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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 17, 2000
                    THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION:                   
                     AND ADDITIONAL SKILLED WORKERS   
                            October 17, 2000                        

President Clinton today signed new legislation to increase the number of H-1B visas available to bring in highly skilled foreign temporary workers, and to double the fee charged to employers using the program in order to provide critical funding for training U.S. workers and students. Many companies report that their number one constraint on growth is the inability to hire workers with the necessary skills. S. 2045, the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act, and the untitled H.R. 5362 together recognize the importance of allowing additional skilled workers to work in the United States in the short run, while supporting longer-term efforts to prepare American workers for the jobs of the new economy by increasing our investments in education and training. The President also called on Congress to ensure fairness for immigrants who have lived and worked in this country for years for passing the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act.

A PREPARED WORKFORCE FOR AMERICA -- TODAY AND IN THE FUTURE Together, these laws accomplish a number of key Administration priorities:

PRESIDENT DIRECTS MONITORING OF IMPACT OF CERTAIN PROVISIONS The President is concerned that certain provisions in the legislation could, in some cases: 1) weaken existing protections designed to ensure that the H-1B program does not undercut the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers; and 2) increase the vulnerability of H-1B workers to any unscrupulous employers using the program. The President has directed the Immigration and Naturalization Service, in consultation with the Departments of State and Labor, to monitor the impact of these provisions to determine whether the next Congress should revisit these changes to the H-1B program:

MORE WORK REMAINS TO BE DONE The President remains committed to ensuring fairness for immigrants who have been in this country for years, working hard and paying taxes. The Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act (LIFA) will allow people who have lived here for fifteen years or more, and established families and strong ties to their communities, to become permanent residents. It will also amend the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) to extend the same protections currently offered to people from Cuba and Nicaragua to immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti and Liberia who fled to this country to escape serious hardships. Finally, it will allow families to stay together while their applications for permanent resident status are being processed. The President continues to strongly insist on passage of the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act this year, before Congress adjourns.

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