Blame Politics for the U.S. Engineer Shortage – Bloomberg
For “a nation of immigrants,” the U.S. is denying entry to a lot of foreigners who want to come here and would do a lot to grow our economy.
Just last month, Congress blocked a plan to offer more permanent-residency visas (green cards) to foreign doctorate and master’s-degree students in science and technology fields. Republicans deliberately set up the bill to fail — a bill which they ostensibly supported — hoping to score political points and elicit campaign contributions from the technology industry, a Democratic-leaning constituency.
Republicans proposed to offer green cards to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students who train at American universities and want to stay here and work, but they didn’t want to increase the total number of immigration visas. So they made Democrats an offer they couldn’t accept: They proposed to eliminate a visa program Democrats favor, a “diversity visa” which each year admits 55,000 people from countries that do not have large immigrant populations here.
With 60 percent of House members voting in favor, Republicans could still have easily passed the bill, H.R. 6249, through the House. But just to make sure it would be a political football instead of an actual law, they took it up “under suspension of the rules,” a procedure that requires a two-thirds majority, and so it never got to the Senate. Keep in mind that this is the same House where Republicans have passed symbolic legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 30 times.
Given the tepid economic recovery, it’s sad that Congress cannot enact a pro-growth immigration policy. Giving citizenship or permanent residency to more high-skilled immigrants is perhaps the single-easiest way to grow the American economy. Science and technology companies face labor shortages in their industries, preventing expansion, and the students themselves want to stay here and make valuable contributions to research and business. All we have to do is let these people stay here and let American companies hire them.