Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., said today that he has joined a group of 10 U.S. senators in both parties to introduce a bill that reforms immigration laws for highly skilled immigrants working in science and technology.
The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 would increase the number of temporary visas available to such immigrants "so more can remain in the United States and contribute to U.S. innovation and economic growth."
This group is working on a parallel track from the bipartisan group of eight senators that on Monday presented an outline for a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would include stronger border security and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Earlier today, Gov. Bob McDonnell spoke favorably about that group's proposal, saying it is "on the right track."
Warner said he hopes the bill to boost temporary visas for highly skilled immigrants will become part of a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
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“Major employers have more jobs than they can fill with highly-trained Americans. These commonsense and overdue reforms to our high-skill immigration system will help promote innovation and economic growth across Virginia and across America,” Warner said in a statement. “Our bipartisan bill reflects the growing consensus that major reforms are needed to keep the best and brightest students and skilled workers, particularly in the fields of science, technology, math, and engineering, here in America. I am advocating for the inclusion of this proposal—and STEM green cards-- as part of the comprehensive immigration overhaul currently being discussed in Washington.”
In addition to Sen. Warner, the nine other cosponsors of the Immigration Innovation Act are Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Chris Coons, D-Delaware, Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, Dean Heller, R-Nev., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Rubio and Flake are members of both bipartisan Senate groups working on immigration reform.
McDonnell this morning spoke favorably about the proposed bipartisan Senate immigration overhaul outlined Monday..
"I think they're on the right path," McDonnell said on "The Daily Rundown" on MSNBC, noting that a fix has eluded lawmakers since 1986.
The nation needs a comprehensive solution that includes better border security, improved security within the U.S. and "a path to citizenship for those who are here" because the United States is not going to ship 12 million people to other countries, McDonnell said.
As for the argument that the plan offers amnesty, McDonnell said: "It's pretty tough love."
He noted that illegal immigrants now in the U.S. would pay penalties for violating the law and that they would have to learn English and study civics, among other requirements, before they would "get in the back of the line" behind other immigrants who already are in the system.
"I think it's in the ballpark," McDonnell said, noting that he is glad a bipartisan group is working on the issue.
President Barack Obama will present his thoughts on immigration reform this afternoon in Las Vegas.