House Democrats Add Immigration Expansion to Chinese Competition Bill
FAIR Take | January 2022
House Democrats unveiled a new legislative proposal that they say counters the rise of China, reignites manufacturing in the United States, and addresses supply chain issues that occurred as a predictable result of offshoring. The America Competes Act (H.R. 4521) is a 2,912 page bill addressing everything from STEM education to semiconductor production.
It also raises immigration levels, undercutting any benefits the legislation may otherwise have.
The bill’s stated goals are noble. FAIR supports efforts to reinvigorate America-based manufacturing and STEM education, particularly in light of the threat from the People’s Republic of China. Strengthening American manufacturing and advancing American scientific research is a noble cause that Congress must address. Offshoring manufacturing and outsourcing talent has destroyed communities and livelihoods throughout our nation.
But this bill undercuts those positive developments by expanding immigration at the expense of the American worker. It includes three major immigration changes, all of which FAIR opposes.
First, the bill includes the Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act, a bill that FAIR opposed when the House considered it in December 2020. This proposal codifies temporary protected status (TPS) and refugee status for residents of Hong Kong and provides 25,000 special interest visas for “highly-skilled” Hong Kong residents. However well-intended, this inclusion will not preserve freedom for Hong Kong. It will instead empower Beijing and undermine our own vital interests. Xi Jinpeng would love nothing more than for every pro-democracy advocate in Hong Kong to leave Asia for the United States – it would allow him and the communist party to crush Hong Kong into submission.
Second, the bill exempts doctoral STEM graduates from numerical limitations on immigrant visas aliens who earned a doctoral degree from a foreign research institution. Congress would make better use of its time and the taxpayer’s resources by focusing on enhancing American-grown STEM talent. This provision undercuts provisions in this bill that encourage the cultivation of homegrown STEM researchers and professionals.
Finally, 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 legal permanent residence. 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.
On its merits, the purpose of the bill is well-founded. Congress should do everything in its power to bring manufacturing back to the United States. We need to grapple with the real-world consequences that outsourcing and offshoring has had on our country, and this bill tries to do that. However, the inclusion of immigration expansion language erases any benefit this bill may have.
We should bring back manufacturing and make concrete steps to compete with China – but do it with domestic American talent, not by adding unnecessary and even redundant visa programs.