US senators finalising a massive immigration bill are arguing over plans to boost visas for high-tech workers, Senate aides and industry officials say, with disputes flaring over how best to punish companies that train workers in the US only to ship them overseas.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who has taken the lead in pushing to crackdown on outsourcing firms, also is seeking higher wages for workers brought in on the H-1B visas that go to specially skilled foreigners, aides and officials say. High-tech industry officials say his efforts risk punishing companies not involved in the abuses he's trying to target, and lawmakers including Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida are taking the other side.
The dispute comes as aides to four Democratic and four Republican senators have been racing to put the finishing touches on sweeping immigration legislation that would secure the border and grant eventual citizenship to 11 million people in the US illegally, while also allowing tens of thousands more high and low-skilled workers into the country on new visa programmes.
Aides worked into the evening Monday on the high-tech visa issue, and senators were to resume meeting in person Tuesday after returning to Washington from a two-week spring recess.