New York Mayor welcomes House vote for more advanced degree visas

2012-12-01 00:07:40 GMT2012-12-01 08:07:40(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg congratulated the passage of an immigration bill by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, saying the country should hold on to high-tech talents with an aim to maintain its global competitiveness.

The House of Representatives on Friday approved the STEM Jobs Act, eliminating the diversity visa program and reallocates up to 55,000 new green cards to the most highly qualified foreign graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The bill also contains a provision to put families first, allowing the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents to come to the U.S. after waiting one year for their green card.

"It is a promising sign that one of the House of Representatives' first major legislative actions post-election is to pass an immigration bill that focuses on attracting and retaining the talented workforce our economy needs to compete globally," the Partnership for a New American Economy released the statement from the mayor, a co-chair.

The Partnership is a coalition of business leaders and mayors launched by Bloomberg and newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch to influence public opinion and policymakers toward comprehensive immigration reform. In the past two years, the Partnership has produced series of reports with research demonstrating the value of immigration reform to the U.S. economy.

According to the Partnership, the U.S. is facing a shortage of STEM workers. By 2018, there will be more than 230,000 advanced degree STEM jobs that will not be filled even if every single new American STEM grad finds a job.

Bloomberg said earlier that only seven percent of green cards were currently granted to people who are likely to contribute to the economy. He said countries such as Australia and Canada encourage economic migration, and the U.S. cannot retain its global leadership with self-defeating immigration policies.

The Information Technology Industry Council, the Partnership for a New American Economy, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday released a new report, giving evidence that foreign-born STEM workers are complementing -- not displacing -- their American counterparts, and that the American economy is facing a shortage of STEM talent.

U.S. President Barack Obama said a week ago that he hopes to reform the U.S. skilled immigration system. He has not given any details but said that he hopes to do it soon, taking advantage of the fact that the Republicans seem to be willing to reform the entire immigration regime in the wake of their election defeat.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress both introduced legislation to try to reform the system but they refused to cooperate so there has been no change to the law. Now, in the wake of their election defeat, said immigration experts, there is some reason to expect that Republicans will cooperate with Democrats in Congress and the entire U.S. immigration regime may be reformed.

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