LEGAL Immigration
KarthikPalaniapp an

Seattle, WA

#1 Apr 9, 2013
Original Article: http://thenationaldiscussion.blogspot.com/201...

The US needs to fill higher-paying, STEM-related jobs. In 2012, House Republicans proposed a “STEM Jobs Act” to expand STEM visas to 55,000, but reducing family-sponsored visas. Currently, foreign students make up almost half of STEM-related masters degrees and PhDs. Yet, we only allow 20,000, or 5% of all, visas for advanced degrees.

The STEM bill did not pass because Democrats opposed it cuts family visas, and the White House opposed it because they wanted a more general, comprehensive immigration bill. Now, the Gang of Eight is adding the STEM bill to their comprehensive plan. I hope it passes; it is the first step.

The second problem is the backlog in family-reunification (2/3 of all visas). Though we grant a great deal of family-sponsored visas, we still have a long (i.e. several years) waiting line even for immediate family members. From a “family-values” perspective, conservatives should realize that united families provide, money, security, and care for children.

More importantly, families contribute to the economy. Remember the giant economic boom after the soldiers returned from WWII? They came home, created families, bought houses, and importantly spent money. Our current weak economy needs an influx of spending to grow again. It just needs investment (e.g. immigration reform) to get it started.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) proposed a bill called the “Reuniting Families Act” that would allow immediate family members (spouses and children) to come to the US as immediate relatives exempt from the numerical cap on family-sponsored visas. It would also increase per-country limits from 7%-10% so we can get workers with skills we need from nations from which we get higher demand for workers.
Either way, immigration is good economics. Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics at George Mason University writes in the New York Times that “We see the job-creating benefits of trade and immigration every day, even if we don’t always recognize them.” He points out that immigrants will often take lower-skilled jobs like taxi drivers or construction workers, while Americans keep the higher paying jobs. In Eastern Washington, there are now apples rotting on the trees because nobody wants them to pick them. Who used to pick them? The illegal immigrants who would accept the low-pay, labor-intensive jobs.

Allowing more immigration is essentially encouraging a freer market of labor—a conservative concept. There are some jobs that will be outsourced—low-skilled factory jobs like making Apple products in China will and do happen. That’s fine, because that allows Americans to focus on the higher-tech, better paying jobs of the 21st century—everything from natural gas extraction, green energy, revamping our infrastructure, computer industry jobs, STEM in general, and more.

Most important: we should not be afraid to make new Americans. This nation was founded on immigration, and “traditional American” groups like the Irish (cough Bill O’Reilly) and Germans were immigrants in the early 1800's and met a lot of anti-foreigner sentiment. Yet, these same groups now look at the new immigrants from Asia and Latin America with disdain.

My message is clear: we should be welcoming legal immigrants, and focus on encouraging Mexicans to immigrate legally while better protecting the border. However, we should recognize our country’s immigrant history before we put down the new wave of immigrants. Watch in 20 years—these immigrants will become part of mainstream America, and their contributions to our economy and country will then be apparent. That is the power of the American melting pot.

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