News / USA

Changes to US Immigration Laws May Not be as Remote as Some Might Think

Ira Mellman
Why does the United States demand that some students who come to the United States to be trained in technical fields go back to their native countries? That was one of the issues explored by President Barack Obama in his inaugural address Monday.
 
"Our journey is not complete until we find a way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are listed in our workforce instead of being expelled from our country," the president said.
 
He was referring to the issuance of visas to students who come into the United States to be trained as STEM students, those studying science, technology, engineering and math. At issue are stipulations in immigration law that force many of these students to leave the United States and return to their native countries, particularly those returning to their homes in Asia.
 
"The President is alluding to a principle that pervades policy in immigration law for generations," said Michael Wildes, a former U.S. federal prosecutor in New York and now one of the top immigration attorneys in the United States. "That is, we want to keep families united together and second of all, we want to make sure that we don't train the world's experts all over only to see them leave our shores."
 
Wildes said the U.S. has a political immigration law that hasn't been revamped in a generation, and as a result, is facing other economies along with wars and politics of yesterday, rather than today's challenges.
 
"The politics of the day remain on Capitol Hill," said Wildes, "where the silence is deafening on immigration reform." He claimed members of Congress are fearful they will not be reelected if they look like they're liberal on immigration, and therefore weak on the war on terrorism.
 
"It takes leadership to remind ourselves about the special DNA of our nation. That is its immigrant backbone and base," said Wildes.  Turning our back on these people is tantamount to 'shooting ourselves in the foot,' he added.
 
But Wildes said this time may be different as far as Congressional passage of new immigration legislation is concerned. His reason is that the immigrant vote in the last election, had what most experts concluded was a decisive effect on the results. "I think both Democrats and Republicans would be shortsighted not to understand the immigrant community worldwide is watching." If immigration reform isn't done, said Wildes, that community may not be forgiving in the next election.
 
Not everyone agrees with that assessment, at least to a certain extent.
 
"When we admit people on student visas, the terms of the visa is that you come to the United States, you get your education and you go back," said Ira Mehlman, Media Director for FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
 
"What we are doing by letting them remain in the United States is simply creating more competition for a lot of American STEM workers who are struggling right now," Mehlman said. He contended there is no evidence that there is any shortage of STEM workers in the United States.

That is supported by a study done by his own organization, but is not supported by a report released by Georgetown University in October 2011 that said there really is a shortage of STEM workers in the United States. "What we are seeing with the influx of foreign workers through H-1-B (immigration) programs and other programs that bring in large numbers of similar workers to the United States, we are undermining job prospects and wages for our own STEM workers and actually discouraging more of our own students from going into those fields," said Mehlman.
 
The two sides of the issue seemingly move a bit closer to one another when it comes to reform of immigration issues.
 
"If we decide that the admission of people with high tech skills really is important," said Mehlman, "we need to look at our immigration policy generally." He said if the decision is made that we need certain people with certain skills from abroad, then the United States needs to adopt policies based on merit and not on family connections, as is now the case.
 
Mehlman took issue with President Obama's call when he said "the President tends to look at immigration from the perspective of immigrants themselves."
 
Mehlman said the answer, according to FAIR, is considering what the long term impact would be of foreign students staying in the United States in contrast to what happens when these people return to their countries of origin and become competitors. An alternative, he said, is to invest "in our own people so that they can produce the kind of products that are going to make the United States economically successful in the 21st century."
 
Both sides agree "the current immigration policy was established in 1965 and is one that everyone agrees makes absolutely no sense," according to Mehlman.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Masood from: Omaha
January 24, 2013 3:24 AM
This guy Ira Mehlman is completely arrogant and ignorant person. He does not know the fact that majority of foreign students come to the United States at their own expense. The foreign students pays 3 to 10 times more tuitions and fees than the US citizens and Permanent Residents. We as foreign students buy the education at real cost and we are not allowed to apply for any kind of Federal or State grants for study for most of the international students. We are the one who pay the price.

Unlike Canada, Australia and many other countries where international students are given opportunities to apply for permanent residence and citizenship for those countries after completion of the study, In USA there is no such immigration law, here you need to find a company who could apply for your h-1 visa but most companies do not want to hire you if they know you need an h-1 visa, therefore many students get discouraged and dishearted with the current immigration systems and move back to their native countries or other countries where they find the opportunities. I am sure this guy Ira Mehlman an arrogant person who is not aware of all the facts that international students have to deal with.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid