10:07 AM EST

Darrell Issa, R-CA 49th

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, it is now my honor to yield 1 minute to my distinguished colleague from the State of Virginia, the majority leader of the House, and a strong advocate for this and other immigration reform, Mr. Cantor.

10:08 AM EST

Eric Cantor, R-VA 7th

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California.

Mr. Speaker, we all agree that getting our economy moving again needs to be our top priority, but jobs will not take off until American businesses have the workers they need to drive innovation and growth.

The immigrants who come to this country for school and for work have always been key players in driving our Nation's economy. Unfortunately, current immigration policies are preventing American businesses from hiring foreign students who earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math from our best universities.

From growing startups to U.S. multinationals, American employers are desperate for qualified STEM workers, no matter where they're from. Microsoft, for example, has over 6,000 job openings waiting to be filled by scientists, researchers, engineers, and developers. For now, these openings and many others will remain vacant because too few American students are graduating with STEM degrees, and foreign STEM graduates can't get the visas they need.

Every year, the U.S. invests in educating thousands of foreign students in STEM fields at our top universities only to send them back to compete against us. Chairman Lamar Smith, along with Congressman Raul Labrador, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, and, of course, the chairman from California, Mr. Issa, have all been working on this, and we've now put forward the measure before us to spur job creation by providing a pathway for American-educated foreign graduates

with advanced STEM degrees to work here and contribute to our economy.

[Time: 10:10]

This bill also keeps immigrant families together by letting the husbands, wives, and minor children of immigrant workers wait in the U.S. with their families for their green cards.

The STEM Jobs Act reallocates existing visas currently distributed through a random lottery and directs them, instead, to the highly skilled foreign graduates of U.S. universities who have enormous potential to help grow our economy, which is our top priority.

The Partnership for a New American Economy found that every immigrant with an advanced STEM degree, working for a U.S. company, creates about three new American jobs, and one-quarter of all STEM-focused companies in the U.S. count at least one immigrant as a founder. At American multinationals like Qualcomm, Merck, GE, and Cisco, immigrants filed up to 72 percent of the patents filed, giving those businesses a competitive edge and helping them expand and create jobs here at home. Our commitment

to foreign STEM graduates is a commitment to American job creation.

Foreign students are drawn to our shores by our world-class universities, and they want to stay because

they know, in America, there is immense opportunity. We need to bet on the students who bet on America. We are a Nation that was built by people who risked everything for the promise of opportunity, and we must continue to be that Nation. We must make sure that U.S. companies can hire the top foreign talent we are educating instead of sending those graduates into a bureaucratic maze--or worse, to our competitors.

This is a commonsense solution that should have bipartisan support. Let's pass the STEM Jobs Act to make sure diplomas come with green cards, not with a spot on a government waiting list.

10:15 AM EST

Hank Johnson Jr., D-GA 4th

Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. I am not accusing anybody of racism. I don't know what is in the heads of those who support this bill, but if it's not racist in its intent, it's certainly racist in its effect.

10:16 AM EST

Darrell Issa, R-CA 49th

Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as

I may consume.

As I previously said, more than 12,000 African citizens will be eligible under this today, and more than 1,500 Nigerian citizens will be eligible under this today. Out of 1 million people who get to come to this country today, it's amazing that a program so fraught with fraud and recognized for fraud would somehow not be the logical place to expand the merit-based opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, as a point of personal privilege, I must tell you that I went to college with a lot of people from around the world. They were very diverse, and the grad students were very diverse. I am personally insulted that anyone would use even loosely the term of ``racism'' as part of a statement related to merit-based advanced degrees.

I've been at university graduations. The people graduating and walking across the aisle are extremely diverse, and I believe the gentleman needs to go to a few college graduations and see master's and Ph.D. candidates if he is going to refer to this in any way as racist.

With that, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Fitzpatrick).