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The absence of sensible immigration policies

EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON | 10/11/2018, 8:25 a.m.
The overwhelming majority of people that legally immigrate to the United States make tremendous contributions to the industrial, economic, artistic, ...
eddie bernice johnson

U.S. House of Representatives

The overwhelming majority of people that legally immigrate to the United States make tremendous contributions to the industrial, economic, artistic, scientific, political and intellectual life of our country.

Many arrive seeking employment or educational opportunities. Once they are working, they become invaluable taxpayers.

In the absence of sensible immigration reform by the Republican-controlled Congress, the Trump administration has implemented practices that are hostile to immigrants and that are not in the best interests of the long-term interests of our society, or its people.

Hospitals, in particular, are feeling the effects of shortsighted immigration practices. A number of institutions complain that they are having difficulty filling positions. Other businesses, such as hotels and those in the leisure industry, are experiencing difficulty finding employees.

Their dilemma can be traced to barriers being placed in the way of legal immigrants by the administration. The process of obtaining work visas has become cumbersome, and many foreign job applicants have decided to seek opportunities in countries other than the U.S.

The denial rate for H-1B visas has recently been as high as 41 percent, and there have been burdensome requests by the government for additional information from those seeking work visas, according to immigration experts and employers.

The H-1B program, designed to attract workers with specific skills, has long been a target of anti-immigration forces.

In the summer of 2017, legislation was introduced in the Senate that would have decreased legal immigration by nearly 50 percent. Sponsored by two Republican senators, the proposed legislation, supported by the White House, has stalled in that chamber.

The value of foreign-born workers cannot be understated. Legal immigrants start nearly 25 percent of new technology companies in our country, and file more patents than native-born Americans.

Foreign-born medical students are more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to become internal and family medicine doctors. The number of students from foreign countries for those specialties has decreased during the first two years of the Trump administration.

Many who had intended to work and study in the U.S. have chosen countries such as Canada to relocate to, taking their talents and their energy with them.

No one can blame these student professionals for deciding to reside elsewhere. Not many people would work in environments where some government leaders suggest that they are not welcome.

The president should encourage his supporters in Congress to work with those who are ready to move forward on sensible immigration reform, and have it become a reality.

A sensible immigration policy is in the best economic and security interests of our country. The administration and Congress should work together to create one!

U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.