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December 03, 2012

House of Representatives Upholds Bill Supporting Permanent Visas for Educated Immigrants

By Brittany Walters-Bearden, TMCnet Contributor

Sometimes, today’s tech-fueled economy can feel like we’re in the Space Race all over again. Countries are competing to out-innovate each other in any way that they can when it comes to technology, and the United States is looking to win.

On Friday, the House of Representatives voted for a Republican-backed bill to create a permanent visa program for people from outside the United States who hold advanced science and technical degrees. Under the terms of the new bill, 55,000 permanent resident visas would be reserved for foreign graduates of U.S. universities who have obtained a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math during their stay as a student.

Image via Shutterstock

Texas Republican Representative Lamar Smith says of the bill, “In a global economy, we cannot afford to educate these foreign graduates in the U.S. and then send them back home to work for our competitors.”

For many, this is a logical move, giving those who have qualities that the U.S. economy desperately needs to keep up with the rapid expansion of “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Although Obama has given speeches supporting STEM education, this is one instance in which he does not support the growth. He and many other Democrats opposed the bill. Some said that it unfairly favors those immigrants with higher education levels over those who have lower skill levels.

According to Alina Selyukh, Representative Luis Gutierrez said of the bill, “There was no special line for PhD’s and master’s degree holders at Ellis Island.”  

Although he and some other Democrats have been vocal in their dissent, the bill passed with 245 votes in its favor and 139 votes against it. Whether or not the bill will survive once it gets to the Senate is another matter.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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