Make Immigration Easier!

In the New York Times Magazine this week was an article written by Jose Antonio Vargas, in which he “outed” himself as an undocumented worker.  He was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings.  It was an incredible piece of journalism.  His public confession again raises the issues of immigration reform.

immigrants

I’ve said before that the U.S. needs to reform its immigration policies. 

It’s people like Jose Vargas that we need to be changing our laws to protect.  It’s people like Jose Vargas that make our country a better place.  He came to the United States when he was 12 years old (his mother put him on an airplane with a coyote, who smuggled him into the country under a false passport), and he didn’t find out he was undocumented until he was 16 years old, and went to the DMV to get a drivers’ permit.

He went to college and worked hard to get a degree, and worked hard in his chosen profession.  He was a model “citizen,” and contributed greatly to society.  He was a net positive for our society.  It’s these people that we need to draw our laws around.  How many millions of immigrants do we turn away from America when they are highly-skilled, highly-educated?  We should never tell these people that America is full.

This month, in Knowledge @ Wharton, there’s an article entitled, “‘Brain Drain,’ or ‘Brain Exchange’: What is the Cost When Immigrant Entrepreneurs Go Home?”  In it is this revealing paragraph:

For a majority of highly skilled immigrants who want to start companies, the promised land is no longer the United States, writes Wadhwa and four co-authors in a recent report from the Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo.-based non-profit that supports research on entrepreneurship. In “The Grass Is Indeed Greener in India and China for Returnee Entrepreneurs,” the researchers surveyed 153 professionals who returned from the U.S. to India or China to start a business. They found that 72% of Indians and 81% of Chinese said the opportunities to start a company in their home countries “were better or much better” than in the United States.

The United States is no longer the place where people go for a better life.  People no longer want to stay in America and live the American dream.  Instead, they want to get their education, and return to their home country, where they can live the Indian dream, or the Chinese dream.

This is unacceptable for America.  We are driving away the very people that we should be welcoming with open arms.  We are closing our doors with an isolationist immigration policy.

Other countries are adapting to their need for more highly skilled and highly educated workers, including Germany, which is revamping its immigration policy to encourage highly skilled workers to come to Germany.

Immigration is good for the economy.  Increasing the size and complexity of our workforce allows our workforce to have greater specialization and efficiency.  Immigration policy also allows immigrants to unlock their full potential (a potential that might otherwise be bottled up under a more oppressive or unstable society).

Our immigration policy is all out of whack.  Here’s a story from The Economist earlier this year:

I KNOW a man who came to America alone as a teenager with no money or contacts. Within ten years he had a PhD and high-paying job. Then the financial crisis hit and he lost his job. He had an H1-B visa at the time which meant that if he did not find another job fast he’d have to leave the country. It was a tense few months for him. For a while it looked like he might be deported. In the mean time his sister, who was not nearly as well educated, got a green card (which ensures permanent residence independent of employment) because she was a political refugee. And because she had a green card she was able to secure one for my friend’s mother, who had not finished elementary school.

Our immigration policy doesn’t allow a highly skilled person to remain in our country (contributing a huge amount to our economy), but it allows other people, who contribute less, to stay in the country, and act as anchors for still other people.  Now, I’m a big proponent of letting just about everyone into our country (having a pretty loose immigration policy); but we should AT LEAST be encouraging the best and brightest from around the world to come and help America continue to lead the world.

Question: What are your thoughts on immigration policy?  You can leave your comments by clicking here.

  • Pious_Ted

    <<>>

    Oh, really?  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the current unemployment/underemployment rate (U6 data) in the U.S. to be 15.8% (as of May, 2011).  You want millions of new immigrants to come to the U.S.  when the U6 unemployment rate here is 15.8%?  Are you serious?

    http://portalseven.com/employment/unemployment_rate_u6.jsp?fromYear=2000&toYear=2011 

    <<>>

    Oh, really.  Why do so many Mexicans (for example) attempt to cross the border illegally every day to come here?  Why have so many stayed?

    <<>>

    Oh, really?  How many undocumented immigrants are estimated to be residing in the U.S.?  I have seen recent estimates of more than 11 million.  Other estimates have put the number closer to 20 million.  Either way, that is a lot of people who want to stay here.

    http://pewresearch.org/databank/dailynumber/?NumberID=1206

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      “You want millions of new immigrants to come to the U.S.  when the U6 unemployment rate here is 15.8%? Are you serious?”

      Yes, I’m serious.  The highly skilled and highly educated immigrants are the people that will give us (a) the greatest innovations that our country needs to get high GDP growth over many years, and (b) will create the companies that will employ those that are currently unemployed.  Also, allowing the highly skilled and highly educated to come and work in the U.S. necessarily means that they AREN’T working somewhere else, which means that the U.S. will continue to be the leader in the world.

      • Pious_Ted

        Over the past decade, millions of skilled and educated Americans have seen their jobs go to other nations around the world where salaries and wages are much lower than in the U.S.  It is beyond belief that you would advocate allowing a flood of immigrants to come to the U.S to compete with those same people for the scarce number of high paying new jobs now being created in the U.S.  Perhaps you should pay closer attention to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.  Job creation in the U.S. is anemic right now, and many of the jobs being created here are relatively low paying service jobs.  

        <<>>

        Allowing those people to pour into the U.S. will also likely mean that even more skilled and educated Americans WON’T be working here because they can’t find a good job.  I have news for you, Robert.  Millions of highly skilled and highly educated Americans have lost their jobs over the last decade because wages and salaries are much lower in China and India etc. than here.  Outsourcing of white collar American jobs was rampant over the last decade.  It is amazing that you now advocate allowing millions of new immigrants to flood our shores and compete with educated and skilled Americans who can’t find a decent job right now.  Beyond belief.  

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          You make the assumption that there are only a finite number of skilled jobs in the world, and if a person takes one of those jobs here, then that’s one fewer jobs in another country.  Or, if someone moves here and takes a skilled job, then it destroys the opportunity for another person.

          Two replies: first, your premise is wrong; there are not a finite number of skilled jobs in the world.  Innovation creates more skilled jobs.  If you foster an environment of innovation, then you don’t have to say, “skilled workers in America won’t be able to find jobs.”

          Second, even if you grant your premise (that there are a finite number of skilled jobs), there is a finite amount of skilled workers as well, so even if you move all the skilled workers to America, you will also be moving all the skilled jobs to America.  It would reverse the “outsourcing” of white collar jobs from America… a sort of “insourcing” of skilled jobs.

          • Pious_Ted

            <<>>

            No, Robert.  I did not make that assumption.  You claim I made that assumption and you then tried to refute a claim that I never made.  This seems to be a common trait of yours…  
             
            I CLEARLY referenced the Bureau of Labor Statistics which regularly publishes job creation data and unemployment data in the U.S.  I clearly stated that job growth in the U.S. is anemic right now, and millions of educated and skilled Americans have lost their jobs via outsourcing over the last decade to foreigners because wages and salaries are much lower abroad.  It is asinine to suggest that the U.S. should now allow millions of new immigrants to come here at a time when job growth is anemic and structural unemployment is high.  The appropriate time to allow more immigrants to come to the U.S. is when organic growth is robust and there is strong job creation in the U.S.  That clearly is not the case today.  The evidence clearly supports my case and refutes your own.

            <<>>

            Robert, I honestly think this point is completely lost upon you.  Millions of white collar jobs moved to China and India and other regions of the world over the past decade.  Those jobs moved abroad because the indigenous peoples of China and India etc. have skills and can do those jobs for much lower salaries.  Bringing millions of immigrants to the U.S. during a time of high unemployment and anemic job creation would necessarily put downward wage pressure on Americans who do have jobs and also those Americans who seek jobs.  Your proposal is absurd.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Let me ask you this: do you agree that immigration should be easier (in general), but only not at this point in time?  Are you saying that, in times of economic trouble, the U.S. should have a more isolationist immigration policy?

          • Pious_Ted

            Many people agree that the immigration process is not efficient.  I am certainly in favor of making the process more efficient as long as the security of the U.S. is not jeopardized.  I believe a background check on prospective immigrants is necessary.  It is vital to our national security to know if potential immigrants have any contagious illnesses or criminal backgrounds etc.  

            I do believe it would be prudent to carefully govern the number of immigrants allowed into the country during times of slow organic economic growth and anemic job growth.  

      • Pious_Ted

        BTW, I noticed that you didn’t address point #2 or point #3 in my original post.  

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          I didn’t address your points #2 and #3 because you were using unskilled labor as an argument AGAINST allowing skilled labor, which I see as a distraction.

          • Pious_Ted

            You are the one who made these two blanket statements:

            <<>>

            <<>>

            Millions of undocumented immigrants have come to our country in search of a better life.  Millions of undocumented immigrants have remained in our country because they believe they have a better life here.  Undocumented immigrants attempt to enter the U.S. every day. These facts are not subject to dispute.  

            <<>>

            No, I was not.   I provided ample evidence to refute both of your blanket claims.   The issue of whether those undocumented immigrants are skilled or not is irrelevant to the fact that millions have come here for a better life and millions have stayed here.  More try to enter the U.S. every day. Your two blanket statements are demonstrably FALSE.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Please read my comments in the context of my article.

            Thanks for your comments, but I believe we’re talking about two different things.

          • Pious_Ted

            I read your article.  I then read it again.  You made these two blanket statements:

            <<>>

            <<>>

            Both claims are demonstrably false.  Feel free to try and wiggle your way out by talking about “context”.   The facts are that millions have come here for a better life and millions have stayed.  More attempt to come every single day.  Your claims are wrong.  No need to debate any further.

          • Anonymous

             “Feel free to try and wiggle your way out by talking about ‘context’.” 

            Deja vu, anyone?

          • Pious_Ted

            Ha!.  I thought you might appear…  ;->

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Was it you or Sid that wanted me to include more context about Stephen
            Hawking’s beliefs in another post? Hmmm… it seems like you use context
            selectively when it suits your argument. Maybe this is something you should
            learn about? Or, do we only take context into consideration when YOU say it
            should be?

          • Anonymous

            I think it was Sid who took you to task on that. In any event, I see a pattern: You use science and various scientist’s findings when they seem to support your premise, but not when they contradict  your premise.  

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

            Actually there is evidence to support the IDEA that America isn’t the place it once was.  Whether it be the average life span of America’s which is lower this generation for the first time in the history of America or the falling education scores of our young people that continue to lose out to other nations….Now do these factors mean that America isn’t better than Mexico as far as education and standard of living…NO of course not, and immigrants will continue to come here as long as our overall situation is better than our surrounding neighbors.  Our standards should be higher than any others because of the history of greatness we have been giving by the blood, sweat, and tears of all those

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

            …all those who came before us.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    There is ONLY one place that ALL immigration reform must start… controlling our borders. No other step of progress can work long term without first securing the borders.  You can debate skilled workers/unskilled workers and the “American dream” till the cows come home, but unless we are in control on the number of immigrants entering the country and those immigrants are documented everything else is “treating the symptoms” of the problem. 

    • Pious_Ted

      Broc,

      I agree with you 100% on this issue.  We MUST secure the borders.  There are too many dangerous people in this world who would like to do us harm.  Sneaking across the border makes it too easy for them to come here.  America has many enemies who wish to destroy us.  Securing the borders is priority #1.     

      • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

        This is something I agree with you about.  Securing the borders has to be done first.

        • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

           I understand the interest in discussing immigration…amnesty/no amnesty, path to citizenship/deportation however all this discussion is dividing a nation over Steps 2,3 and 4 when step 1 ,securing the border, has not been accomplished.  I would love it dive into how best to deal with undocumented workers and what our intake of new immigrants should be annually but it’s all fantasy because we do not push as a unified nation on the issue of securing the border.   When get divided over Republican plans vs. Democratic plans for immigration and nothing gets done.  There will be plenty of time for debate AFTER the border is secured.