House to consider limited GOP immigration bill

Associated Press Modified: November 24, 2012 at 2:15 am •  Published: November 24, 2012
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Megan Whittemore, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., a key proponent of the STEM Act, said the bill is "family friendly, helping spouses and minor children who would otherwise be separated from their families for extended periods of time."

The bill will be taken up this time under normal procedures requiring only a majority vote, and it is almost certain to pass the Republican-led House. It remains to be seen whether it will engender enough Democratic support to give it momentum as it heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate.

It would give 55,000 green cards a year to doctoral and masters graduates in the STEM fields. The measure, strongly backed by U.S. high-tech companies, would make it easier for people trained in the United States to put their skills to work for American companies rather than non-American competitors.

But the legislation would still eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery Program which gives out a similar 55,000 green cards a year to those from countries, including many in Africa, with traditionally low rates of immigration to the U.S. That prompted the House's Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to all come out against it in September.

The three caucuses said Republicans were trying to increase legal immigration for people they want by ending immigration for people they don't want.

Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the bill is a message from Republicans that "we are here and we are ready to talk about immigration reform."

But she said she doubted it will make much progress in the Senate during the short lame-duck session. People "are now starting to think about broader reform," she said, adding that a limited bill that doesn't increase visas won't get a lot of support.



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