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If we want to approach immigration reform strategically, then the place to start is with our inane visa policies restricting the number of skilled workers. Right now in the House of Representatives, two bills would do just that.
The first is Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s (D-Calif.) Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America Act, which would allow U.S. companies to attract and retain immigrants with degrees in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. The bill would also create a new green card for foreign-born entrepreneurs who begin a startup and create jobs. In other words, Lofgren’s bill would provide skilled immigrants with both the means and the incentives to build their lives and their dreams in America.
The other bill is from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and would reform the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program and reallocate those visas (about 55,000 a year) to immigrants with advanced degrees. Some might argue that it’s only fair to set aside visas for countries with low rates of U.S. immigration. But we have to ask ourselves what is a higher national priority: Meeting quotas or rebuilding America’s economic engine?
Both bills recognize the value of strategic immigration. They identify a specific problem — America’s mindless visa policies — and provide sensible solutions. Best of all, one comes from a Democrat, the other from a Republican. It turns out that Congress can work together, if we can just set aside the Washington twitch to fix everything in one bill.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association and author of “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.”