Congressman Charles K. Djou (HI-01) issued the following statement after signing on as an original co-sponsor to H.R. 5658, the "Securing Knowledge, Innovation, and Leadership (SKIL) Act," a bill that would make it easier to attract and keep the best minds from around the world:
"As a child of immigrants, I know of the promise of America. One of our nation's greatest strengths is the innovation that has driven our economic growth and our capacity as a nation to attract the most skilled workers from around the world to study and work in America.
"We need to bring the best and brightest individuals from around the world to our universities. More importantly, we need to keep them here after they graduate. This bill would increase the allotment of H-1B visas and would allow foreign nationals who graduate from American institutions of higher learning to contribute to our economy by staying in the American workforce. Currently, we are losing too many American-trained, highly skilled foreign nationals to other nations. In an increasingly global economy, we cannot afford to continue this exodus of the educated.
"I agree with President Obama that we need comprehensive immigration reform. In order to maintain a large and legal front door for immigrants like my parents, we need to ensure the illegal back door is sealed shut. At the same time, we must make a concerted effort to keep the global economy's next generation of leaders here in the United States. I hope that as the President continues to push for bipartisan immigration reform, keeping highly educated and skilled individuals in the United States, regardless of nationality, is a prominent piece of the solution."
H.R. 5658, which was introduced today, would increase the allotment of H-1B visas to prior levels of 115,000 and provide the potential for future increases. More importantly, this measure would allow foreign nationals who graduate from U.S. universities to stay in America. Nearly 40% of master's degrees in engineering and at least 50% of doctorate degrees in engineering, physics, mathematics, computer sciences, and economics awarded by U.S. universities were earned by foreign nationals. Congressman Djou has made it a priority to push for immigration reform that will increase the number of visas that the federal government issues, especially H-1B visas, tourist visas and family reunification visas, which would help Hawaii's largest industry-- tourism.