Deseret News
After working actively with the lead sponsor of the Immigration Innovation Act, or the “I-Squared Act,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, as well as with Sen. Mike Lee over the past two years, we are enthused to see Sen. Lee show leadership on our industry’s most pressing tech issue — talent.

At the Utah Technology Council, the state’s premier professional association for “growing and protecting” over 5,000 high-tech, clean-tech and life-science companies, we fight for technology every day. We do that by creating valuable connections with members and others who offer peer experience and advice. We also do it by addressing the serious talent shortage faced by member companies and by assisting members to gain access to funding.

After working actively with the lead sponsor of the Immigration Innovation Act, or the “I-Squared Act,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, as well as with Sen. Mike Lee over the past two years, we are enthused to see Sen. Lee show leadership on our industry’s most pressing tech issue — talent.

A few days ago, Sen. Lee acknowledged one of the most significant economic challenges facing our nation: the need for more highly skilled professionals, domestic and foreign, who can create jobs and help improve our economy. Sen. Lee did this by adding his voice to a growing chorus of senators supporting the I-Squared Act. This critical legislation will provide American companies — including those in Utah — with significantly increased access to the talented workers they need — not only now, but in the future.

The I-Squared Act provides a number of important reforms. At its core, the bill is focused on updating decades-old immigration laws to meet the needs of the 21st century economy.

To begin with, the Immigration Innovation Act would address the green card crisis by offering relief to the backlog of thousands of foreign professionals seeking to contribute permanently to the economy. Next, the bill would help address the problem of the high-skilled visa cap being reached due to an outdated and arbitrary number chosen in Washington that does not reflect current employment needs in the country and in this state. The bill would use new fees to enhance STEM education and worker training initiatives in the states.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the Utah Technology Council played a transformative leadership role in the development and passage of legislation impacting Utah’s technology industry. Utah has become one of the leading technology centers in the country, and even the world. It happened because thoughtful leaders created thoughtful policies, which helped our tech companies and the people they employ.

Sen. Lee’s leadership in sponsoring the the I-Squared Act is another step forward for our state. We are proud of and commend Sen. Lee for ignoring the demagogues and embracing the fact that Utah tech companies need access now to the best and the brightest talent in the world. That’s exactly what the I-Squared Act does. The I-Squared Act is good for the economy, for tech workers and for Utah. The Utah Technology Council is proud to stand with Sen. Lee in supporting it.

Richard R. Nelson is the president and CEO of the Utah Technology Council.