Members of the Congressional Black Caucus want a provision added to the immigration reform bill that would fund Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs at historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions.
Members argue that there should be an incentive and pipeline setup for American companies to find workers in the U.S. before looking outside the country. They argue that improving STEM programs at American academic institutions are the way to make that happen.
The idea to use part of the fees companies pay from HB1 VISA applicants to fund HBCUs is one of the few provisions in the upcoming immigration reform bill that directly benefits African Americans.
The push to have the provision in any final immigration reform bill is being led by CBC Chair Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Steve Horsford (D-NV) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). At a forum on April 9 focused on the concerns of Black immigrants at Howard University, the members mentioned the provision.
“What we have asked for as members of the CBC is — with the provisions for STEM H1B VISAS — that there be an investment made from those fees that go back into the capital costs for HBCUs to rebuild their science programs so we can generate the professionals right here in the United States,” Rep. Clarke told Politic365 at the Capitol this week.
“There will likely be an increase in the fees that employees pay” for HB1 VISA applicants and other workers under the STEM classification, Rep. Horsford (D-NV) pointed out. “When the bill comes out there is going to be a very short window to make sure that these issues are incorporated in the final bill,” Horsford told the audience at the Howard forum on Black immigration.
“Those fees — the CBC is proposing — would be dedicated to investment at HBCU and Hispanic serving institutions where there is the most need to develop our next generation of engineers,” Horsford said.
The first draft of immigration legislation written by the “gang of eight” is expected to be released early next week. The “gang of eight,” made up of four Senate Democrats and four Republicans, includes Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who is said to be the person looking after several provisions members of the Black Caucus are concerned about.
“It changes minute by minute,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) at the Capitol on April 12. Members noted that Sen. Schumer did not meet with the Caucus as scheduled this week regarding their concerns.
The Black Caucus is also pushing for provisions regarding diversity VISAS and racial profiling.