In a keynote address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said our country must grow its way out of the economic recession and pushed for legal immigration reform to kick-start that growth.
In his speech at the Immigration and American Competitiveness Conference, Bloomberg said an economic growth initiative that expands businesses, encourages entrepreneurism, and grows our markets overseas can be done with no cost to the taxpayer, but “…we have an open and honest conversation about immigration reform based on economics rather than anything else.”
The national debate on immigration policy is bogged down in politics, he argued. And while each side of the political aisle plays to its base regarding the country’s challenges with illegal immigration, the issue of skilled workers is only slowly becoming part of the national conversation.
Bloomberg’s first suggestion was to take a hard look at visa distribution. Each year, the United States admits about one million new permanent visas. But of that million, 85 percent go to people looking for family re-unification or protection from harm, while only 15 percent are given out for work reasons, he said.
“Allocating only 15 percent of visas based on economics is just terrible public policy – and it really is holding our economy back,” he said. “I’ve called it national suicide – and I think it really is.”
He called for a dramatic increase in the number of visas given to skilled workers wanting to come to the United States or stay here after graduate school to work. “These high-skill workers will not only help create thousands of jobs, they’ll also give us knowledge of foreign markets that will help U.S. businesses increase their exports,” he said.
Bloomberg also made a case for keeping foreign students who graduate from American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.
“Let’s offer them green cards when they finish their degrees, and then we can get down to the real business of convincing them to stay because that’s not a foregone conclusion either,” he said. “We are in competition with the rest of the world for the best and the brightest.”
Our current system makes the path to citizenship for these graduates cumbersome and stressful, Bloomberg said. “Turning these students out of the country is, to put it bluntly, about the dumbest thing that we could possibly do.”
Alejandro N. Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also spoke at the conference. The USCIS is working to clarify some of the wording of the current laws to make it easier for skilled workers to stay in the country. But he acknowledged that the United States immigration policy needs adjusting.
“We well understand the obstacles our current laws present when we seek to attract and retain a greater share of talent in a world of ever-increasing competition from abroad,” he said.
Individuals who are seeking skilled worker visas or want to continue work after graduate school in the U.S. should consult a skilled immigration attorney to expedite the H-1B process for them and their family.
A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at http://www.visatous.com.