Industry may have successfully eliminated an effort by Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., to restrict companies' hiring of foreign professionals, but certain temporary worker provisions remain in a House bill that could lead to greater restrictions on hiring practices.

The renewed immigration reform efforts have been putting a chill down the spines of infotech developers who have long relied on a rich pool of Silicon Valley engineers of which one third are estimated to be foreign nationals. The impending battle is especially poignant for an industry whose leading companies often have been founded or are currently led by foreigners.

"The last thing I have in mind is to hinder American business or to prevent American universities from hiring outstanding professors. I'm trying to protect our own 'best and brightest' in the job market," Simpson told American business leaders.

"We all compete against one another for the best people, and we are all already having trouble making our hiring goals every year in terms of technical positions," said Jack Krumholtz, Microsoft Corp.'s manager of government affairs. Krumholtz said while Microsoft's foreign national employees are today involved in all aspects of the developer's business, the majority are recruited to fill positions inside research and development, of which 96 percent reside inside the United States.

The Computing Technology Industry Association recently added the plight of independent contractors to its list of grassroots initiatives. The group is now lobbying for the passage of a bill introduced by Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., and Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla. The bill seeks to replace the IRS test with a simpler approach. CompTIA will hold its annual Federal Technology Policy Conference in Washington June 26 and 27. The conference kicks off with an address from William Montalato, general counsel, House Small Business Committee.

House Democrat Anna Eshoo, who represents California's 14th congressional district known as Silicon Valley, is sounding off again about the Clinton administration's encryption policy. In a recent editorial she wrote, "The administration has responded to this situation with a proposal that is inadequate at best.... Few foreign consumers are going to buy American encryption software that's compromised by our government. Without stringent safeguards, the administration plan opens the door to potential government violations of personal privacy. And it ignores the fact that foreign encryption programs without key escrow requirements are already widely available. "

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