SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Now that President Barack Obama has named immigration reform one of his top priorities this year, some technology giants of Silicon Valley plan to press for changes that would help them bring more skilled workers to the U.S.

The immigration reform envisioned by the technology industry, while less sweeping than the one President Obama called for in his inaugural address, would have a significant impact on the economy.

“Green cards and H1-B visas for highly skilled workers keep us on the cutting edge of innovation,” said Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

While much of the immigration reform debate may focus on a border fence and a pathway to citizenship, Guardino said tech companies large and small see a chance to hold onto the talent pool of young engineers and techies who study in the U.S.

“We cannot educate the best and the brightest from around the world in American universities and then continue to send them home to compete against us,” he said.

Increasing the number of H1-B visas is the technology industry’s number one legislative priority, Guardino said, with Facebook, Google, Hewlett Packard and Intel spending millions to push for action even if Congress can’t approve a comprehensive reform.

“Whether they do immigration reform solely for high-skilled workers, H1-B visas and green cards, or as part of a comprehensive piece, we’re going to stick with where we can truly help in that debate,” Guardino said.

A group of startup CEOs has scheduled a trip to Washington in February to keep up the pressure.

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