Earlier this month, the U.S. House – on a near party-line vote (222-210) – passed the America COMPETES Act* of 2022 (H.R.4521) in an effort to advance U.S. innovation and compete with China on the global market. But the Federation for American Immigration Reform argues that the bill, in fact, does virtually the exact opposite because it contains several immigration-related provisions that harm American workers and national security.
For example, says FAIR spokesman Ira Mehlman, it expands the visas for individuals in China who come to the U.S. with STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
"These are precisely the sorts of people who have been involved in a lot of industrial [espionage] and other kinds of espionage here in the United States," he tells AFN. "And even as we are acknowledging that we are in at least a moral battle with China, we are making it easier for them to do the sorts of things that have helped them gain an advantage."
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was the lone Republican to vote in favor of H.R.4521 – thereby allowing Democrats to label it as "bipartisan" legislation. One Democrat (Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida) opposed it.
Mehlman also contends the America COMPETES Act will make it easier for China to steal more intellectual property from the United States.
"And then on top of that you've got a lot of people with STEM degrees here in the United States who've been displaced by various programs that allow foreign STEM workers into the United States," he notes.
"But certainly, China is a security threat to the United States – and the last thing we should probably want to do is to increase the number of people who are coming here and working in these sensitive positions … and yet that's what the House seems to be doing."
FAIR admits the legislation's final outcome remains uncertain as it goes to the Senate, which in June passed a sweeping China competition bill. The two bills are very different; and those differences will have to be reconciled before a unified piece of legislation is forwarded to President Joe Biden for his signature.
* America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act