WASHINGTON – As President Joe Biden Prepares to sign a bipartisan bill that would boost domestic production of computer chips, some immigration experts say the bill is incomplete without immigration provisions.
Congress passed the well-known law as the CHIPS Act last week, which supporters say will prevent future supply chain shortages. Biden, who tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time on Saturday, is expected to sign the legislation in the coming days.
What’s in CHIPS?: About $52 billion in semiconductor industry incentives to boost various industries and the US workforce.
The shortage problem: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shortage of semiconductor microchips, which power thousands of products, such as cars, mobile phones, appliances, game consoles and medical devices.
STEM Worker Shortage: Some top chip makers have quietly expressed concerns about a shortage of highly skilled STEM workers and have called on Congress to make it easier for those workers to stay in the United States. according to Politico.
More federal-state partnerships are coming: Biden virtually attended an event with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, where the governor signed legislation encouraging semiconductor manufacturing in the state. White House press officer Karine Jean-Pierre said this is “the first example of the federal-state partnership that will kick off nationwide” as a result of the CHIPS law.
Why is immigration not included?
The House of Representatives included in their version of the CHIPS legislation a provision that would ease restrictions on immigrants with advanced science and technology degrees.
According to FWD.usan immigration lobbying group, up to $233 billion in wages could be added to the U.S. economy this decade if there were a process for international students expected to graduate from U.S. colleges and universities to stay and work permanently in the United States .
However, the Senate has scaled back the bill and scrapped that provision.
For decades, Congress has failed to pass major immigration reform. In recent weeks, a small bipartisan group of senators has been discussing immigration reform.
What can be done about immigration?
Some are concerned that there are not enough highly skilled workers in the United States as it begins to expand its production of microchips.
Esther Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, a nonprofit organization focused on international education and exchange, said the White House should lead a plan that brings together various departments, such as the State Department and Department of Homeland Security, to increase the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities.
“The national strategy for international students is critical to bringing the talent to the United States,” she said.
However, it is more difficult to get immigrants with STEM degrees into the United States. That requires Congress to act.
Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrant rights, said Congress could still pass a standalone bill on these kinds of immigration reforms.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” Robbins said, adding that both Democrats and Republicans have passed legislation over the years to expand rights for individuals with STEM or other high-talented degrees.
what they say
“The bill has boosted our efforts to make semiconductors here in America,” Biden said at the Michigan virtual event. “These fingertip-sized computer chips build on the building blocks of our modern economy, they power everything.
Brimmer said that while subsidizing the domestic semiconductor industry is supported, “ultimately to succeed, we need to attract the high, high expertise and talent that will actually drive innovation.”
“It is important that we have a comprehensive policy approach. The CHIPS legislation is incomplete. It doesn’t address the fundamental issue of human talent, the human capital needed for advanced work in high-tech areas,” said Brimmer.
Robbins stressed that highly skilled workers are not just needed for industries in places like Silicon Valley: “We need innovation everywhere.
Want to know more? This is what you missed
What is the PACT Act?: Jon Stewart and Ted Cruz argue over bill to help veterans exposed to toxic burns
Contributors: Katherine Swartz and Joey Garrison; Associated Press
Reach Rebecca Morin on Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CHIPS Act: Immigration Missing from Biden’s Microchip Manufacturing Bill