The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 3:46 p.m.

STEM Act not right answer, but step in right direction

The GOP didn’t just lose the Latino vote to Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential Election; they failed miserably, winning just 23 percent of Latino support nationwide.

Latinos were put off by the Republican Party’s perspective on immigration policy. With the total percentage overall of Latino voters increasing to 8 percent in the past 10 years, the GOP is doing everything in its power to turn this perception around.

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the STEM Jobs Act, a bill that would make 55,000 additional immigrant visas available to foreigners who have earned advanced degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and who U.S. employers want to hire.

The bill passed with adherence to party lines for the most part, but it surely won’t make it past the Democrat-controlled Senate. The president has already voiced his opposition, though he said he would not veto the bill if it made it to his desk.

Democrats oppose the bill because they want a more comprehensive approach, not a piecemeal process. Republicans see it as a way to attract more Latino voters without diving deep into the bulky immigration quandary.

Even if it is a piecemeal political move by Republicans attempting to make up for a dismal performance in this year’s election, seeking to pass immigration reform in segmented process is simply the only way to make progress on the immigration reform front, especially with the upcoming legislative composition that closely resembles the collectively unproductive 112th Congressional Session.

The most recent attempts on a fully comprehensive immigration reform fell apart in 2007, mostly because it attempted to tackle all immigration. Similar to tax reform, administrations have sought to tackle the overall issue in a comprehensive way.

This is comparable to the goal — set by many — of reading a book while at college, on top of homework, studying and social obligations. Eventually you run out of time, and before you know it, the book never gets finished.

Even with two terms, a comprehensive approach to an issue that is constantly transforming can only be dealt with, piece by piece.

The Obama Administration stated that it doesn’t support “narrowly tailored proposals that don’t meet the President’s long term objectives.” Democrats see the STEM Act as special interest legislation. Although they may be entirely correct, it’s a step in the right direction.

With that being said, there are a few things the STEM Act fails to consider. Although additional visas to businesses for high-skilled workers is beneficial, it should not be done by taking away the opportunities and contributions of other works who also are required to have legal visas.

The measure also fails to recognize that workers will still need to strive in the process of attaining these degrees. Most won’t have the resources necessary for themselves or for their families without a “green card” to work while in school. The incentive for attaining the eligibility to work through education is right on, but it’s not fully thought out.

Bills such as the STEM Act would provide competition to an increasingly lackadaisical American workforce. It’s essential that we start putting pressure on our youth, encouraging them to become more driven and steadfast in the world economy and shutting out competition is simply laying down a red carpet to folks who don’t want to work as hard. This is not only inefficient but also detrimental to our society as a whole.

The STEM Act is not the right answer, but it’s a step in the right direction — a segmented approach to immigration reform is ultimately necessary.

Logan Nee is a third-year economics and political science student