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STEM Jobs Act Passes in House

The first post-election effort to overhaul U.S. immigration policy came in the form of a Republican sponsored measure, the STEM Jobs Act, which was approved in the House 245-139. The STEM Jobs Act purports to do away with the diversity visa program, and reallocates up to 55,000 new green cards for foreign students graduating from U.S. universities with advanced degrees.

Even though, in an effort to appease House Democrats, the sponsors added a provision to allow spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents to come to U.S. after waiting one year in their native homelands, Democrats were not happy. Most of them held that the provision regarding families was insufficient to compensate for stopping the diversity lottery.

Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas, who is sponsor of the bill, said, “Many of the world’s top students come to the U.S. to obtain advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects … We could boost economic growth and spur job creation by allowing American employers to more easily hire some of the most qualified foreign graduates of U.S. universities.” Smith also added, “These students have the ability to start a company that creates jobs or come up with an invention that could jump-start a whole new industry.”

However, Democrats criticized the bill for doing away with diversity. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-III said, “If you support this bill, you are saying that one group of immigrants is better than another and one type of educated, degree-holding person and their work is more important than anothers.”

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Guiterrez added, “Talk about picking winners and losers. My dad, if he had been an immigrant from Ireland or Nigeria or Taiwan would have been told ‘Nope.’ America is not for you. It is like when we used to have signs saying ‘Help wanted, Irish need not apply.’”

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