11:55pm January 31, 2013

STEM Visa Immigration Reform most likely to benefit Asians

immigration from mexico

Immigration reform focused on highly skilled workers, specifically the H1B visa program, is one of the likeliest pieces of legislation that will be embraced by both parties, according to an expert we spoke to. Republicans recently tried to double the number of these visas allotted, and both the gang of eight and President Barack Obama seem to support this type if reform at present.

However, while immigration reform on the whole is characterized as a ” Latino” issue, when it comes to this visa reform the primary beneficiaries are Asian immigrants, according to University of Texas at Austin Government Professor and immigration policy expert Terri Givens.

“Mexicans are only 7% of people with H1B visas, so that’s not really a big number,” Givens told Politic365. “Most of the people who are getting green cards and naturalizing after getting the H1B visa are coming from Asia, specifically China and Korea. It seems like the STEM issue is really more focused on skilled workers coming from Asia, perhaps even Europe, but it’s not going to have as much impact on people coming from Latin America.”

Immigrants from India accounted for 38% of the H1B visa allotments in 2008, for example. Most immigrants who transition from temporary workers to permanent residents in the U.S. come from China, Indian and the Philippines.

Two things are the most curious about this particular slice of immigration reform. For one, given that immigration is largely characterized as a “Latino” issue, this reform doesn’t affect Latinos practically at all. Secondly, Republicans are very enthusiastic about this type of reform, as Givens explained it.

“There’s a lot more enthusiasm [for this reform] on the right. It’s very much desired by the business community, the Chamber of Commerce and others have been pushing for some time — and certainly we’ve seen Silicon Valley companies, tech companies pushing for an increase in the number of H1B visas,” she said.

That’s not even to mention the “stapling green cards to Ph.D. diplomas” comments that have been floating around. Givens noted that the background of this immigration reform and STEM visa conversation is a media hegemony that portrays all undocumented immigrants (unskilled workers) as being from Mexico while all skilled workers are Asian.

“There is a mismatch between peoples’ perceptions and reality,” she said.

Givens said the STEM visa bill is most likely going to exist as a separate piece of legislation that will probably receive bipartisan support while the more comprehensive immigration reform will probably be passed by the Senate in the fall, but not by both houses until 2014.

About the Author

Sara Inés Calderón
Sara Inés Calderón
Sara Inés Calderón is a journalist and writer bouncing between California and Texas.



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  1. ken

    Before making any changes to H1b visa reform. Make sure to close all loopholes and need to define the best and bright to attract only genuine candidates.


    END H1B VISAS NOW !!! Bad for our economy, bad for STEM professions, bad for tax-payers, don’t believe the b/s and lies, H1B IS PURE FRAUD AND POISON!!!

  3. Dig deeper on your STEM research.

    After researching this for ten years I can say without a doubt that the bulk of the jobs are in the software portion of STEM and the bulk of the visas requested are by a few companies, many like Infosys that do not even earn more than 2 percent of their total revenue from India and the bulk of their revenue from America and Europed.

    For those that are interested in getting to the bottom of the STEM visa problem, email me at vbiersch@gmail.com and I will do my best to answer your questions.

    And please sign my petition to end age discrimination in the software industry.


  4. [...] analyzed through some of the tools presented by the authors reviewed above, is that of the H1B visa for immigration reform in the U.S. This visa represents an interesting official document that aids [...]

  5. I am glad to see you bring this up in different articles. I am in tech but still I recognize the issues with this. tech is about innovation and innovation is best served by a diverse group.

  6. Sick. Sick. Sick con job. H1B visas are not for honest immigrants. It is for foreign temporary workers to outsource jobs in the US to overseas cheap external labor. Doing so boosts unemployment in the core of middle class jobs, boosts the national debt, reduces purchasing power and hence depresses the economy, and drains the competitive advantage of the American nation in favor of self-loyal self-serving corporate elite who no loyalty to any country, this one the least of all. No other advance country allows this self abuse, they insist that foreign technical talent go home after transferring knowledge. Look at the rise of India, Israel, and China who do this, and the spectacular decline of the US industry reflected in the perpetual negative balance of trade.

  7. It doesn’t matter, everything would go away.

  8. ummm…how about mentioning the fact that a LOT of PhDs in US universities are from asia (or foreigners)…about 2/3rds? anyways…a high number.
    so isn’t it obvious that it would benifit them because the put in the hard work to get these PhDs?

    or would you rather give these visas to people that crossover illegally and pay no taxes?

  9. and hurt minorities. Many high tech companies claim Asians as *minorities* to get access to government contracts. Curiously, Asians in America, on average make more than 12% than whites and 56% more than Hispanics and blacks. Claiming minority status is opportunistic at best. It also hurts females in engineering as well since the pool of female engineers in Asia is much higher than in the US and thus all pressure to encourage companies to hire females in our borders is diminished.

    • The last time I looked,”minority” means groups with a small number. Just because Asians make more than whites , Hispanics and blacks doesn’t change the fact that Asians are a minority.
      How about government contracts being given on merit rather than any special status?
      I’m sure you would oppose that because it will stop you from feeling special and entitled

  10. [...] American Council in Washington. Bello said the immigration bill includes programs designed to benefit Asians, Latinos and European immigration, such as 10,500 visas annually set aside for Irish immigrants. [...]

  11. susan

    We don’t need anymore Asians in nyc….they are running the native new yorkers out of this city! In queens, a native new Yorker can’t even buy a house because you are always getting outbidded by some damn Asians…..they are only good for house sellers, but for home buyers, they are terrible to have! Not to mention that they overcrowd the school systems!! They don’t seem to understand that overcrowded school systems will lead to poorer test grades and less attention towards the children
    If the Asians want to come, why can’t they spread out throughout the country? Why do they all have to aggressively attack one neighborhood?

  12. […] American Council in Washington. Bello pronounced a immigration check includes programs designed to benefit Asians, Latinos and European immigration, such as 10,500 visas annually set aside for Irish immigrants. […]

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