- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2022

Nine semiconductor makers are asking Congress to ease immigration restrictions for highly skilled foreign workers after the House and the Senate agreed to fund a $52 billion incentive to boost U.S. chip manufacturing.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders last week, human resources executives from firms including GlobalFoundries, Intel and Texas Instruments said their industry faces “an immediate shortage of qualified workers” to fill research-and-design and manufacturing jobs as they look to scale up U.S. chip production.

“While all the undersigned companies are committed to invest in workforce development at the federal, state, and local levels to grow our U.S.-based STEM worker pipeline, in the near-term, the U.S. educational system does not produce enough Americans with the required qualifications to meet the demand of companies,” the executives wrote.

The letter was obtained by Punchbowl News.

In their letter, the executives call for increased long-term investment in U.S. technical education. They also say Congress must act in the short term to enable companies to retain foreign talent by exempting foreign-born holders of advanced technical degrees from green card caps and allow companies to “recapture” unused green cards to reduce employee-sponsored backlogs.

Semiconductor chips manage the flow of electricity in electronic devices, and so are key computer components.

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The House and the Senate last week approved the $280 billion Chips and Science Act, which includes provisions for a $52 billion incentive for semiconductor manufacturers. The legislation resulted from negotiations over larger bills.

However, in negotiating differences between those legislation, lawmakers ditched items such as a House-approved measure to exempt foreigners with advanced degrees from green card caps.

The HR executives who signed the letter say immigration reforms can’t wait and are calling on lawmakers to attach the provision to “any must-pass” legislation this year.

“The U.S. and its close democratic allies believe in the importance of growing our strategic industries for economic and national security reasons,” the executives wrote. “We believe the U.S. must do its part to remain the global innovation leader.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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