House Passes Bill that Dangerously Increases Immigration
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the FAIR-opposed America COMPETES Act by a near party line vote of 222-210. While the bill is ostensibly designed to counter the People’s Republic of China and reinvigorate domestic manufacturing and STEM education, it includes a number of troubling immigration provisions that harm American workers and national security.
The Senate also passed a sweeping China-competition bill in June. The two bills are very different, however, and both chambers will have to reconcile the two bills before attempting to send any unified piece of legislation to President Biden’s desk.
The America COMPETES Act contained three major immigration provisions, all of which FAIR opposes.
First, the bill grants Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and refugee status to qualifying residents of Hong Kong and their families. The bill also provides 25,000 special interest visas for “highly-skilled” Hong Kong residents. The text follows the Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act, which FAIR opposed at the time. However well-intended, the inclusion of this provision will not preserve freedom for Hong Kong. It will instead empower Beijing and undermine our own vital interests.
Second, the America COMPETES Act creates a brand-new nonimmigrant visa category for “entrepreneurs and employees.” The bill establishes a new “W” category that includes  entrepreneurs with an ownership interest in a start-up entity,  essential employees of said entity, and  the spouses and children of both the entity’s owners and employees. All of these individuals can adjust their status and pursue a green card. This is nothing more than another “investor visa” category similar to the controversial EB-5 and E category investors. FAIR has long opposed these programs. Congress would be better served finding ways to encourage and build upon American entrepreneurial ventures, rather than establishing another “golden visa” program that degrades American citizenship by relegating it to a dollar amount.
Lastly, the America COMPETES Act provides an unlimited number of green cards for high-skilled foreign nationals – such as “outstanding professors and researchers,” a well-known source of Chinese espionage. Not only is this dangerous, it does nothing to assist American-grown STEM talent.
During a long floor debate on Thursday, six more negative immigration provisions were added to the bill. The additions included expanding the E-4 treaty investor visa program, allowing certain doctoral students to adjust their status and apply for green cards, and a carve-out for certain categories of immigrants from annual caps.
Ultimately, the bill’s final outcome remains uncertain. The Senate and House must reconcile the differences between their bills, and the immigration provisions in the House version may not have enough support in the Senate to warrant inclusion.
FAIR will continue fighting for the immigration provisions to be stripped from this bill as the House and Senate work towards an agreement in conference committee.