CFGI Mentioned – “U.S. Immigration Policy Is the Exception”


“New data shows us something we already knew—the United States is an outlier when it comes to employment-based immigration. While most of the other major nations of the world prioritize economic immigration, the U.S. continues to instead emphasize family reunification and places limits on admitting immigrants with in-demand skills.

“Forecasting based on the research more-broadly, professor and author Justin Gest believes the future of migration to the world's largest economies will trend toward limited temporary labor with fewer opportunities for citizenship, resembling the contingent workforce model on a global scale.

“Gest is assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government in Fairfax, Va. He is the author of books on the connection between politics and demographics and most recently Crossroads: Comparative Immigration Regimes in a World of Demographic Change (2018, Cambridge University Press) co-authored with Anna Boucher.

“Boucher and Gest analyze immigration flows and governance across thirty of the world's leading countries and create a portrait based on 2011 data from the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and various national statistics offices.

“He presented a brief of their findings at the Council for Global Immigration's 2018 Symposium recently held in Arlington, Va.

“The authors found that three trends cut across all 30 countries. ‘What we are seeing is that countries want migrant workers, they want them to be temporary and they do not want to offer them long-term benefits or citizenship,’ Gest said. 

“…The glaring divide between the United States and the rest of the world over employment-based immigration was also on display in the author's data maps. About 80-85 percent of the visas issued across the 30 countries studied are for employment purposes. 

“…In contrast, over two-thirds of permanent visas granted by the U.S. are for the purposes of family reunification. No other country is higher than 50 percent, and nearly all other countries are under 30 percent. ‘The U.S. is truly the exception—no country in the world accepts so many family immigrants,’ Gest said. ‘[The lack of employment] immigration is unique in the industrialized world.’

“…‘The United States' immigration system favors family reunification even in the so-called employment-based categories,’ said Alex Nowrasteh, a senior immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C. That's because the spouses and children of immigrant workers must use employment-based green cards to enter the United States, he explained. 

“…Gest doesn't see the balance between employment- and family-based immigration improving in the U.S. any time soon. In fact, the situation is getting worse, he said, describing the Trump administration's plans to curtail immigrant flows, cut family-based and humanitarian immigration and restrict economic immigration as ‘less economically competitive and less humane.’

“The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Council for Global Immigration support policies that invest in and develop the U.S. workforce, prioritizing visas for employers. ‘Our immigration system must support U.S. employers in their efforts to fill skills gaps and access the best talent,’ SHRM said in a statement.”

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