Monday, July 20, 2009


Immigration reform has always been a controversial issue, even though this country was built by immigrants and would not exist without them.

With 9.5 percent unemployment, however, most Americans, I would assume, are not interested in bringing over more foreigners to compete for jobs in a declining job market.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that the program we do have for bringing over highly educated and skilled workers is based on an artificial cap rather than being tied to individual industry needs. The H1-B visa program is capped annually at 65,000 for people with a bachelor’s degree or higher and an additional 20,000 for those with a master’s degree or higher. This is a policy that doesn’t take into consideration what the tech sector needs, what manufacturing needs, what higher education needs or what professional services require--whether more or less than the relatively arbitrary caps in place today.

This is not only impractical from a competitive standpoint but from an image one, as well. It doesn’t help our reputation abroad or at home to pursue such an illogical approach.

An article in The Wall Street Journal, on April 1, 2008, “The Immigrant Gap,” speaks of the multiple industries in this country that were founded by the foreign-born and how significantly they have contributed to our standard of living. “They bring human capital, brimming with new ideas for new technologies and new companies. They bring financial capital as well, with savings and resources to develop these ideas. And they often bring connections to business opportunities abroad, stimulating exports and affiliate sales for multinational companies.”

The solution, the article says, is to eliminate the cap and tie our policy to need. I second that.

Technorati Tags: Makovsky + Company, Immigration reform , unemployment, job market, H1-B visa program, The Wall Street Journal,financial capital,multinational, business, public relations


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