Comprehensive Immigration Reformby Representative Dina Titus
Posted on 2013-07-17
TITUS. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California for
yielding me time, and I also thank him for organizing this Special
We've heard a lot on this floor and in the press and from our constituents about the moral, the social, the political reasons for us to enact comprehensive immigration reform, but we haven't done enough talking about the economic aspects, so this is a good opportunity do that.
I'm very pleased to say that, in the Senate version of the comprehensive immigration reform bill, there is a provision that has to do with increasing H-1B visas. Those visas will bring with them increased jobs, which, of course, support the economy.
A second part of that provision is also something that I've been urging my colleagues on the House side who are working on the comprehensive immigration reform bill to include, and that provision would use the revenue from these high-skilled H-1B visas to promote STEM education at minority-serving colleges and universities. You can just look at this chart and see how many new jobs will be created both in 2013 and 2014 by the increase in the number of these visas that would be allowed.
If we increase the number of visas, we're also going to increase the amount of funds that come from companies that are willing to pay to bring people from outside the country here for these STEM jobs. I say let's use those funds both to create scholarships for low-income minority students who are pursuing STEM degrees and also to provide funding for American colleges and universities that serve those minority students. We want our new citizens to also be well-prepared citizens.
There are colleges and universities all across the country, including several in the First District of Nevada, that are working hard to attract students to the STEM fields. Earlier this year, the College of Southern Nevada hosted approximately 3,000 K through 12 Nevada students at their annual science and technology expo to get local students from all backgrounds, including our minority communities, excited about careers in STEM fields before they enter college. Then in January, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas hosted a STEM summit to feature STEM research and to get students involved in presenting that research and their work in the STEM fields.
These are significant and important efforts to promote STEM, but our colleges and universities need our help to expand and improve their STEM outreach and training. By increasing access to STEM education, we can help American and immigrant students gain the knowledge and skills they need in the sciences, technology, math, and engineering so they can compete for the jobs of tomorrow.
This is particularly critical for minority students, who are significantly underrepresented in these fields. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the 2009 American Community Survey, only 12 percent of STEM workers in this country are African American or Hispanic. We can and should be doing better, because a strong STEM workforce is important to American innovation and competitiveness.
So science and technology companies that are paying our government through the H-1B visa program to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill these STEM jobs should be making a contribution. Why not use these funds that they're paying to train Americans to have the skills to fill these jobs in the future? Providing scholarships to STEM students and granting funding to colleges and universities that serve minority communities to improve STEM programs would strengthen our educational system. It would help our economy and also our position as a global leader in science and technology.
So I would urge the Republican leadership to immediately take up the mantle of reform, make it law, and include these provisions for these high-tech visas, using the funding for the visas then to train our own students, many in minority communities, including the children of those immigrants that we are working to help, for the jobs of the future.
Fixing our broken immigration system is not just a moral imperative, but, as we are all discussing tonight, it's an economic necessity.