22 September 2012

STEM Jobs Act Giving Green Cards To Foreign Students Hit a Snag

The STEM Jobs Act authored by Texas Representative Lamar Smith(R) would give US Green Cards to around 55,000 foreign born students who are taking up STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses in US colleges and universities.

Its goal was to keep these students in the United States which would increase the country's brain trust and also have a highly skilled workforce for industry and technology. For the students and graduates, it was an easier way of acquiring citizenship in the United States.

The STEM jobs act was simplified as an act of "stapling a green card to their (foreign students) diplomas."

The proposed bill would also help bring the US back to the forefront of science and technology by utilizing foreign students studying in the country was rejected by the US House of Representatives.

Sadly, the bill came up short when it was voted on. Only 30 democrats voted on the bill with all but 5 republicans gave their approval bringing the positive vote to 257. But because the bill was brought to the floor under special consideration which suspends House rules, the required vote needed for the bill was 274 votes.

Video: Leader Cantor Remarks on STEM Jobs Act

Democrats cited that the 55,000 visas that were to be used was going to be taken away from the US visas known as diversity visas that the government gives out yearly to randomly picked individuals immigrants. They wanted to retain these diversity visas while allocating another batch for the STEM Job visas.

Democrats view the diversity visas as giving hope to other aspiring immigrants and follow the American dream. Taking this away is tantamount to turning back on the ideals of the country's founding fathers.

The STEM Jobs Act would focus on students with priority on doctoral recipients over those with master's degrees. The bill also does not include those in the biological sciences . Also, to qualify, the student should have attended a school that is certified by the National Science Foundation.

Biological sciences were not included in the bill since there is already competition for jobs in that sector with US citizens already fighting for positions. The unemployment rate in the biological science is already high and including this in the bill would be counter productive.

Although the bill failed to pass, there is still a glimmer of hope that it will be brought up again.

“The major 1986 and 1990 immigration overhauls were not signed into law until November of those years. So we remain hopeful that bipartisan discussions on STEM green cards can start up again when Congress comes back in November for the lame-duck session,” says Randy Johnson, a senior vice president of labor, immigration, and employee benefits at the US Chamber of Commerce, which backed the bill. “It seems there is agreement that creating STEM green cards will help the US maintain its competitive advantage, so hopefully the two parties can figure out a way how to do that.”


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