Ostensibly, Immigration policy is one of the policy points during this election. After the Economy, Taxes, Budget Deficit / Debt, Foreign Policy (primarily related to the Middle East and China), Immigration comes next in the laundry list (per cnn.com)
So, as someone who is directly impacted by US Immigration Policy, lets talk about this a little bit.
Immigration policies fall in two broad categories – Illegal Immigration and Legal Immigration.
Illegal immigration policy, as it currently exists, is a moral and financial travesty – that does not befit the most prosperous nation on the planet. And they are connected.
As an e.g. – think about Walmart – it is the world’s largest retailer. And most of the so called “working class red collar” populace – most of who ostensibly vote Republican – shop there. Now think of going to a Super Walmart and buying a gigantic cut of meat or a whole chicken for 99 cents. And if you think about the value chain – you should think illegal immigration. Or those tomatoes / potatoes / apples / whatever at the cheapest prices in the world – think illegal immigration.
Because as Americans, while we are hooked on cheap food, do we realize who actually work in those meat packing factories or the farms? That’s right – even with an unemployment rate of 8%, not a whole lot of “americans” work those jobs. These jobs are demanding, dangerous and backbreaking. And overwhelmingly done by illegal immigrants. We want our lawns mowed, our houses cleaned and our dirty stuff to be taken care of at below market rates – however, we aren’t willing to provide basic recognition to those that do them. It is a travesty.
For our presidential candidates to be playing this as an electoral lever is cynical and unfeeling. It is also unbelievably unfair.
Academically, it has been proven that there is less institutionalized crime in immigrant communities (contrary to perceptions), there is a significant GDP gain due to the hard working ethos that immigrants bring and increases diversity which is so critical to the idea of America.
So what do we do about it – we should have a well defined path to citizenship – that actually doesn’t take 20 years. We should reward good behavior. And we should recognize what so called “illegal” immigrants grant us. A lot of America has on their dinner table what they do – because of cheap labor – who often work under minimum wage.
Now, let’s talk legal immigration.
Full Disclosure: The author considers himself a victim of the process. So this might be a little colored. No puns intended!
Background: The author has an engineering graduate and has a graduate degree in engineering from Michigan State University. He is also an MBA from Columbia Business School, Columbia University, an Ivy League institution.
He has been a management consultant for 10 years. And a home owner. And a tax payer. And he’s been stuck in the Green Card morass for the last 8. With no hope of getting a Green Card for the next 10 years (unless there are changes to the immigration policy)
Skilled Immigration brings a ton of advantages to this country. And yet, it is treated with such disdain – that it seems that America is doing its highly skilled immigrants a favor to let them stay here. While actually the opposite is true. Because there are a lot of alternate opportunities now. Case in point – I can go back to India tomorrow and do what I do. Or frankly, a lot of countries in the world. America’s skilled immigration policies are regressive. Per capita, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and a number of OECD countries provide much more liberal immigration than America does. (Economist.com).
So, how do we solve this issue. One, we crack down on those players who break rules. There are a lot of players – who just work around rules. And they have gotten around it for way too long.
And, second, as a lot of experts have promulgated, we give Green Cards to everyone who has a graduate degree from a recognized school in the United States.
Ultimately, immigration is obviously a very basic tenet of the fabric of the American society. And while the author understands that America is going through tough economic times – which always gets any country to get more protectionist and insular – the reality is that America’s success has always been premised by inclusion.
And at no time in its history has America been more close and insular than it is today. And yet, this needs to be resolved – it has been ignored way too long.