Who Should Get In?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Of all the points in the immigration bill that's being debated in the senate right now, one of the most contentious is the question of who should get a green card. For years, the system gave preference to families, and keeping them together. Now, that could change. The new system would be based on merit, and skills, instead. Some call that elitism, others say it's just good economic sense. If it was up to you, if you had to write this one part of the bill, WHO would you let in?

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Yes, let's experiment with a credentials-driven point system, like some other industrialized countries do. There is no need to totally trash chain immigration, but perhaps one of the chess pieces that needs to be sacrificed to legalize those currently here illegally is to deny them the right to sponsor family members for immigration. After all, those who rolled the dice and entered the U.S. illegally had no expectation of sponsoring relatives for legal immigration.

Dean Ennes
Oak Park, IL

Sent by Dean Ennes | 2:16 PM | 6-6-2007

First of all, US is not the most successful in family immigration as your guest said. It doesn't take years to get your family in to Canada as it does in the US. Canada encourages family reunifications and does give extra points to applicants who already have an immediate family member in Canada and get them in quicker! What's frustrating with the US system is that it takes 6-8 years to get greencard for those of us here based on education and skills! It took me less than 6 months to come to Canada on permanent status.

Sent by RK | 2:16 PM | 6-6-2007

Immigrant nurses should make us think carefully. 1)When they come here, we are depriving their home countries of desperately needed, skilled professionals. 2)Nurses aren't paid enough as it is. When you flood the market with imported workers, you subvert the law of supply and demand, and prevent nurses from getting the pay raises they deserve. 3)When you get your supply from overseas, you divert attention from the need to recruit and train indiginous workers.

Sent by Anna Carter | 2:24 PM | 6-6-2007

I wouldnt let anyone into this country that would cause futher Stagnation of the populace. ie; people selling drugs, crime, childbirth and population issues, and our general US appearance. we as a nation are about to just throw in the towel and let them all stay.

Sent by parker | 2:25 PM | 6-6-2007

I think that imigrants should be awarded points if they can speak english fluently.

Sent by Karen | 2:26 PM | 6-6-2007

At what point is enough enough? Growth of the population cannot continue indefinitely and will likely overwhelm our environment.

Sent by John Reynolds | 2:28 PM | 6-6-2007

I vote for letting into the country any CEO willing to work for less than current CEO's of public corporations. :)

Sent by Ron Smith | 2:28 PM | 6-6-2007

Why is nobody focusing on the real costs of allowing entire extended families to immigrate? I work in a large hospital and see the enormous drain of resources by ill family members on public assistance, and that is just one aspect of the consequences of allowing non skilled, unemployed individuals to compete for government assistance.

Sent by Marilyn from San Jose, California | 2:31 PM | 6-6-2007

I have been a green card holder and a resident of the US for twenty three years. As a European and have seen the frontiers there go down between European countries, I believe that the Occident at large needs to address the rising tide of potential immigrants (it is arrogant to think that other Occidental nations do not face the same problems). Maybe a treaty or a concerted effort is in order and stronger frontiers are not the solution.

Sent by Eve | 2:31 PM | 6-6-2007

In the current discussion, NO ONE is mentioning what H1B is doing to the tech workers in this country. The denial that there's no impact on legitmiate workers is a fallacy. There are legions of unemployed computer professionals who have been pushed out of the market. There may be a law that states that prevailing wages must be paid to the young people who are taking our jobs, but the companies who do this lie about this and are not monitored. I know from personal experience. I have been unemployed for over four years, and I have many colleagues in the same situation. College students are staying away from majoring in MIS or computer work for this reason. I would encourage your speakers to check their statistics.

Sent by Jean | 2:31 PM | 6-6-2007

Has anyone else noticed the manic pace at which the guests are speaking? I love TOTN normally, but today because the guests are speaking too fast and on top of each other (and Neal, your pace is increasing too) it sounds like a typical talk-radio show. Unfortunately, for me, my ability to process the content is suffering. Please slow down and take a breath!

Sent by Lucille Allen | 2:35 PM | 6-6-2007

This immigration bill would not exist without the "campaign donations"
of two of the richest men in the world -- Bill Gates and Larry Ellison,
two college dropouts that have the gall to tell Congress that Americans
are not interested in science and math education.

The IT (information technology) industry has driven out half the americans in the market, especially those over 30, with a doubling of the H-1B rate to 160K at the start of tech bust in 2000. Those six year visas are now running out, and they want to keep pay rates at 1999 levels, hence the financing of this bill via campaign donations.

The effect is that Americans are shying away from engineering and Computer science
in large numbers.

Want proof? Call up the Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center. Ask them why their AP courses in the biological and physical sciences are full, but Computer Science has only 6 students. The kids know the score.

Over 90% of the 160,000 H-1Bs let into the country work on very mundane
Oracle and SAP projects.

Given the fact that IBM recently announced the intent to lay off 15,000 US
employees and offshore their jobs, how can increased H-1Bs possibly be
justified?

You need to devote an entire show to just this issue. Mixing in with
illegal migrant labor is a smokescreen. The only thing these issues
have in common is the effect on labor rates.

Further, if the provision for granting a green card to any graduate student
passes, then our publicly financed universities will turn into little
more than immigration factories, further diminishing the value of
an education.

If this bill passes, a demand will rise from the American people to call
a timeout to all immigration -- the same thing that happened 100 years ago
during the age of the last Robber Barons.

Sent by Over 40 | 2:36 PM | 6-6-2007

If one gets in legally it is a human rights issue to allow siblings to join them. As it is it takes atleast 10 years to get the process started! And also the contribution to the home coutry could not be understated. Countries like Nigeria, Mexico, India gain billions annually from expertriates.

Sent by Farouk Salim | 2:38 PM | 6-6-2007

I was just wondering wether this change would affect existing Green Card holders (like myself)? My card will be up for renewal soon so I have some worry about this.

Sent by Gareth | 2:40 PM | 6-6-2007

All H1B visa holders who work here, let the Social Security Administration take money from their pay check in the hope that they will become permanent residents some day. They sould not be denied a green card

Sent by Anton Fernando | 2:40 PM | 6-6-2007

I agree with Lucille Allen. I always that Neal Conan speaks way too fast. I love NPR and TOTN but some days, after listening to it, I feel like I have to switch off the radio and go for a walk or take a deep breath! I don't want NPR to sound like the commercial radio chaos! Pls slow down!

Sent by RK | 2:57 PM | 6-6-2007

Everyone is missing a great opportunity by not being proactive in this debate. The Mexican govt. should be invited to apply for US Statehood and become the 51st state. This would open up trade and commerce, porvide entrepenuers access to Mexico mile of boarders to build infrastructure and provide jobs for mexican and americans.

Sent by Steve Arey | 2:57 PM | 6-6-2007

Today's talk on immigration was interesting but, like most discussion of the subject, also promotes the exclusive view that immigration is about those who 'want to be Americans'; thus, 'Who we should let in and who we should keep out.'

There is far too little discussion of the fact that people rarely leave their cultures of origin, except for the experience of travel, if everything is okey-dokey at home. That discussion would lead us to ask, what can we do to improve things for those immigrants who are here or come here, whether they are rich or poor, highly qualified and educated or just illiterate and plain desperate. What, we should ask, can we offer that will help them become more able to succeed, here or at home, and (more importantly) effect change in their home cultures that may reduce the need for them to 'long to breath free or rich' in America. This applies as much to immigrant Phd's as it does to low paid undocumented workers.

This matter is still being dealt almost entirely as a 'what WE want; what WE need issue' as if that is all that matters. As importantly, the problems of immigration may have much to do with what They (immigrants) need and what we might offer to see that they have it to improve lives and circumstances at home.

From an immigrants point of view, one's own culture is a terrible thing to waste.

From our point of view, our own arrogance still frames most of what we say about immigration.

Sent by red slider | 3:10 PM | 6-6-2007

LET EVERYONE IN !! The whole darn world is trying to get into America, even as the whole darn world believes that America is trying to take over that whole darn world by force of arms. I say, LET EVERYONE IN !! Then, WE CAN LEAVE AND GO WHERE THEY CAME FROM - THE CARRIBEAN, THE RIVIERA, THE COUNTRIES WHERE THE OIL IS, EVEN ACAPULCO.... WE DON'T HAVE TO FIRE A SINGLE SHOT OR EVEN BUILD ANOTHER MISSILE OR BOMB, EVER!!

Sent by AARON BENEZRA | 3:52 PM | 6-6-2007

sure... why not... after all these new US citizens are SECOND class citizens and therefore their rights should not be the same as those borned here... so yes... do not allow them to bring their elders (parents and brothers and sisters)here since they have renounced to everything they are... right?
what a shame that i am a citizen of the country that adopted me and where there are and always will be racists or just plain selfish people that have no idea about the conditions on which a lot of these unfortunate people have lived and the things they have had to give up to be here in these country and then be able to help their families... it is so easy to say "that is their problem.... it is not my fault"
how selfish!

Sent by MARTIN ARANDA | 3:45 AM | 6-7-2007

I am so sick of the lie that illegals do not bring down wages and the lie that they only take jobs Americans do not want. I live in Elkhart Indiana where my American husband cannot get a good paying (15+ per hour) at an RV manufacturer because they only hire people that wont make reports about safety, workers comp etc.

Sent by S. Jenkins | 9:02 AM | 6-7-2007

I agree with Jean on the effect of H-1B visas have on the U.S.
High tech companies have been having major layoffs over the past 6 years, yet continually

complain that they don't have enough high-tech workers. I have been without a permanent job for

the last 5 years and I know many of high-tech workers who have given up looking for work in the

field. I also know of students who have seen friends and relatives laid off from these positions

and have seen many of those jobs go overseas. Students have changed their majors from anything

involving the high-tech industry because they don't see it as a lasting career in the U.S.
I think that
1- there should be no H-1B visas permitted as long as there is a large number of unemployed

workers in field of work of the applicant, AND
2- that if H-1B visas are issued, there must be a provision that if the company they are hired

by has layoffs in the U.S., the H-1B visa holders are the first to be laid off and cannot be

hired by another company until those U.S. workers who are laid off have been hired.

Sent by Christine Morton | 10:30 AM | 6-7-2007

I am surprised nobody talks about the skilled workers in the US mostly from India & China. A majority of these guys have gone to school in the US paying 20 -30 K in tution fees, Paying social security & medicare taxes just as any american citizen. Why does the govt favor more illegal residents over legal residents?

Sent by Raj, LA | 12:48 PM | 6-7-2007

Unfortunately I have to somewhat agree with the above comment claming that the statement "illegals do not bring down wages" is a lie. I think it is not exactly true, to put it mildly. As a collage student in the early 1980's I held a job as a custodian, a kind description of a janitorial position :-) , at a large school complex, my hourly wage was almost $10 per hour and my co-workers mostly Caucasian. It was not a bad job, paid well, allowed me to finish collage. In mid 1990's I fell onto some hard times and needed a second income for a while. I searched for a similar nightshift custodian or janitorial position and found out that now it pays slightly over $10 per hour (we are looking at 14 years later!!). I believe that the ever present drive to reduce the operating cost, I do not want to call it corporate greed, degraded quite a few jobs in this country. Degraded them by offering wages that do not allow an average citizen to maintain a minimum social standard accepted by our population. Unfortunately, most illegal immigrants will accept a lower standard for lack of better choices. But who's fault is greater, immigrants for accepting underpaid positions or US businesses for offering them? Oh, and I should add, I am not stupid, and realize that businesses need to stay competitive, but cuts in wages are sometimes so hard to understand in view of the escalating CEO benefits, aren't they?

Sent by artur135 | 2:42 PM | 6-7-2007

I heard one of the commentators comment that immigrants do jobs Americans won't do. I am infuriated everytime I hear someone make such an illogical and ignorant statement. If there are ditches needing to be made, who made them before honest laborers were being undercut in wages? Toilets did not just sit dirty, who did that? Who paved the roads? LEGAL americans, particularly minorities were doing these jobs. I have yet to meet an individual wanting of money, starving with kids who refused to be a custodian. Undesirable perhaps, but I believe Americans should be given more credit than that! The reason these jobs are left standing now is because no American citizen with two kids who pays taxes, property taxes, mud dues and such can be expected to work for 5.00 an hour!

Sent by Erin Mcclarty | 9:03 AM | 6-8-2007

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