AILA President: SKILLS Act Falls Short

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

Washington, DC - Today, the House Committee on the Judiciary is slated to take up H.R. 2131, the "Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act" (SKILLS Act). While the SKILLS Act contains quite a few good ideas for ensuring that our nation and economy can access the innovation, energy and ideas of new immigrants, it falls short in addressing where those ideas fit in the big picture of legal immigration.

AILA President Laura Lichter noted, "The SKILLS Act injects many positive elements, such as providing more green cards for STEM (science, engineering and math) graduates, increasing the H-1B visa cap, improving the E-2 treaty trader visa, and eliminating per country caps for employment-based visas. However, the measure also eliminates key visa categories that have long helped to secure the diversity of our immigrant populations and adhere to the family values that drive our national identity. By eliminating the sibling family preference category and the diversity visa program without adding corresponding measures to retain the valued aspects of the immigration system that those categories represent, we wind up with a misguided "zero-sum" approach to immigration. We need an approach that looks at our national needs and values rather than sacrificing one group of immigrants for another."

She continued, "A balanced approach to immigration reform--one that would positively reform both employment-based and family-based immigration--is much needed. The SKILLS Act makes a valiant effort to address one side of this equation, but loses balance by trying to achieve it at the cost of the counterbalance. At a time when comprehensive reform seems within our grasp, we sell our economy short by pursuing a piecemeal, zero-sum approach. The subject matter of the SKILLS Act represents a crucial component of real immigration reform. But without much needed changes to this bill, it remains far short of the real reform we need."


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13062643.