Fill Florida’s high-tech workforce holes with smart immigration policy

by | Dec 6, 2020

I think we all agree that our immigration system needs to be reformed, and the wall needs to be built. For too long, American national security interests have suffered in this arena. But reforms also need to make sense for our economy, and I am sorry that the likely new administration in the White House will have a different agenda.

America has long been a land of opportunity for legal immigrants from around the world. What I believe we need to do is utilize our immigration system in a dynamic way to fill holes in Florida’s high-tech workforce shortages.

One solution for reforming our immigration system and bolstering our economy is the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, currently being considered by Congress. This bipartisan legislation would help boost our economy exactly when we need it.

America’s employers need high-skilled workers, but unfortunately, we don’t have enough of these workers to meet mounting demand, driving American companies to move many manufacturing jobs to locations outside of the country.  It would be much better to maintain our highly-skilled workforce here and create subsequent spin-off opportunities for all workers.

We have a problem though. Our immigration system imposes arbitrary limits on immigrants based on which country they come from, meaning that once their country’s quota is met, they are locked out. It is often said that immigrants who want to come to our country should wait in line. But our current system creates — in effect — many lines for many countries and blocks some of those with the best skills to come to America and contribute to our economy and society.

For instance, among the pool of potential economic immigrants, those from the nation of India are disproportionately affected. Many potential Indian immigrants are highly-skilled workers that can contribute immediately to our economy, and we are making our long-term prosperity the victim of an antiquated green card system that should meet our needs, not be used to play artificial social justice games with countries that are not as reliably pro-America. Indians are already a major force for real estate investment in Florida, they are already a significant presence in our higher education STEM programs, and they hail from a nation that respects our heritage and our free markets.

A one-size-fits-all quota system risks holding back high-skilled manufacturers that drive innovation and prosperity. The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would replace this system with a first-come, first-serve system that removes arbitrary limits. The bill also protects American workers by requiring employers to advertise job openings to Americans first before anyone from another country is offered a job.

I urge Senator Rick Scott and all of our Congressional delegation to support this important piece of legislation.


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