Newswise — In addition to spending $825 billion on an economic stimulus package, President Obama and the new Congress should also consider "importing" taxpayers as a quick, low-cost way to boost the economy, says a finance professor at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Despite the recent loss of more than a million jobs in the U.S., many industries -- including health care, medical research, public health and education -- continue to be hampered by chronic high-end labor shortages.
Allowing those and similar vacancies to be permanently filled by immigrants would boost both those industries and the American economy at little or no cost to taxpayers, says Dr. Dorla Evans, a finance professor at UAHuntsville.
"We are talking about well-educated people who bring obvious skills and who can contribute to society from the day they arrive," Evans said. "The current immigration system seems to encourage companies to outsource certain types of work overseas. The system seems to ignore the people who are ready to produce in the economy or who have chosen to be educated in the U.S. and wish to stay here.
"The president and Congress are talking about reviving the economy by building roads and bridges. I would rather build a bridge to bring in more immigrants or to keep the international students who are being educated here now. I think we want to keep the high value, intellectual work here as much as possible, but we aren't graduating enough American engineers and scientists to meet the demand."
That means bringing immigrants in on permanent visas instead of M-1B temporary visas. The U.S. issues only 65,000 new M-1B visas each year, including 20,000 set aside for foreign students who earn master's degrees in the U.S. The demand for these three-year temporary visas is so great that all 65,000 are snapped up within 48 hours after they become available on April 1 of each year.
Many of those go to foreign, especially Indian, companies with U.S. offices. They send employees to the U.S. to learn American business practices and bid on contracts with American companies, then take those jobs home with them when their temporary visas expire.
"My preference is to make them Americans," Evans said. "Bring their families over and put their children in the public schools. Let them become Americans, buy homes, pay taxes and live the American dream."