From an editorial Thursday in the Washington Post:
Not many parts of the Democratic and Republican party platforms are interchangeable. An exception is the nearly identical passages expressing support for keeping foreign-born students in this country after they earn advanced degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM fields. The rationale is obvious. It is folly to educate these prized students in the United States often with federal subsidies and then, lacking adequate visas for them, force them into the hands of corporate competitors overseas.
A pair of bills propose solutions, but by different means. A Republican measure, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, would create 55,000 STEM green cards annually by repurposing a number now devoted to the so-called green-card lottery. A Democratic bill, authored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, would create 50,000 STEM visas by expanding overall immigration, without eliminating the lottery.
So far, no agreement is in the cards. Republicans, under the influence of anti-immigrant restrictionists, are loath to increase the number of immigrants. Some Democrats are reluctant to ditch the green-card lottery that benefits mainly African and Eastern European immigrants.
Theres some logic in the Republican approach. Over its two decades, the green-card lottery has been a great diplomatic tool for the United States. But in the current economic climate, STEM graduates are more valuable than mostly low-skilled workers from the Third World.
Whats clear is that, without a deal, this country is the loser. Globally, demand for STEM graduates is soaring and competition is stiff.
Allowing [foreign STEM graduates] to slip through the cracks of this nations broken immigration system, and into the arms of rivals in other countries, is a recipe for long-term economic decline.