STEM Bill Blocked by Senate Democrats

Democrats in the Senate on Wednesday blocked consideration of a bill Republicans passed last week in the House of Representatives that would give 55,000 permanent resident visas to foreigners graduating from American universities with advanced degrees in science or technology.

The bill, which passed the House on Friday, was opposed by most Democrats. It would have given the resident visas, known as green cards, to immigrants who obtained master’s or doctoral degrees in the so-called STEM fields, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To avoid increasing the overall number of visas available each year, the measure would free up existing visas by abolishing an annual lottery that distributes green cards to foreigners from countries with traditionally low immigration to the United States.

The outcome was expected. Republicans had approved the STEM bill to show that they are willing to act on measures to fix the immigration system. The issue became newly important after the presidential election, in which Latino and immigrant voters, a fast-growing part of the electorate, gave their support overwhelmingly to President Obama.

Democrats argued that the diversity lottery, as it is officially known, gives permanent residency to many immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe who would otherwise be excluded.


Source: The New York Times