America is the Shining city on the hill – this belief is as true today as it was back in 1980s or in 1910s when the immigration waves arrived at this country. Every person who crossed the oceans or came across the border had only one desire – to make a better living. To provide for their family what was not available back home – a hope for the future, a hope that if only I work hard and stay patient, America will provide me and my family with better future. She is the epitome of human success to the rest of the world.
I am Indian-American and a proud conservative Republican, and I immigrated to this country in search for better future. I still remember what my father used to tell us growing up. His was the simple advice – work hard, educate yourself and go to America as that is the only place where your full potential will be rewarded with success, where you will not need to break any laws to move ahead in life.
Immigration has become a hotly debated subject today. We cannot pass a day without watching someone debating immigration on one of the several news channels or President Trump tweeting about it. Today, the sense of boundless possibilities has been replaced with a sense of fear. Fear that immigrants who are arriving today will change the country forever, our way of life will be altered, and we will lose what our forefathers have achieved. I am writing this op-ed not to justify that fear or nullify it for that matter. I do not espouse of having an authority on immigration, nobody does. But I urge my fellow conservatives to demand that Congress work with the President to secure our borders and fix our many immigration problems.
Most common avenues for a person to come to America is either via family (chain) migration or the diversity system (green card lottery system) or via high skill H1B visa system. As per the Department of homeland Security, a total of 1.18 million people immigrated to the U.S. in 2016. Of these, 800,000 arrived via chain migration while only 137,000 arrived via Employment-based preferences and 49,000 via visa diversity program. Plainly speaking, our immigration system is broken. How else can we explain that it takes over 10 years for a highly skilled H1B-visa holder couple to get a green card but a person with no particular skill set can become a citizen in that time and even file for his/her extended family members to immigrate to USA.
How is it possible that Canada has a twenty-first century skill-based immigration system while we still have chain migration-heavy system? For year 2015, Canada had 270,000 immigrants out of which over 170,000 came via the Economic immigration program while only 65,000 came via family sponsorship – the complete opposite of what we are doing. We have international students in whom taxpayers invested time and treasure graduating from our world class land-grant universities, but with no expeditious pathway for them to become US citizens.
We will need to and should put our priorities in order. What was working 100 years ago will not work now. The current system does not fit the time we live in. We will have to compete with other nations to get the talented and skilled workers to immigrate to our country. We need skilled immigrants to come over here and reinvigorate us, to nourish their infantile ideas into full blown businesses here.
America is the land of immigrants with endless opportunity and vast resources. Since the days of Jamestown, immigrants have come over our shores in search of new opportunities, better life and freedom. We need to keep this flow of immigrants open but we must reform the flow, in order to attract more skilled people that contributes to the economy of our country.