foreign workers in the US

Legal immigration of skilled workers should be expanded, even more so than has been done already.

The draft bill makes it easier to sponsor foreign math and science graduates from United States universities for permanent residency. It creates a visa program for entrepreneurs. And it expands, to 110,000, from 65,000, the number of temporary workers allowed into the country every year on H-1B visas, in addition to several thousand more when there is additional demand for workers.

We’re talking about skilled immigrants here, not the ones that hop over fences (I’ll save that discussion for later). Skilled immigrants arguably and empirically lead to an increase in the kind of economic activity that makes the US a more competitive country, leading to a net increase in the jobs created and the innovation produced. The idea that there is a fixed number of jobs that can be had, and that immigrants are stealing those jobs, is nonsense.

Much of the criticism comes from three sources.

1) People who confuse immigrants with illegal and under-educated immigrants. Again, more on this topic later. The fact that undocumented workers risk their lives to hop fences and work is a large topic for another time. Even then, we should understand that most people who come here are trying to better their own situations in ways that are not at our expense. They’re not looking for welfare or a free ride, but to work and feed their own families. A little sympathy and respect might be warranted.

2) Educated people, including tech workers, who fear being replaced or displaced. Again, this argument is nonsense, but it’s persistent.

3) Lastly, “cultural” reasons, or shall I say reactionary or even racist reasons. Not saying this is a majority view at all, but it’s a factor.

Legal immigration of some of the best minds on the planet to the US, the foremost fertile ground of innovation and entrepreneurship, is not a given. Other countries compete with us on this point, and success is not an entitlement. The best companies–and countries–get the best talent only if they are worthy of it. We should welcome that talent.

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