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Public Statements

Stem Jobs Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Unknown

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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I thank the distinguished gentleman.

I think the difference with my friends on the other side of the aisle is their lack of recollecting that America has always viewed immigration as good. In fact, I heard a very potent story this morning about the restoring of the Statue of Liberty that so many of us as children have had the opportunity to climb to the very top and be reminded of the welcoming of the huddled poor. That's what this debate is all about, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the chairman for yielding to me, and I just want to deviate for a moment in this time of economic tension just to remind people that tomorrow is World AIDS Day. I want to congratulate the Thomas Street clinic in my district and remind people that 25 million people have died since 1981. I just wanted to acknowledge those individuals as we begin this very important debate.

We are respectful of immigrants. Even in the Democratic Caucus, and I would imagine in the Conference--my good friend who is now managing had an immigrant history. Yesterday, we elected a son of immigrants to be the vice chair of the Democratic Caucus. He told a very potent story about his grandfather coming here to the United States of America. I can assure you that he did not come with massive degrees, but he built a foundation for his country and for his family.

Now, I am very much in support of the STEM process and premise, which is to give opportunity to those who have studied in our universities, research institutions. Why wouldn't I? Having had children who have had the opportunity to attend some of the best institutions in this country, having had my children meet some of those very students, from Harvard to the University of North Carolina and Duke, I am well aware of the importance of this. But I would raise the question of whether or not we can judge the Diversity visas, where people have come from places like Bangladesh and Uzbekistan, Germany, Ethiopia--one of our strongest allies in Africa--Liberia, with an African woman as President, the first on that continent, South Africa. Or maybe we would choose to ignore our friends in Israel, where Diversity visas were received; or Albania, where we went to war to ensure the integrity and the saving of those people; or Hungary or Iceland or maybe our strong ally Turkey. That's what Diversity visas represent.

There is no reason to borrow from Peter to pay Paul. In fact, if my friends would really pay attention to the recent charge of the November 6 election, they would know that what America needs is comprehensive immigration reform. If I might, in this debate of deficit reduction and the need for increased revenue, we know that if you had comprehensive immigration reform over 10 years, you would introduce into the economy $1.5 trillion. That's a reason to come to the floor right now and vote this bill down and start in the next week and put on the floor the bills that Luis Gutierrez and myself and Zoe Lofgren and John Conyers and many others--at one time, Senator McCain wanted to put on the floor of the Senate and the House.

My concern is that we tried to come in a bipartisan manner. I introduced legislation--an amendment, rather--in the markup to say that let's study this issue of fraud with the Diversity visas, or let's assess what it is, because we have evidence that, in fact, the alleged fraud was because of a computer error, not the people who are applying.

Mr. Speaker, 15 million have applied. Only 50,000 have been able to get the Diversity Visa. And of those, some of them are African immigrants, 50 percent of them; but they equal only 1 percent of the legal permanent residents.

This whole question of terrorism just troubles me. I went to the Rules Committee in a spirit of bipartisanship to say, eliminate the provision on Diversity Visas. We can then support you. Keep the underlying premise of this legislation. I even asked that the rollover be extended because there's no evidence that you can get 55,000 in 4 years.

If you are serious about creating jobs--I am serious about creating jobs. My colleagues are serious about creating jobs. But I am disappointed that we would classify the Diversity Visa as bringing in ne'er-do-wells, people we don't want. Because I will tell you that America was built on the ne'er-do-wells--maybe those of us who came as slaves or indentured servants, who came in the late 1800s with not any money in their pocket but who were determined to serve this Nation.

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

Mr. CONYERS. I yield the gentlelady 1 additional minute.

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I thank the gentleman.

I recall the story of my colleague whose grandfather served in World War I. As soon as he got here, he was willing to shed his blood for this country.

I am on the Homeland Security Committee, Mr. Speaker. I would not want to jeopardize one inch of this Nation's security; but I can assure you, if we look to 9/11, there was no one there with a Diversity Visa. The terrorists had student visas, and they were overstays.

Former Congressman Bruce Morrison, who introduced this, said that Diversity Visas are at the heart of the definition of America. And as my friend and colleague from California, Congresswoman Lofgren said, Who that was a terrorist would want to stand in line and provide all of the information that they needed to provide to get a Diversity Visa?

I will enter into the Record a letter from the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, who absolutely opposes H.R. 6429, a church that believes in the Beatitudes, as we all do.

Committee on Migration c/o Migration and Refugee Services, USCCB,

Washington DC, November 28, 2012.
U.S. House of Representatives,
Washington, DC.

Dear Representative: On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I write to oppose H.R. 6429, legislation that would eliminate the existing Diversity Visa program and its 55,000 permanent immigration visas in order to provide visas to foreign graduates of American universities with expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

To be clear, USCCB is not opposed to an increase in STEM visas. We prefer to see Congress authorize additional visas for this purpose, however, rather than eliminate existing immigrant visa programs. Our nation should not limit itself in attracting newcomers who can help contribute to our economic and cultural growth. And it certainly should not eliminate the Diversity Visa program, which is one of the few avenues available for many would-be immigrants from some African and European countries to immigrate to the United States.

While we appreciate the spirit of an unrelated provision in the bill that would permit some beneficiaries of family-based immigration petitioners to live in the United States while awaiting their priority dates, we believe that persons granted such a status should also be granted work authorization, as has been done in the past, so they can support themselves during this period.

H.R. 6429 falls well short of what is needed to repair our flawed immigration system. Indeed, we believe it would represent a setback compared to current law in that, for the first time in more than a generation, it would eliminate a category of legal immigration. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the House of Representatives to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in the near future.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,
Most Reverend José H. Gomez,

Archbishop of Los Angeles, Chairman,
USCCB Committee on Migration.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I can only say, the Catholic Church does not want terrorists to roam this Nation.

And if we look closely at this allegation of fraud, we will find computer error. We will find that with the decades of Diversity Visas, as they were introduced with Bruce Morrison, we will find that this is not the cause of any cancer of terrorism. If we go into our hearts, we will know that Diversity Visas reflect the language written so eloquently by the poet for the Statue of Liberty and that is: ``Give me your tired, your poor.'' Those are the great Americans.

And I can assure you that in my constituency, Mr. Speaker, the diverse 18th Congressional District in the city of Houston, they reflect what America is. They are building the jobs.

I ask my colleagues to oppose this, and let us get back to the drawing board for a conference on immigration reform.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose H. Res. 821 the Rule providing for the consideration of H.R. 6429 ``STEM Jobs Act,'' an ill-conceived bill that eliminates the Diversity Immigration Visa Program in order to increase the amount of visas available for STEM applicants.

As a senior Member of the Judiciary Committee I have long advocated for the Diversity Immigration Visa program. Earlier this year, during a Judiciary Committee mark up of a bill which was also designed to kill the Diversity program, I offered an amendment that directed the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State to report to Congress on steps that could be taken to further eliminate fraud and security risks in the Diversity Visa program. Rather than vote to fix the program and defend legal immigration and diversity in our immigrant pool, every Republican on the Committee who was present voted down the amendment.

On Wednesday, I once again offered amendments in Rules Committee to protect the Diversity Visa Program, and once again the Republican majority on the Committee voted against it.

Nearly 15 million people, representing about 20 million with family members included, registered late last year for the 2012 Diversity Visa Program under which only 50,000 visa winners were to be selected via random selection process.

Each year, diversity visa winners make up about 4 percent of all Legal Permanent Resident, LPR, admissions.

Unlike every other visa program, its express purpose is to help us develop a racially, ethnically, and culturally-diverse population. It serves a unique purpose and it works. In recent years, African immigrants have comprised about 50 percent of the DV program's beneficiaries, however only 1 percent of legal permanent residents recipients.

Diversity Visa immigrants succeed and contribute to the U.S. economy. According to the Congressional Research Service, in FY 2009 Diversity Visa immigrants were 2.5 times more likely to report managerial and professional occupations than all other lawful permanent residents.

The Diversity Visa program promotes respect for U.S. immigration laws. It reduces incentives for illegal immigration by encouraging prospective immigrants to wait until they win a visa, as opposed to attempting to enter without permission.

CHANCE FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM

The Diversity Visa sustains the American Dream in parts of the world where it represents the only realistic opportunity for immigrating to the U.S.

Former Rep. Bruce Morrison--one of the architects of the Diversity Visa--testified in 2005 that the program advances a principle that is ``at the heart of the definition of America;'' the principle that ``all nationalities are welcome.''

Ambassador Johnny Young, Executive Director of Migration and Refugee Services, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, testified at a 2011 Judiciary Committee hearing: ``The Program engenders hope abroad for those that are all too often without it--hope for a better life, hope for reunification with family in the United States, and hope for a chance to use their God-given skills and talents.''

NO SIGNIFCANT EVIDENCE OF A SECURITY RISK

No substantive evidence has been given that the Diversity Program poses a significant risk to our national security. There are organizations like Numbers USA who are not just advocating against illegal immigration but also wish to place caps on or decrease legal immigration as well.

As former Congressman Bruce Morrison testified in 2005: ``[I]t is absurd to think that a lottery would be the vehicle of choice for terrorists.'' 12 to 20 million people enter the Diversity Visa lottery each year and no more than 50,000 visas are available.

In 2007, GAO ``found no documented evidence that DV immigrants ..... posed a terrorist or other threat.''

Diversity Visa recipients go through the same immigration, criminal, and national security background checks that all people applying for Lawful Permanent Residence undergo. They also are interviewed by State Department and Department of Homeland Security personnel.

FRAUD

Since the State Department OIG first raised concerns about fraud in 1993, significant changes have been made. In 2004, State implemented an electronic registration system. This allows State to use facial and name recognition software to identify duplicate applications and to share date with intelligence and law enforcement agencies for necessary immigration and security checks.

In 2012 there was an incident where 20,000 people were erroneously notified that they were finalists in the Diversity program. They would have the opportunity to enter the lottery. The OIG investigated and found this was due to a computer error. There was no evidence of intentional fraud, as a safety precaution and because of the principle of fairness the State Department did the lottery again.

The Diversity Visa program has led the way in applying cutting edge technology to reduce fraud and increase security. The program was one of the first in the government to use facial recognition software to analyze digital photographs.

I join the vast majority of my Democratic colleagues in supporting an expansion of the STEM program. H.R. 6429 attempt to increase the STEM Visa program is an admirable one; however, I firmly believe it should not come at the expense of the Diversity Immigration Visa Program and should include a broader range of institutions.

America's ability to extend its arms and welcome immigrants is more than a cultural tradition; it is a fundamental promise of our democracy. The Diversity Immigration Visa Program is designed to give a very small diverse percentage of immigrants the opportunity to attain a green card and live the American dream. It's a popular program, it's a successful program and it reflects core American values of inclusion and opportunity.

Diversity Visa Program (DV-2012)--Selected Entrants

The Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg, Kentucky has registered and notified the winners of the DV-2012 diversity lottery. The diversity lottery was conducted under the terms of section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and makes available *50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Approximately 100,021 applicants have been registered and notified and may now make an application for an immigrant visa. Since it is likely that some of the first *50,000 persons registered will not pursue their cases to visa issuance, this larger figure should insure that all DV-2012 numbers will be used during fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 until September 30, 2012).

Applicants registered for the DV-2012 program were selected at random from 14,768,658 qualified entries (19,672,268 with derivatives) received during the 30-day application period that ran from noon on October 5, 2010, until noon, November 3, 2010. The visas have been apportioned among six geographic regions with a maximum of seven percent available to persons born in any single country. During the visa interview, principal applicants must provide proof of a high school education or its equivalent, or show two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience within the past five years. Those selected will need to act on their immigrant visa applications quickly. Applicants should follow the instructions in their notification letter and must fully complete the information requested.

Registrants living legally in the United States who wish to apply for adjustment of their status must contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for information on the requirements and procedures. Once the total *50,000 visa numbers have been used, the program for fiscal year 2012 will end. Selected applicants who do not receive visas by September 30, 2012 will derive no further benefit from their DV-2012 registration. Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2012 principal applicants are only entitled to derivative diversity visa status until September 30, 2012.

Only participants in the DV-2012 program who were selected for further processing have been notified. Those who have not received notification were not selected. They may try for the upcoming DV-2013 lottery if they wish. The dates for the registration period for the DV-2013 lottery program are expected to be widely publicized at some point during the coming months.

*The Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997 stipulated that up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas be made available for use under the NACARA program. The reduction of the limit of available visas to 50,000 began with DV-2000.

The following is the statistical breakdown by country of chargeability of those selected for the DV-2012 program.

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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.

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