PR power drove visa bill's passage

WASHINGTON, DC: American Business for Legal Immigration (ABLI), Dittus Communications and the US tech industry celebrated a major victory last Tuesday when the Senate voted 96 to one to lift the cap on how many H-1B visas the INS can issue annually.

WASHINGTON, DC: American Business for Legal Immigration (ABLI), Dittus Communications and the US tech industry celebrated a major victory last Tuesday when the Senate voted 96 to one to lift the cap on how many H-1B visas the INS can issue annually.

WASHINGTON, DC: American Business for Legal Immigration (ABLI), Dittus Communications and the US tech industry celebrated a major victory last Tuesday when the Senate voted 96 to one to lift the cap on how many H-1B visas the INS can issue annually.

The move will allow 80,000 extra foreign workers into the country each year to fill empty seats at tech companies. The bill passed easily through the House and is expected to get the signature of the president.

'This victory was a long time coming,' said Trudi Boyd, VP of Washington, DC-based Dittus, which performed government relations and PR work for ABLI. 'We've been working for over a year on this, handling media work, helping out on the Hill, placing Roll Call ads and passing out booklets on both the Senate and House side.'

'We did things this year we've never done before,' added Sandy Boyd, chairman of ABLI, a coalition of over 200 universities, professional associations and technology companies which was the primary force behind the campaign to pass the bill. 'We sent news about the issue every day. Once the bill passed, a staffer asked me if the 'Chinese water torture' would end now.'

The real challenge, according to Boyd, came in actually getting the bill to the floor in an election year crowded with pet legislation. 'It was never an issue of whether the votes were there,' she said. 'But to push this to the floor on time, we needed to let people know how important this was to the tech community.'

Passing the bill in the final days of the Congressional season aims a spotlight on the influence tech companies now hold over politics in America.

According to the DC-based Center for Responsive Politics, the computer industry has given over dollars 20 million in political contributions since January 1999 - three times as much as it did from 1995-'96.

Boyd said that the bill also faced opposition from organized labor and an array of 'well-funded anti-immigration groups.' The AFL-CIO opposed it on the grounds that allowing more foreign workers into the country would take work away from Americans. As a concession, for every H-1B visa issued, the sponsoring company must pay dollars 500-dollars 1000 toward a fund to educate US workers in hi-tech skills.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in