Foreign-born scientists and engineers (S&Es) have long played a prominent role in U.S. technological and scientific advancement and are a critical part of the science and engineering (S&E) labor force in corporations, universities, and research centers nationwide. However, long-standing structural flaws in the U.S. visa system and the unintended consequences of security procedures instituted since September 11, 2001, may be causing an increasing number of S&Es to forgo coming to the United States, thereby depriving the nation of a critical supply of human talent.
According to a recent National Science Board report, restrictive U.S. visa policies are beginning to close the door to highly skilled foreign professionals who have long helped maintain U.S. preeminence in science and technology.
President Bush’s proposal to address the problem of undocumented immigration by creating more opportunities for legal immigration and providing a legal status to those already here is a useful starting point in reforming a broken immigration system that costs hundreds of lives and billions of dollars every year.
America’s strength lies in its openness and dynamic character. Current concerns about the U.S. economy should not distract from an understanding that in the long term America’s economic success requires the nation to attract 1) skilled professionals from across the globe to increase the competitiveness of American companies and 2) workers at the lower end of the skill spectrum to fuel the growth of the U.S. labor force, filling jobs created by the aging of the population.
In a somewhat meandering August report, Breaking the Piggy Bank: How Illegal Immigration is Sending Schools Into the Red, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) attempts to make the argument that the cost of educating undocumented immigrant students in public elementary and high schools is a major cause of the budget deficits currently facing most states and precipitating cuts in school funding. However, the report’s own statistics do not support this claim. Even if the report is correct in its assertion that the cost to states was $7.4 billion in 1999-2000, this represents only 1.9 percent of the $381.8 billion spent nationwide on public elementary and secondary education and a miniscule fraction of the roughly $1 trillion in total spending by state governments.Moreover, the report neglects to mention that the estimated 1.1 million undocumented K-12 students in 2000 comprised a mere 2 percent of the total student population and that many state governments – including California’s – were running budget surpluses at that time. It is no more plausible to claim that undocumented students are somehow largely to blame for current budget deficits than it is to claim they deserve most of the credit for the budget surpluses of three years ago.
The 1996 welfare reform law barred most lawful permanent residents of the United States from receiving many of the public benefits their tax dollars help to fund. Benefit restrictions have increased food insecurity and reduced access to health insurance for both legal immigrants and their U.S.-citizen children, while failing to significantly reduce government healthcare expenditures due to the high costs of caring for the uninsured.
Remittances – money immigrants and foreign workers send abroad to their families – exert a key positive influence on the global economy, concludes a new report by the World Bank. The report carries implications for everything from U.S. policies on temporary workers to international development assistance.
America's current immigration policies are antiquated and fail to recognize the importance of Mexican workers to the national economy. U.S. immigration law must provide ways for Mexican workers to enter and remain in the U.S., in both temporary and permanent status, with protections to assure that they have the dignity and respect they deserve, given the important contributions they make to America. The status quo can no longer be accepted if the United States is to remain the world's leading economy.
Notre Dame professor Jorge Bustamante concludes that both the U.S. and Mexican economies benefit by “regularizing” undocumented immigrants. Current immigration restrictions disrupt labor flows and lives along U.S.-Mexican border.