Thursday, January 22, 2009

US Immigration Reform & Job Creation

One of the greatest fallacies of our current immigration policy is the idea that job creation at home is hindered by business based immigration. If anything, business immigration in the US creates US jobs, as it encourages investment and business opportunities and the spending and taxing of US dollars. By hindering business immigration, we hinder growth, investment, and a forward looking mentality in our country. Instead of bringing the best and brightest from around the world to our country to contribute to our economy and culture, we shut our doors and economic opportunities, as we are crippled by the fear of losing US jobs. As a result, business creation is hindered and jobs and investment are taken elsewhere, as "outsourcing" and taking jobs elsewhere is the only option. For example, just recently, Microsoft was forced to move thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment right across the border to Canada. The reason being that the H1B quota of 65,000 (this quota is really 58,000 when you back out Chile and Singapore), didn't even come close to providing Microsoft with the talented employees it needed. Many critics of the H1B default to the argument that it encourages "cheap labor," but this just isn't true as you need to meet the prevailing minimum wage for the occupation and geographic area in order to even get the H1B application to the lottery.

Another problem is the backlog of the green card process, especially with those in the EB3 category and those from China and India in the EB2 category. The green card process is already a very stringent and long process, but now you have qualified and talented foreign individuals waiting years for the opportunity to immigrate to the US. Instead of contributing now to our economy and presenting these individuals with the opportunity to work hard and prosper in our country, we make them wait years, often resulting in either the stagnation of their careers or completely giving up on the process. The end result is that the US loses out on the contributions of these individuals.

The analysis of business immigration and US jobs being taken away from Americans cannot be made in a vacuum. It is not nearly as simple as taking the number of US jobs and then calculating the number of foreign nationals allowed in to take those jobs. The obvious reason for this is that jobs, investment, business, etc. create more jobs, investment, and business. This country is built on immigration and we've succeeded because of our ability to attract the best and brightest from around the world over the years. Foreign workers come here with a hunger and drive to succeed and they contribute immensely in a positive way to all aspects of our society. Business immigration creates a synergy that drives and strengthens our economy and allows this country to regenerate itself and avoid stagnation.

In terms of the new administration, it is really anyone's guess as to what will happen. The interesting thing about immigration is that it is, generally speaking, not necessarily decided along party lines. With a democratic congress and president, we will most likely fair a better chance in terms of achieving some type of reform as compared to what we could expect with a republican president and congress.

We may not see too much occur early on with immigration reform in the new administration. Other factors such as the economy and other unforeseen events may divert the attention early on, but we should remain hopeful that within 2009 the issue will be addressed. The fact of the matter is that we have approximately 12,000,000+ undocumented individuals in this country and severe backlogs and barriers with business and family based immigration. That coupled with a recession doesn't bode well for our economy. American workers deserve to be protected and it is possible to be pro-business, pro-labor, pro-American, and pro-immigration at the same time. We need to make sure that American businesses are able to compete in a global environment and that American businesses bring jobs to the US, otherwise we will see a lot more Microsoft repeats going forward.

The reform that will come will have to find a balance and look toward not only taking some of the pressure out of the business based immigration categories, but also how to resolve the issue concerning the 12,000,000+ undocumented individuals currently living in this country. Furthermore, any reform will have to address the immigration system going forward so that we do not create the same issues in the future. Throughout the history of the US there has been a synergistic correlation between immigration and business and economic advancement in this country. The more tightening we have with our immigration system, the longer we will suffer in the throngs of recession and stagnation. We also risk the future advancement and success of our country.

Douglas M. Lightman, Esq. is the principal and founding attorney of Lightman Law Firm LLC, a boutique law firm with a focus on U.S. immigration and nationality law. The firm provides services in all aspects of business based and family based immigration and citizenship matters. Please visit for more information.

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