President Obama Makes an Important Move on Immigration Reform


Looks like there’s more big news coming out of the White House: reports (here and here) say that President Obama plans to announce next week that he will take long-awaited executive action on immigration reform.

While the headlines all focus on what’s called “deferred action,” or the ability for undocumented residents to avoid deportation—like parents of American citizens or those who came to America as children—we’re most interested in what the President will do around high-skilled workers. The executive action will reportedly “expand opportunity” for those with high-tech skills, and we understand it should make it easier for those workers’ families to join them in the United States.

This simple reform is long overdue and basic common sense.

Take, for instance, the problem with H1-B visas. Only 85,000 of these—awarded to high-skilled, speciality occupations (often in tech)—are issued every year. In 2014, more than 172,000 people applied for 65,000 of these spots, which means more than 100,000 high-skilled workers who could bring their entrepreneurial and technical skills to the United States are being turned away. It’s time to let these people in.

Research from the Kauffman Foundation found that, in 2010, immigrants were twice as likely to start a business than their native-born brethren. Between 1995 and 2005, immigrants helped to found more than 25 percent of all high-tech firms. What’s more, our research shows that high-tech firms create more jobs than non-tech firms. These tech jobs have a reverberating effect in local economies, creating even more jobs—spurring nationwide economic growth.

President Obama’s executive actions alone cannot solve this problem. Only Congress, through legislation, can fix our broken immigration system. We hope that congressional members of both parties in the Senate and the House can put politics aside and take the President’s lead toward solving one of the biggest problems plaguing our economy, and our nation, today.