Temporary Skilled Workers Enrich America’ s Competitive Edge

Via AILA
09/27/2006

The
recent debate over immigration policy commonly depicts immigrants as
undocumented, uneducated people who flood our borders without
inspection. Although many immigrants who enter this country are
unskilled laborers who provide essential services in many sectors of
our economy, of equal importance to the immigration debate are the
highly educated foreign professionals whose skills play a vital role in
the enrichment of our economy. These foreign born workers bring unique
perspectives and expertise that are essential to maintaining America’s
competitive edge as the leader of the global marketplace.

The United States economy has shifted significantly over the past
fifty years. We are no longer the blue collar nation that we once were.
The transformation of our economy from a manufacturing economy to a
knowledge-based economy has created a growing demand for highly skilled
technical workers. This demand has been accompanied by a decline in the
number of native-born students seeking degrees in the fields of
science, engineering and technology. Our prestigious graduate
institutions currently train more foreign nationals than U.S. citizens
in these important fields. These U.S trained specialists, both native
and foreign-born, cannot fill the demand for highly-skilled workers in
key occupations. U.S. businesses must be able to recruit and hire
additional foreign-born professionals to alleviate temporary labor
shortages in specific occupations.

To keep America competitive, we must increase the number of
specialized worker visas awarded. H-1B visas, or temporary skilled
worker visas, are currently capped at only 65,000 annually. Yet in
recent years, this “cap” is reached in a couple of months and U.S.
businesses are barred from hiring foreign-born professionals for the
remainder of the fiscal year. In order to increase the number of highly
skilled professionals in this country, we must reform the employment
based immigration system and provide a sufficient amount of avenues
through which U.S. businesses can legally employ specialized workers.

At the same time, we must increase recruitment and training of U.S.
students as well – in order to accelerate this process, a hefty portion
of the processing fees for the H visas are directed to the education
and training of U.S. students in science and technology.

It is important that skilled workers are not overlooked in the
current debate regarding comprehensive immigration reform. Raising the
H-1B visa cap is vital to maintaining our leadership in the world
market. We must retain the educated professionals whom we have trained
internally in order to benefit from the unique skills that they
possess. By sending the best and the brightest workers back to their
respective countries, we only create competition for ourselves, thereby
diminishing America’s economic clout. By retaining foreign nationals,
we may ensure that U.S. businesses have the most highly qualified
workers in their fields, helping America maintain its edge in an
increasingly competitive global economy. the most highly qualified
workers in their fields, guaranteeing maximum success and economic
prosperity.


 

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