December 17 marks the anniversary of the 1943 repeal by Congress of the Chinese Exclusion Act of May 6, 1882. With only a few exceptions, this law barred any Chinese from immigrating to the United States, and was the first time U.S. immigration policy singled out citizens of a particular nation for wholesale discrimination.
U.S. immigration policy is based on denial. Most lawmakers in the United States have largely embraced the process of economic “globalization,” yet stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that increased migration, especially from developing nations to developed nations, is an integral and inevitable part of this process.
Foreign-born scientists and engineers (S&Es) have long played a prominent role in U.S. technological and scientific advancement and are a critical part of the science and engineering (S&E) labor force in corporations, universities, and research centers nationwide. However, long-standing structural flaws in the U.S. visa system and the unintended consequences of security procedures instituted since September 11, 2001, may be causing an increasing number of S&Es to forgo coming to the United States, thereby depriving the nation of a critical supply of human talent.
Arbitrary congressional limits on the number of H-1B visas that can be granted annually to highly skilled foreign professionals may undermine the international competitiveness of U.S. science and technology.
The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 ended the blanket exclusion of immigrants based on race and created the foundation for current immigration law, but imposed a racialized immigration quota system and new ideological grounds for exclusion.
According to a recent National Science Board report, restrictive U.S. visa policies are beginning to close the door to highly skilled foreign professionals who have long helped maintain U.S. preeminence in science and technology.
Asian-Pacific migration to the United States has had a positive impact on immigration and refugee law by contributing to the demise of exclusion acts against non-whites and of the nationality-based quota system. (