Economics, U.S. Economy

Obama holding high-skilled immigrants hostage to comprehensive immigration reform

Image credit: Shuttershock

Image credit: Shuttershock

The Hill reports:

The Obama administration on Wednesday announced its opposition to an immigration bill by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that is designed to boost the number of visas for foreign-born graduates with advanced technical degrees from U.S. universities, saying it fails to fulfill the President’s long-term goal of achieving comprehensive immigration reform.

Backing this bill should be a two minute decision – and the first minute’s for coffee. If you come to America and earn an advanced degree, your diploma should come with a green card stapled to it. Eighteen percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants. These are the innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs who will help us grow our economy — exactly the kinds of people we want to keep in this country.

But instead of keeping smart, educated people here when they graduate from American universities, we send them home – and they end up working for our competitors in places like Europe and Australia that are more welcoming. We are losing more than 60,000 highly-educated immigrants each year. That’s insanity. The STEM Act would stop that brain drain by adding 55,000 green cards for foreign students who earn masters and doctoral degrees here in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Seems like a no-brainer. So why does President Obama oppose it? Simple: Because he wants to hold onto a visa expansion for highly-educated immigrants (which Republicans support), and use it as leverage next year to pressure the GOP on comprehensive immigration reform. In other words, he’s willing to let the brain drain of talent from this country continue until the GOP agrees to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The president’s defenders point out that he opposes a provision in the bill which cuts “diversity visas” for citizens from low-immigration countries. Diversity visas are basically a visa lottery, where immigrants are picked at random to receive green cards. There is an argument to be made for selecting immigrants based on the skills and education they bring to America, not picking them at random through a lottery.

But if that was really President Obama’s only problem with the bill, then why didn’t he issue a statement of administration policy saying he supports the bill so long as the elimination of the visa lottery is removed? Instead, the White House statement says he opposes the bill because “the administration does not support narrowly tailored proposals that do not meet the president’s long-term objectives with respect to comprehensive immigration reform.”

There’s some real hypocrisy going on here. Just this week, Obama was holding campaign events to demagogue Republicans for refusing to extend the Bush tax cuts for middle-income Americans unless such an extension was tied to comprehensive tax reform. Obama said this week, “if both parties agree we should not raise taxes on middle-class families, let’s begin our work with where we agree…. I’ve got a pen. I’m ready to sign it.” But when it comes to immigration, that logic goes out the window. Obama opposes a stand-alone bill to do something we supposedly all agree on – expand visas for highly educated workers — unless it is part of comprehensive immigration reform.

What’s really happening here is Obama is holding green cards for highly educated immigrants hostage to get Republicans to support green cards for illegal immigrants.

5 thoughts on “Obama holding high-skilled immigrants hostage to comprehensive immigration reform

    • Some sure but not even 1% of the 11-20 million people living illegally in the US are former college students with degrees in STEM fields. Let’s not be ridiculous. The overwhelming majority are Mexicans and Central Americans who don’t even have the equivalent of a US high school diploma. A vast oversupply of workers for the fastest declining sector of our job market.

    • Skohayes is a red herring. I echo what GGM said, plus note that the most likely scenario for those immigrants who completed college degrees is not to stay here and work illegally or sit idle, but rather to leave (a loss) or go through the green card process (the legal way) and get tortured by a process that hold him/her hostage to an initial job, to an employer, etc. untill they rationally get tired and leave (a loss). Where is the compassion for those who came here to study and can only stay legally by allowing to stay in green card limbo? If Republicans want to start doing the right thing on immigration why give him cover for what is playing politics with the most deserving of the immigrants.

  1. An interesting new book that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs Americans who want to learn more about the U.S. and how we compare to other countries around the world on many issues.
    As the book points out, immigrants and minorities are a major force in America, as the GOP recently discovered. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth and own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and nearly one-fifth in the states of New York, Florida, and New Jersey.
    Legal immigrants number 850,000 each year; undocumented (illegal) immigrants are estimated to be half that number. They come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon, as did the author’s grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing from Europe. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance, be they in Anytown or Zenith, USA. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, concerned Americans and books like this can extend a helping hand.

  2. The TEA PARTY will not reduce its bombardment of these twin issues, on both the American Public and Congress as a need to enact “THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT” ( H.R. 2885), containing the mandatory E-Verify provision. This is an imperative to remove illegal aliens from the workplace and regenerate millions of jobs to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Nothing difficult about this policy, except that state and federal legislators need to be harshly reminded by the voters that this nation needs to protect its borders and people from further invasion. In conclusion, a far more controversial law is to force the passage of the “BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP ACT (H.R.140). This exceeds every financial illegal immigration welfare program, as this aspect represents not in the hundreds of millions, but hundreds of Billions of dollars? We are supporting other countries poverty, to the detriment of our taxpayers. These billions of dollars should be supporting our own impoverished, not a free education for the children of illegal alien parents or the growing lines of foreigners arriving in our hospitals with their children. The simple fact of one stroke of the pen, the correct number of votes could alter illegal alien children getting instant citizenship because their parents smuggled them into our country or came here undetected in the womb of a mother. If this amendment to the 14th Amendment is not altered the payout for the “foothold” babies of illegal aliens will go on forever, and the costs doubled and tripled. Skilled workers YES! Poverty NO! And NO Amnesty?



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