TITLE

On immigration policy, we've got it backward

AUTHOR(S)
Colvin, Geoffrey
PUB. DATE
September 2005
SOURCE
Fortune;9/5/2005, Vol. 152 Issue 5, p44
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This article examines immigration policy in the United States. Consider two groups of people who want to enter the U.S. and work. Group one observes the rules meticulously. When they get here, they pay taxes, sometimes in quite large amounts. By law, they're here only because no American is available to do the work they're doing, and that work is so valuable that it helps U.S. companies create more jobs for Americans. Our official stance toward them? We severely restrict the number we admit. Group two is just the opposite. Many of them violate the rules. They evade taxes, and some of them, by working illegally at below-market wages, take jobs from U.S. citizens who follow the rules. Our stance toward these workers? Officially we don't allow them in, but in practice we let hundreds of thousands enter the country every year. Group one comprises highly skilled workers who come to the U.S. on H1-B visas. Group two is made up of the illegal immigrants who do lawn care, meat processing, house painting, and other low-skilled U.S. jobs. The U.S. labor force has long had shortages at the very top and the very bottom. Resentment toward illegal immigrants is building among working-class Americans. Voicing their anger is Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado), who says he'll run for President on an anti-immigration platform. The best solution for group one is simple: Eliminate the cap on H1-B visas, currently just 65,000 a year. The solution for group two is more complicated, but the outline is clear. Forget about deporting them. It's impossible, and any attempt would just waste billions of dollars. Instead, make it worth their while to become tax-paying, on-the-books workers for at least a few years. Many would do it happily in return for one cost-free privilege: the right to travel freely between the U.S. and home.
ACCESSION #
18019198

 

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