BAL Partner Lynden Melmed testified Monday before the Maryland House of Representatives in support of high-skilled immigration.

The Economic Matters Committee held a hearing in connection with legislation that would impose reporting obligations on Maryland companies that hire H-1B and L-1 workers in the state.

Howard University Professor Ron Hira, a staunch opponent of H-1B visa programs, testified that companies pay H-1B workers below-market wages and thereby exploit the H-1B program to undercut American workers.

Mr. Melmed, who previously served as chief counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), testified about the benefits of high-skilled immigration to the Maryland economy. He cited an example of BAL clients who launched their business at the University of Maryland, obtained H-1B status, and are now building their business in the state. Mr. Melmed also testified about the wide range of industries in Maryland that utilize the H-1B category.

“I have no doubt that high-skilled immigrants create jobs in Maryland and contribute to the state’s economy,” Mr. Melmed said. “They are smart, they are entrepreneurial, and they help Maryland companies compete in a global economy.”

States are playing an increasing role in immigration policy. From Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to the Executive Order to refugee resettlement, states are more engaged than ever. The Maryland hearing represents one of the first efforts by a state legislature to engage on high-skilled immigration policy.

Read a transcript of Mr. Melmed’s full testimony here.

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