WASHINGTON – As President Joe Biden prepares to sign a bipartisan bill that would boost domestic manufacturing of computer chips, some immigration experts say the bill is incomplete without immigration provisions.
Congress passed the bill known like the CHIPS Act last week, which supporters say will prevent future shortages in the supply chain. 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?: Approximately $52 billion in incentives for the semiconductor industry to incentivize various industries and the American workforce.
The problem of scarcity: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shortage of semiconductor microchips, which power thousands of products such as cars, cell phones, home appliances, game consoles and medical devices.
Shortage of STEM workers: Some major chip manufacturing companies have quietly raised concerns about a shortage of highly-skilled STEM workers and called on Congress to make it easier for those workers to stay in the United States. according to Politico.
More federal-state partnerships to come: Biden virtually joined an event with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, where the governor signed legislation boosting semiconductor production in the state. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it is “the first example of the federal-state partnership to be launched across the country” as a result of the CHIPS Act.
Why was immigration not included?
The House of Representatives included a provision in its version of the CHIPS legislation that would ease restrictions on immigrants who had advanced degrees in science and technology.
According to FWD.usAccording to a pro-immigration lobby group, as much as $233 billion in wages could be added to the American economy this decade if there was a process for international students to graduate from American colleges and universities to stay and work permanently in the United States. Joined.
However, the Senate reduced the bill, cutting that provision.
For decades, Congress has failed to pass meaningful immigration reform. In recent weeks, a small bipartisan group of senators has discussed immigration reform.
What can be done regarding immigration?
Some worry there aren’t enough highly-skilled workers in the United States as it begins to expand its microchip manufacturing.
Esther Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, a nonprofit association that focuses on education and international exchange, said the White House should lead a plan that brings together different departments, such as the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security. , to increase the number of international students at American colleges and universities.
“The national strategy on international students is crucial to help bring talent to the United States,” he said.
However, getting immigrants with STEM degrees to stay in the United States is more difficult. That will require Congress to act.
Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit organization that advocates for immigrant rights, said Congress could still pass a separate bill on this type of immigration reform.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” Robbins said, adding that both Democrats and Republicans over the years have introduced legislation to expand the rights of people with STEM degrees or other highly talented people.
what they are saying
“The bill has boosted our efforts to make semiconductors here in the United States,” Biden said during the virtual event in Michigan. “These tiny fingertip-sized computer chips are being built on top of the building blocks of our modern economy, they power everything.
Brimmer said that while subsidizing the domestic semiconductor industry is supported, “ultimately, to be successful, we need to attract the high, high experience, talent that really spurs 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 that is required for advanced work in high-tech areas,” Brimmer said.
Robbins stressed that highly skilled workers are not just needed by industries in places like Silicon Valley: “We need innovation everywhere.
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Contributions: Katherine Swartz and Joey Garrison; Associated Press
Contact Rebecca Morin on Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CHIPS Act: Immigration is missing from Biden’s microchipping bill