Immigration Coherency

William Tincup William Uranga

Most of the talk on the national stage has been about the economy.  The latest job-related numbers include 7.6% unemployment and 11.6 million unemployed.   One defensive reaction to this is to limit immigration, that they are taking “our jobs”.  Beyond the face of such thinking being inhospitable, it overlooks how the U.S. benefits from immigration over the years.  These include:

Even with the current “mood” in Congress being one of restricting immigration, we could do better.  Here are some simple, but effective recommendations by Brian Sommer that could go a long way to improve immigration policy:

  • Enforce existing law: Sure it’s obvious, but there is nothing like inconsistency to cloud the real issues. Silly things like buy-a-house-then-get-citizenship, breaks down the trust among everyone.  As of January 2009, there are 11.6 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
  • Have H1-Bs mean something again: Originally defined as highly specialized, scarce skills. Companies have stretched this to now include the just-received-my-diploma undergrad with coding skills. Set clear priorities associated with the visa. How many should be granted and why? 
  • Address labor arbitrage: U.S. businesses who want foreign labor for pennies can be “cured” of this motive. Set a schedule, akin to the federal minimum wage, but have it based on market rates (tie to Radford Survey). Immigration costs should be excluded from such a schedule.

Improving the economy means improving businesses and improving businesses means improving talent. Extending benefits and offering public works is but a stop gap solution.  Immigration is only part of the talent equation, but let’s makes it better.  This sort of diversity has made us better and stronger both historically and now.  Let’s just make it more understandable.