Fact Sheet: American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (10/17/00)
|                                                                         |
|                    THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION:                     |
|                     AND ADDITIONAL SKILLED WORKERS                      |
|                             October 17, 2000                            |
|                                                                         |

President  Clinton  today  signed new legislation to increase the number of
H-1B  visas available to bring in highly skilled foreign temporary workers,
and  to  double  the fee charged to employers using the program in order to
provide  critical  funding  for  training  U.S.  workers and students. Many
companies  report  that  their  number  one  constraint  on  growth  is the
inability  to hire workers with the necessary skills. S. 2045, the American
Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act, and the untitled H.R. 5362
together recognize the importance of allowing additional skilled workers to
work  in  the  United States in the short run, while supporting longer-term
efforts  to  prepare  American  workers  for the jobs of the new economy by
increasing  our  investments in education and training.  The President also
called  on  Congress  to  ensure fairness for immigrants who have lived and
worked  in  this  country  for  years  for passing the Latino and Immigrant
Fairness Act.

Together, these laws accomplish a number of key Administration priorities:
?  Increase the number of H-1B visas available to 195,000 for each of the
next three years (prior law would have capped the visas at 107,500 for FY
2001, and 65,000 for subsequent years);
?  Increase the fee charged to employers using the H-1B program from $500
per visa to $1000, and direct the majority of these funds to training U.S.
workers.  In FY 2001 alone, the new legislation will generate an estimated
$170 million in additional funds to educate and train U.S. students and
workers, including an estimated additional:
?  $101 million to the Labor Department to fund projects to train U.S.
workers seeking the necessary skills for jobs for which employers seek H-1B
?  $69 million for the National Science Foundation to provide scholarships
to low-income individuals pursuing degrees in math, engineering or computer
science and to support programs to improve K-12 education in math, science
and technology.
?  Generate, through the increased fees, an estimated $15 million of
additional funds this year for the Departments of Labor and Justice for
program administration and enforcement.
?  Extend the hard-won protections for U.S. workers included in the
American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998.

The President is concerned that certain provisions in the legislation
could, in some cases: 1) weaken existing protections designed to ensure
that the H-1B program does not undercut the wages and working conditions of
U.S. workers; and 2) increase the vulnerability of H-1B workers to any
unscrupulous employers using the program. The President has directed the
Immigration and Naturalization Service, in consultation with the
Departments of State and Labor, to monitor the impact of these provisions
to determine whether the next Congress should revisit these changes to the
H-1B program:
?  H-1B Visa Portability would allow an H-1B visa holder to work for an
employer who has not yet been approved for H-1B program participation.
?  Extensions of H-1B Visa Status could have the unintended consequence of
allowing an H-1B visa holder applying for permanent resident status to
remain in H-1B status well beyond the current six-year limit on H-1B visas
while waiting for a permanent visa to become available.

The  President  remains  committed  to ensuring fairness for immigrants who
have  been  in  this  country for years, working hard and paying taxes. The
Latino  and  Immigrant Fairness Act (LIFA) will allow people who have lived
here for fifteen years or more, and established families and strong ties to
their  communities,  to become permanent residents.  It will also amend the
Nicaraguan  Adjustment  and  Central American Relief Act (NACARA) to extend
the same protections currently offered to people from Cuba and Nicaragua to
immigrants  from  Honduras,  Guatemala,  El Salvador, Haiti and Liberia who
fled  to  this country to escape serious hardships.  Finally, it will allow
families  to  stay together while their applications for permanent resident
status  are being processed.  The President continues to strongly insist on
passage of the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act this year, before Congress

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