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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions - Immigration

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I wish to thank Senator Rubio and Senator Coons. I also thank the Senator from Utah for his incredible leadership. We have worked as a team. I think that is what this is, a team--team America. We must be a country that makes stuff again, invents things, and exports to the world. In order to do that, we need the world's talent, and that is what this bill is about.

As everyone can see by looking at the four of us here on the Senate floor, it is something on which both parties can agree. In order to get this done and get comprehensive immigration reform done, we must work in a bipartisan manner. I support the comprehensive immigration principles that were outlined yesterday for reform and look forward to working with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to get this done.

The I-squared bill is about encouraging engineers, inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs to work here in this country and discouraging companies from contracting out with people in other countries. I cannot say how many Minnesota companies--small companies--have told me that they could not bring someone over because of the caps and they contracted with that person in another country. Well, guess what. That person then hired assistants and other people to work with them, but in one case they hired French people instead of hiring Americans.

In fact, a recent study headed by Mayor Bloomberg of New York, Mayor Castro of San Antonio, Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia, and others showed that every H-1B visa creates 1.8 American jobs. Those are jobs in Hawaii and those are jobs in Minnesota.

Take a look at the Fortune 500 companies. Ninety of those companies were founded by immigrants, and over 200 were founded by immigrants or their children, including Medtronic and 3M in my home State. This has meant an extraordinary number of good American jobs, and we want more. We want the next pacemaker or Post-it note, which were invented in my State, to be invented again in the United States of America.

I want to quickly lay out the four areas of reform that are included in the I-squared bill.

First of all, we reformed the H-1B visa system to meet the needs of a growing science, engineering, tech, and medical community and to help the workers who form the backbone of those businesses.

Second, we make changes to student visas to encourage students who get degrees here to stay in this country so we don't just say: Hey, go back to India or China or some other country and start the next Google over there. We want them to start it here.

Third, we improve the green card system.

Finally, and one of the most important aspects of this bill, we actually change the visa funding structure so that companies that bring in these high-tech and science and engineering immigrant workers will also be spending some money on funding all of the education efforts we need to do in this country for science, engineering, technology, and math, the STEM education that is going on in this country. Even by a conservative estimate, that would be $300 million a year and something like $3 billion in 10 years. That is real change, and it can change the system.

I am very appreciative of the work of my colleagues. I know Senator Rubio, who has shown great leadership on this issue, is next and will talk about the H-1B and student visa reforms. I thank Senator Hatch and Senator Coons for their leadership on this issue. We are very excited about moving ahead on this bill.


Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I thank the Senator for his kind words. I wanted to actually follow up a little bit with Senator Rubio's analogy on the teams and the sports because I did note he mentioned basketball and baseball but not hockey. As my colleagues know, Minnesota is a State of hockey. In fact, we are very happy the NHL is back playing again and that our team The Wild is playing. I actually looked at some of the numbers similar to what Senator Rubio was talking about and, in fact, a significant number of our players on our professional hockey team come from other countries. As my colleagues know, there are a lot of Canadian hockey players and players from all over the world in all these sports.

You wonder: Why is that? With all the talk about immigration backlogs and the visa shortages, you wonder how all these great athletes are contributing to our teams. The answer is, there is no cap on visas for athletes. Again, there is no limit on how many athletes can come over and play on our sports teams. As a result, athletes from across the globe can compete here, and we have the best sports leagues in the world.

Why shouldn't we apply the same principles to engineering, to innovation, to science, to medical development? That is what we should be doing. In this bill, we do have some caps. But we are raising those caps because we think it is time to compete with the rest of the world.

Immigrants have always played a crucial role in these disciplines in the United States. In fact--and this was an interesting statistic we got--of the U.S. Nobel Prize winners, 30 percent of them, I say to Senator Hatch, have been immigrants--30 percent of them.

One of those was Mario Capecchi. He was born in Italy in 1937. His mother survived a Nazi concentration camp and was eventually able to bring him to the United States. In 2007, he won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on altering genes in mice through the use of stem cells. Obviously, this is an exciting area of work that gives us great hope to solve many diseases.

Medtronic, a Minnesota institution that has pioneered medical devices for years, started in a garage and was started by the child of an immigrant.

So why would we want to prevent the next person who would come in who could cure cancer, who would create a new energy source, who would bring in new means of communication to our country? This bill is about moving our country forward. This bill is about competing in the world economy. If we can do it in baseball, in basketball, and I would add, I say to Senator Rubio, hockey, we can do it in engineering, science, technology, and math.

I thank my colleagues and turn it over to Senator Rubio.

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