Press Releases

Chairman Nadler Statement for Subcommittee Hearing on "Oh, Canada! How Outdated U.S. Immigration Policies Push Top Talent to Other Countries"

Washington, July 13, 2021

Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during a Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship hearing entitled, "Oh, Canada! How Outdated U.S. Immigration Policies Push Top Talent to Other Countries:"

"With today’s hearing, we explore the harmful effects that our antiquated immigration system has had on our ability to compete in the global race for talent, particularly in relation to Canada.  

"A diverse talent base that includes the best and brightest minds from around the world is critical to strengthening our STEM advantage, and by extension—our national security interests.  

"Toward that end, I note that the bipartisan National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence calls immigration reform 'a national security imperative.'

"The last time any significant changes were made to our immigration laws was in 1990.  Back then, most of us were not using the internet, and cell phones had yet to be mass-produced.  Things like text messaging and grid computing—which paved the way for cloud computing—had not even been invented.  The Human Genome Project was launched but our understanding of the role that genes play in disease causation was only just beginning.

"Things that we take for granted today were the stuff of science fiction 30 years ago.  And yet today, we remain bound by an immigration system that is frozen in another era.  Without reforms, there is no doubt that we will lose top scientific talent and innovators to both allies and adversaries with modernized systems.

"It is instructive to walk through how difficult it is for STEM professionals to come to the United States.

"First, temporary visa options for highly skilled workers are quite limited.  Visas are available to individuals who have already risen to the very top of their fields, as well as those who are transferring from an overseas company to a U.S. affiliate.  But graduates of U.S. universities—including those with master’s and Ph.D. degrees—who wish to start their STEM careers here must often compete with thousands of others for one of a limited number of 'specialty occupation' visas.

"Those who are fortunate enough to beat the odds and obtain a temporary visa, face other obstacles if their employer wishes to sponsor them for permanent residence.  As a result of annual caps on employment-based visas, many are forced to wait years—and in some cases decades—for an immigrant visa to become available.

"Because of these challenges, many immigrants who would otherwise pursue the American dream are now turning to other countries, most notably, our neighbor to the north.

"Unlike the United States, Canada has embraced a strategy grounded in the belief that immigration is an economic driver.  Consistent with this strategy, Canada has made significant strides in building flexibility and incentives into their immigration system to attract skilled professionals to their shores.

"Programs like Express Entry, the Start-Up Visa, and the Global Talent Stream have proven so successful that those who have been failed by the U.S. immigration system are now turning to Canada.  Ironically, Canada’s successful Start-Up Visa Program was inspired by legislation introduced in the House in 2011 that never became law.  The results are paying off, with Toronto earning the moniker—the 'Silicon Valley of the North.'

"It is my hope that with this hearing, we can begin to build some consensus on reforms that are needed to ensure that our immigration system works for—not against—the American people.

"I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and I thank the Chair, Ms. Lofgren, for her leadership on this issue, and for holding this important hearing.  I yield back the balance of my time."