SAN JOSE, Calif. Ė Immigration is poised to be the big political issue of 2013, and itís time engineers weigh in on it.
I know, it seems premature to be calling for a debate about whatís likely to be next yearís big congressional issue. Florida has barely finished counting its ballots from the presidential elections. Most of us are still picking Thanksgiving turkey out of our teeth, and legislators have yet to decide in which direction we will go rolling off the fiscal cliff.
That didnít stop the IEEE-USA from chiming in on the issue. In a 28-page report released Tuesday (Nov. 26) it argued the current system using a lottery geared to opening the door to a diverse set of nations has outlived its purpose. In its place, the U.S. should make the possession of a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degree the key criteria, it suggested.
ďThe data indicates that swapping the visa lottery for STEM green cards will not diminish the diversity of Americaís immigration sources,Ē the IEEE-USA wrote. ďBy prioritizing skills it will create and keep jobs in the US,Ē it said.
The report is timed to give a boost to Republican-sponsored bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. That bill would replace the current lottery system for 55,000 immigration visas with one based on STEM degrees.
I suspect management in the electronics industry will hail the report. When he was CEO of Intel, Craig Barrett used to say a green card ought to get stapled to every STEM degree from a U.S. university.
I assume engineers seeking green cards will support a plan that would put them at the head of the line. Those out of a job or worried about their job security may see such a bill as a threat. But is there a more nuanced debate EEs ought to be having now?
A significant percentage of minority voters in the recent presidential election cast their ballots overwhelmingly for the Democratic ticket. Their votes shifted the debate from whether to how to enact immigration reform.
So like it or not, itís time to start a thoughtful discussion of the very real complexities of the issues. The IEE-USA decided the place to begin is with a proposal that a technical degree become the key to getting a U.S. green card.
What do you think?
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