November 19, 2012
It sure seems like Congress will enter the whirlpool of immigration reform next year. The surface debate is about undocumented workers and how to bring them from the depths. But the currents are pushing along several other issues, some of which may be more consequential in the long run for both the American economy and for the dignity of those people touched by legislation.
Writing for the blog of the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program, Neil Ruiz, who is doing some of the most interesting scholarly work on visas and workforce development these days, sketches out the other areas that the first wave of reform is likely to tackle.
A casualty of legislative deadlock has been the STEM Act, which would significantly increase the number of green cards given to foreign students who get degrees from the United States. When you talk to forward-thinking national security professionals, they’ll complain of the brain drain effect, wherein Chinese and Indian students take advantage of American education and then go back home and enrich the productivity and economy of critical industries that compete with the U.S.