Events, Speeches &
Klobuchar Introduces Immigration Bill to Boost High-Tech Innovation
Thank you very much, Senator Hatch. It is good to be here with our strong cosponsors, Senator Rubio and Senator Coons, and I want to thank you for your incredible leadership.
We have worked as a team, and I think this really is about what this is, it's a team, Team America, because we must be a country that makes stuff again, that invents things, that exports to the world, and to do that, we need the world's talent. That is what this bill is about.
As everyone can see by looking at the four of us here on the floor, it's something that both parties can agree on to get this done and to get comprehensive immigration reform done, we must work in a bipartisan manner. I support the comprehensive immigration principles outlined yesterday for reform and look forward to working with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to get this done.
The I-squared Bill is about encouraging engineers and inventors and innovators and entrepreneurs to work here in this country and to actually discourage companies from contracting out with people in other countries.
I can't tell you how many Minnesota companies, small companies have told me that they couldn't bring someone over because of the caps and then they contracted with that person in another country. Well, guess what? That person then hired assistants and other people to work with them, but in one case, they hired French people instead of hiring Americans.
In fact, a recent study headed up by Mayor Bloomberg of New York, Mayor Castro of San Antonio, Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia, and others showed that for every H-1B visa, it creates 1.8 american jobs. Those are jobs in Hawaii, those are jobs in Minnesota.
Look at the fortune 500 companies. 90 of those companies were founded by immigrants, and over 200 were founded by immigrants or their children, including Medtronic and 3M in my home state. This has meant an extraordinary number of good American jobs, and we want more. We want the next pacemaker or post-it note, which were invented in my state, to be invented again in the United States of America.
I want to quickly lay out the four areas of reform that are included in the I-squared Bill. First of all, we reform the H-1B visa system to meet the needs of a growing science, engineering, tech and medical community and to help the workers who form the backbone of those businesses.
Second, we make changes to student visas to encourage students who get degrees here to stay in this country so that we don't just say hey, go back to India or China or some other country and start the next Google over there. We want you to start it here.
Third, we improve the green card system. And finally, what is one of the most important things in this bill, we actually change the visa funding structure so that companies who bring in these high-tech and science and engineering immigrant workers will also be spending some money on funding all of the education efforts we need to do in this country for science, engineering, technology and math, the stem education that's going on in this country. By even a conservative estimate, that would be 300 million a year, something like $3 billion in ten years.
That's real change and it can change the system. I'm very appreciative of the work of my colleagues, and I know Senator Rubio who has shown great leadership on this issue is next going to talk about the H-1B and student visa reforms, and again I want to thank him, Senator Hatch, Senator Coons for their leadership on this issue. We are very excited about moving ahead with this bill.
Thank you for those kind words, Senator. I also wanted to follow up on Senator Rubio's analogy on the teams and the sports because I did note he mentioned basketball and baseball, but not hockey. And as you know, Minnesota is a state of hockey. In fact, we just are very happy that the NHL is back playing again and our team The Wild is playing again.
I looked at some of the numbers similar to what Senator Rubio was talking about and a significant number of our players on our professional hockey team come from other countries. As you know, there are a lot of Canadian hockey players and there are players from all over the world in all of these sports. And you wonder why is that? With all this talk of immigration backlog and visa shortages, you wonder how all of these great athletes are contributing to our teams?
The answer is there is no cap on visas for athletes. Again, there is no limit on how many athletes can come over and play on our sports teams. As a result, athletes from across the globe can compete here and we have the best sports leagues in the world.
Why shouldn't we apply the same principles to engineering, to innovation, to science, to medical development? That's what we should be doing. In this bill, we do have some caps, but we are raising those caps because we think it is time to compete with the rest of the world. Immigrants have always played a crucial role in these disciplines in the U.S.
In fact -- and this was an interesting statistic we got. The U.S. Nobel prize winners, 30% of them, Senator Hatch, have been immigrants. 30% of them. One of those was Mario Capecchi. He was born in Italy in 1937. His mother survived a Nazi concentration camp and was eventually able to bring him to the U.S. In 2007, he won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on altering genes in mice with the use of stem cells. Obviously, this is an exciting area of work that gives us great hope to solve many diseases. Medtronic, a Minnesota institution that has pioneered medical devices for years, started in a garage, started by the child of an immigrant.
So why would we want to prevent the next person who would come in who could cure cancer, who would create a new energy source, who would bring in new means of communication to our country? This bill is about moving our country forward. This bill is about competing in the world economy. And if we can do it in baseball and basketball, and I would add, Senator Rubio, hockey, we can do it in engineering, science, technology and math.
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