If You Want America to Remain a Superpower . . .

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 14, 2011

Then you certainly want America to have a immigration policy that will attract skilled, talented, hardworking people from abroad to seek an education here, and to stay here to lend their talents and work ethic to the country, while finding a better life for themselves.

Unfortunately, as John Gapper points out, the unwillingness of the United States to reform its visa and green card policy to allow smart and hardworking people from abroad to more easily stay and become citizens means a brain drain from American shores to other countries. We are educating people, letting them leave for other countries, and letting them compete with us.

This is madness, of course, and if we really care about preserving American exceptionalism, we will work to stop this trend. It will mean having to fight back against the xenophobia that exists in many quarters, and to be sure, that will be hard to do. But it is worth doing, and it is certainly better than allowing the United States to become a second-rate power–or worse–by not fighting to keep the best and the brightest in our country, and by giving them every chance to make a permanent home in America.

And yes, I know that there is a problem with illegal immigration, and that it has to be solved–though solving it will likely entail options that will rile many an opponent of illegal immigration. But the fact that we have an illegal immigration problem is no excuse whatsoever to put off much needed reforms to our visa and green card system. Furthermore, resolving this latter issue need not, and should not wait for a resolution of the problem of illegal immigration. As Gapper writes, “[i]f you had to devise a perverse economic policy, it would be difficult to do much worse than” current U.S. immigration policy. We can’t afford not to fix this disastrous and self-defeating approach to dealing with skilled immigration, and we need to fix it as soon as possible.

Previous post:

Next post: