While America’s economy remains hamstrung by the COVID-19 pandemic, our broken immigration system only makes it harder to recover. Instead of policies that seek the “best and the brightest” to live and work here, federal immigration policy sets arbitrary country-by-country caps on who may enter. These policies mean that those who could contribute the most to our economy have the door slammed in their face while others who do not have as much to offer are welcomed in.
We can help strengthen our economy and protect American jobs at the same time by passing the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.” This legislation could have already passed the U.S. Senate, but U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has expressed dissatisfaction with the legislation and has brought it to a halt.
Scott deserves respect but the Fairness Act makes sense economically. The proposal eliminates per-country caps on green cards for people who already have a job lined-up in America. A more logical “first come, first serve” approach would replace a system where highly skilled immigrants from a larger country may be held back because their homeland has already reached its arbitrary limit on green cards. Most importantly for American workers, this legislation requires employers to first advertise openings for high-skilled jobs here in the United States to put Americans first in line for these opportunities.
American employers are always on the lookout for the highly skilled workers they depend on to grow our economy and develop world-leading technologies. The reality is, our economy is so strong compared to the rest of the world that we don’t have enough of these workers in America. The future of our economy depends on skilled and highly educated workers from other countries to fill the gaps. These are the types of immigrants we want.
For example, here in the Sunshine State, India ranks second when it comes to international students studying at public universities. Florida is also the top location for real estate investment by Indians. According to the National Association of Realtors, in 2019, Indians purchased almost $7 billion in U.S. real estate. Why should people from India who have in-demand skills and invest in America be prevented from living and working here due to arbitrary formulas or caps? These quotas only serve to put people from other countries who aren’t as educated, don’t have needed skills and don’t invest in America on equal footing with those who do.
As long as American workers are protected and given the first opportunity to fill high-skill jobs, it only makes sense to make work visas available to those who benefit the U.S. the most.
The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act will allow more of the “best and brightest” from around the world to help grow the American economy while also safeguarding our workers. That’s the immigration system we need–and Scott should support it.
Maurice Langston is the chairman of the Florida Council for Safe Communities.