This past week, three bills have been introduced by Senators from both sides of the aisle aimed at bringing more foreign STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workers to the U.S. The arguments are all the same, and are all flawed. Lawmakers have framed these bills as means to "compete with the world" in science and math. They say that companies in America cannot find the highly skilled workers they need, so they must look abroad for answers.
What the politicians and pundits are forgetting to mention is that there are eligible, U.S. workers out there to fill these jobs. In the engineering field, over 100,000 trained Americans cannot find any work at all. That is a figure both political parties are willing and eager to ignore. They are doing all they can to persuade the American people that bringing in foreign workers is good for our economy.
They obviously have not cared to ask the 1.8 million U.S. born individuals who have engineering degrees but do not have an engineering job what they think of these policies.
I personally have friends who graduated this past week with engineering degrees and no job offers in sight.
The STAR Act has been introduced by Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas. If this bill became law, 55,000 new green cards would be given to foreign students who graduate from a U.S. college or university with a Master's or Doctorate degree in the STEM field. All these students have to do to get a green card is to promise to stay in the U.S. to work, thereby taking a job that could be given to an American.
The SMART Jobs Act is the work of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). This bill would create a new visa category for foreign students working toward a Master's of Doctorate degree in a STEM field. After they graduate, students have 12 months to find a job in the U.S. Then, they receive the coveted green card. The scariest thing about this piece of legislation is that the green card handouts would be unlimited, and both Senators seem to be very proud of this.
A third bill is the STARTUP Act, joyously introduced by Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas. This bill would create 50,000 new STEM visas for foreign students who graduate from a U.S. college with a master's degree or a Ph.D. The bill also creates a new visa program for 75,000 new immigrant "entrepreneurs" -- individuals who already hold an H-1B visa and would be allowed 3 extra years to remain in the U.S. and operate a new business.
It is nice to see all these lawmakers reaching across the aisle, but not at the expense of the American college graduate. Over 50% of recent college graduates under the age of 25 are jobless or underemployed while millions more are graduating this month.
If this bipartisan effort is successful, the future will be even more dim for the American worker.
During the webcast, we showed clips of Steve Camarota's presentation at the 2012 NumbersUSA Symposium in Washington. Steve is with the Center for Immigration Studies and showed us the close correlation between illegal immigration and legal. When the number of legal immigrants rises, we also seen an increase in illegal immigration. A staggering figure we discussed was that 1/4 of legal immigrants were at some time an illegal alien. He also spoke of the poverty levels of immigrants and their effect on the U.S. economy. Immigrants tend to be poorer than American born citizens and tend to use more public services. The term "importing poverty" is proven by Dr. Camarota's research. The symposium was my first time hearing his presentation, and was quite eye-opening and interesting. We very much appreciate the work Steve does.
NumbersUSA is working around the clock to stop this wave of poisonous legislation, but we need all the help we can get. Make sure to check your Action Board to send your lawmakers faxes letting them know this is bad policy!
The Child Tax Credit that we told you about in the previous webcast is certainly getting much deserved attention in Washington. In the House last week, a bill that would end this egregious tax loophole for illegal aliens passed. Congressman Sam Johnson of Texas successfully tacked on this bill to a larger budget resolution packaged. Now eyes turn to the Senate for further action.
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama spoke to his colleagues this week about the issue. He urged them to stop the loophole which costs the country 4.2 billion dollars a year. The likeliness of the House bill being taken up in the Senate is minimal, but hope is not lost. A conference committee will hopefully take up the Child Tax Credit. The Senate can barely get anything done these days, but something this shocking and unfair may create some motivation.
In other news, the press has been very interested in Senator Rob Portman of Ohio the past few weeks. The potential VP candidate on the Republican ticket has been the subject of many questions from reporters. So, we checked out Rep. Portman's history on immigration.
We found a mixed bag, with more bad votes than good. We give him a good grade on border security, but that's about it. He has major problems in not supporting E-Verify and supporting amnesty. His record is stale, and a pick for VP would give him an opportunity to inform people on where he stands. But, F-minuses in the Chain Migration, Visa Lottery, and unnecessary foreign workers columns make us hesitant that he would be a good pick for VP.
A battle is being waged in Alabama on immigration legislation. Changes to the current bills would weaken immigration enforcement, NumbersUSA is actively working against these changes and is asking our members in Alabama to help us by contacting lawmakers.
It's been a busy week! Stay tuned for updates on the Federal and State levels and make sure to catch our next webcast this Thursday, May 24 at 3:30 ET.
MELANIE OUBRE is the Local Activism Coordinator for NumbersUSA