September 20, 2012

A bill being heard on the House floor today aims to boost the nation’s brain trust.

HR 6429, known as “The STEM Jobs Act,” would offer 55,000 visas per year to foreign-born graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. These highly-prized “STEM” graduates, says the bill’s author, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), are an asset to U.S. businesses and innovation and should be prioritized when it comes to green cards, rather than taking their skills and knowledge back to their home countries.

One problem: the measure would eliminate the Diversity Visa program, which uses a lottery system to ensure that visas are spread among a wide variety of applicants from underserved countries, such as Poland, Ireland and a number of African countries. Critics of the bill object to giving STEM immigrants preference over others who may not have the advantage of an advanced education.  

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