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U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization
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“I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”–the last line of Emma Lazarus’s famous poem invites immigrants to enter a land of economic opportunity. Many have accepted that invitation; today, foreign-born workers make up nearly 16 percent of the U.S. workforce and account for almost half of workforce growth over the last decade. Rather than capitalizing on these gains, however, recent immigration reforms have resulted in an inefficient, patchwork system that shortchanges high-skilled immigrants and poorly serves the American public.
Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization proposes a radical overhaul of current immigration policy designed to strengthen economic competitiveness and long-run growth. Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny outline a plan that favors employment-based immigration over family reunification, making work-based visas the rule, not the exception. They argue that immigration policy should favor high-skilled workers while retaining avenues for low-skilled immigration; family reunification should be limited to spouses and minor children; provisional visas should be the norm; and quotas that lead to queuing must be eliminated.
A selective immigration policy focused on high-skilled, high-demand workers will allow the United States to compete in an increasingly global economy while protecting the interests of American citizens and benefitting taxpayers. Orrenius and Zavodny conclude that “while not all potential immigrants who knock at the golden door should be admitted, the door should swing wide open to welcome those who desire nothing more than the opportunity to work for the American dream.”
Pia M. Orrenius is research officer and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Madeline Zavodny is professor of economics at Agnes Scott College.
Advance Praise for Beside the Golden Door
“Orrenius and Zavodny address some of the toughest policy and political issues that surround immigration reform with remarkable poise and clarity. Their intelligent and thoughtful analysis shows that they are among the few analysts who have a sufficient understanding of the topic and command of the facts to make a compelling case for their recommendations. Moreover, they are unburdened by the ideological straightjackets that weaken far too many policy prescriptions. Their passion for making immigration policy do much more to support economic growth and competitiveness comes out loud and clear.”
“Cutting through the usual hyperbole that surrounds the immigration debate, Orrenius and Zavodny have produced a lucid and an insightful discussion of U.S. policy options that should be required reading for anyone interested in how the nation could design more effective mechanisms to manage our borders.”
“What if, instead of ‘What’s politically possible?’ policymakers asked, ‘What’s best for the country?’ They rarely do, on immigration or any other issue. But if they did, Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny’s thoughtful and thought-provoking immigration reform proposal would be a good place to start. The authors’ case–that U.S. immigration policy should serve U.S. economic interests, and that market mechanisms, not politics as usual, are the best means to determine those interests–is hard to argue with. A smart, timely book that should be the food for much discussion on Capitol Hill.”
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