In a country where 11 million people live without papers, cutting 50,000 more visas without improving legal immigration flows will do nothing to fix the greater system, according to Rachel Rosenbloom, an associate professor of law at Northeastern University School of Law.
"We have millions of people in this country who have been here for many years, working here, raising kids here, living in the shadows because of the inadequacy of our immigration system," she said. "We certainly need high-tech workers, but we also need farm workers, people who contribute to this country."
The diversity visa -- with its discriminatory history and happenstance method of allotment -- doesn't solve the problem of 11 million undocumented, but neither does STEM.
"There's been a recognition in Washington, probably for a decade, that we need comprehensive immigration reform and it's been stalled," Rosenbloom said. "It's been stalled by anti-immigrant sentiment, by partisan bickering."
If STEM is passed, it also means one less bargaining chip for a comprehensive immigration reform plan, hence the opposition from the White House. Lawmakers will have placated those lobbying for more high-skilled workers without addressing the nation's broader immigration needs.