The U.S. is a nation of immigrants. It’s been that way since its founding, and it continues to this day, as foreign-born citizens account for a significant number of the more than 300 million Americans. Indeed, the U.S. is home to more than one-fifth of the world’s total immigrant population, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Yet as it is currently written, U.S. immigration policy is a complex framework of rules and regulations that is hurting American competiveness. For proponents of immigration reform, among the most glaring examples of this is the higher education system.
There are more than 815,000 international students currently enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, according to the Institute of International Education (I.I.E.), with nearly 40% of such students seeking a graduate degree. Though the I.I.E. estimates that more than 200,000 of these international students will attain degrees in the physical and life sciences, engineering, math, and computer science—all of which are highly sought-after by U.S. companies—many will not be able to remain in the U.S. upon graduation. We are providing a topnotch education for immigrants, critics argue, but we’re failing to reap the benefits of doing so.
As it stands, private companies and the U.S. economy as a whole have a lot to gain from an update of our immigration policy, as a comprehensive overhaul could help address the yawning skills gap in the workforce.
We’ve compiled a list of businesses and industries that stand to benefit from immigration reform. Though they may operate in different industries and range in size, they play an undeniably important role in creating jobs and driving economic growth and innovation.
The Tech Giants, including Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon
We’ve lumped these four technology giants together, as they all represent the interests of the nation’s booming technology sector, which has been responsible for driving innovation and fueling economic growth over the past decade. Even amid a tepid jobs market, these four businesses have struggled to fill vacant positions in the U.S., as they’ve been unable to find workers with the necessary science, technology, engineering, and math (S.T.E.M.) skills. Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is among the tech world’s most vocal proponents of immigration reform, as the billionaire was one of the co-founders of FWD.us, an immigration legislative advocacy group whose co-founders also include prominent business executives like Bill Gates.
The Tech Not-So-Giants (but still creating jobs!) like Xylo Technologies
Founded by Dharani Ramamoorthy, Xylo Technologies is an I.T. consultancy with clients like the Mayo Clinic that was selected by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a finalist for its 2014 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award. Ramamoorthy, who immigrated to the U.S. and is now a proud U.S. citizen, has struggled to find job candidates with the necessary I.T. skills he is looking for, which has hurt his company’s competitiveness. “Technology talent is not available here, in Rochester, Minnesota,” he told Free Enterprise during a recent interview. “There is a very, very big gap. I’ve tried to find people who have the talent, but I couldn’t.”
Hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, & the Mayo Clinic
There is a national shortage of physicians, especially primary care doctors, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This dearth of qualified primary care givers, however, could be lessened if the U.S. adjusted its immigration policy toward foreign-born doctors, a recent report from NPR’s Planet Money team concluded. By establishing a stringent yet realistic framework for foreign-born practitioners, hospitals ranging from behemoths like the Cleveland Clinic to local, community-based centers would benefit, as would the U.S. healthcare system, proponents say.