The Archaic U.S. Immigration System And Why It Must Change

immigration-dreams-denied
Bangladesh-born Zunu Zunaid and american wife Madina Salaty watch the sun rise as they drive to the airport for Zunu's deportation in Lawrence, KS on May 16, 2014. Twenty years ago Zunu came to Kansas to study petroleum engineering on a student visa. (Credit: The Washington Post)
immigration-dreams-denied
Bangladesh-born Zunu Zunaid and american wife Madina Salaty watch the sun rise as they drive to the airport for Zunu’s deportation in Lawrence, KS. Twenty years ago, Zunu came to Kansas to study petroleum engineering on a student visa. (Credit: The Washington Post)

By Felicia J. Persaud

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. May 6, 2016: Too often, when the issue of immigration to the U.S. and in the U.S. is raised, the dialogue from the political right centers on the “illegal aliens” who enter “over the border” and sneak in to the U.S. to “kill, rape” or take away jobs from Americans.

Donald Trump, who by all indications will be the Republican Presidential candidate in November, has added gallons of gasoline to this fire, fanning his closeted xenophobic supporters into a frenzy with his “build a great, great wall” plan to keep out “Mexican rapists and criminals.” This policy that even the German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls “insane,” has created a significant divide in these United States and emboldened the xenophobes to show their true colors of hate and ignorance publicly under the banner of “love of country.”

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But what is missing from the discourse is the other side of the immigration spectrum and why the U.S.’ immigration system needs to undergo a rapid transformation to catch up to this century in order for us to keep growing and staying abreast.

On April 29th, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “SEVIS by the Numbers,” report showed that there are nearly 1.2 million international students with F (academic) or M (vocational) status studying in the United States currently.

Out of that number, 77 percent of all international students were from Asia including China, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan and, Taiwan while the others were from Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Mexico.

Forty percent of international students studying in the United States, equaling almost 479,000 individuals, were enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) coursework. Most of these students are studying at New York University, the University of Southern California, Northeastern University, Columbia University and the University of Illinois.

Sad State Of Our Union

What the report won’t state is that once these students have completed their studies in the U.S., it will be hard for them to stay here legally. Their options are very limited. Unless they continue to study indefinitely; get an employer to sponsor them for a coveted H1-B visa that could become a green card 10 or so years down the line through permanent employer sponsorship; get wealthy and secure an investor visa; get married to a U.S. citizen, or have a U.S. relative here willing to sponsor them – they would have to leave or risk living “illegal” too.

And so they leave, with all the knowledge imparted in them by an American system whose visionless lawmakers see no need to change archaic immigration policies to adapt to the new technological era.

Why not like Canada, give these bright, future leaders a means to self-sponsor under a revised immigration law and build the U.S. economy instead of other economies around the world?

However, Republicans like their Party King Trump and those in Congress, are too blinded by their own contempt for the President and for immigrants that they fail to see the bigger picture.

Under Canadian immigration laws, there are several options for highly -skilled immigrants to migrate or live and work there legally, including the Self-Employed Persons Program, the Start-up Visa Program, the Express Entry system and even the Quebec-selected skilled workers program.

It’s time to look carefully at the Canadian immigration options and make real changes to the U.S.’ own laws to keep these students in our economies instead of slamming the door shut in their faces. It’s time for a real revamp of our immigration laws to match 21st century requirements.

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The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.