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Status of Immigration Reform Legislation & Canada Competes for High Tech Talent

June 6, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that S.744 will be considered by the full Senate next week. Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Raul Labrador (R. Idaho) has stepped down from the House’s “Gang of Eight.” Described in press reports as one of the most conservative members of the group, Rep. Labrador is a former immigration attorney. His departure was the result of disagreement on the issue of healthcare in the immigration legislation.

While Democrats within the group had broadly agreed the immigrants in a  provisional status should not receive government subsidies for healthcare,  Labrador said they had pushed for too many exceptions in recent weeks for him to  support.

“It bothers me that they don’t have to pay for their own healthcare,” he said  Wednesday. “I believe they should have to pay for their own health insurance. If  they’re going to have the benefit of living in the United States – which is a  privilege, it’s not a right – they should provide their own health insurance.”

Labrador stressed that he left the group on good terms and said all of his  colleagues “acted in good faith.”

“We just have a different philosophy,” he said. “The Democratic Party  believes that health insurance is a social responsibility of the nation. I  believe that health insurance is an individual responsibility. And that’s a  really hard philosophy to mesh.”

As immigration reform is debated in Congress, other countries are making direct overtures to encourage high tech talent from the U.S. to relocate to their countries. Canada has placed a billboard in Silicon Valley which reads: “H-1B Problems? PIVOT to CANADA.”

Canada is not alone in reaching out to foreign entrepreneurs. In a bid to create their own versions of Silicon Valley, Britain and Australia have dangled start-up visas like [Canada’s]. Chile is even offering seed money to lure foreigners to come to Santiago and get their start-ups off the ground.

. . .

Australia offers its version of a green card to those who secure 1 million Australian dollars in financing from approved Australian venture capitalists. Britain offers temporary visas to those who procure £50,000 from a venture backer. Chile doles out $40,000 in equity-free seed capital to foreign visitors who want to start a technology business.


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