Representative Gutierrez Resents GOP STEM Visa Bill

“There was no special line for PhD’s and Master’s Degree holders at Ellis Island. There was not an asterisk on the Statue of Liberty that said ‘your IQ must be this high to enter.'”

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 30, 2012. Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez spoke on the House floor about a STEM visa bill that is being voted on in the House of Representatives today.  This bill would kill the Diversity Visa Program and use some of those green cards to create a program for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math.  It would also create different rules for how the spouses and minor children of STEM visa degree holders with PhDs and Master’s Degrees are treated in our immigration law as compared to spouses and minor children of those without higher degrees.  Wednesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) held a press conference in the U.S. Capitol to release their principles for immigration reform (link) that includes the creation of a STEM visa program.  Congressman Gutierrez (D-IL) is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery  and a video link:




November 30, 2012

We have heard about how important STEM Visas are and we do not debate the point that STEM Visas are important.

That’s why when we have the REAL immigration debate — the debate that will result in the signature of the President, the debate that starts in January when the Congress is sworn in — that’s why we will have STEM visas in that bill.

So everyone agrees STEM visas are important and if you didn’t know this before the last election, I hope you know it now: The American people want us to fix our immigration system. 

But the more important message I got from the election is that the American people think we CAN solve the immigration issue. 

If Republicans and Democrats work together, put aside the bitterness, come to the table in an honest manner, we can solve tough problems and immigration is at the top of the list.

We need to approach immigration as a great facet of America’s past, present and future and solve the problems we have with our current immigration mess like adults.

We need to stop scoring cheap political points and playing games with immigration and start working together.

Which is why it is so DISAPPOINTING the majority decided to undermine an area of bipartisan agreement on STEM visas by loading up the measure with provisions that are a slap in the face to the core values of the United States.

If you support this bill, you are saying that one group of immigrants is better than another and one type of educated, degree-holding person and their work is more important than another’s.

In order to give visas to those with PhD’s and Masters’ Degrees, Republicans make two demands.

FIRST, we take away visas and the only means of legal immigration (most likely) from 50,000 people who may not have PhD’s or Master’s Degrees. 

Talk about “picking winners and losers”!?!?

My dad, if he had been an immigrant from Ireland or Nigeria or Taiwan would have been told “nope.”  America is not for you. 

It is like when we used to have signs saying “Help wanted, Irish need not apply.”

The SECOND thing this bill requires is that we treat the families of those with PhDs and Master’s Degrees differently than we treat the families of those who don’t have doctorates or higher degrees.

If you have a Master’s or a PhD, we say please come, and bring the wife, bring your husband, bring the kids and we will give them all permission to work.  Automatic work permits for the spouses of STEM degree holders.

But if you don’t have a PhD or Master’s Degree we are taking away your wife’s ability to work legally.  We may let her in six-months earlier than she would have waited without this provision — after she’s waited a full year — but she can’t work.

It is as if they said to my father, “Let’s check your education record.”  No “Doctor” before your name?  No fancy initials after your name?  Well Mrs. Gutierrez and the kids have to stay home and when we do let them come, they can’t work.

That is not America.  There was no special line for PhD’s and Master’s Degree holders at Ellis Island. 

There was not asterisk on the Statue of Liberty that said your IQ must be this high to enter.

They are saying my father was TOO STUPID to make it.  And I RESENT it. But he put two kids through college and one in the House of Representatives.