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May 19,2006
U.S. Economy Needs Skilled Foreign Workers
by Deborah Notkin

The recent debate over immigration policy commonly depicts immigrants as undocumented, uneducated people who flood our borders without inspection.

Although many immigrants who enter this country are unskilled laborers who provide essential services in many sectors of our economy, of equal importance to the immigration debate are the highly educated foreign professionals whose skills play a vital role in the enrichment of our economy.

The U.S. economy has shifted significantly over the past 50 years. We are no longer the blue collar nation that we once were. The transformation from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy has created a growing demand for skilled technical workers. This demand has been accompanied by a decline in the number of native-born students seeking degrees in the fields of science, engineering and technology.

Our prestigious graduate institutions currently train more foreign nationals than U.S. citizens in these fields. To alleviate labor shortages, U.S. businesses must be able to recruit and hire additional foreign-born professionals.

We must retain the educated professionals whom we have trained internally in order to benefit from the unique skills that they possess. By sending the best and the brightest workers back to their respective countries, we only create competition for ourselves, thereby diminishing America's economic clout.

In order to increase the number of highly skilled professionals in this country, it is necessary to reform the employment-based immigration system and provide a sufficient amount of avenues through which U.S. businesses can legally employ specialized workers. We must increase the number of specialized worker visas awarded.

H-1B visas, or temporary skilled worker visas, are currently capped at only 65,000 annually. Yet, this "cap" is reached in a couple of months, and U.S. businesses are barred from hiring foreign-born professionals for the remainder of the fiscal year.

At the same time, we must increase recruitment and training of U.S. students. H-1B visas accelerate this process; a hefty portion of the processing fees for the H-1B visas are directed to the education and training of U.S. students in science and technology.

It is important that skilled workers are not overlooked in the current debate regarding comprehensive immigration reform. Raising the H-1B visa cap is vital to maintaining our leadership in the world market. By retaining foreign nationals, we may ensure that U.S. businesses have the most highly qualified workers in their fields, helping America maintain its edge in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Deborah Notkin is president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

1463 times read

Related news
U.S. Needs Comprehensive Immigration Reform by Deborah Notkin posted on Feb 09,2006

Expand visas for seasonal, skilled workers by The Detroit News posted on Apr 04,2008

Immigrant skills by The San Diego Union-Tribune posted on Jun 08,2007

Leaky borders and limited lives by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted on Jun 15,2007

It's still the economy, stupid by Phyllis_Schlafly posted on Jan 18,2008

Did you enjoy this article? Rating: 4.29Rating: 4.29Rating: 4.29Rating: 4.29Rating: 4.29 (total 17 votes)

  • Don't toy with the folks Deborah. It wouldn't matter to your crowd is that 65,000 H-1B's were 650,000 you's still want the ''cap'' raised until there were no cap, in fact you stated as much in your other article. Your bunch will not be happy with anything less than total open borders and what is left of our Nation left in ashes. In your other article you supported amnestying every Illegal Alien (11 to 20 million) already in this Country, and in so doing you also then supported a legal path for the 50 million extended family members of those receiving your amnesty. Now with this article you come before the readership with smoke and mirrors purporting that the scheme your bunch are about will ''help'' the Country by raising the cap on the H-B1 from 65,000 to....what? Personaly I'd like to see you go ''help'' another Country, how about Mexico why don't you go help them? John
  • (Posted on January 13, 2007, 8:27 pm John)

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