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Disagreement over how to boost high-skilled immigration

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

According to a recent piece in the National Journal, both Democrats and Republicans agree that highly skilled immigrants add considerable value to the economy of the United States. However, according to Democratic Rep. John Delaney and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, neither side agrees with the other about how to act on getting more such immigrants into the U.S.

Democrats place priority on finding a way to legalize the status of undocumented immigrants already in the country, while Republicans are pushing for increased border security. Meanwhile, neither are focused on getting highly skilled immigrants into the American workforce.
The Democrats’ vision focuses on first utilizing the skills of immigrants already in the United States, documented or otherwise, and getting them into the places they are most needed – most notably the tech and health care sectors. Republicans, on the other hand, would like to see illegal immigration slowed before addressing an increase in the legal immigration of highly skilled immigrants, typically through the H-1B visa program.
What these two positions amount to is a Democrat push for comprehensive reform versus a GOP effort toward steady, step by step change, addressing one issue before the next. Ultimately, however, both sides want the U.S. to attract and retain the best of the world’s talent. As Sen. Johnson told National Journal, "Let's make sure the smartest minds stay here to grow the economy."
While the arguments over immigration often come down to personal values, the economic value of immigration – especially that of highly skilled individuals – is essentially beyond dispute.  Highly skilled immigrants fill the gaps created by a demand for STEM positions that U.S. colleges and universities are unable to fill. New Americans also start businesses and create jobs at a rate more than double that of U.S.-born citizens.

Regardless of the debate of immigration as whole, something must be done to keep the flow of global talent into the United States.

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