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The Bright Side of the Immigration Bill

Reports of the its imminent demise notwithstanding, the immigration bill passed by the Senate last week has higher education administrators ecstatic. Under the terms of the bill, foreign-born students who earn PhDs at American schools would be eligible for green cards, and those who earn master’s or PhDs in STEM fields at schools outside the US could also petition for a card. The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports:

“The real game changer in the bill for universities is in the green-card section, where advanced-degree graduates for STEM fields have green cards stapled to their diplomas,” said Craig Lindwarm, assistant director for international issues and Congressional and governmental affairs at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Through an amendment passed on the Senate floor, the bill would also keep colleges exempt from the national cap on H-1B visas, allowing them to temporarily employ researchers who are not citizens. It also would cut and limit student-visa fees.

By lowering the barriers to residency and work, this bill could do much to entice the world’s best and brightest to come to America. Other countries have already made similar moves. Canada now allows foreign graduates and their partners to apply for work permits for up to three years, with a track to permanent residence. Australian universities allow foreign graduates to obtain a two- to four-year work visa.

The Senate immigration bill now moves to the House, where it is expected to be voted down. But it’s not inconceivable that a House-approved measure that has similar higher ed provisions could pass. We hope that’s the case.

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  • Nick M.

    Hopefully this will be kept with a more realistic and common-sense immigration reform package. Increased border security, reforming legal immigration, and dealing with illegals already here have to all go hand-in-hand for whatever we do for it to work in the long-run. A immigrant professor I had made mention that our immigrant policy, with all its faults, is actually the envy of Europe considering how well our immigrants historically assimilate.

  • Anthony

    WRM in another earlier Quick Take you said “the law is poorly designed, hard to administer, and bristling with unforeseen consequences.” I think same can be said about current Senate immigration bill passed and now before House.

  • lukelea

    By lowering the barriers to residency and work, this bill could do much to entice the [third] world’s best and brightest to come to America.

    And the devil take the hindmost.

    This is SO wrong from a moral point of view. It profits the rich in this country, lowers the wages of American STEM workers, strips the poor countries of their human capital . . . and is like winning the lottery for the lucky few who escape to America. At least with trade there is an argument that it benefits the majority in the poor countries.

    Shame on our American elites! Shame on ViaMeadia for being so unpatriotically blind on this Fourth of July.

    • Jim__L

      American-born workers will always have an easier time getting jobs that require you to explain (in detail) your close foreign connections.

      At least, under Republican administrations that would be true… NSA getting in bed with Silicon Valley firms that are 60% foreign-staffed (maybe up to 90%, if this passes) seems to be OK with Obama, despite the well-documented national security risks involved.

      Don’t worry, though, STEM workers are part of Credentialed Elite that controls the law in this country. That makes this bill unlikely to pass.

    • Pincher Martin

      Hear, hear.

      Who in the larger public cares what higher education administrators think?

      This bill, if it passes, just gives those administrators another excuse to hike up tuitions far beyond the rate of inflation, and then force more U.S. students out of the schools that their parents’ taxes often pay the largest contribution for. Instead, the administrators will opt for the higher tuition rates that foreign national students pay.

      This is already starting to happen in California. ViaMeadia loves to complain about the state, but he shows he really hasn’t learned a single lesson from it other than the canned libertarian hash Joel Kotkin serves up about it.

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