Even as the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high across the country there is a shortage of people with qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to fill jobs. This curbs innovation and puts the United States at a disadvantage with our global competitors.
Our country has by far the best universities in the world, and they are educating large numbers of students in STEM subjects. The problem is many of these students are immigrants who came to the United States to receive a doctoral or masters degree and contribute to our economy, but leave after graduation because of current restricting immigration laws.
Adjusting our immigration system to accommodate more highly-educated, highly-skilled foreign graduates would benefit our economy. That’s why I voted last week for the STEM Jobs Act of 2012.
This bill takes visas from a program that targets countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. and reallocates them to those with doctoral or masters degrees in STEM fields. In order to qualify an applicant must have received a higher education degree at an accredited institution in the United States.
As I talk to employers around my district, I’ve consistently heard them say that we need to promote STEM education in this country, and increase the number of workers qualified in those fields. I believe this bill does that and we’ll all be better off for it.
The legislation received bipartisan support in the House because Members of Congress understand the need to adjust our immigration system to accommodate more highly-skilled immigrants.
Unfortunately, the President, and Democrats in the Senate have indicated that they will oppose the bill. I hope they will reconsider. These changes would benefit both employers and workers, and they would keep our economy competitive. The strength of our economy relies on the creativity and innovation of highly skilled workers. Sending the most creative and skilled immigrants back home after receiving an education in the United States to work for our global competitors is just bad business.
Member of Congress