Skilled immigrants: 'Deal with us'

Immigration protest

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: Over the past year, we've seen huge immigration protests in many cities. Hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets. This week in Washington, there was a much smaller protest that kind of slid under the radar. Specifically, these were skilled immigrants, unhappy with the current policies.

Our Economics correspondent Chris Farrell joins us. Chris, what were they saying?

Chris Farrell: Yeah, U.S. immigration policy is an absolute disaster. And skilled workers, skilled immigrants that are critical to our biotechnology industry, our computer industry, information technologies, the media industry, are coming under some of the same troublesome issues that are sweeping over unskilled immigrants. We actually are talking a lot about the growth and future profits of American companies.

Jagow: Do you think the skilled immigrant groups are trying to break away from the unskilled labor?

Farrell: Well that's one of the ways that I am looking at this story because with the comprehensive immigration reform that the President and Senator McCain and a number of other people tried to back, skilled immigrants and unskilled immigrants were united. Well that has completely collapsed and right now with the presidential election you can see that very little is going to be done in terms of immigration, and at least until we get another president.

What the skilled immigrants are doing is saying look, we understand there's a lot of problems here with unskilled immigrants, there's a lot of problems with illegal immigrants, no one can come with a consensus, but deal with us, alright? Let's just narrow the focus, we bring a lot of skill to this economy and by the way, if U.S. companies can't get the skilled workers here that they need, they're just going to outsource it anyway. They'll outsource it to India, they'll outsource it to China, they'll outsource to the Philippines. So it's in the U.S. corporate interest and the U.S. economy's interest to at least increase the number of skilled immigrants that we have and make it easier for skilled immigrants to be permanent residents here rather than to have companies decide well, if we can't get them here, we'll get them elsewhere.

Jagow: What do these groups want Congress to do exactly?

Farrell: Basically what they want to do is they want more green cards. They want to increase the number of green cards which obviously allows you to work here and by the way, if a lot of them are coming from India one year, so what? A lot of them coming from China one year, so what. Let's just say we're going to welcome skilled immigrants. We're going to make it easy for them to move here, we're going to make it easy for them to have permanent residency and by the way, they can shift around to other companies and other jobs if they're available, that's to the benefit of our economy.

Jagow: All right, Chris Farrell, our Economics correspondent. Thank you.

Farrell: Thanks a lot.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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