Immigration Reform Can Help the Economy Recover

Some issues need to be black and white. The economy is one of those, with a few minor detours.

Every major country in the world needs to rein in their economy. The U.S. is no different. The health of that economy is typically built on the populace working and paying taxes. You get the idea. Those with top notch skills make the most, and thus pay higher taxes, leading to the conclusion that the nation needs more highly skilled people like engineers and applied technologists. Sadly, there are not as many as there could be, for two reasons.

American students are not heading into those areas, which will prompt a serious shortage of American talent to fill those positions. If you can’t fill the positions at home, you fill them from outside the country, despite the complaints that would pour in. This is quite similar to the argument that aliens are taking American jobs in the agricultural sector, when in reality Americans don’t want those jobs and won’t work them. This is why, in part, immigration is such a contentious issue, and has been for so many years.

Simply put, if American students are not applying for engineering and technology jobs in the numbers needed for the future, employers will look elsewhere. What is the solution to this conundrum? The obvious one is to encourage American students to study in the fields that will drive our nation’s future. That means more resources to hawk the necessity of such a career and how it will ultimately affect our future. If the country needs more engineering and technology graduates, they need to take action. In the meantime, to deal with the issue now, immigration reform needs to become a reality.

While most Americans tend to regard the immigration reform issue as one of securing the border and keeping out illegal immigrants, the issue has far greater ramifications than one could possibly imagine. The lack of U.S. engineers and technologists is just one of them. Again, if we can’t find what we need at home, employers turn to cross border recruitment. But also consider this, America is a nation of immigrants, some of them here illegally, that could fill engineering and technology positions if they were legal. You see the issue?

Right now, major engineering and technology companies virtually have their hands tied when it comes to hiring outside of the U.S. They find a good candidate, but getting the permission to hire them is a dog and pony show with immigration issues. The irony is that our universities train some of the top people in these fields; talent that wants to stay in the U.S. and talent that is not American born. Thanks to the mess the immigration system is in, nine times out of ten, these individuals are driven out of the country instead. How does this make sense? It doesn’t, and more people are realizing this.

Immigration lawyers have known this for years, but no one listens. Employers have known this for years, but no one listens. Immigrants have known this for years, but no one listens. Now, there are some beginning to pay attention to the message. Business leaders and well placed political advocates are pointing out that our ability to compete in the global marketplace depends on our talent. If we, as a nation, are indeed serious about making changing to resolve the lousy economic situation, we need to provide the tools to succeed to those who are working to become our future, and that means doing something about the immigration system.

Sally Odell — Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit