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Tech businesses shaping immigration reform

At the state level here in North Carolina and at the federal level in Washington, D.C., special interest groups use their money and notoriety to influence the formation of new laws. Presently, immigration reform is a hot topic at both levels of government and diverse entities are weighing in on reform efforts that may modify the processes of family-based immigration and other citizenship-related laws.

For example, technology companies like Facebook are spending money on immigration lobbying efforts in record amounts. In the last year, the social media giant has spend nearly $2.5 million in efforts to influence lawmakers to increase the availability of green cards to people seeking employment in the technology field here in the United States. In 2012, more than 80% of green cards were issued based upon familial relationships in the country with only 14% based on employment, and tech companies like Facebook are hoping that their lobbying efforts may push green card issuance based on employment to close to 50%.

The drastic increase in lobbying involvement by major technology firms has created challenges for smaller organizations that represent special interests. A representative from the National Council of La Raza notes that lobbying for united families through green card issuance is not as strong as the tech-based lobbying for employment-based visas, and as a result initiatives that support family-based immigration may not be represented in new laws.

With globalization creating multinational markets for large United States-based technology companies, it is no surprise that those very companies would take a vested interest in how the government's immigration laws may impact their bringing talented international employees into the country. Although reforms to increase green cards for skilled workers may ultimately benefit the national economy, impacts on family-based immigration may greatly challenge traditional methods of uniting families through green cards.

Source: USA Today, "Tech companies driving the lobbying on immigration," Fredreka Schouten and Alan Gomez, April 29, 2013

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