Earlier this year, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Supplying Knowledge Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act (the SKILLS Act), which allows more lenient immigration policies for STEM graduates. I saw this as an action very reflective of an attitude we’ve held towards immigrants for at least the past 100 years. Consider that while there is much anti-immigrant sentiment in American public opinion, there is also a high demand for skilled labor which we often fill with immigrants, since Americans don’t often enough have the skillsets for jobs that require an advanced degree. This is very similar to the political cartoon Scarlett posted, which depicts the immigrant as both a burden to the workforce for American workers (by taking a job that an American could theoretically take) but at the same time as a blessing for business owners, who were looking for cheap and plentiful labor. This attitude persists today, as we often hear anti-immigrant sentiment in terms of lost jobs for Americans, and all the while employers benefit from immigration due to their advanced skillsets in the STEM fields.
December 10, 2013