Immigrants – and groups in which immigrants are a large percentage of the population, such as Latinos and Asian/Pacific Islanders (APIs) – are a growing portion of the U.S. electorate. In a closely contested presidential race, the growing ranks of “new citizens” – foreign-born individuals who become “naturalized” U.S. citizens – are increasingly important political players.
Immigrants and the children of immigrants are prominent among the athletes representing the United States in the 2004 Olympics. The stories of these immigrant athletes offer a vivid glimpse of the immigrant experience in the United States.
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.
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. (
In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. government began a campaign of aggressive immigration enforcement targeted at Muslims, Arabs and South Asians. Rather than first seeking to identify suspected terrorists, the government initiated harsh law enforcement actions against whole communities with the hope that some of those caught might be terrorist suspects.
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.