Immigrant Know-how Critical to Minnesota

In case you missed it, media outlets recently publicized a Brookings Institution report looking at where highly-skilled immigrant labor is located in the US. Out of 106 American cities surveyed, the Twin Cities ranked number 16, “as measured by the number of ‘H-1B visa’ requests submitted by local employers from 2010 to 2011.” Rochester, anchored by Mayo, also stood out on the list.

Much of the immigration is centered in the fields of computing, engineering, and technology. Nationally, the annual allotment of 85,000 visa was exhausted within the first half of the year. Nearly 4,200 of those originated in the Twin Cities.

Unsurprisingly, critics say that American jobs should be first reserved for American citizens. It is always amusing to see the right clash over its shared loves of free market values and conservative nativism. Voices on the right have, at times, preached xenophobic ideas that serve only to blur the line between the issues of immigration and illegal immigration; others on the fringe have taken steps to eliminate this type of legal immigration all together.

This is of course nonsense. From the railroads to the atomic bomb to Google, attracting foreign talent and integrating new cultures has been, and continues to be, a key driver of American success.

The American right is not alone in its zest to exclude foreigners. I have a bit of personal experience here. As a graduate student in France, I was incredulous of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s law, a sop to the extremist National Front party, which prevented graduating students from obtaining legal employment in the country. This policy was short-sighted. In essence, France told the foreigners that we are happy to educate you and imbue you with marketable skills, but you’re better off helping another economy. Under new president Francois Hollande, the law was quickly repealed.

This move should serve as an example that we are in a global race for talent. Encouraging the best and the brightest to come to our country and grow our economy is always the right choice.

Minnesota, as the home to 19 Fortune 500 companies and numerous high-profile academic and research institutions, helps itself by furthering its culture of inclusiveness.  

Posted in Economic Development | Related Topics: Immigration  Job Growth 

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