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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    Schumer to push high-skilled immigration bill

    Schumer to push high-skilled immigration bill

    thehill.com
    By Jennifer Martinez -
    09/17/12 04:50 PM ET

    Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning to introduce a bill on Wednesday that is aimed at increasing the pool of green cards available to foreign-born graduates with advanced degrees in science, math and technology fields, according to three people familiar with the legislation.

    The measure is similar to a high-skilled immigration bill by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that is set for a vote in the House later this week. But Schumer's version would not eliminate the diversity visa program like Smith's bill does.


    The introduction of Schumer's measure will add another layer of politics to the fight for high-skilled immigration reform. Smith's bill has come under fire from House Democrats because it proposes to eliminate diversity visas.

    Schumer's bill would create a two-year pilot program that would provide 55,000 new green cards each year for foreign-born graduates from U.S. universities with a master's degree or higher in science, math, technology or engineering (STEM) fields. The graduates must also have a job offer in the U.S. for a STEM-based position to obtain a green card.

    Schumer plans to make the bill — called the Benefits to Research and American Innovation through Nationality Statutes Act (or BRAINS Act) — public on Tuesday and formally introduce it on Wednesday, according to the three people familiar with the bill. The New York Democrat's office is currently reaching out to industry to rally support for the measure.

    A spokesman for Schumer could not be reached for comment.

    House Democrats have been critical of Smith's bill because it would eliminate the diversity visa program, arguing that it would wipe out an avenue for legal immigration. However, the two parties see eye to eye on most of the other measures in Smith's bill.

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced a high-skilled immigration bill on Friday that is very similar to Smith's measure, but it would keep the diversity visa program in place.

    Smith plans to introduce his bill this week and it is expected to be taken up by the House on Thursday.

    The diversity visa program makes 55,000 visas available to people who have met certain eligibility requirements and come from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The visas are allocated by random selection.

    Like Lofgren's measure, the BRAINS Act maintains the diversity visa program and includes a sunset provision. The two bills also state that graduates with STEM degrees from for-profit colleges or Internet-based university programs will not be eligible for the new visa program.

    Schumer to push high-skilled immigration bill - The Hill's Hillicon Valley
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Sen. Schumer to unveil BRAINS Act, an immigration bill for tech talent



    September 18, 2012 By Andrew Couts

    Sen. Chuck Schumer will unveil a new immigration bill today that seeks to fill the talent gap in the U.S. technology industry.

    U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) plans to unveil an immigration bill later today that would make it easier for high-skilled immigrants to work in the United States. The “BRAINS Act” — which, sadly, has nothing to do with the impending zombie apocalypse — would boost the number of green cards available to students born outside the U.S. who receive advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields from U.S. universities.

    According to Schumer’s office, the BRAINS Act (a.k.a the Benefits to Research and American Innovation through Nationality Statutes Act) is needed to plug the gap in talent vital to the booming U.S. technology industry. While the bill would operate at the federal level, Schumer touts the benefits for New York City, a popular destination for immigrants, which is now home to hundreds of tech startups, including companies like Foursquare, Tumblr, Etsy, and Kickstarter, among many others.

    Schumer’s office cites a study by the Center for an Urban Future (pdf), which highlights the “lack of top-tier engineers” as the “biggest barrier” to growth for New York City’s technology sector. The study recommends lawmakers “streamline the visa process and dramatically raise the federal cap on highly qualified immigrants.”

    Schumer’s bill would provide 55,000 new green cards each year for foreign-born people who receive a master’s degree or higher in a STEM field from an U.S. university. Graduates must also have a job offer from a U.S. company in a STEM field to receive a green card under the bill. The BRAINS Act would also make it easier for students planning to study a STEM discipline in the U.S. to obtain a student visa.

    “It makes no sense that America is educating the world’s smartest and most talented students and then, once they are at their full potential and mastered their craft, kicking them out the door,” said Schumer in a statement. “We should be encouraging every brilliant and well-educated immigrant to stay here, build a business here, create wealth here, employ people here, and grow our economy. Fixing our broken green card system will help ensure that the next eBay, the next Google, the next Intel will be started in New York City, not in Shanghai or Bangalore or London.”

    The BRAINS Act will compete in Congress with a similar bill expected soon in the House from Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith (of SOPA infamy). Smith’s bill would provide up to the same number of green cards as Schumer’s legislation, but foreign-born students who earn a doctorate degree in a STEM discipline will have first dibs. Students who receive master’s degrees in eligible fields will have access to the remaining green cards.

    While few lawmakers oppose the allocation of green cards for high-skilled immigrants, Smith’s bill has come under fire from Congressional Democrats because it would eliminate the diversity visa program, which makes visas available to people from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S., according to The Hill. The BRAINS Act does not eliminate the diversity visa program. The House is expected to vote on Smith’s bill next week.

    Schumer will officially unveil the BRAINS Act at 3 p.m. ET today at the New York General Assembly in Manhattan.

    Read more: Sen. Schumer to unveil BRAINS Act, an immigration bill for tech talent | Digital Trends
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  3. #3
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    High-tech, science grads favored in visa proposals for immigrants

    By Stephen Dinan
    The Washington Times
    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    A big immigration deal is still elusive but Congress is suddenly rushing to take a smaller nibble at the issue, with the House slated to vote on a Republican proposal later this week that would open up tens of thousands of green cards to foreigners who promise to bring their science and technology skills to the U.S.

    The legislation, written by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, would end the Diversity Visa Lottery — a two-decade-old program that doles out green cards based on random chance. Instead, it would earmark those visas for students who graduate with doctorates or master’s degrees in high-tech fields from American universities.

    “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,” the Texas Republican said. “For America to be to the world’s economic leader, we must have access to the world’s best talent.”

    The international battle for talent draws bipartisan support. Democrats announced their own versions of legislation, which overlap Mr. Smith’s bill to a significant degree.

    Both Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the top Democrat on the House’s immigration subcommittee, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the top Democrat on the Senate’s immigration subcommittee, have announced bills that would create at least 50,000 new green cards for science or tech graduates. But unlike Mr. Smith, they keep the diversity lottery in place.

    The spurt of interest marks a stark and potentially significant shift in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill, where matters have been at a stalemate since President George W. Bush tried to push a broad overhaul through the Senate in 2007, only to see it defeated after angry voters shut down the switchboard with their calls.

    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney rejoined the legal immigration debate this weekend by giving more details on his own proposal. Like Mr. Smith, he said he would end the diversity lottery. But he would use those visas to let other green-card holders bring their immediate families to the U.S. In addition, he proposed that for anyone who gets an advanced degree he wants to “staple a green card to their diploma.”

    Like Democrats, Mr. Romney’s plan would mean an increase in legal immigration. Mr. Smith’s legislation, known as the STEM Act because it deals with science, technology, engineering and math students, would keep immigration the same.

    All of the plans raise big questions about the purpose of the U.S. immigration system, which currently favors those with family members already here; 65 percent of new legal immigrants in 2011 were based on a family relationship.

    Current law also rewards refugees and asylum seekers, who made up 16 percent of immigrants, and those with sought-after work skills, who were 13 percent, including nearly 67,000 who gained admission because they hold advanced degrees.

    The diversity lottery, implemented in a 1990 law, doesn’t really fit any of those categories, said Madeleine Sumption, senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. Instead, it offers a chance for those from countries that don’t have long-standing ties to the U.S. to get in — purely on chance.

    Indeed, those from countries such as China, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, India and the Philippines are not even allowed to apply since so many of their countrymen already immigrate.

    “It’s based on the idea that people should have the option to migrate to the U.S. even if none of those other three things apply,” Ms. Sumption said. “There isn’t an immediate constituency for the diversity visa, and I think that’s why it’s most often on the chopping blocks.”

    She also said those who come on diversity visas generally have higher unemployment and a more difficult time acclimating than other immigrants, presumably because they aren’t selected for their work prospects and don’t come with a family network to back them up.

    For fiscal 2013, the government received 7.9 million applications for the visa lottery’s 55,000 slots. Nigerians made up the biggest pool, with 1.4 million applications. Ghana was second with 908,910.

    Ukraine actually had the most winners, with 6,424 — or less than 1 percent of the 852,856 who applied from that nation. For Nigeria, 6,218 applicants were awarded visas.

    Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at the New York University School of Law, said having diversity in the immigration system is a valuable goal and while encouraging more high-tech graduates to stay in the U.S. is laudable, it doesn’t need to happen at the expense of the lottery.

    “Diversity is a strength, and the hallmark of America’s immigration selection system is our diversity. That’s not just ethnic [or] religious diversity, that’s diversity of skills and diversity of occupational backgrounds,” he said. “We can’t engineer this completely, but this is as good as we can get in finding some way of improving the diversity of our country.”

    But Kris Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state and a leading conservative who helped craft Arizona’s strict immigration law, said the U.S. should do a better job of picking and choosing its legal immigrants, and that means the lottery should be ended.

    “Getting rid of the visa lottery is a good move regardless of where those visas go afterward,” he said. “In terms of advancing American interests, giving those visas to people with scientific or other special abilities to advance the American economy is preferable.”

    This week’s House vote could be tight. Under the expedited rules being used, Mr. Smith’s legislation will need to win two-thirds support to pass, and its fate will depend on how many Democrats want to see the visa lottery system maintained.

    Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat and a leading immigrant-rights advocate, said he supports more visas for these students but they shouldn’t come at the expense of other legal immigrants.

    “There is no reason we need to cut legal immigration somewhere else to do that,” he said. “If we had a clean up or down vote on STEM visas, I bet most Democrats would support it, but the zero-sum approach of the Republicans, robbing Peter of his visa so Paul waits in a shorter backlog, that will probably be less popular.”

    One other sticking point is what schools would qualify. Mr. Smith’s bill would apply to degrees from for-profit institutions, while Democrats’ versions would not. Democratic bills also include wage protections they said would prevent immigrant workers from undercutting Americans in the competition for jobs.

    High-tech, science grads favored in visa proposals for immigrants - Washington Times
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