Immigration group pessimistic re: STEM Jobs Act

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Chad Groening (

The spokesman for an immigration reform organization thinks it would be a big mistake for Congress to pass legislation making it easier for highly skilled foreign workers to immigrate to the United States.

Recently House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the "STEM Jobs Act of 2012." Under that legislation, foreign graduates with a degree in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from a U.S. university would be able to petition for a green card. The measure makes available 55,000 immigrant visas a year for such individuals.

"We could boost economic growth and spur job creation by enabling American employers to hire some of the best and brightest graduates of U.S. universities," Smith offered in a statement released September 20. "These students become entrepreneurs, patent holders, and job creators."

But Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is not so optimistic. He believes H.R. 6429 will ultimately discourage American citizens from seeking careers in STEM fields.

Mehlman, Ira (Federation for American Immigration Reform)"We've all been told that there are lots of jobs that Americans won't do. Now we're hearing that there are jobs Americans can't do," he laments. "You have to wonder at some point what jobs are going to be left for American workers when all the special interests finally get what they want."

While Mehlman acknowledges the intent of the legislation makes sense, he does not agree with this particular implementation.

"The fact of the matter is we do need to move to a more skills-based immigration policy, but that doesn't mean we should just blindly accept people based on the fact that they meet certain criteria. We need to be selective," he says. "We need to understand that it's going to have an impact on other people -- and that's the reason we have immigration laws in the first place."

Mehlman says the government needs to establish criteria for admitting immigrants in limited numbers who will most likely serve the best interests of the country -- not simply admit everyone who happens to have STEM skills.

According to Congressman Smith's statement, the STEM Jobs Act protects American workers by requiring potential employers of STEM graduates to advertise positions and give preference to qualified American applicants.

H.R. 6429 has been endorsed by groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Society for Human Resource Management, and The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

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