IPC Research Fellow Dan Siciliano told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that immigration is directly responsible for billions of dollars annually in U.S. economic growth. Siciliano, who also is Executive Director of the Program in Law, Economics and Business at Stanford Law School, explained to the Committee that "if the United States were to reform the immigration system to better address the demand for foreign-born labor, the economic benefits of immigration could be even greater than what we have already experienced."
Foreign-born workers do not substitute perfectly for, and therefore do not compete with, most native-born workers. Rather, the complementary nature of the skills, occupations, and abilities of foreign-born workers increases the productivity of natives, stimulates investment, and enhances the choices available to consumers.
Current immigration policies are completely out of sync with the U.S. economy’s demand for workers who fill less-skilled jobs, especially in the case of Mexican workers. While U.S. immigration policies present a wide array of avenues for immigrants to enter the United States, very few of these avenues are tailored to workers in less-skilled occupations. It should come as no surprise, then, that immigrants come to or remain in the United States without proper documentation in response to the strong economic demand for less-skilled labor.
Given the extent to which undocumented immigrants already living in the United States are part of U.S.-based families, comprehensive immigration reform must include more than just a new temporary worker program.
An analysis of data from the 2000 census reveals that employment in about one-third of all U.S. job categories would have contracted during the 1990s in the absence of recently arrived, noncitizen immigrant workers.
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.
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.