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Global American series

2007: Immigration and our future

By Michael Fjetland          Send a link to a friend

[June 16, 2007]  The immigration debate is generating intense emotional reaction. Here are some facts and the 'big picture' of what is going on -- and potential solutions. We definitely need a solution.

The U.S. has a gap at high-end and low-end jobs. We don't have enough people willing to work in low-end jobs such as meatpacking plants or picking crops on farms. We have 500,000 jobs that fit that category, yet the present law provides for only 5,000 visas. Nor do we have enough math and science majors who can fill the demand for engineering jobs on the high end. Most of our students want to study business and law. We need about 1.5 million to 1.8 million folks to fill business needs not being met by our own citizens. This is the predicament facing Congress.

Since I doubt many Americans are demanding meatpacking or lettuce-harvesting jobs that are attracting folks from south of the border, the problem is how to address the high-end jobs that cannot be filled by Americans. To grow our own expertise we need a 'surge' in math and science studies by young Americans -- or our next engineers and scientists will have to be either outsourced or filled by foreigners from places like India who have that training. Government could help by paying teachers of math and science more.

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The present system is also flawed in that there is no employer verification system that would allow employers to check someone's work eligibility against a computerized database. Presently, employers only look at documents that can easily be forged -- there is no national verification system that would allow an employer to check a person's work status instantly on a computer. Congress needs to pass an effective, intelligent employer verification system.

The present system is broken. One garden shop has employed the same 50 people from Mexico for years. When they tried to grow and asked for 150 workers, they were told they could have none. How denying these low-end work permits helps us as a country is a mystery to me. No Americans have stepped forward to fill these jobs.

So, we need both more enforcement and more legal immigration to fill these jobs without encouraging more illegal immigration. Our future prosperity and growth depend on it.

[Text from file sent on behalf of Michael Fjetland by Global American[

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