Republican reintroduces STEM Jobs Act in US Congress

A Republican Representative has reintroduced the STEM Jobs Act in the House of Representatives. If it becomes law, the Act will see 55,000 green cards (permanent resident permits) going to foreign born graduates of US universities in technical subjects each year.

Representative Darrell Issa from California brought the bill forward on 4th February 2013. In order to become law, in the US system, an act must get a majority in votes in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill will almost certainly be passed by the Republican run House of Representatives but may face problems in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

'Racist'

The Stem Jobs Act gained a majority in the House of Representatives twice last year, once in September and once in December. However, it failed to pass in the Senate. Some Democrat senators denounced the bill as 'racist' because, the law proposed taking the 55,000 visas currently distributed under the 'green card lottery' and giving them instead to graduates from US universities in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths). The green card lottery is more properly known as the Diversity Visa Program. It distributes the 55,000 green cards to lottery winners from countries with low historic rates of immigration to the US. Democrats in Congress complained that it was wrong to end this program in order to give the green cards to graduates.

Hi-tech in favour

US industry, particularly the hi-tech sector was very much in favour of the Act and was frustrated by its failure to become law.

There is no guarantee that the Act will become law this time. While President Obama has made it clear that he wants to see comprehensive immigration reform in the next six months, this particular bill could still find itself caught between the House of Representatives which is controlled by the Republicans and the Senate which is controlled by the Democrats which could prevent it from becoming law yet again.

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