After Congress resolved the budget crisis on October 16, President Barack Obama has made immigration reform one of his top priorities, urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
The term “comprehensive immigration reform” refers to current immigration policy, which recently has been focused on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and the Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744). S.744 increases the opportunities for undocumented immigrants to receive citizenship, increases border security enforcements and emphasizes changes to the visa system. Changes to the visa system include provisions for more accessibility of visas for students who graduated American universities with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees, new visas for entrepreneurs and added restrictions to the H1B system.
The H1B system allows employers to hire immigrant students and workers for specialty jobs, such as engineering, computer science and software development, which are based on STEM degrees. This system has generally alleviated the pathway to citizenship for these employees.
Comprehensive immigration reform directly affects the University High School (UHS) community since a notable percentage of UHS parents are immigrants who have received STEM degrees from American universities. Also, many employers with large offices in the UHS attendance area, like Broadcom Corporation, Skyworks Solutions Inc. and Cisco Systems, generally hire graduates with STEM degrees.
The “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of senators, who co-sponsored the bill, first introduced the measure to the United States Senate on April 16, 2013.
After approval by a majority of 68 Senate members – every Democrat in the Senate and 14 Republicans –on June 17, the bill is currently in consideration at the House of Representatives. In response to House Speaker and Republican majority leader John Boehner’s enforcement of the Hastert rule, which prevents the House from voting on the bill unless a majority of the Republican Party chooses to vote it, the House has delayed voting on the legislation.
Written by CHRISTINE SMET