Patchwork Legislation Offers No Real Reform
(Washington, D.C. November 27, 2012) The House of Representatives is expected to vote on legislation this week that would increase the number of green cards issued to foreign students who earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The legislation, H.R. 6429, also known as the STEM Jobs Act, would further undermine the interests of Americans who want to work in these fields, warns the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which is opposing the bill.
While H.R. 6429 at first appears to be a welcome shift from unskilled to skilled immigration, the changes the bill proposes come entirely at the expense of American students. First, through the creation of a new student visa program, the bill encourages an unlimited number of foreign students to attend U.S. universities and major in STEM fields. It then offers up to 55,000 green cards to those foreign students who obtain PhDs or Master's degrees in STEM fields. Thus, if enacted, H.R. 6429 would create competition for American students of math and science both during the admissions process and then upon graduation. To make matters worse, the bill grants the Department of Homeland Security discretionary authority to waive labor certification provisions designed to ensure that foreign workers do not displace Americans.
"H.R. 6429 eliminates the ill-conceived and unnecessary Visa Lottery, but it replaces it with another immigration scheme that would undermine the very workers we consider to be vital to our nation's economic future," stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "The legislation fails to evaluate the impact that flooding the labor market with foreign STEM graduates would have on the ability of Americans to fill slots in educational programs or to find jobs after they have earned degrees."
FAIR also cautioned that the latest version of this legislation would create additional incentives to undermine American students by deleting a provision that prohibited universities from paying recruiters based on the number of foreign students they bring to the school. "What we are likely to see in the future are more foreign students whose real interest in attending a U.S. university is earning a green card, rather than a degree. In doing so, we will be making it more difficult for American students to train in these fields, thereby creating even greater dependence on foreign workers in this vital sector of our economy."
FAIR also opposes H.R. 6429's provision that would resurrect the V nonimmigrant visa program to allow the spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to enter the country after one year while they wait for a green card. "This provision would effectively circumvent the existing admissions process in statute and accelerate admissions at a time when we need to be reducing our immigration intake," said Stein.
"Unfortunately, H.R. 6429 is another overly-broad patch on a broken immigration policy rather than true reform. The legislation does nothing to change our dysfunctional family chain migration policy. And while we need to move to a skills-based admissions policy, H.R. 6429, as written, would be damaging to the interests of American workers in STEM fields," concluded Stein.
Kristen Williamson (202) 328-7004, firstname.lastname@example.org