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Fri., Nov. 30, 2012, 8:56 a.m.

House passes STEM jobs bill, but it’s not expected to be taken up in Senate

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: WASHINGTON (AP) ― The House has approved legislation to offer green cards to foreign students with advanced degrees, but only after a partisan fight that portends trouble when Congress attempts a wholesale immigration overhaul next year. In approving what is called the STEM Jobs Act on a 245-139 vote, Republicans who control the House were signaling Hispanic voters who abandoned them in the election that they're serious about fixing the flawed system. The bill passed Friday would provide 55,000 permanent residency visas to foreign students with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But it drew fire from Democrats because it would kill a program that helps less-trained people from Africa and elsewhere gain entry to this country.

Click below to read Labrador's news release on the House vote; you can see his floor speech here in favor of the bill, in which he compares himself to Charlie Brown and the Democrats to Lucy, saying they keep pulling away the ball in a game of political football over immigration reform.

For Immediate Release                                                                                             

Friday, November 30, 2012                                                                                      



Bill eliminates random diversity visa lottery, addresses high-tech employment and family immigration

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The House of Representatives today approved H.R. 6429, the STEM Jobs Act of 2012, introduced by Idaho First District Congressman Raúl Labrador in conjunction with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA-06). The legislation eliminates the backlog in the visa process so that legal foreign students with advanced degrees from American universities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields can accelerate their transition into the American workforce when offered jobs from U.S. employers in high-tech fields.

“There is wide bipartisan support for STEM Visa reform.” Labrador said. “Leaders in both parties and businesses across America have recognized the need to retain the best and brightest minds in the world.  They already come here to be educated—but when they graduate our system is so inefficient they return home or move to Canada where they compete against us.  With the STEM Jobs Act we are replacing a broken, inefficient visa program with one that works, rewards innovation, and means jobs for our economy.”

The STEM Jobs Act eliminates the current diversity visa lottery program, which grants 55,000 visas at random, and makes those visas available to STEM graduates. The overall number of visas allocated will not be increased.

The legislation also makes changes to the “V” nonimmigrant visa program, updating family-focused immigration allowances.

“Reauthorizing the “V” visa program will reunite families and allow husbands, wives and families of workers to wait in the United States while their applications are processed.  It doesn’t bring anyone new into the country but allows families to wait together.”

The House approved the STEM Jobs Act of 2012 by a vote of 249-139.






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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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