OpinionJournal editorialized America needs more, not fewer, workers from overseas. - Political pressure for an immigration crackdown seems to be building, with allegedly serious people even debating a 2,000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
I believe the wall is a very good idea, and I would even like to see one on the border with Canada as well. At the same time I support the idea of a guest worker program, where we bring in as many workers as we need, but we need to be able to know what countries they come from, whether or not they have criminal backgrounds, and that we be able to track where they are when they are in our country, and that they leave when they are supposed to leave.Meanwhile, in the U.S. economy, the demand for foreign workers continues, as shown by the collapse of the H-1B visa program. Since the restrictionists won't tell you about this, allow us to explain. Each year, the U.S. issues a set number of H-1B visas to educated foreign professionals with specialized skills. Earlier this month the Department of Homeland Security, which administers the program, announced that the annual H-1B cap of 65,000 already has been reached for next year. In fact, it was reached in record time, or 14 months prior to the fiscal year in which the visas would be used. What this effectively means is that any number of fields dependent on high-skilled labor could be facing worker shortages: science, medicine, engineering, computer programming. It also means that tens of thousands of foreigners--who've graduated from U.S. universities and applied for the visas to stay here and work for American firms--will be shipped home to start companies or work for our global competitors. Congress sets the H-1B cap and could lift it as it has done in the past for short periods. Typically, however, that's a years-long political process and cold comfort to companies that in the near term may be forced to look outside the U.S. to hire. Rather than trying to guess the number of foreign workers our economy needs year-to-year, Congress would be better off removing the cap altogether and letting the market decide.
I have no problem with that, as long as we know what countries the people are from, and as long as we know they don't have a criminal background.