upon by a broad, bipartisan coalition of senators. We must simply eliminate the per-country caps in order to ensure a fair and reasonable allocation of employment-based green cards. That is exactly what the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would accomplish.

Without the per-country caps, our skills-based green card system would operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, ensuring that immigrants are admitted into the United States purely based on their merit, rather than their country-of-origin. This reform would also ensure that the hardships caused by decades-long wait times are eliminated.

The bill also contains key reforms to the current H-1B system to prevent the fraud and abuse that is currently undermining wages for American workers.

First, the bill strengthens law enforcement powers to police the H-1B system by empowering the Department of Labor to conduct annual compliance audits of all H-1B employers.

Second, the bill requires H-1B employers to advertise the jobs it wants to fill to American workers first.

Third, the bill closes the B-1 loophole H-1B employers often use to bring foreign workers here on a temporary basis before transferring them to the H-1B program.

Read the full bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act .


    1. Small countries have engineers, too. If you have evidence that Apple is paying green card holders less than US citizens, I’m sure the Department of Labor and the EEOC would love to hear it. The bill Apple is supporting would increase the penalties for that sort of thing. However, some folks won’t be satisfied by anything short of a total ban on legal immigration.

      Actually, The Trump Administration today showed the way forward on all our border issues. At the suggestion of the Vice President and others in the Evangelical base, America can fully embrace the Golden Rule by having others do unto us as we have done onto others.

      We can designate a 20-mile deep Safe Zone within the United States along the entire southern border, to be patrolled by the Mexican Army and resettled by refugees after all the American citizens in the.Zone have taken advantage of the President’s generous offer of a 120-hour ceasefire to withdraw peacefully from their homes before they are expelled by force. To avoid further clashes between Americans and Mexicans, the Russian Army and Iranian-supported militias can be stationed to keep the peace north of the Zone. If we can do this to the Kurds, how can we complain about doing it to ourselves?

      To paraphrase Saint Teresa of Avila, if this is how the United States treats its allies, how would it treat its enemies? I’m sure the Evangelicals (to say nothing of the Israelis) think that the creation of an Iranian sphere of influence incorporating all the Shiites fom Southern Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan is a great idea!

      Against that grand plan, the relatively mild proposals from Apple seem pretty moderate.

  1. Oh, malarkey, Tim. He’s just pissed the avalanche of H1-Bs has come under scrutiny. I have zero respect for this man. If half this effort and clout were put into straightening out our own educational system, this would he a non-issue. Good luck getting a bleeding heart focused on bottom line like Tim to even consider it. Enough already.

  2. On Youtube type “H1B is Slavery” and you can find dozens of videos on the topic, including from the point of view of engineers who have been employed on a H1B visa . . . These H1B visa holders should have the same freedom to jump from job to job and seek out better wages as an American employee . . . If Apple is truly seeking the “most talented” engineers in the world, then they should be willing to pay top dollar for them.

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