Those who are against immigration reform will generally rely on one main argument to make their point: immigrants take jobs away from Americans. This is simply not true and in fact, it's the opposite. With the proper policies, immigration reform could help to increase jobs for both Americans and immigrants in the U.S.
Many highly skilled workers in the U.S. are immigrants. As I noted in a previous blog, the founders of Google, eBay, Intel and Yahoo! were founded by immigrants who came to the U.S. through the family-based immigration system. The plain truth is that the U.S. economy attracts “more high-skilled professionals than the U.S. educational system produces or are available in our workforce.”
Studies show that in “STEM” occupations (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), 26.1% of the total work force are foreign-born workers with PhDs and 17.7% have master's degrees.
Currently, there is an inadequate number of available H-1B visas and green cards for these highly skilled workers. The U.S. is turning away individuals who would more than likely bring jobs as well as positively influence the U.S. economy as a whole. Rather than go along with the status quo, we should be encouraging a type of immigration reform that provides for these workers.
(1) High-skilled immigrant workers create new jobs:
- The Information Technology Industry Council, the Partnership for a New American Economy, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report in 2012 stating that “every foreign-born student who graduates from a U.S. university with an advanced degree and stays to work in STEM has been shown to create on average 2.62 jobs for American workers - often because they help lead in innovation, research, and development.”
- The Partnership for a New American Economy issued a report in 2011 stating that immigrants were founders of 18% of all current Fortune 500 companies. In that year, these companies generated $1.7 trillion in annual revenue and employed over 3.6 million workers worldwide.
(2) High-skilled immigrants add to the job market, not displace native-born workers.
- The recent report released by the Information Technology Industry Council, the Partnership for a New American Economy, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that a majority of STEM occupations have considerably low unemployment and many foreign-born STEM workers are “complementing, not displacing their U.S. counterparts.”
- A 2011 report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and Workforce has concluded that the demand for STEM workers is not being met because of the rising wage premiums being paid to these workers.
It seems that in order to take advantage of all of our resources, the United States should encourage highly-skilled immigrants to come to the U.S. as well as strive for academic excellence in our school system. To quote Microsoft, the U.S. needs “a two-pronged approach that will couple long-term improvements in STEM education in the United States with targeted, short-term, high-skilled immigration reforms. If done correctly, the latter can help the former.”