This is the first time in recent history, since the commendable but doomed McCain-Kennedy effort six years ago, that we have seen such support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform from leaders across the broad political spectrum. The proposals announced by the ‘Gang of Eight’ senators and by the President earlier this week have so much in common. We need to wait and see how sensibly these proposals are translated into a legislation that has a chance of getting passed.
It sounds great when everybody talks about “stapling” Green Cards to the diplomas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates. Such a proposal creates some interesting scenarios. What about the heavy backlogs for employment-based third preference applicants that date back to November 2002 for India, November 2006 for China, and March 2007 for other countries? Definitely, a large number of them might also be STEM graduates. Who is the priority here? Someone educated in the US (or overseas) but working in the US for the past decade waiting for his/her Green Card, or someone just graduating with a STEM degree? Then what about non-STEM degree holders, aren’t they as valuable to this country? Will there be enough increase in the annual quota of employment-based visa numbers to clear all the backlogs, and give all new STEM graduates Green Cards?
One thing everyone agrees upon: It makes no sense to educate the world’s best talents, who will be the future entrepreneurs, in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and push them out of the US to other countries.
For immigration reform to become a reality, the visa numbers, the sanctified annual quota for worldwide immigration, has to go up in very large numbers, in both family-based and employment-based categories. The issue is certain to face severe opposition from conservatives.
Also, it is heartening that lately there is growing support for immigration reform from the American public. Combined with the willingness on both sides of the political divide to work towards a solution, there is reason for optimism that Comprehensive Immigration Reform will be passed in 2013.