A Program That Works; Congress Should Extend H1-B Visas

Article excerpt

Byline: Lawrence B. Lindsey, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

While there are differences in the priorities people assign to the different aspects of immigration reform, nearly everyone agrees that there are three parts to really solving our immigration problems: security, economic participation and civic integration.

By authorizing a more secure fence along some of the most frequently trespassed parts of our border, Congress made a first step on the security issue. But, without some way of monitoring immigrants within the country, this is only a partial answer to the security issue. Moreover, economic participation and civic integration remain untouched.

On their return, members of Congress have the opportunity to expand and improve a relatively small but highly successful part of our immigration policy that meets all three challenges. The H1-B visa program allows companies to bring in workers from overseas who possess skills that are not available domestically. The main users of the program are technology and health-care companies, although a number of highly skilled people in finance also work here under this program.

The H1-B program meets all three parts of the immigration policy challenge. First, it provides security within the country. The companies hiring these workers have already gone through a vetting process sufficient to justify their employment. Moreover, the employer naturally has a detailed and working knowledge of the whereabouts and day-to-day activities of the people involved.

Second, the program obviously involves economic participation by the immigrant. In many cases, particularly in technology, America has the choice between allowing these immigrants to work in America for American companies, or forcing our country and its businesses to compete with these workers in their homeland. …