Passage of Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform a Victory for Nation, Illinois and STEM Education

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inSPIRE STEM USA and Illinois STEM advocates applaud the Senate for addressing America’s STEM crisis in the comprehensive immigration legislation passed yesterday. Coalition Co-Chairs John Sununu and Maria Cardona observed that this historic bill has the potential to alter the nation’s science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and computer science jobs and education landscape and help America remain a leading innovator in the global economy.

The Coalition is also encouraged that the House Judiciary Committee has endorsed the concept of a national STEM fund and will pursue separate legislation to establish the fund.

“Congratulations are in order for the Senate, and especially Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk, for fixing an outdated system and for their work in addressing the nation’s STEM jobs and education crises,” said Amy Heveran who is a Illinois STEM advocate and teacher. “By including reform of high-skilled immigration in the bill, Senators are helping the economy by giving companies a way to fill vacant STEM positions. And the STEM education fund will help Illinois produce the workers we need to fill jobs in these fast-growing fields and the entrepreneurs and innovators our country needs to be competitive in a global economy.”

Illinois is expected to have 348,000 STEM-related jobs by 2018, but many of these jobs will go unfilled at the current rate of students earning degrees in STEM fields. The Senate bill provides immediate and long-term solutions to solve the STEM jobs and education crisis in Illinois and every other state.

Along with provisions around immigration reform, the Senate bill also provides immediate and long-term solutions to the nation’s STEM jobs and education crisis. Through an improved H-1B visa program, companies can hire more high-skilled workers from overseas to fill currently vacant positions. Additional fees companies pay for these visas will go toward a national STEM education fund that will help create a stronger STEM education pipeline to ensure more Americans are prepared to fill these high-skilled jobs in the long-term.

The fund would be the only federal funding stream for enhancing these education opportunities in all states throughout the country. inSPIRE STEM USA, a coalition of businesses, education groups and advocacy organizations, was created in January of 2013 and has spent the past five months calling attention to the STEM jobs crisis and seeking this two-part solution.

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Jeff Riley
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