Work Their Way In
Hundreds of thousands of people march throughout the U.S. on May 1, 2006, in a rally called “A Day without
Immigrants” to protest tighter restrictions on immigration and to publicize the contributions newcomers make to the
American economy. Those boycotting work, school, and commerce in this photo are from Nebraska.
By John T. Harding
The American welcome mat remains in place for newcomers who can create jobs and fill specialized positions. Worldwide
competition for business investors and skilled
professionals prompted the U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) last November to
launch Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource for these strivers to secure visas. The web
portal was built by Entrepreneurs in Residence,
a think tank formed in October 2011 of startup
experts from the private sector and USCIS authorities. Both initiatives reinforce ongoing efforts to bolster the U.S. economy through the
labor force by smoothing the entry process for
highly qualified foreigners.
The payoff is potentially great for these per-
manent workers and for the market sector. “Ap-
proximately 140,000 immigrant visas are avail-
able each fiscal year for aliens (and their spouses
and children) who seek to immigrate based on
their job skills,” the USCIS website explains.
One of the five visa categories is for “persons of
extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, educa-
tion, business, or athletics; outstanding profes-
sors or researchers; and multinational executives
and managers.” Another is for those “who in-
vest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is
made in a targeted employment area) in a new
commercial enterprise that employs at least
10 full-time U.S. workers.”
Evidence demonstrates that ventures like these
in the American dream improve the national bot-
tom line. For instance, immigrants founded 25
percent of the highest-growth companies in the
U.S., such as Google, eBay, and Intel, and
cumulatively these outfits employ approximately
220,000 people stateside, write Felicia Escobar
and Doug Rand in “A New Front Door for Im-
migrant Entrepreneurs,” posted on the White
House blog last November, to publicize Entrepre-
neur Pathways. And topnotch newcomers fill
critical vacancies across the board, especially in
science, technology, engineering and math, and
in some cases require increasing the staff to assist
them, the Immigration Policy Center summarizes
in “The U.S. Economy Still Needs Highly Skilled
Foreign Workers,” a March 2011 document that
supports the federal H-1B visa program allowing
the temporary hiring of “nonimmigrant aliens”
of exceptional capability.
85 percent to family and humanitarian immigrants and only 15 percent to employment-based, highly skilled immigrants. Of these
15 percent, half go to the workers’ spouses and
children,” said Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
executive Pia M. Orrenius in “Immigration Reform and U.S. Economic Performance,” published by the nonpartisan Council on Foreign
Relations in March 2011. It’s worth mentioning
that for those holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, the unemployment rate was 4. 5 percent for
citizens and 5. 7 percent for immigrants, according to “Amnesty and the U.S. Labor Market,” a
paper issued last December by the nonpartisan
Center for Immigration Studies, which cited U.S.
Census Bureau data for the third quarter 2012.
Also, “research indicates that illegal immigrant workers are overwhelmingly those with
relatively little education,” said Steven A.
Camarota, director of research at this center.
“While it would be a mistake to think that
every job taken by an illegal immigrant is a job
lost by a native,” Camarota wrote in the paper,
his analysis “make[s] clear that Americans with
relatively little education have been hit hard” by
What’s more, the federal program to issue
green cards to business investors or skilled workers stipulates that there are “insufficient available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers to fill
the position being offered at the prevailing
wage,” and that “hiring a foreign worker will not
adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers,”
details the USCIS website.
So for those with money and skills, Lady Liberty’s lamp guiding the way to opportunity still
burns brightly through the fuel of government
assistance. In northern Vermont, for example,
reported Katharine Q. Seelye for The New York
Times last December, the Jay Peak ski resort is
adding a biomedical research firm and window
manufacturing plant, plus a hotel and conference center and sundry other area facilities ranging from an indoor water park to a hockey arena
to condominiums. Financing in part comes from
the federal program that offers permanent residency to newcomers who invest in a significant
project like this one. Total cost of the expansion:
$865 million. Direct and indirect jobs to be
created: 10,000. Foreign investors: 550 from
60 countries so far.
The article also included this fact: the federal
government issued 802 of these visas in 2006
and 7,818 in 2012.
John T. Harding retired from The Star-
Ledger daily newspaper in Newark, N.J.,
in 1997 after 27 years as a business and
economics writer, copy editor, and wire
editor, among other roles. He also was an
adjunct instructor in economics, journalism,
and English at Montclair state university,
his Phi Kappa Phi chapter and alma mater (b.A. in English
and linguistics; M.A. in economics), from 1997 to 2007 and in
journalism at Rutgers university from 1997 to 2000. Harding is a
regular contributor to the annual awards edition of this magazine.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.