Feeds

House passes, Obama disses 55,000 visas for educated immigrants

IT workers 'full employment' means US needs more from abroad

High performance access to file storage

Analysis The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to provide 55,000 visas per year to non-citizens who graduate from US universities with advanced degrees in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The legislation, however, is opposed by President Obama and has a snowball's chance in hell of being approved by the Democratic-controlled US Senate. As might have been expected, Obama's opposition to the bill has earned him brickbats from right-leaning media.

The House bill, H.R. 6429 – aka the "STEM Jobs Act of 2012" – was sponsored by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and cosponsored by 68 other representatives, all of whom being Republicans except for Henry Cuellar (D-TX), a member of the Democratic party's fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition.

Obama's opposition is primarily tactical rather than ideological. Just this week, in fact, the Obama administration launched the Entrepreneur Pathways program "to welcome and retain the next generation of foreign entrepreneurs who will start new businesses and create new jobs here in America."

The administration has also issued a statement saying that "President Obama supports Congressional action to create a 'startup visa' designed specifically for immigrant entrepreneurs, as part of his vision for a 21st century immigration system."

It's that last comment about "part of his vision" that's key to understanding Obama's objection to H.R. 6429. Much as Republican leaders are chary of passing Obama's proposed extension of the Bush tax credits for Americans making under $250,000 per year because doing so would weaken their leverage in more-comprehensive budget negotiations, Obama wants to bundle all immigration and visa matters into a comprehensive "21st century immigration system" rather than slice and dice it into bipartisan goals such as visas for highly educated immigrants and more-contentious matters such as the immigration status of what the left calls undocumented workers and what the right dubs illegal aliens.

In both matters – taxation and immigration – both sides are trying to pass segments of each question when doing so would weaken their adversaries' bargaining position.

It's called politics.

And speaking of politics, it was perhaps not coincidental that the pro-business Partnership for a New American Economy, along with the Information Technology Industry Council and the US Chamber of Commerce, issued a report on Friday entitled "Help Wanted: The Role of Foreign Workers in the Innovation Economy" that bolsters the argument for expanding immigration opportunities for foreign-born STEM workers.

"Help Wanted" argues that such workers are no threat to American jobs. "While the current national unemployment rate hovers around 8 percent," the report contends, "the unemployment rate for US citizens with PhDs in STEM is just 3.15 percent, and 3.4 percent for those with master’s degrees in STEM." Since the government defines full employment as being an unemployment rate of 4 per cent, they argue, US-citizen STEM workers are essentially fully employed, and more STEM folks are needed.

The report singles out IT positions that are currerntly begging for workers due to low unemploment rates, notably computer network architects, who have an unemployment rate the report identifies as being 0.4 per cent, and database admins, of whom a mere 1.3 per cent are unemployed.

"Help Wanted" also argues against the idea that companies hire foreign STEM workers because they can pay them less. "There is no verifiable evidence that foreign-born STEM workers adversely affect the wages of American workers by providing a less expensive source of labor," the report contends. "The average STEM worker actually makes slightly more than his or her US counterpart, earning on average $61 more per week."

This jockeying for position in the STEM-worker argument is likely to simmer on the back burner until next year when the immigration debate is expected to heat up to a full boil. The dust-up over taxation, however, is hot and heavy right now as the so-called "fiscal cliff" looms just one month away. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.