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House vote to boost sci-tech visas lays bare political rifts on immigration

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“This was the first step forward in terms of trying to address the need for modernization in our visa laws,” said majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia after the vote. “We have a system of lottery that, frankly, I think is properly replaced with a system that rewards those who want to come here to help create jobs.”

Republicans emphasized that it's worthwhile to remove visas from a program in which applicants have with no educational requirements and to give them to individuals of high value to American industry. Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California said on the House floor that Democrats were “looking at the numbers, rather than the merit” of potential immigrants.

Republicans complain that comprehensive reforms, such as those Democrats tout, have failed in the past and that incremental change is the best way forward.  

“What stopped [reform] from happening was the size of it, the scope of it. [Democrats] said, ‘We have to do everything,’ ” Representative Issa said later in an interview, reflecting on past efforts to reform immigration law. “Doing everything allowed somebody to not like some part of anything. What we’ve done here today and what we need to do ... we need to break up the elephant into bite-size pieces.”

Why is that a problem for Democrats? First, they are steamed that the first immigration vote since the election came with zero consultation with House liberals.

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