Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate voted to move forward with resolving differences between the Senate's original "United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021" and the House's disastrous COMPETES Act.
While both bills are spun by lawmakers as initiatives to shore up U.S. global competitiveness, particularly against communist China - Senators from across the aisle are now hopeful that the damning immigration provisions in the House's "COMPETES Act" could now pass in the Senate.
With over 600 amendments proposed during its consideration, the House's COMPETES Act appears to be nothing more than a massive green card giveaway that would undoubtedly reduce wages and the availability of jobs for Americans in professional fields. The bill includes:
- The creation of a W nonimmigrant visa program for foreign investors of start-ups and entrepreneurs, their families, and "essential" foreign workers who work for them. Family members are eligible to receive work permits.
- A one-year path to an unlimited number of green cards for any W visa holder who meets certain investment and ownership stake requirements.
- An unlimited number of green cards for foreign citizens who hold a doctoral degree from a U.S. institution of higher learning -OR- an equivalent degree from a foreign university.
- A 5-year program that creates a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) for Hong Kong residents. The program would be capped at 5,000 per year, amounting to an additional 25,000 green cards over a 5-year period.
- Authorization for unlimited refugee/asylee status for certain Hong Kong residents.
- A change in existing law to treat Hong Kong as a separate state from China in determining per-country limits for existing green card categories.
- TPS for Hong Kong residents currently in the U.S., regardless of immigration status.
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) said, "I'm certainly hopeful that the Senate is open to those [immigration] provisions," adding that "it's forward-looking from a workforce perspective."
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) also said she would support the House's immigration additions, "highlighting the challenges universities face in retaining foreign-born graduates under the current immigration scheme," reports Roll Call. However, the Senator paid no attention to the thousands of American graduates who would then need to compete with visa-holders for post-graduate jobs in their own country.
Unsurprisingly, the damaging immigration provisions could now even garner support from some Republicans in the Senate.
Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), an original cosponsor of the Senate's bill, stated, "If there's broad support for the provisions, then I'm absolutely open to including it. More broadly in terms of skills-based immigration reform, I think it's essential to maintaining our national competitiveness."
However, in early February, after the passage of the House's "COMPETES Act," Sen. Young made the remarkable statement that 'the Federal government should steer clear of immigration policies that threaten Americans' jobs and wages,' adding that If Congress seeks to import workers, "we need to do it smartly, in order to once again ensure that those new workers aren't competing with our existing workers for jobs, competing for wages and salaries." What changed?
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has also shown possible support for the House's immigration provisions, stating that he was "certainly open" to the massive increase in higher-skilled visa workers.
However, Sen. Cornyn also showed disapproval towards the House's bill after its passage in Feb. when he stated, "The partisan bill from the House has also added provisions related to immigration, from creating new types of visas to removing green card caps. The Senate bill [United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021] needs to be the template for what is ultimately done by the conference committee and what is ultimately passed by the United States Congress." Again, what changed?
You can read the full story at Roll Call.
Updated: Fri, Mar 25th 2022 @ 8:28am EDT