Immigration reform is one of the most significant hot-button political and cultural topics of this generation. But there is more to this critical issue than just who should or should not be allowed to obtain citizenship in the United States. One of the major dilemmas for the profitably influential tech industry is whether or not to make H-1B visas more accessible for highly intellectually skilled foreign nationals so that they can work in the U.S. Political experts have stated that any reform on immigration policy needs to start with more efficiently and accurately identifying the status of the more than 11 million undocumented individuals currently taking up residence in the United States. If that is not accomplished, there is a greater chance for these people to be exploited and forced to live in hiding.
The tech industry is particularly interested in strong immigration reform as many of the best and brightest studying business and technology at America’s universities are only able to remain in the country until they graduate. Once that happens, they are forced to return to their home country and America loses out on having these individuals, who represent the world’s most sought-after human intelligence, working for companies stateside and contributing to the health of the economy and the advancement of the technology and business sectors.
This being the case, there is incentive for both Congress and the White House to accelerate immigration reform. It is believed that more intellectually skilled immigrants could be a strong boon to the sputtering American economy to the extent that it could generate as much as a 1 percent increase in the United States GDP over a ten year period. Issuing residency permits to these individuals and their families means that they can begin investing their talents and resources in America. Some experts even estimate that is reform is implemented correctly, it could mean as much as $1 trillion to the U.S. economy over ten years.
The downside in this, however, is that there are already millions of individuals and families who have already been living in the United States and who have become integral members of their respective communities but who are still undocumented. If H-1B issuance is expanded to give preference to those who are considered more intellectually skilled, it will give them an unfair advantage over these undocumented individuals who may be passed over for jobs in favor of their “smarter” counterparts.
The United States has a very real demand for quality labor in its business and tech sectors but it also has a demand for labor in just about every other sector as well. Certain reform advocates point to the “inherent contradiction” between that demand and the growing desire among many American political officials to increase the measures taken to reduce immigration. The U.S./Mexico border has become militarized to discourage people from entering the United States illegally but that is actually having the opposite effect. The number of undocumented workers has actually increased since 1986 when militarization of the border was implemented.
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