REPORT FROM HAWAII CONGRESSWOMAN COLLEEN HANABUSA. – On Friday, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) again voted against H.R. 6429, the STEM Jobs Act.
H.R. 6429 eliminates the Diversity Visa program in order to create a new visa program for foreign students graduating with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from U.S. research universities.
The House voted earlier on the STEM Jobs Act in September, 2012, but failed to garner the 2/3 majority required to pass the bill under a suspension of the rules. The current version of H.R. 6429 differs slightly from the version voted on earlier this year, but contains functionally identical provisions, including the elimination of the Diversity Visa Program and a “roll-over” provision that allows certain unused visas to be applied to other categories of immigration requests.
“While I support a visa program targeted at students excelling in STEM programs, we should not eliminate the Diversity Visa program, which ensures people from countries that have low rates of immigration to the U.S. have the same opportunity to pursue their dreams here. Also, the lack of change to the rollover provision in this version of the bill unnecessarily blocks immigrants waiting in other categories from coming to the U.S.
“The United States is known as the land of opportunity for good reason. Our universities attract foreign students from all over the world, and many of these individuals go on to make substantial contributions to our communities and our economy. That’s why I became a cosponsor of the Attracting the Best and Brightest Act of 2012, which creates a new visa program for our foreign STEM students without eliminating critical pathways to legal immigration,” said Hanabusa.
The Attracting the Best and Brightest Act of 2012 (H.R. 6412) creates a new visa program for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees without eliminating the Diversity Visa program or the existing roll-over provision. The Democratic alternative provides the same number of STEM visas as the Republican bill, while also offering an additional worker protection provision requiring that the wages offered to these foreign STEM graduates do not undercut the actual wages paid to U.S. workers with similar levels of experience.
H.R. 6429 passed by a vote of 245 to 139 and now heads to the Senate.