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Create a STEM Visa Program

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Gutierrez) for 5 minutes.

Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Speaker, today we will vote on a Republican proposal to provide green cards to certain immigrants and to cut the same number of green cards available to other legal immigrants.

How do we determine who gets more green cards and who gets fewer?

For my Republican friends, that's easy. They will provide more green cards to a very narrow number of immigrants they can tolerate--smart immigrants who have been educated in U.S. colleges and universities. They will make other legal immigrants--ones they can't tolerate--pay for that increase.

Meanwhile, Democrats have introduced bills that would also provide green cards to the immigrants who have been educated in U.S. colleges and universities. Our Democratic proposal, however, does not take green cards away from other deserving immigrants who want to come legally and contribute to this country.

On our side of the aisle, we respect all immigrants. Our bill recognizes the value of all of them to our economy and, indeed, to our future. We should not educate some of the world's most talented people in the STEM fields--that's science, technology, engineering, and math--and then send them away to work in foreign lands to compete against us.

Democrats strongly support providing these visas as a way of helping the U.S. economy and creating jobs, not just for the immigrants but for the U.S. workers they will employ and the economic activity they will generate. Democrats want progress. We want visas for STEM graduates. We will work in a bipartisan manner with Republicans to get it done. It's a smart policy, and it's a just policy. Let me be clear. There is no economic reason--no budget reason, no jobs reason--to punish other immigrants because we give out STEM visas. Absolutely none. Let me try to make it simple.

Let's pretend we're not talking about immigrants, because any time some of my Republican friends hear the word ``immigrants,'' they immediately want to punish someone. So let's say, instead of immigrants, we're talking about a family of three children, of three honest and hardworking children. One child wants to go to college to become an industrial engineer, and another wants to go to college to become a math professor. The third--a diligent, industrious child--doesn't want to go to college. Let's say he wants to start a landscaping business. He wants to work with the land and get his hands dirty.

The Republican plan is simple--to help the kids going to college and to cut the other kid off. He's out. Tough luck. He's not smart enough for this family. The Democratic plan is just as simple. We need scientists, engineers and mathematicians, but we need other workers, too--construction workers, machinists, chefs, entrepreneurs. We need immigrants from all over the world--from every continent, including Africa. Everyone who works hard helps our economy, so let's be helpful to everyone. That's the Democratic belief, but that's not the Republican plan today.

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. After all, this proposal comes from a party whose Presidential nominee doesn't care about 47 percent of America. Call it the Mitt Romney deadbeat doctrine in which half of all Americans are freeloaders. Maybe that's all we need to know about this Republican plan. I suppose, in the Republican world, STEM visas are for the half of America that works, and the other visas are for the deadbeats that Mitt Romney doesn't care about--you know, the freeloaders like your parents on Social Security or your son or daughter with that student loan or the Pell Grant--or like my parents, who came from Puerto Rico with only an elementary school education, but who worked hard every day and put two kids through college and one of them in the Congress of the United States. Yes, those deadbeats. If my parents had needed visas to come to this country today under this new plan, they would never have gotten a chance.

We are changing the rules about who can--and more importantly--about who cannot come to America. So unless you view the world through Mitt Romney's ``us versus them'' vision of America, there is no reason to cut visas today. None. I want to stand up for the Zoe Lofgren provision of immigration--the Democratic vision of immigration. We're not divided into a country where people who gather at a fancy country club and write $50,000 checks to political candidates are good and where the people who stand to run and serve them the food are bad. America is not half deadbeats. We are one America, and we have a chance to prove it today.

Democrats are offering a sensible plan that doesn't divide us. It values all work from all immigrants. It achieves our common goal of creating a STEM visa program, keeping more scientists and engineers right here in America, making us stronger. In Mitt Romney's world, if you help one person, you have to punish another. I think that's wrong. I urge my colleagues to pass a fair and sensible plan to create a STEM visa program, and let's do it without punishing a single person.

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