April 9, 2007
The United States is again showing how well it can seal the border against skilled, law-abiding workers who are crucial to its economic future, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).
This year, as in the past, 65,000 H-1B visas -- those granted to highly skilled foreign workers needed by technology firms -- are available. The useless restriction presents a problem for everyone, says IBD:
- Employers facing a shortfall of brainpower must often close some of the gap by shifting work offshore to low-wage havens such as India.
- The big loser, however, is the United States as a whole; we stand to lose tens of thousands of talented, productive people, many educated at its universities, to other nations with more rational immigration policies.
It's also worth noting that the workers waiting for H-1B visas, as well as the employers submitting applications for them, are working within the system. That sets them apart from millions of low-skilled illegal immigrants and their employers who evade the law and usually don't get caught.
Fortunately, two House members, Democrat Louis Gutierrez of Illinois and Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, are trying to change the system. They have offered a bill that would raise the cap to 115,000, with possible further hikes to 180,000. It would provide further slots for people who have earned advanced degrees in the United States.
The current H-1B limit is an arbitrary number that needs to be revised upward to fit current demands, says IBD. It may once have made some political (if not economic) sense when tech was slumping and U.S.-born workers were scrambling for scarce jobs, but no more.
Source: Editorial, "Immigration Irony," Investor's Business Daily, April 5, 2007.
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