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Border Bill Could Hamper San Diego High-Techs

Audio

Aired 8/16/10

A bill to strengthen the U.S.-Mexico border could be a mixed blessing for San Diego. That's because paying for more for border security will require a hike in H1B visas.

— A bill to strengthen the U.S.-Mexico border could be a mixed blessing for San Diego. That's because paying for more for border security will require a hike in H1B visas.

H1B visas are typically granted to highly educated foreign workers who work in the high-tech economy. And the cost of those visas to American companies, that hire large numbers of skilled foreign workers, will increase in order to pay for the border bill.

Duane Roth, CEO of the biotech support group Connect, said that could make it more difficult for San Diego businesses to hire qualified workers. He said higher costs for H1B visas may also encourage more companies to outsource.

"A company may consider whether it's better to open a facility in a foreign country and hire the workers that are already there, versus the ability to bring some here to fill the opening jobs," said Roth.

He said the U.S. education system is not producing enough scientists and engineers to staff high-tech companies in San Diego.

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