On Immigration and the Catwalk

(Guest post by Jonathan Butcher)

George Will had an incisive oped yesterday on immigration issues in the U.S.  Not the issue of whether or not to build a giant wall from L.A. to Houston, but an actual immigration policy that is being enforced and routinely wedges our collective finger up our collective nose: kicking well-educated international students out of the country once they have their advanced degrees.

Our elected officials have thought it prudent to restrict the residency of international students who study in the States so that the students can only reside long enough to earn a diploma.  To stay longer and get a visa they would have to get a job, but to get a job they have to have a visa first.  And if they ask not to fly more missions they can’t be crazy and so will have to fly more missions but if they don’t ask they will still have to fly more missions and…ad infinitum.

After being trained at American colleges and universities, often subsidized by taxpayers, we make them leave.  Clearly residency is a touchy concept to policymakers.  If you sneak into America, you can get a job and stay until Congress decides on a way to a) find you and make you leave, b) give up and let you stay or c) move everybody north and take over Canada.  

Will makes the following observation about what this policy accomplishes: “Suppose a foreign government had a policy of sending workers to America to be trained in a sophisticated and highly remunerative skill at American taxpayers’ expense, and then forced these workers to go home and compete against American companies. That is what we are doing…”  This sounds to me like we are committing an act of corporate warfare upon ourselves.  Wouldn’t be the first time we’ve done something like this: 25 years ago in A Nation at Risk the authors wrote, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

So to review: 25 years ago America was committing an act of war on itself by imposing mediocre performance on our students, and since national math and reading scores have held pretty much the same since, we decided to up the ante on future generations and engage in corporate warfare with ourselves by sending well-educated international students who came to the U.S. to study—whose educations taxpayers subsidize—somewhere else to be snatched up by companies competing with American businesses.  This residency issue is case-in-point why we shouldn’t trust the government with anything important, like running the country.  

I’ll admit there is actually an ingenious plan being proposed by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to remedy the situation.  Earlier this month he introduced a bill that would allow more runway models (1,000, to be exact) into the country.  I am not making this up.  While this may spell trouble for congressmen who vote for the bill and their wives (yet spell opportunity for Weiner, a bachelor), it will actually free up 1,000 spots for technical workers to get visas.  A bill that would bring more beautiful women and international computer geniuses into the country all at once?  I take back my statement about not trusting the government to run the country.



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