High Skill Immigration – US Competitiveness at Risk Without Immigration Reform

In a recent opinion piece published in Time Magazine, two leading politicians from foreign-born backgrounds—one Democrat and one Republican—demand U.S. lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the interest of US economic competitiveness. Bill Richardson is the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and former Secretary of Energy in the Clinton administration, as well as former Democratic Congressman and Governor from New Mexico. Rosario Marin the former U.S. Treasurer in the George W. Bush administration and former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate for California. Richardson was born in California but grew up in Mexico City with his part-Mexican parents. Marin was born and raised in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. with her family as a teenager in the 1970’s, eventually naturalizing. In their Time opinion, the influential politicians point to the fact that economists agree immigration reform is vital for the American economy. They write, “independent studies have shown that immigration reformwill boost economic growth, reduce the deficit and stoke the creative fires that in our entrepreneurial American spirit.” The authors are likely referring to studies such as one recently released by UNC economists who conclude North Carolina’s immigrant population of approximately 750,000 has a net positive contribution of “$23,371 on a per-capita basis” to the economy, and account for a $48 million surplus in the NC tax revenue base. Richardson and Marin also specifically recommend law makers to increase the arbitrary caps on the number of high skilled immigration, noting the fact that “the government received 172,500 H-1B visa applications in just five days, more than double the 85,000 annual cap under current law.” With leaders from both parties in agreement on immigration overhaul’s goals, isn’t it time for Congress to get the job done? The U.S.’s immigration laws have become so convoluted and outdated that they prevent us from tapping into the highly valuable pool of talented foreign nationals who are educated and trained in the U.S. High skill immigrationis an important component of US innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s time to end the “brain drain” and welcome these highly skilled workers to the U.S. Alex Muntean is an Immigration Attorney providing immigration advice and representation.

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