Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Orrin G. Hatch
Posted on 2013-01-29
HATCH (for himself, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Coons,
Mr. Flake, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Heller, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr.
Hoeven, Mr. Warner, Mr. Nelson, and Mr. Schatz):
S. 169. A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to
authorize additional visas for well-educated aliens to live and work in
the United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the
Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Immigration Innovation--or I-Squared--Act of 2013. I am pleased to be joined by my colleagues Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Chris Coons, without whom this bill would not have materialized. All four of us worked very closely together, and each one of us deserves total credit for this bill. Together, we have crafted one of the first bipartisan immigration bills in this Congress, one that is designed to address the shortage of high-skilled labor we face in this country. This shortage has reached a crisis level. For too long, our country has been unable to meet the ever-increasing demand for workers trained in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics--or STEM--fields. As a result, some of our Nation's top technology markets, such as Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston, New York, and Salt Lake City, are in desperate need for qualified STEM workers.
It is critical that we not only recognize this shortage of high- skilled workers but also understand why it exists. Increasingly, enrollment in U.S. universities in the STEM fields comes from foreign students, and despite our urgent need for workers in these fields, we continue to send these foreign students--potential high-skilled workers trained at American universities--back to their home countries after graduation.
Recently I was in a meeting with several leaders in the technology industry where it was mentioned that between 2010 and 2020, the American economy will annually create more than 120,000 additional computer science jobs that will require at least a bachelor's degree, and that is just mentioning one aspect of this. This is great news for many of our computer science students. Unfortunately, that is the end of the good news. Each year only about 40,000 American students received bachelor's degrees in computer science. In other words, there are approximately 80,000 new computer science positions every year in the United States that cannot be filled by the available American workforce. I might add that these are positions which need to be filled so that our technology industry can continue to thrive. Simply put, U.S.-based companies have a great need for those trained in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field, but at least right now, there are not enough Americans trained and ready to fill these jobs.
We cannot continue to simply hope American companies do not move operations to countries where they have greater access to individuals trained in these STEM fields. We cannot continue to ignore this problem; it is that simple. Continued inaction causes us to miss out on an important opportunity, especially since, as the American Enterprise Institute has confirmed, 100 foreign-born workers with STEM degrees create an average of 262 additional jobs for native-born workers. Those countries would love to have their American-educated Ph.D.s and other highly educated individuals return and boost their economy--not only from their acquired skills but also by creating these new jobs as well. An updated, high-skilled immigration system is directly tied to creating jobs [[Page S361]] and spurring growth across all sectors of our economy. We cannot afford any further inaction on this issue.
The I-Squared Act of 2013 addresses the immediate short-term need to provide American employers with greater access to high-skilled workers while also addressing the long-term need to invest in America's STEM education. I am confident that this two-step approach will enable our country to thrive and help us compete in today's global economy.
I mentioned my three prime cosponsors on this bill, each one of whom deserves credit for this bill, each one of whom has been a pleasure to work with, each one of whom adds a great deal to getting this bill passed. I personally thank the Senators for working with me on this issue and allowing me the privilege of working with them on this issue.
Let me turn some time over to Senator Klobuchar, who, along with Senators Coons and Rubio, has been a prime mover on this piece of legislation.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.