Though our higher education system is the best in the world, our colleges and universities are serving competing nations with the talented foreign-born graduates who study here and then get sent back home to drive their economies instead of ours. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, only 7 percent of green cards are granted based on economic grounds. In other countries, itís as high as 50 percent ó and they will win in the long term if we do not adapt our policies to the global marketplace.
Finally, we need to make the 11 million people who are here illegally obey the law, pay taxes and come out of the shadows. We have to get them right by the law in exchange for legal status, but not unbridled amnesty. This should include penalties, background checks to root out criminals, and the requirement that they learn English, understand the Constitution and be committed to our basic freedoms. We must ensure there is no special pathway to citizenship that puts them in front of people who waited in line.
It is time to make the changes that our citizens and our economy demand. Our current policies date back to the 1960s, when TVs were black and white and computers were bigger than cars. Our nation competes in a global economy, and our immigration policies should reflect our needs for the 21st century. Conservative-led immigration reform is an important step to a brighter American future.
Sal Russo is the co-founder of the Tea Party Express.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.