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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Immigration Innovation--or I-Squared--Act of 2013. I am pleased to be joined by my colleagues Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Chris Coons, without whom this bill would not have materialized. All four of us worked very closely together, and each one of us deserves total credit for this bill. Together, we have crafted one of the first bipartisan immigration bills in this Congress, one that is designed to address the shortage of high-skilled labor we face in this country. This shortage has reached a crisis level. For too long, our country has been unable to meet the ever-increasing demand for workers trained in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics--or STEM--fields. As a result, some of our Nation's top technology markets, such as Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston, New York, and Salt Lake City, are in desperate need for qualified STEM workers.

It is critical that we not only recognize this shortage of high-skilled workers but also understand why it exists. Increasingly, enrollment in U.S. universities in the STEM fields comes from foreign students, and despite our urgent need for workers in these fields, we continue to send these foreign students--potential high-skilled workers trained at American universities--back to their home countries after graduation.

Recently I was in a meeting with several leaders in the technology industry where it was mentioned that between 2010 and 2020, the American economy will annually create more than 120,000 additional computer science jobs that will require at least a bachelor's degree, and that is just mentioning one aspect of this. This is great news for many of our computer science students. Unfortunately, that is the end of the good news. Each year only about 40,000 American students received bachelor's degrees in computer science. In other words, there are approximately 80,000 new computer science positions every year in the United States that cannot be filled by the available American workforce. I might add that these are positions which need to be filled so that our technology industry can continue to thrive. Simply put, U.S.-based companies have a great need for those trained in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field, but at least right now, there are not enough Americans trained and ready to fill these jobs.

We cannot continue to simply hope American companies do not move operations to countries where they have greater access to individuals trained in these STEM fields. We cannot continue to ignore this problem; it is that simple. Continued inaction causes us to miss out on an important opportunity, especially since, as the American Enterprise Institute has confirmed, 100 foreign-born workers with STEM degrees create an average of 262 additional jobs for native-born workers. Those countries would love to have their American-educated Ph.D.s and other highly educated individuals return and boost their economy--not only from their acquired skills but also by creating these new jobs as well. An updated, high-skilled immigration system is directly tied to creating jobs and spurring growth across all sectors of our economy. We cannot afford any further inaction on this issue.

The I-Squared Act of 2013 addresses the immediate short-term need to provide American employers with greater access to high-skilled workers while also addressing the long-term need to invest in America's STEM education. I am confident that this two-step approach will enable our country to thrive and help us compete in today's global economy.

I mentioned my three prime cosponsors on this bill, each one of whom deserves credit for this bill, each one of whom has been a pleasure to work with, each one of whom adds a great deal to getting this bill passed. I personally thank the Senators for working with me on this issue and allowing me the privilege of working with them on this issue.

Let me turn some time over to Senator Klobuchar, who, along with Senators COONS and RUBIO, has been a prime mover on this piece of legislation.

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Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I wish to thank Senator Coons, Senator Klobuchar, and Senator Rubio. As my colleagues can see, it is a real pleasure to work with these three partners and others as well. I particularly wish to thank each of my colleagues for the helpful overview they have given on this bill. It has been a real pleasure for me to work with these three very innovative leaders in the Senate.

As a number of my colleagues have mentioned, by eliminating per-country limits for employment-based green cards, recapturing lost employment-based immigrant visas, exempting certain classes of immigrants from the annual green card limit, and creating a new and sustainable funding stream to enhance the U.S. STEM education pipeline, we will help America's innovative industries recruit and retain high-skilled talent to more effectively compete in today's global marketplace, and it will make us more competitive.

We have heard from many industry stakeholders that support the I-Squared Act of 2013. To date, we have received letters of support from the following organizations that support this bill: Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, IBM, Hewlett-Packard Company, Facebook, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, BSA The Software Alliance, Compete America, the Semiconductor Industry Association, TechNet, the Technology Association of America, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Software and Information Industry Association, the Internet Association, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, TechServe Alliance, the Association for Competitive Technology, the Telecommunications Industry Association, CTIA--The Wireless Association, Sabre Holdings, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and just to mention one other, Immigration Voice.

Mr. President, working with Senators KLOBUCHAR, RUBIO, and COONS, I have to say is a real privilege for me. These are three very fine additions to the Senate. In the case of Senator KLOBUCHAR and Senator COONS, they are two respected members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senator RUBIO, in my view, is one of the most knowledgeable Senators we have on immigration policy and, as we can see, a terrific leader in so many other ways. We send a strong message that both sides of the aisle can come together to craft bipartisan legislation to address one of our country's most urgent economic needs.

Yesterday, eight of our colleagues unveiled a framework to overhaul our Nation's immigration system. I am proud of them. I commend them for their willingness to work in a bipartisan way to reform our immigration laws. It is very much needed. One of the leaders is, of course, our own Senator Rubio, as well as Senator Schumer and Senator McCain, and others as well whom I hate to not mention, but I think my colleagues get the point. Similarly, the work of Senators Klobuchar, Rubio, Coons, and I have done in crafting the I-Squared Act of 2013 was no easy task and represents hours of negotiations with interested stakeholders and has garnered, as my colleagues can see, widespread industry support.

The I-Squared Act makes sense. I hope our language to reform the high-skilled immigration system is considered by this body in the immediate future. I would surely like to hear a little bit more from Senator Klobuchar, if she would care to make some additional points. I don't mean to take all the time.

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Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I wish to particularly thank my colleagues--Senator Coons and Senator Rubio and Senator Klobuchar--for their work on this bill. It is obvious from their statements here today they have a great deal of commitment to these important issues.

I-squared is a commonsense approach to ensuring that those who have come to be educated in our American universities have the ability to stay with their families and contribute to our economy and our society.

This bill is good for workers, it is good for businesses trying to grow, and it is good for our economy.

I am pleased with the momentum we already have seen on this bill through industry support and within the Senate itself.

I am pleased to announce that Senators FLAKE, SHAHEEN, HELLER, BLUMENTHAL, HOEVEN, NELSON, and WARNER have agreed to be original cosponsors of the I-Squared Act, and I encourage many more of my colleagues to support and help pass this bill. It is long overdue. It is well thought out. We have run it by the top people in this country. Frankly, it has a lot of support so far. We have not even gone out and tried to get cosponsors, and they are starting to come naturally. I hope we can get the Senate to call up this bill. Of course, I think we are all interested in going beyond this bill too, in doing true immigration reform that will help our country to continue to maintain itself as the greatest country in the world.

I wish to thank my colleagues. This has been a real privilege to serve with them on the floor today.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

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