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WSJ: HR 3012 is a Small Step Forward but Falls Far Short of What is Needed

December 12, 2011

This morning’s Wall Street Journal endorses the progress on HR 3012, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, which has passed the House but remains “on hold” in the Senate.

The Fairness act does away with the country cap on employment-based visas and raises the cap on family-sponsored visas. On the employment side, applicants from India and China will benefit most because they will no longer be pushed back in the line simply because of high numbers. They will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Family-sponsored applicants from Mexico and the Philippines will also benefit as the cap on any single country will be raised to 15% from 7%.

For businesses looking to hire advanced-degree candidates or skilled workers, the end of the cap is a good thing. The 7% solution sought to make the American dream accessible to people from every nation. But today’s reality is that American universities are graduating a high number of foreign-born engineers, computer geeks, scientists, mathematicians and nurses that come from a narrow list of countries. The U.S. will be more prosperous by letting graduates who land jobs stay permanently.

The trouble is that the House bill does nothing to address the real problem: 140,000 green cards a year for advanced-degree and skilled workers is far too few. By refusing to increase the number, or to make a special category of green cards automatically available for American university graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, Congress is again delaying reform that could help the lackluster U.S. economy.

. . .

Our guess is that [Senator Grassley] really wants the bill to die, but by all means let’s have a debate. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both say they favor more high-skilled immigrant visas, and President Obama’s jobs council has endorsed more too. The House bill is at least a small step forward.


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