Published On: Mon, Nov 28th, 2016

Immigration: Ideas and Challenges

Immigration: Ideas and Challenges

Carlos-Barbieri-retrato-122x150By Carlo Barbieri

Immigration, with its many ramifications and variety of impacts on people in the United States and around the world, has long been a hotly debated topic. In the last few years of the Obama administration, and during the heat of the recent presidential election campaign, the subject generated much debate. These discussions often got off track and reckless statements were made, either in haste or in the emotion of the moment.

Now, in the calm of the post-election period, and with Barack Obama about to leave office, it’s important to revisit this very important topic.

Because it is so vast and complex, the immigration issue remains unsolved. In addition, the effects of potential changes or crackdowns on existing laws – if and when they are made – must come about after strict scrutiny and careful examination.

Not only must we try to understand President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration logic, we must also be made aware of where the people are coming from. He has, after all, championed himself as a man of the people. He comes across as being prepared to listen and react to what is on the minds of those concerned about immigration and how it will evolve during a Trump presidency.

Currently, the United States has more than 60 types of immigration visas. And by counting all of their subdivisions, that number increases to some 200 options for those who want to move into this country and adopt the USA as their own.

PRESIDENT-ELECT’S INTENTION

The president-elect’s intention, according to a report in the New York Times, is to reduce immigration to historically small levels. That would fly in the face of the trend that has developed in the past few years.

Official figures show that in 2015, the US issued 10,891,745 visas compared to 7,507,939 in 2011 – an increase of more than three million.

Trump’s plan, as currently proposed, would mean lowering the current 15 per cent of immigrant-born people to 4 per cent of the children of foreigners born here. By maintaining the current trend, we would have about 18 percent in the middle of the century.

In previous reforms, US immigration quotas have been skewed in favor of foreign nationals with origins in Western Europe. Today, this rule no longer applies.

Visas are being issued to so-called “strangers,” such as students. For countries like Brazil, these figures reach significant totals, such as 16,788, compared to 15,935 for non-immigrant visas such as the L-1 designation. In 2015, 930,306 visas were issued to Brazilians, and this number includes tourist visas.

From a revenue point of view, the US government realizes that student visas are given out to people who will likely remain in the country for four years, but will pay little, if anything, in taxes.  Thus, they provide little significant benefit for the country.

Since the president-elect is a businessman himself, and he has vowed to find ways to increase jobs in the United States, he should surely support investment visas such as the EB-5 (which even his own family uses), which generated more than $13 billion in investments by 2015.

REVENUE GENERATOR

The E-2 investor visa is also seen as a revenue generator. The E-2 allows an individual to enter and work inside of the United States based on an investment he or she will be controlling while in the US. The investment must be “substantial.”  The number of E-2 visas issued totals 41,162.

It appears the L-2 visa will also be maintained, but may receive more attention as an instrument of job creation. The L-1 visa is defined as one that facilitates the temporary transfer of foreign workers in the managerial, executive or specialized knowledge category to the US to continue employment with an office of the same employer, its parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate. An L-1 visa holder is known as intracompany transferee. In all, 86,067 L-1 visas were issued in 2015.

Work visas (H) will surely receive a clearer and more accurate definition under President Trump based on the preferences and needs of companies. In all, 172,748 have been issued, including special ones such as those for nurses.

Today, 41 percent of visas are given to people who have relatives in the US, 15 percent are issued in connection with job preferences, 23 percent for non-direct families, 9 percent for refugees and 5 percent for lottery selection, to increase diversification.

Clearly, the preference for issuing visas has been based more on merit, ability and competence, and less on territorial diversity based on country of origin.

It is very likely that this algorithm will change, but immigration will continue to be an essential factor for US growth, increased competitiveness and sustained development.

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

With regard to the undocumented, we will surely have a “clean-up” under President Trump of those who committed crimes in the United States.

No one can, or will, defend the suggestion that undocumented immigrants who are predators, felonious deportees who have returned to the US illegally and criminals who put people at risk deserve a permanent place within US borders.

But immigrants without papers who are here, working and living normal lives with their families and have followed the laws of this nation, deserve a chance to continue contributing to America’s well-being. There is no better way to regularize their situation than to retain the status quo.

Under pressure from the unions, and even with all the propaganda foisted by Democrats, that party could never regularize these foreigners.

Entrepreneurs have an interest in normalizing the situation of law-abiding immigrants who lack documentation.

I have reasonable hopes that there will be an objective action so that workers from other countries who live here without documents will have legal protection.

It’s a matter of logic.

Undocumented immigrants, with their guaranteed presence, are going to buy houses, pay taxes, leave their savings in the country, create more businesses and jobs, raise capital and entice their children to get an education, actually acquiring American culture and blending it with the mores of their native land.

Nothing will be better for the US and Republicans than legalizing the presence of these 12 million undocumented human beings.

You do not need to give them Green Cards or citizenship. Only provide them the legitimate right to work and pay taxes.

Let us look at the case of Germany. Foreigners will never be German, but they have all rights and benefits of citizens.

No doubt this would be a great step, one that should be applauded by all.

The US needs to grow and generate quality jobs. Good and just immigration reform will help.

Immigration reform is a big challenge, but without interference from politics and partisanship, it will be a great solution.

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