Immigration Suddenly Appears on Political Radar

Nov 14, 2012

My how an election can change things.

Yes, I said “change” even though the President was reelected and neither the House nor the Senate switched parties.

What’s changed is the discussion surrounding immigration. Before the election, the talk had mostly been about educating policymakers and the public on how immigrant entrepreneurs benefit the economy, improving American innovation and competitiveness, and the fact that we needlessly push away talented foreign science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students after they earn degrees in the United States.

Now, there’s serious talk about reform. Roll Call reports that the House will use a vote on a bill to allow more foreign STEM graduate students to stay in the United States as a test case for its Members. That bill is expected to be similar to U.S. Chamber-backed H.R. 6429, the “STEM Jobs Act of 2012,” which received bipartisan support when it was voted on in September.

Looking at broader immigration reform, Randy Johnson, Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits for the U.S. Chamber, told The Hill that the U.S. Chamber would reengage allies on this issue and was “hopeful” that reform could be “done within the year.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board sums up the economic argument for reform, “America needs immigrants with varying degrees of skill and income for economic growth.” The election results indicate that there’s now a political argument for moving ahead.

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