In this case, STEM green cards are only possible if green cards are subtracted in some other category. The end result is there's no net change in the number of green cards issued each year.
"Without new green cards, we cannot craft meaningful solutions for other employment-based immigrants," said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), in a statement about the House bill. Those immigrants could include, for instance, immigrants who could get visas under Dream Act provisions.
Another problem with the House bill, from the Democrat's perspective, is a limited rollover provision for unused visas. The initial version of Smith's bill didn't include a rollover, but this bill does. The latest bill allows a rollover in the first four years only.
Democrats contend that once backlogs are eliminated, the STEM bill will actually reduce immigration.
Smith's bill is getting mixed reviews from groups seeking immigration reductions. NumbersUSA is "neutral" on the bill. But another group with similar goals, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) opposes it.
FAIR says the bill "encourages an unlimited number of foreign students to attend U.S. universities and major in STEM fields," and "would create competition for American students of math and science both during the admissions process and then upon graduation."
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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