U.S. needs skilled immigrants
The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View:
Donald Trump’s latest harsh immigration orders leave little doubt about how he and his administration view outsiders who have come to the U.S. illegally. His views on high-skilled, legal immigrants are more complicated. He’s vowed to punish companies that bend the rules to replace American workers with cheaper foreigners, but he’s also said he welcomes talented innovators to America’s shores. In fact, he can and should find a way to do both.
The H-1B visa program that’s used to bring highskilled temporary workers to the U.S. has suffered from fraud and abuse, as Trump has said. Too many of the visas go to software services companies that underpay their foreign workers.
But keeping talent flowing will require changes beyond those that lawmakers are now considering. As Trump himself has noted, it makes little sense for the U.S. to educate foreign students and then send the smartest home; those in STEM fields should instead be allowed to apply for permanent residency while still in school. Proposals to establish a “startup visa” for entrepreneurs should be revived. Existing caps on both H-1B visas and employment-based green cards should be raised. And ideally, individual states should be given a greater say in what kinds of workers they need and when, as Canadian provinces have.
To make room for more of the most able immigrants, the number of green cards doled out to extended family members will probably need to be reduced. But the goal should be to rationalize the flow of immigrants, not to choke it off.