Search Form
Now choose a category »

Public Statements

STEM Jobs Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to STEM fields, this is long overdue. This is not the first time we have considered it, but as we go into the lame duck session, I'd like the American people to understand why this is so important. For more than 2 years, the national campaigns have talked in terms of jobs. STEM means jobs, Mr. Speaker.

Many years ago, Thomas Friedman wrote about an experience of being a speaker at a commencement, and he watched one after another individuals cross receiving their masters and doctorate degrees in science, in math, and in engineering. The amazing thing is, one after another had names that were almost impossible to pronounce in some cases, and, clearly, the majority of these engineers and scientists came from other countries and were being told they must return to them. He made the statement in his op-ed that, in fact, at the end, rather than just a diploma, they should be given a diploma and a green card. Mr. Speaker, I agree with Thomas Friedman on this subject.

For each person we welcome to America with one of these high degrees, we create jobs, net jobs. We create opportunity for expansion of the kinds of businesses that, in fact, Americans are prepared to work in, but often we do not have enough engineers, scientists, or math professionals. This shortage, particularly at the masters and doctorate level, is well documented.

This is not something in which Republicans and Democrats are on different sides; this is something we agree on. There is some controversy, as you might imagine; there always is. Some would cling to a lottery that allows 55,000 immigrants to come for no reason other than they asked and they got a lottery. Those 55,000 are, in fact, an example of a great many of our immigrants. Only 5 percent of immigration visas today are based on skills of education and other capacities--only 5 percent.

I support other categories of immigration, including those fleeing the tyranny of their own countries, those in fact who would be killed if they remained, or tortured; and I certainly agree that family reunification continues to be an important part of our immigration system. But today what we're dealing with is the ability to make a profound difference of 55,000 opportunity jobs.

We often hear about opportunity scholarships, Mr. Speaker. Opportunity jobs is what we're talking about today--jobs that are in great demand. In this high unemployment era, STEM jobs can be not just below 4, but in some cases below 2, percent. The truth is if you're qualified and you have these kinds of advanced degrees, the jobs are far greater than the qualified applicants.

Three-quarters of likely voters support strongly this type of legislation, and, I believe, properly understood, that for each STEM immigration visa, the fact is that you would gain net jobs, that by bringing in these 55,000, we could drop hundreds of thousands of people from the unemployment rolls because they could become employed. The benefit to our economy is undeniable. The controversy here today will simply be, are we willing to act and act now. Many say that little good happens in a lame-duck session. In this case, I believe both in the House and hopefully in the Senate we can in fact say, not true.

Some of the groups that have strongly come out in support of this legislation include: the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an area of shortage; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an area of commerce; Compete America; the Information Technology Industry Council; and the Society for Human Resource Management. And, I might say, the industry I came from, the Consumer Electronics Association, has long supported these kinds of investments in America.

This bill has the support of the large majority of the House of Representatives, and on a bipartisan basis. Last September, by an overwhelming vote, more than 100 votes to spare, the STEM Jobs Act passed under suspension.

To protect American jobs, employers who hire STEM graduates must advertise for the position before they can ask for them, and they must in fact make their jobs available to all existing American workers. In fact, these protections have long meant that after all that advertising, employers often enter the H-1B, attempt to get a temporary worker; but in fact for permanent opportunities and permanent growth, we should have more permanent jobs than simply a guest technology worker.

More importantly, I think it's universally recognized by both my colleagues on the other side and by my colleagues that if you have somebody who's going to benefit America, having them benefit America for a short time and then go home and in fact compete against America is not in America's best interests.

In fact, an Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services has testified that the diversity fraud in the system that we are attempting to take these slots from is so huge as to in fact make it effectively worthless. In those hearings and many others, we've determined that we do have an opportunity, on a net basis, no net-new immigrants but in fact a selection of the ones that Americans want would be the best.

There are many other provisions in this bill, but I want to touch on one, which is family reunification. Under this bill, we're going to set aside what has been a bad idea for a long time: people who just because of our bureaucracy often wait for family reunification. Americans, with green cards or fully naturalized citizens, often wait for many years to be reunited. Under this bill, I believe broadly supported, we're going to change that. We're going to make it to where after 1 year, if there are no other impediments to their coming, they may wait with their families here for final status. We believe that this is the best solution to a problem where we have had pervasive slowness in the process and it's to the detriment of families being together.

So although there will be additional comments, and I intend to make additional comments, I want to close simply by saying one thing: I was an employer. I knew that in fact technology and people who could apply it allowed my company to compete globally. I knew that in fact there were never enough of those people. I always had an open mind to hire if I found a smart engineer or a smart scientist.

Mr. Speaker, we can only gain by asking as many people who are smart and who create opportunities far beyond just their own to be part of our society. It's smart in business. It's smart in America.

I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, to my colleague from Michigan, 1990 is a longstanding part of our 236-year history. 1990 is a long part of 236 years. And 55,000 out of 1 million immigrant visas is a large part. I think on this side of the aisle we know better. We know that in fact this is a relatively recent provision, the 55,000 Diversity Visa. And clearly, America continues to be the most generous Nation on Earth when it comes to welcoming people to our country.

I yield such time as he may consume to my colleague and classmate coming to Congress, the distinguished gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Flake), a cosponsor of the bill.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I will be placing in the Record information from the U.K.'s U.S. Embassy, as current enough actually to include, ``Condolences for Deaths in Benghazi'' on the same page as it says, ``Diversity Visa Fraud'' warning. I also will be including a press release from the Embassy of the United States in Dublin, Ireland, that starts off by saying, ``U.S. Embassy Dublin Issues Caution About Diversity Visa Email Scams,'' and other information, to show the pervasiveness of this fraud.

Condolences for Deaths in Benghazi

14 September 2012--If you would like to send us an electronic condolence message that we can forward to Washington to be shared with the victims' families, please use this form.

Press Release, Embassy of the United States, Dublin, Ireland

U.S. EMBASSY DUBLIN ISSUES CAUTION ABOUT DIVERSITY VISA EMAIL SCAMS

The U.S. Embassy in Dublin advises residents of Ireland about a widespread Diversity Visa (DV lottery) scam and to use caution when working with private entities to apply for visas to the United States. Reports of fraudulent emails, websites, and print advertisements offering visa services are on the rise. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should anyone send any money to any address for participation in the DV Lottery.

One widespread DV lottery scam email instructs recipients to send money via Western Union to a fictitious person at the U.S. Embassy in London. If you have received this email, you have been targeted by con artists. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should anyone send any money to any address for participation in the DV Lottery. The Department of State's Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) does not/not send email notifications to DV entrants informing them of their winning entries.

Successful DV-2011 applicants already have been notified by KCC by letter, not by email.

DV-2011 entrants also can check the status of their entries at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov until June 30, 2012. Entrants will not be asked to send money to the KCC or any U.S. embassy or consulate.

Entrants who completed the online DV-2012 entries will not receive notification letters from KCC. Rather, they must check the status of their entries themselves through the Entrant Status Check available at http://Ðwww.dvlottery.state.gov between May 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012.

Many private websites offer legitimate services to assist individuals in applying for visas, but some illegitimate entities claim to provide ``visa services'' as a cover for scams or identity theft. Some of these websites may attempt to charge a fee for providing forms and information about immigration procedures that are available to the public at no charge on the Department of State (www.state.gov) and travel.state.gov websites, or through the U.S. Embassy website at dublin.usembassy.gov/.

The only official way to register for the DV program is directly through the official U.S. Department of State website during the specified, limited-time registration period.

The DV program offers up to 55,000 visa slots annually for people who wish to apply for immigration to the United States. Applicants selected in the random drawing are notified by the U.S. Department of State and are provided with instructions on how to proceed to the next step in the process. No other organization or private company is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to notify DV program applicants of their winning entries or the next steps in the process of applying for their immigrant visas. Anyone who wishes to apply for a U.S. visa should use caution before sending via email any personal information such as credit card and bank account numbers.

Images of U.S. emblems such as flags, eagles, monuments, or official seals do not necessarily indicate a U.S. Government website. A domain name of ``.gov'' ensures that a website is a legitimate U.S. Government site where the information is free and up-to-date. Complaints about unwanted emails that may be scams can be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice at www.usdoj.gov/spam.htm.

With that, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished incoming chairman of the full Committee on Foreign Affairs and a long-time expert on this subject, Mr. Royce.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, correcting the record appears to be important here. So I want to note that earlier, the minority said that there was no GAO study. Well, I beg to differ. A September 2012 report to Congress entitled ``Border Security,'' on its request, on page 19:

Because the program does not require a U.S.-based petitioner, it is particularly susceptible to fraud. Diversity Visa fraud is rampant in parts of South Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, and is particularly acute in areas where few individuals have independent access to the Internet.

U.S. Government Accountability Office

Report to Congressional Requesters, September 2012

Border Security

STATE COULD ENHANCE VISA FRAUD PREVENTION BY STRATEGICALLY USING RESOURCES AND TRAINING

Diversity Visas: The Diversity Visa Program was established through the Immigration Act of 1990 and provides up to 55,000 immigrant visas annually to aliens from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Aliens register for the diversity visa lottery for free online and applicants are randomly selected for interviews through a lottery process. Upon being selected, a winner must apply for a visa, be interviewed, and be found eligible for the diversity visa. All countries are eligible for the Diversity Visa Program except those from which more than 50,000 immigrants have come to the United States over the preceding 5 years. In 2011, approximately 16.5 million people applied for the program and about 107,000 (7 percent) were selected for further processing. Of those selected, 75,000 were interviewed at posts for a diversity visa, and approximately 50,000 received visas. Because the program does not require a U.S.-based petitioner, it is particularly susceptible to fraud. Diversity visa fraud is rampant in parts of South Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, and is particularly acute in areas where few individuals have independent access to the Internet. A typical scenario includes visa facilitators, travel agents, or Internet café operators who help would-be applicants submit an entry for a fee. Many of these facilitators withhold the confirmation information that the entrant must use to retrieve his or her selection status. To access the lottery notification, the facilitators may require winning applicants to either pay an additional exorbitant fee or agree to enter into a marriage with another of the facilitator's paying clients solely for the purpose of extending immigration benefits.

The gentlelady from Houston mentioned in depth the question of diversity. Mr. Speaker, 55,000--and perhaps more in the future--STEM graduates will bring diversity of employment. The highest levels of unemployment in America are in the African American community and other minority communities. That's the diversity we need to work on. The diversity of unemployment needs to be turned around. That's what the STEM bill is about, helping employ Americans.

I now yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Diaz-Balart), one of the hardest working and most distinguished Members when it comes to immigration reform.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I might note for the gentleman that, in fact, there are more than 12,000 African students studying in STEM fields here in the United States at the advanced level, and almost 1,500 Nigerian-specific students alone getting graduate-level degrees in STEM fields in America at this time.

With that, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Iowa, a member of the Immigration Subcommittee, Mr. King.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I would inquire if the gentleman's statement about the ugly head of racism was in reference to those of us who authored this bill.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair will not render an advisory opinion regarding the meaning of words spoken in debate.

Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. ISSA. I yield the gentleman 10 seconds.

Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. I am not accusing anybody of racism. I don't know what is in the heads of those who support this bill, but if it's not racist in its intent, it's certainly racist in its effect.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as

I may consume.

As I previously said, more than 12,000 African citizens will be eligible under this today, and more than 1,500 Nigerian citizens will be eligible under this today. Out of 1 million people who get to come to this country today, it's amazing that a program so fraught with fraud and recognized for fraud would somehow not be the logical place to expand the merit-based opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, as a point of personal privilege, I must tell you that I went to college with a lot of people from around the world. They were very diverse, and the grad students were very diverse. I am personally insulted that anyone would use even loosely the term of ``racism'' as part of a statement related to merit-based advanced degrees.

I've been at university graduations. The people graduating and walking across the aisle are extremely diverse, and I believe the gentleman needs to go to a few college graduations and see master's and Ph.D. candidates if he is going to refer to this in any way as racist.

With that, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Fitzpatrick).

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, the truth is persistent. According to DHS, where they study student tracking, this is their source, not mine, I will read verbatim once again for the gentlelady from California: There are more than 12,000 African students studying in STEM fields in the United States.

Of course, some currently could be undergraduate.

Almost 1,500 Nigerian students alone are getting a graduate-level education in STEM fields.

Yes, this bill will encourage those able to go on and get graduate degrees in STEM fields to do so because, yes, that's going to give them an opportunity. But don't we want the best and the brightest? Isn't that the goal? Isn't job creation the goal?

With that, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. Griffin).

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume in response.

There we go again, looking at the numbers rather than the merit.

Mr. Speaker, the merit of this piece of legislation is to get America working, to use the opportunity that is being squandered to get America working again. For each advance degreed STEM immigrant, we, in fact, create three jobs. That's not being disputed by the minority. It's not being disputed certainly by the 30 or so members of the minority that voted for this bill previously.

When we bring up, under this legislation, the opportunity to more quickly reunify families of legal immigrants, what we get told is, you're not doing it immediately. Now, of course, if we did it immediately, without any sort of process and opportunity to make sure that they're eligible for reunification, we'd be criticized for that.

You're moving up the speed with which families can be reunited, you get no credit. You're giving an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of American jobs for existing Americans to be created by recruiting people that could help create jobs, you're being criticized. If one country wins and other one loses a few thousand slots, you're being criticized.

Mr. Speaker, I just have to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, a million or so people come to this country every year. This is a small part of it. And this is a part of it that history is quite clear on.

Senator Kennedy, and a few others, created this particular item for their own purposes because they looked at the outcome of Irish, basically, to a certain extent getting to come here under this visa. And now everyone's wanted to use the Diversity Visa lottery for years, and I've seen it gamed all over the world, in Lebanon, in Bangladesh, and in other places. There's no questions it has a lot of fraud. But that's not really the discussion today.

The real discussion is American jobs, the diversity of employment. And as the gentlelady from California, my colleague on the committee, knows, this also is a piece of legislation that will encourage men and women from around the world, brilliant men and women, to choose American universities to get their degrees from, to choose America to be the place in which they invest, not just their God-given talents, but their American-acquired talents in.

And yes, it will encourage people from countries like Africa and other places who are smart to come here to get their advanced degrees in greater numbers. What part of a good idea can't we accept?

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I just can't stop finding it hard to understand. We roll over these slots specifically because we understand in the first year, bureaucracy in our government often makes things not happen. But we preserve for 4 years these slots.

The gentlelady from California is quite right about one thing: we certainly should look together at additional areas of skills and degrees that, if they came to America, would add to America, and put them at the front of the line.

And I'm going to say, I guess lastly, lastly, to the immigrant population, to the people who are new Americans, you came here with a belief in America, and you came here wanting to add to America. And we want the next people that come behind you to add to what you're adding, not to undermine a job that you currently have, but in fact, to help create more jobs.

I believe in the immigrant history of America and immigrant future of America or I wouldn't be supporting this and other bills. In just a few weeks, I hope that in the new Congress we'll be taking up additional comprehensive legislation. But if you can't take yes for an answer on a significant portion, then I suspect we will have a very difficult time taking yes for an answer on the harder decisions to come on immigration reform.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, we're prepared to close on this side, if the gentleman on the other side is ready.

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, so are we. I reserve the right to close.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I would inquire as to how much time I have remaining.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman has 8 1/2 minutes remaining.

Mr. ISSA. I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Speaker, if we were to have a discussion on outcome, my distinguished colleague from Detroit, Michigan, and I could endlessly quote figures. I'm going to quote a few because I think they're germane to the last speaker's close.

In 2009, the numbers of the top three Diversity visas were as follows: Ethiopia, 3,829; Nigeria, 3,720; and Egypt, a country I visited many, many times, 3,336. No question at all they're all on the continent of Africa. But as recently as 1994, earlier on in this longstanding 30-year piece of set-aside, it went more like this: Poland, 17,396; Ireland, 15,659; the United Kingdom--Great Britain--3,174.

Mr. Speaker, one of the problems with the Diversity Visa is, in fact, it's a question of whether you've put in all the names in the phone book or not. It's a question of who's gaming the system. It doesn't have any sort of, if you will, set-aside to ensure an outcome. And within the outcome, whether you're taking from Poland, Ireland, United Kingdom, or, in 1999, a few years later, it switched to Bulgaria, Nigeria, and Albania.

These top names that occur have a lot to do with how many people throw their name in a hat and nothing to do with whether or not they really want to be Americans, whether they really have the qualifications, whether they have any connection to America that would allow them to get a job.

Not long ago, The Wall Street Journal, I believe, put a whole page into this, taking one after another of anecdotal examples of people who came, having won the lottery, with the American Dream and found out that they couldn't find a job--maybe a taxi driver, maybe not. They weren't making it, and they were thinking about going back. This is all too common in those visas.

Mr. Speaker, I want to use my closing time to address a couple of points because they're important for the American people to understand. Because what you heard here just a few seconds ago was a statement that we just had a referendum. Well, I remember all the election talk and very little of it was on immigration--sadly, much more of it should have been. We had a referendum on each of us individually. So each of us returning men and women to Congress, we've had a referendum in our district.

My district was asking me for jobs. I have Calcom in my district. I have a lot of high-tech companies, particularly in telecommunications and biotechnology; and they were asking me for, believe it or not, more H-1B temporary visas. If they could get permanent immigrants, they could use them all up.

There was a statement made about the numbers--and we could argue over 29,000 or some other number--as though this bill only pertained to next year's college graduates. It doesn't. There is a backlog of tens and hundreds of thousands of people in the STEM field who have already received degrees who would love to come here. They graduated a year ago, 2 years ago. They're here on an H-1B--they're not here, but they would come back here. There is a wealth of people that fit this category so that that first 4 years, that first 220,000 number, in fact, will be well filled. I'm confident it will be filled and overfilled.

I'm confident that Ms. Lofgren's desire to deal with some of the other areas in which we have critical shortages of skilled people--computer sciences being certainly a possibility--that those will be clamored, once this is passed, to be added. As a matter of fact, I'm confident that my colleague from California will probably be somebody wanting to add them very quickly, and I suspect I will strongly support her.

Now, we've had a discussion, mostly from the minority, about winners and losers. The last, the closing side on the minority side said things like: you only want smart people. You only want people that will add to our economy. You don't want the people who come without skills, just with hope. Well, we do take a lot of those people, but my colleague was right in a sense. We want to put to the head of the line the people that on every single one of them that comes, net creates jobs. So that we know that the immigrant coming, at least in the case of 55,000 a year, for each one that comes, three great jobs are created in America. And for each of those that come, even if they bring their family, they're not likely to be a burden on our society, just the opposite: they're going to be a net positive to our economy. They're going to send their children to our colleges and universities, of course, and the world is better because America is better.

I also heard a lot of discussion--and I've spent 12 years on Judiciary. I love what we deal with on that committee--the Constitution, immigration, intellectual property; that's why I came to that committee. But when you say what you're doing, like if you take from this particular category, that somehow you're being bad, let's think about some of the other categories.

What if we took from family reunification? What would be the cry? It would be, My goodness, these are people just trying to be with the rest of their family. Be compassionate. And they would be right. Maybe if we took from E-B5, a program that I'm personally supportive of and want to make better, a program where people invest in America, create net jobs, and get a visa as a result, we can take from that, but that wouldn't be good for jobs. We certainly could, theoretically, take from people who are the victims of terrorism, of persecution; but America would never do that.

So when you look at this vast number, more than half of all immigrants going anywhere in the world come to America. In other words, we produce more new Americans by importation than the entire rest of the world combined. So if out of that vast number we choose a small amount, 5 percent, and say we can do better, we hear a human cry that we can't do better, that this isn't better.

Mr. Speaker, I will say, as someone who was listening to my constituents upon my reelection, you better believe this is better. We are bringing the best and the brightest. We are encouraging the front of the line be given to a small portion of immigration for people who will help create jobs. They will create jobs for people of all colors, all races. They will create jobs for people who just came to this country and can't find a job. We are trying to do the right thing for the American people, at least in a small way; and I believe this is a great start.

So as I vote for this piece of legislation, I'm voting for it because I know, as a former businessman, I know as someone who just had a referendum on my own returning to Congress that jobs and the economy are what people want us to work on. This is a good down-payment. These slots will be filled and oversubscribed. We will look at this as a beginning of a turn toward looking at immigrants as a positive part of our economy and making it happen.

So I believe that the minority, although well-intended, has basically misled the American people with some of their assumptions because their assumptions simply aren't right. We will fill these slots. We will bring in 55,000 job creators. We will have diversity from around the world in these individuals. We will encourage people from all over the world, if they want to get a master's or Ph.D. and they're already in London or they're in Poland or they're in Nigeria, that maybe when they finish their master's there, they get their Ph.D. here and become eligible.

With that, I urge support of the bill and I yield back the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support of the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429). I have long been a proponent of visa reform and am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill.

Our current visa system is inadequate. Many of the world's top students come to the United States to obtain advanced degrees from some of the best universities and colleges in the world to gain competitive science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) skills.

We desperately need to retain these skills to boost our economy. The high-tech and biotech companies in California would benefit from increased STEM visas by creating new, innovative jobs in our communities. However, instead of encouraging these highly skilled students to stay in America, current law forces these individuals to return home, or to third-party countries where they become innovators and entrepreneurs creating prosperity and capital for American competitors.

The STEM Act is an important step towards reforming our immigration system and getting our economy back into working order. Republicans and Democrats alike agree that we need the growth these highly trained individuals are creating elsewhere. Making STEM visas more readily available will foster innovation and job creation in our workforce.

I urge my colleagues to help generate jobs, boost the economy and increase American competitiveness by passing this bill.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top