CORRECTED-Senator Schumer says no dice for high-skilled immigration bill

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 06, 2013 15:10 hrs

(Corrects name of group from Internet Alliance to Internet Association in paragraph 2)

By Alina Selyukh

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) - Senator Charles Schumer, a member of a bipartisan group crafting comprehensive U.S. immigration reform, urged technology firms on Tuesday to stop lobbying for a standalone bill on high-skilled immigrants, saying such narrow legislation would not pass.

"You will not get a bill unless there's a full immigration bill," the New York Democrat said at an event hosted by the Internet Association lobby group. "The best thing you can do now is not lobby on the high-skilled end."

The U.S. Senate's so-called "Gang of Eight" is drafting a bill to update U.S. immigration policy, hoping to tackle the fate of the 11 million illegal immigrants estimated to live in the United States.

One of the key aspects of such comprehensive reform is the challenge to revamp the rules for low-skilled foreign workers that is complicated by opposing powerful interests.

But many business groups and the technology sector in particular are more interested in updating the laws dealing with highly educated and skilled foreigners and a bill introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year focused exclusively on that.

"The idea of just pushing your proposal is a very bad idea. ... We're going to need business to have some give on this," Schumer said, urging the attendees to persuade the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to back the efforts on lower-skilled immigration reform.

Schumer once again said he was "very optimistic" that the team could reach a deal on the legislation by the end of March.

"We'll deal with your issue in a way that will make you happy," he said. "You won't get everything you want, but you'll get almost everything you want." (Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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