Politics, government and public life for Southern California

House vote on GOP immigration bill would allow more foreign-born grads to stay in US

Congresswoman Judy Chu

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U.S. Rep. Judy Chu of El Monte is fighting a proposed bill that would create a visa program for high-value college graduates at the expense of an existing visa program.

There are precious few hours before Congress leaves town until after the election. They still have a funding resolution to pass to keep the government going, and they'll name a few post offices. But there's also an immigration bill likely to get a vote Thursday — one sponsored by Republicans.

The bill by Republican Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas would make it easier for graduate students from foreign countries to remain in the United States after getting a degree. There's a catch: their major must be from one of the so-called "STEM" areas — science, technology, engineering, or math.  

Smith is chair of the House Judiciary Committee. His bill is designed to prevent the brain drain of foreign-born, U.S.-educated scientists and engineers who return to their home country because of the difficulty in obtaining work visas. Up to 55,000 visas would be designated for such candidates.

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