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News Briefs II

INS Reaches Limit on High-Tech Workers, Stops Issuing New Visas

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

The Immigration and Naturalization Service Monday stopped issuing new visas for temporary high-tech workers, saying it has already reached the category's annual limit. The move injected urgency into congressional efforts to raise the cap.

Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), sponsor of a bill to address what he calls a "critical shortage of high-tech workers," said the INS announcement has made passage of his measure "urgent" and that he hopes for a vote as early as Tuesday.

But the Clinton administration opposes raising the cap without also reforming the visa program for these foreign employees to protect U.S. workers and provide more training for Americans seeking entry into high-tech fields.

The visa program, called H-1B, allows as many as 65,000 skilled foreign workers to enter the United States every year on "temporary" visas valid for up to six years. Largely because of increasing demand from high-tech companies, the cap was hit last year for the first time. Now the limit has been reached again - nearly five months before the end of fiscal 1998 on Sept. 30.

Unless legislation raises the cap, the INS said, employers now may petition for new H-1B workers only if their employment begins on or after Oct. 1, when a a new 65,000 visa limit takes effect with the start of fiscal 1999.

U.S. Official's Praise for Croatian Nationalist Angers Bosnia Leader

Los Angeles Times
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina

A senior U.S. official's praise for one of Croatia's most strident nationalists has triggered a bitter diplomatic row and invited unusually harsh words from the Muslim president of Bosnia.

The anger of President Alija Izetbegovic comes at a time his cooperation is needed in delicate negotiations over refugee returns, restructuring the national media and other unresolved elements of the Bosnian peace process.

Washington is one of Sarajevo's principal allies, with Americans holding key positions in all peacekeeping organizations here, so it was startling to see such a public show of displeasure from the Bosnian leader toward a U.S. official.

It all began with the death from cancer of Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak, a hard-line nationalist who directed the wartime revolt by Bosnian Croats against the Muslim-led Bosnian government. The Bosnian Croats wanted to secede and join Croatia, a goal that Susak encouraged. The mini-war that followed claimed thousands of lives until a U.S.-brokered agreement in 1994 halted the fighting.

Susak is a national hero in Croatia but is seen by many Bosnians as a warmonger. Still, Jacques P. Klein, an American diplomat and the No. 2 international mediator in Bosnia, eulogized Susak as an exemplary leader.

Under Klein's orders and without higher clearance, the office issued a statement last week lamenting Susak's May 3 death and praising his role in building peace.