NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 3, 2006

If America is ever to make immigration work for our economy again, it must reject policies shaped by advocacy groups trying to turn immigration into the next civil rights cause or by a tiny minority of businesses seeking cheap labor subsidized by the taxpayers, says Steven Malanga, contributing editor of City Journal.

Instead, we must look to other developed nations that have focused on luring workers who have skills that are in demand and who have the best chance of assimilating.

  • Australia, for instance, gives preferences to workers grouped into four skilled categories: managers, professionals, associates of professionals and skilled laborers.
  • Using a straightforward "points calculator" to determine who gets in, Australia favors immigrants between the ages of 18 and 45 who speak English, have a post-high school degree or training in a trade, and have at least six months' work experience as everything from laboratory technicians to architects and surveyors to information-technology workers.
  • Such an immigration policy goes far beyond America's employment-based immigration categories, like the H1-B visas, which account for about 10 percent of our legal immigration and essentially serve the needs of a few Silicon Valley industries.

Immigration reform must also tackle our family-preference visa program, which today accounts for two-thirds of all legal immigration and has helped create a 40-year waiting list, says Malanga.  Lawmakers should narrow the family-preference visa program down to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and should exclude adult siblings and parents.

America benefits from many of its immigrants, but increasingly over the last 25 years, such immigration has become the exception.  It needs once again to become the rule, says Malanga.

Source: Steven Malanga, "How Unskilled Immigrants Hurt Our Economy: A handful of industries get low-cost labor, and the taxpayers foot the bill," City Journal, Summer 2006.

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