America’s flawed immigration policy causes more problems than it solves
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
America has one of the best assets (or problems, depending on one’s point of view) a nation could have: the fact that people are eager to make it their home.
Many of the world’s best professionals see it as a promise land of sorts, where they can grow and expand their skills, knowledge base and, more often than not, bank accounts. Furthermore, the nation is largely very welcoming to people with diverse backgrounds. Universities, corporations and other influential organizations are filled with highly competent foreigners.
The payoff for both sides has been huge. Non-Americans can achieve the kind of success their own country may not be capable of providing, while America receives the kind of talent that can power their nation to economic success and consistent excellence across global industries.
However, the country is now at a crossroads. The world is a globalized and competitive place where jobs are not as readily available as they once used to be. It is not as safe either. With an abundance of terrorist threats and a high unemployment rate, one can understand why the immigration process has become slow and unresponsive. However, its unpredictability and unpleasantness serve as a deterrent and major obstacle to the inflow of talented migrants.
The travails of skilled immigrant foreigners reach beyond simply the application process whereby an employer must sponsor them (most of whom are reluctant to do so in the first place as the paperwork is costly and tedious). They must live in a state of perpetual uncertainty whereby one misstep can lead to a withdrawn application and concurrent deportation — by no means a desirable lifestyle. Furthermore, their family members may be barred from working in some states.
As a result, fewer skilled individuals are willing to go through the immigration process which results in a considerable loss of potential talent. To make matters worse, there is no shortage of options for the well-educated in other developed countries, most of who hand out visas with minimal bother. Countries such as Singapore and Canada are now reaping the rewards of America’s reluctance to let the talented make it their new home.
It is a shame that many of those who possess the sharpest minds and stellar educational backgrounds have no choice but to return to their native countries or travel to more responsive shores in order to fulfill their potential.
There can be no hiding from the fact that the global economy is fragile and America’s economy is currently staggering at best. Nations need every boost they can get to reignite their prosperity. The U.S. is a nation that experiences the positive side of the “Brain Drain” phenomena. Despite being in pole position to benefit from the migration of foreign skilled workers, as of today, it stands to miss out on some of the best talent the world has to offer.
Being home to the cleverest can be the source of unlimited innovation and growth. Letting such an opportunity go however, might turn out to be equally damaging.
Iqbal is a senior majoring in psychology and business.