The American dream cannot survive if we keep telling the dreamers to go elsewhere.
Every day that we fail to fix our broken immigration laws is a day that we inflict a wound on our economy.
Immigration reform would be an economic engine for the entire country – creating good-paying jobs that will speed up our recovery. Both major political parties and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue say that restoring economic growth is their top priority, so here are six key areas where bi-partisan agreement largely exists in Congress, where action could be taken immediately, and where the impact on our economy would be profound:
1. Stop providing a first-rate education in science and technology to foreign students – and then forcing them to leave after graduation.
The two parties should be able to agree on a policy that allows any university graduate with an advanced degree in an essential field – including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – to obtain a green card and stay and work in some of America’s fastest growing industries.
2. Stop telling foreign entrepreneurs to build their companies in other countries.
An entrepreneur with backing from U.S. investors should be given a temporary visa to start a company in America. If after two or three years, the business has successfully yielded new American jobs, the entrepreneur should be eligible for permanent residency.
We are a nation of entrepreneurs because we are a nation of immigrants. We need to encourage more entrepreneurial immigrants to build the next generation of businesses in America.
3. Stop telling American companies that they cannot hire the high-skilled workers they need.
By making it difficult for companies to obtain temporary and permanent visas for high-skilled workers, the federal government is slowing growth and – worse – promoting the outsourcing of American jobs.
We should end the cap on the high-skill H1-B visas. Let the market decide. It’s basic free-market economics – and both parties ought to be able to get behind it.
4. Ensure that major industries with seasonal and labor-intensive job openings have access to legal workers when they cannot fill these jobs with Americans.
Employers want a legal work force, but our current system makes that extremely difficult. Farmers, for example, have to go through multiple levels of approvals to do basic hiring. In states where they have cracked down on illegal farm workers, farm owners are experiencing severe labor shortages. That’s driving up their costs and leaving crops un-harvested. At a time when food prices are rising, this is the last thing American consumers – and farmers – need.
5. Allocate more green cards based on economic needs.
Right now, only about 15 percent of all green cards go to employees and their dependents, while the rest go largely to immigrants’ family members. In tough economic times, we need to spur growth by increasing the number of visas for people who can most help our economy by coming here to work, invest, and start businesses.
6. Allow local governments to recruit more immigrants.
Immigrants can fill labor gaps and drive economic growth across the U.S.; but not every place has the same needs. In other countries, local governments can recruit additional immigrants to fit their region – be it scientists for labs, workers for farms or families for cities.
Mayors understand that immigrants help drive economic growth. A new visa would allow them to attract exactly the talent they need.