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Tech Industry

Silicon Alley needs workers, Schumer says

The New York senator hopes to create 55,000 new green cards each year for STEM grads across the U.S.

Foursquare co-founders Naveen Selvadurai (left) and Dennis Crowley. Foursquare

New York City and Silicon Alley are becoming bigger players in the tech world, but that could change if they can't get the employees they need -- at least according to Sen. Chuck Schumer.

The legislator, a Democrat from New York, hopes to increase the number of qualified tech workers by reforming U.S. immigration policy, something many have attempted in the past.

Schumer plans to introduce a bill Wednesday called the Benefits to Research and American Innovation through Nationality Statutes Act -- the BRAINS Act, for short. It will start a two-year, nationwide pilot program to designate 55,000 new green cards each year for foreign-born STEM students graduating with advanced degrees from U.S. schools and will reduce the red tape to obtain a student visa.

Currently, about 145,000 green cards are issued each year based on employment, according to the U.S. Department of State. Schumer's proposal would apply to students across the U.S., but the senator, playing to his New York crowd, called the city "a magnet for immigrants" and said it would particularly benefit from immigration reform.

"Silicon Valley may have given us the semiconductor, but New York City is the birthplace to the next generation of Internet giants," Schumer said during a presentation Tuesday in New York. "But they won't become giants unless they get the talent."

Schumer has been a strong proponent of NYC's booming tech industry, which houses companies such as Foursquare and Tumblr.

But his is not the only proposal out there. A similar bill, the STEM Jobs Act, is currently being considered by the House and is scheduled for a vote Thursday. The House bill has support from both parties, but Schumer says he's working on a compromise.

While the bills are similar, they do have some notable differences, such as Schumer's plans to ban students at for-profit schools from the program.

Have a look at the text of the House STEM bill

"Whether the House bill passes or not, we are introducing this bill to create the basis for a compromise, which I believe can occur in the lame duck if each side gives a little bit," Schumer said. "The two bills are not that far apart."

Updated at 6:30 p.m. PT with additional details about Schumer's bill.