Congress Pushes for More Foreign STEM Students Despite Surplus

By John Miano on July 9, 2012

The Washington Post ran an interesting article on July 7 that, when examined in context, illustrates just how much dysfunction there is in Congress.

The title sums up the situation well: "U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren't there".

The Post finds little market demand for graduate degrees in the sciences: "Just 38 percent of new PhD chemists were employed in 2011". One can scan a job board like to get a picture of what is in demand. In "STEM" fields (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) the market demand is for those with bachelor's degrees.

How has Congress responded to the surplus of people with graduate degrees in STEM fields in the job market? At least 10 bills have been introduced to make it easier for foreigners with advanced degrees in STEM fields from U.S. institutions to remain in the United States:

  1. H.R. 43 — Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

  3. H.R. 399 "STAPLE Act" — Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

  5. H.R. 2161 "IDEA Act" — Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.

  7. H.R. 3146 "American Innovation and Education Act of 2011" — Raul Labrador (D-Idaho)

  9. H.R. 5893 "Startup Act 2.0" — Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.)

  11. S. 1965 "Startup Act of 2011" — Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

  13. S. 1986 "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Visa Act of 2011" — Michael Bennett (D-Colo.)

  15. S. 3185 "STAR Act of 2012" — John Cornyn (R-Texas)

  17. S.3217 "Startup Act 2.0" — Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

  19. S.3192 "SMART Jobs Act" — Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)


Each of these bills should be entitled "The Enable American Universities to Produce Graduate Degrees Without Regard to Economic Need Act". These bills are designed to allow American universities to expand graduate programs by using foreign students. They give preference in immigration to graduates from the lowest-tier, for-profit diploma mill in the United States over top graduates from the world's premier institutions.

Universities love graduate students because they provide the cheap labor for teaching undergraduates and doing research. The dreary job market limits their ability to attract American students into these programs. By conferring immigration benefits with their degrees, universities can continue to use foreign students to pack their graduate programs beyond economic need.