Washington business groups push pro-immigration policies

Michael Schutlzer of the Washington Technology Industry Association speaks at a press conference with other business leaders on immigration reform. (Photo by OneAmerica via Facebook.)
Michael Schutlzer of the Washington Technology Industry Association speaks at a press conference with other business leaders on immigration reform. (Photo by OneAmerica via Facebook.)

When software development manager Shivaas Gulati moved from Pittsburgh to Seattle to work for Remitly, an international mobile payment company, he figured processing the paperwork for his new work visa would take a couple of weeks.

But Gulati’s application got caught up in U.S. immigration bureaucracy and he ended up staying in India for months awaiting the approval to return to work in the United States.

“It was a five-month ordeal,” Gulati said. He said all he knew was that he had to wait. “They don’t tell you why it’s stuck.”

Gulalti was in the audience last week when his boss, Remitly CEO Matt Oppenheimer, joined several Washington state business organizations and OneAmerica last week for the release of a report that supports the expansion of immigration, including increasing the ability of companies to recruit and hire internationally, easing paths for international students to get jobs and creating ways for undocumented immigrants to become authorized to stay in the United States.

The report outlines the impact of immigration on Washington’s economy

Last week’s announcement was part of a nationwide roll-out of similar reports in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, organized by the Partnership of a New American Economy. The coalition says it is bipartisan and is not pushing for particular candidates, though the group acknowledged the anti-immigration sentiments that are fueling many voters and candidates.

Other speakers included Michael Schutzler, President, Washington Technology Industry Association; Rich Stolz, OneAmerica executive director; Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce; and Mike Gempler, executive director of the Yakima-based Washington Growers League.

The group cited a shortage of workers — particularly in agricultural and technology fields — and a drain of talent as highly educated international students leave the United States shortly after earning their degrees.

Schutzler said it’s a myth that immigrants are taking work away from people who are already in the United States.

“Who creates the jobs in the tech industry? Seventy-five percent of all venture-funded tech companies are founded by immigrants,” Schutzler said.

Schutzler said that of the 275,000 technology employees in the region, fewer than 8,000 have an H-1B.

The vast majority of the jobs in our industry have been created by immigrants for Washingtonians, taken by Washingtonians. Immigrants produce jobs, and they have for the entire history of our country,” he said.

Gempler said the agriculture industry would be vulnerable if immigration laws don’t change to expand temporary visa programs. The U.S. Department of Labor said that 55 percent of people who work in agriculture are self-identified as being in the United States undocumented, he said.

“It’s unconscionable that our country has not gone forward and pushed a solution,” he said. “We are exposed in our industry — I’ll admit it, and I think that everybody knows it.”

He said without enough workers, U.S. farms will lose business to agriculture in other countries.

Reform is “not just for the benefit of the people in the industry, but for the benefit the people who come here and work very hard to try to make a life for themselves in the United States and in Mexico and other countries from which they come,” Gempler said.

Gulati, the software engineer, said his case only seemed to break loose from bureaucracy after Oppenheimer, who hired him, traveled to New Dehli and parked himself in front of the U.S. consulate.

Despite traveling across the world, Oppenheimer couldn’t get an in-person meeting until a friend in the United States connected him with a congressperson who arranged for a short meeting with an immigration official.

Oppenheimer said he took that step because he believed Gulati would be essential for building Remitly.

Immigration policies have to change, Gulati said, “especially for people who are trying to build businesses or trying to help people like Matt build businesses.”

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1 Comment

  1. “Schutzler said it’s a myth that immigrants are taking work ”

    The well documented reality is that the H-1b visa is being used to force American’s to train their foreign worker replacement.

    This really happens all the time.

    It happened at Southern California Edison, it happened at Disney and thousands of other companies over the last 20 years.

    It is a pre-meditated and bald-face LIE to say that foreign worker replacement of American workers is a myth.

    The only myth is that there is any such thing as “Globalism”. Globalism is a non-existent, mythological condition, harped by idiot who know nothing about how trade really works.

    China, chokes in smog, but tarrifs Tesla autos by 30%. If you look at any car lot in American, you will find cars that are 70+% made in China, without tarrif. China does not Free Trade with the United States, and we should not be such idiots as allow that lousy condition to continue.

    The WTO forces America to take in workers, at (or below) U.S. market rate, from countries that require in turn Americans to make 12 times the market rate to work there (India). That’s not a free trade of personnel, that is a one-sided market manipulation that idiot in Washington agreed to in order to curry for favors.

    In India, they call the H-1b visa, the Offshore Outsourcing visa.

    If American companies really want more H-1b visas, all they have to do is spend their Congressional Bribe money, lobbying to get Congress to kick the Job-Destroying Offshore Outsourcing companies out of the H-1b visa system.

    The Offshore Outsourcing companies don’t need a handout of indentured servant, ever heard of the U.S. free labor market? Ever heard of Capitalism?

    America has had enough of the “Big Lie”.

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