"Mr. Speaker, we all agree getting our economy moving again needs to be our top priority. But jobs will not take off until American businesses have the workers they need to drive innovation and growth. And the immigrants who come to this country for school and for work have always been key players in driving our nation's economy.
"Unfortunately, current immigration policies are preventing American businesses from hiring foreign students who earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math from our best universities. From growing startups to U.S. multi-nationals, American employers are desperate for qualified STEM workers -- no matter where they are from. Microsoft, for example, has over 6,000 job openings waiting to be filled by scientists, researchers, engineers, and developers.
"For now, these openings and many others, will remain vacant because too few American students are graduating with STEM degrees, and foreign STEM graduates can't get the visas they need. Every year, the U.S. invests in educating thousands of foreign students in STEM fields at our top universities -- only to send them back to compete against us.
"Chairman Lamar Smith, along with Congressman Raul Labrador and Congressman Bob Goodlatte and the Chairman from California, Mr. Issa, have all been working on this and have now put forward the measure before us to spur job creation by providing a pathway for American-educated foreign graduates with advanced STEM degrees to work here and contribute to our economy.
"The bill also keeps immigrant families together by letting the husbands, wives and minor children of immigrant workers wait in the U.S. with their families for their green cards.
"The STEM Jobs Act re-allocates existing visas currently distributed through a random lottery, and directs them instead to the highly-skilled foreign graduates of U.S. universities who have enormous potential to help grow our economy, our top priority. The Partnership for a New American Economy found that every immigrant with an advanced STEM degree working for a U.S. company creates about 3 new American jobs. And one-quarter of all STEM-focused companies in the U.S. count at least one immigrant as a founder.
"At American multi-nationals like Qualcomm, Merck, GE and Cisco, immigrants filed up to 72 percent of the patents, giving those businesses a competitive edge and helping them expand and create jobs here at home. Our commitment to foreign STEM graduates is a commitment to American job creation.
"Foreign students are drawn to our shores by our world-class universities and they want to stay because they know, in America, there is immense opportunity. We need to bet on the students who bet on America. We are a nation that was built by people who risked everything for the promise of opportunity and we must continue to be that nation.
"We must make sure that U.S. companies can hire the top foreign talent we are educating, instead of sending those graduates into a bureaucratic maze -- or worse, to our competitors. This is a common sense solution that should have bipartisan support. Let's pass the STEM Jobs Act to make sure diplomas come with green cards, not a spot on a government waiting list."