Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, criticized the proposed changes.
Instead of reducing green cards for family members and increasing them for employment ties, senators should make more green cards available overall, he said. Lawmakers in the past, Republicans in particular, have opposed that approach.
Meanwhile, they've been hearing pleas from the technology industry for more high-tech workers and from industries like hospitality and agriculture that use lower-skilled workers.
Lee agreed there is demand for workers with science, technology, engineering and math degrees. But dairy farmers and sheepherders also need labor because Americans aren't filling those jobs, he said.
Last month, Lee introduced two pieces of immigration legislation. One bill would eliminate the per country percentage caps on all skilled labor visa holders. The second bill would extend the amount of time agricultural workers are allowed to stay and work.
Contributing: Associated Press
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