Immigration reform continues to be an issue Washington is seeking to address but where to begin and how to approach it always seems to limit any progress.
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows 64% of Americans supporting a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. 47% of Republicans support and 51% oppose, but those numbers change when the pathway requires paying fines and back taxes and passing a criminal background check: GOP support then reaches 73%.
What’s more, a majority of the public – for the first time in the poll – agrees with the statement that immigration strengthens the nation, reflecting a shift in attitude on this issue.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted this survey with the Democratic firm Hart Research Associates, says that this change in sentiment on immigration “speaks to something potent,” particularly given the economic struggles of the past five years.
“These more positive attitudes provide more leeway for lawmakers to build support for change on this issue,” McInturff adds.
Immigration reform is not just about illegal immigrants already within America’s borders, but also the system for those who are legally trying to travel here. Former Gov. George Allen has a piece in The Hill today arguing in favor of I-Squared, a bi-partisan approach to expanding H-1B visas to foreign talent and increase funding for American students studying for STEM careers, all without raising taxes:
Skilled, foreign professionals are net job creators for the United States. Immigrants with employment-based green cards and H-1B visas in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and applied mathematics disciplines – are not taking jobs from Americans. There are tens of thousands of unfilled jobs in STEM sectors, even while our unemployment numbers are high.
According to the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, each U.S.-educated advanced degree green card holder creates 2.6 American jobs, and each H-1B visa holder helps create 1.8 American jobs. In places like Silicon Valley and Northern Virginia, Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs account for a disproportionately large share of start-ups and technology-related job creation. By some estimates, about 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies had at least one immigrant founder.
There is a bipartisan solution that is worthy of support. Many tech industry leaders are putting their support behind The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 (I-Squared), which aims to keep America globally competitive, and a leader in technology and innovation.
Gov. Allen isn’t the only voice recently to be raised in support of I-Squared and reforming immigration standards.
Today, leaders from Facebook, Google and other tech industries announced the formation of FWD.us, a political advocacy group who’s first focus is immigration reform. From FWD.us’s website:
Comprehensive immigration reform that allows for the hiring of the best and brightest.
Education reforms that produce more graduates in the science, technology and math fields and ensure all children receive a high quality education from effective teachers and accountable schools. Support for scientific research, which seeds the future innovation of our knowledge economy and breakthrough developments.
Support for scientific research, which seeds the future innovation of our knowledge economy, and breakthrough developments.
Also to note, FWD.us also calls on providing “law enforcement the tools necessary to secure the border” but also in creating a pathway to citizenship for those already living in the United States without legal status.
With business coming to play in the debate, especially in the tech industry, a lot more money is about to be spent on the immigration debate. And reforming the process for those who want to come here legally could cut back on the willingness of some to simply forgo legal channels and take their chances illegally.