"A rational immigration policy would open the United States to many more high-skill immigrants."


Writing at The Atlantic, George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok makes the case for what he calls "the no-brainer issue of the year":

Every year, we allow approximately 140,000 employment visas, which cover people of extraordinary ability, professionals with advanced degrees, and other skilled workers. The number is absurdly low for a country with a workforce of 150 million. As a result, it can be years, even decades, before a high-skilled individual is granted a U.S. visa. Moreover, these 140,000 visas must also cover the spouse and unmarried children of the high-skilled worker, so the actual number of high-skilled workers admitted under these programs is less than half of the total. Perhaps most bizarrely there is a cap on the number of visas allowed per country regardless of population size. How many visas are allocated to people of extraordinary ability from China, a country of over 1 billion people? Exactly 2,803. The same number as are allocated to Greenland.

A rational immigration policy would open the United States to many more high-skill immigrants. High-skill immigrants innovate, patent, and start new firms at higher rates than natives. At least one-quarter of the new firms in technology and science fields, from software and semiconductors to biotech, are founded by immigrants. In Silicon Valley, more than half of the high-tech start-ups were founded by immigrants. High skill immigrants especially with degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (aka: STEM) create more jobs and higher wages for Americans. Increasing high-skill immigration is such a win-win policy for increasing innovation that it's tempting to call it a no-brainer. Instead, "no-brainer" turns out to be a better description of our current policy.

Read the whole thing here.