America Needs A Pro-Growth Immigration System

Posted: May 9, 2013 in Business

Editor’s note: Marco Rubio is a United States Senator from Florida. Follow him on Twitter
@marcorubio. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science & Transportation will examine the role of
immigrants in America’s innovation economy. More
specifically, the committee will look at how our broken
immigration system is holding back American
innovation and job creation, and how the immigration reform proposal before the Senate can promote a
thriving U.S. technology sector that benefits
American workers. While there are a number of broken aspects of our
immigration system today – including porous borders,
weak workplace enforcement and an inadequate
system to track foreign visitors who overstay their
visas –
one that also stands out is the way we handle academic talent and highly skilled workers. Every year, our colleges and universities graduate
thousands of foreign students who have been
educated in our world-class university system. But
instead of putting that talent to work in the
American economy, we send them home to places
like China and India to compete against us. In other words, in many cases, other nations end
up benefitting more from our education system than
the United States does. The Senate immigration reform bill would end this
debacle. After educating the world’s brightest and
most innovative minds, we will no longer send them
home; we will instead staple green cards to
their diplomas. We will also expand the highly skilled H1-B visa
program from the current 65,000 to a program with a
new floor of 110,000, a ceiling of 180,000, and an
additional 25,000 exemptions for persons who
graduate from a U.S. university with an advanced
degree in science, technology, engineering or math. In order to accomplish these necessary moves to a
more merit-based immigration system, we eliminate
certain categories of family preferences that have
allowed for chain migration and completely eliminate
the diversity visa lottery, among other reforms. These measures, which we hope to improve on as the
bill moves through the legislative process, are at the
heart of our efforts to modernize our legal immigration
system to help meet the needs of our 21st century
economy, make it more merit and skill-based than
ever, and allow our economy to remain a dynamic global leader. They are also the kinds of reforms that
will make immigration reform a net benefit for our
economy and our federal budget – the way
immigration has always been a net benefit for
America. For example, studies show that 40 percent of
American Fortune 500 firms were started by
immigrants, as are roughly half of the
most successful startups in Silicon Valley. This
doesn’t just lead to corner-office, executive-level jobs;
these generate jobs across the income spectrum that help Americans rise to the middle class and beyond. With the reforms being offered, the benefits to our
economy and our people will come from the infusion
of entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, skilled
workers and others driven by the desire to build
a better life for themselves and their children. And
when our economy needs foreign workers to fill labor shortages, our modernized system will ensure that
the future flow of workers is manageable, traceable,
fair to American workers, and in line with our
economy’s needs. Let there be no doubt that immigration will always be
a powerful source of American strength. While some
worry that the immigrants that will most benefit from
the Senate’s legislation are mostly poor, with limited
education and destined to be government
dependents, history has proven something else. It has demonstrated the power of the American free
enterprise system to lift people from
the circumstances of their birth and into more
prosperous and stable lives for themselves and their
children. Over two centuries of life in America have
demonstrated this to be true. Of course, there are legitimate questions some have
raised about why this is now the Senate’s priority.
During the time I’ve been working on immigration
reform legislation, I’ve been asked why we are dealing
with this issue at this time, with some questioning the
need of dealing with it at all with so many other pressing concerns like our growing debt, millions of
unemployed or underemployed Americans, and the
persistent threat of terrorism that recently manifested
itself on our soil. It’s absolutely true that these are the defining issues
of our time that, frankly, should have been addressed
a long time ago. But the reality of immigration in America today is that,
even if we didn’t have some 11 million illegal
immigrants in the U.S. today, we would still have to
fix our broken legal immigration system. The immigration system we have today is a disaster.
It’s de facto amnesty that threatens our security and
our sovereignty. But even worse, it’s a job killer. The immigration proposal being considered by the
Senate is not perfect. And I believe we can improve it
with the ideas of people like Orrin Hatch who care
deeply about fixing the immigration system to work
better for American workers. As the immigration debate continues, it is important
that we use today’s hearing and every other avenue
we have to fix the broken immigration system we
have. In doing so, we can move towards a strong,
effective system that will secure the border,
encourage job creation for Americans, and ensure America remains a dynamic global economic leader.

  1. […] America Needs A Pro-Growth Immigration System […]

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