Immediately following the 2012 elections, Republican leaders began to talk openly about the stark choice they face as a party: appeal to a diversifying America, or risk extinction as a national party. Evidently, the House GOP missed the memo. After an election in which immigration hard liners helped define and defeat Mitt Romney, immigration hard liners are pursuing the elimination of a program that – you guessed it – promotes diversity in our immigration visa system.
This week, the House will vote on a “STEM” bill written by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). It eliminates a whole category of “diversity visas” and redirects them to foreign students who graduated from American schools with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math. Why rob Peter to pay Paul? Because this is Smith’s style. He is exploiting the high-tech community’s legitimate need for more green cards in a way that pits constituencies against each other, reduces overall legal immigration levels and gives the back of the hand to lower-skilled immigrants from diverse backgrounds.
While Smith’s new bill includes a provision on family-based immigration in order to appear reasonable, the devil is in the details. Crafted without Democratic input, the provision allows some relatives of legal residents to enter the country sooner, but with fewer rights than current law. Still others who can currently immigrate legally are cut out completely. As a result, the bill stands little chance of getting approved.
Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund;
We just had an election where the Lamar Smith approach to immigration policy was adjudicated and failed. The policies and rhetoric of Smith and his allies ignored our nation’s diversity, drove Latino voters into the arms of Democrats, cost the GOP a chance at the White House and the Senate and reduced GOP ranks in the House. And now, their first act on immigration is to move a Smith-crafted immigration bill that eliminates the diversity visa program? If this is the ‘new’ Republican strategy on immigration, it sure looks a lot like the old Republican strategy on immigration.