Immigration Bill: A Boon for Tech Contractors?

    You find IT jobs in some surprising places. Take the immigration reform bill, which the full Senate passed Thursday. And I don’t mean a higher cap on H-1B visas, though that’s there, too.

    Among the bill’s provisions:

    • Expanding the federal E-Verify program nationwide, requiring all U.S. business owners to use it to check the immigration status of all new hires within four years.
    • Requiring the United States to begin fingerprinting all foreigners departing U.S. airports to better track who’s left the country and who has overstayed their visas. The amendment first presented would require fingerprinting of those who enter the United States as well, but that bill failed. This version would require Homeland Security to begin fingerprinting at the 10 busiest airports for international traffic within two years and expand it to 30 airports in six years.

    Mother Jones reports that those two provisions could be a boon for government contractors. It says Accenture has lobbied hard for expansion of the biometric requirements, with a $1.9 billion contract from DHS, and would like to see requirements extended to land ports as well. Meanwhile, its technology to verify passports has gone international.

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    Infosys, with a $132 million contract from Customs and Border Protection for IT work in 2012, also creates biometric systems.

    Making E-Verify mandatory creates a huge market, one the International Franchise Association – think Hardee’s, McDonald’s, etc. – stresses must be “affordable and workable, particularly for the small business franchise owners we represent.”

    In addition, there will be contracts for towers, radars, and camera systems associated with the ramped-up border security included in the bill. It provides $4.5 billion for surveillance technology for the Border Patrol in an attempt to secure the Southwest border.

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