Immigration Reform 2013: Reform Will Promote Innovation in American Business

Imagine your country is in an economic recession. There are highly-skilled, potential job creators that industry is clamoring to get its hands on. And then, you decide to throw those people out. Sounds crazy, right? But that is exactly what current U.S. immigration policy does.

After completing college and earning advanced degrees, many of our foreign-born students in American universities are unable to continue living here when their student visas expire even though their skills are highly needed in the marketplace. More to the point, American taxpayers help subsidize tens of thousands of these immigrant students to help them learn high-demand skills in mathematics, sciences, etc., only to turn them away after they graduate to go and work for our competitors in China, India, and Europe!

Moreover, a study completed by the Kauffman Foundation has shown that immigrant-founded startups in the high-tech sector have floundered and are on the verge of decline. Silicon Valley has been hit the most, where 52.4% of the area’s startups were launched by foreigners in 2005 had that number slide to 43.9%this last year. In a country where immigrants account for almost a quarter of business owners, this isn’t a good sign.

Unable to fill the thousands of positions they have open, most tech companies are now are calling for more foreign workers and an expansion to the number of H-1B visas granted each year. Companies such as Microsoft, Google, Intel, and Facebook have stepped up their efforts in seeking immigration reform since they can’t find enough viable domestic candidates to perform the duties they need done. Realizing this, policy makers and even former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are saying that, “if someone’s got a PhD, particularly from a U.S. institute of higher learning, or even an accredited foreign institution, staple a green card to it.”

However, the high-tech industry isn’t the only one hurting due to current policies. Every year the farming and hospitality industry takes a hit when the number of annual legal visas hits the limit determined by the government. Unable to find willing native employees to work hard seasonal jobs in the fields or long hours cleaning, many employers have to hold back on economically beneficial activities or hire illegal immigrants and risk the wrath of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency (ICE).

As I’ve stated in a previous article, expanding our guest-worker program and removing arbitrary caps on the number of visas the government issues would relieve a lot of our country’s problems and help spur substantial market growth. For instance, the H-1B visas that are granted to foreign workers in highly-skilled, “specialty occupations” are currently capped at 65,000 per year and are quickly snatched up by desperate companies. Those who can’t grab them fast enough are left to stagnate and hold off on expanding their enterprise.

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Roger Pattison

Roger Pattison is currently pursuing a Master's degree in economics from George Mason University and working in non-profit fundraising for a liberty-advancing organization. I write on topics related to science, trade, immigration, emergent order, and informal institutions. All opinions written are my own and do not represent the views of my employer or George Mason University.

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