Center for Strategic Communication

The likelihood of historic immigration reform is increasing by the day.

On Thursday, Politico is reporting the so-called Gang of Eight senators driving the latest legislation expect to have some 70 votes.Liberty

For the Obama administration, it would be a significant second-term milestone. For Democratic and Republican lawmakers, it would offer proof to voters that they actually can work together after all on one of the most divisive issues of recent years. To the millions of workers in the country illegally, it is a sort of lifeline that brings people from the political and legal “them” column to the “us” column.

Yet immigration, as a policy or political issue, will not be wrapped up and set aside should this legislation be signed into law.

There remains important work to be done on getting America’s visa system for skilled workers and their families up to the standards of a 21st Century economy. This is not just a matter of addressing the shortfall in STEM workers, which has become a front-burner corporate issue.

See the American Security Project report “American Competitiveness: An Issue of National Security.”

A new approach to immigration policy is an essential part of improving America’s competitive position in the global economy. It is as much about national posture as it is about specific policy. The demand is there.

Take the U.S. quota of 65,000 H-1B visas. It was oversubscribed by nearly two-to-one. The cap was reached within a week, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, while another 20,000 applications were filed by people exempt from the ceiling. The lucky ones are just that — the picks are done by lottery. That is not sound policy.

In the meantime, Canada, among others, is making it easier for foreign high-tech entrepreneurs to work there, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Also consider that our universities train some of the world’s finest engineers, scientists and mathematicians. Many are not U.S. born and are forced to leave the country after graduation. Not only is that a poor outcome for a major investment of time and resources, it sends a signal that America does not want to be a destination for the world’s best. That makes it so much easier for our global competitors to welcome these talented workers.

When it comes to American competitiveness, narrative is important. Immigration is a central a theme of the American story. U.S. lawmakers have options for high-skill workers, including the Senate Startup Act 3.0, but have yet to see this through into law. If it is to remain so in the 21st Century, establishing new laws helping millions of undocumented workers become citizens should be the next chapter in America’s growth. But it must also be seen as just the start of something bigger.


Key Links:

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Harvard Business School – American Competitiveness

Harvard Business Review Special Edition 

HBS Survey on U.S. Competitiveness: Prosperity at Risk


Check out ASP’s White Paper on American Competitiveness that discusses these issues further:

Competitiveness Square Logo


Read our Blogs and Listen to our other podcasts in the series:


Interview – Norm Augustine: Willpower, patience needed to improve American competitiveness

Interview – Debt ceiling again looms large for states, city government

American Competitiveness – Interview with former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman

Adm. William Fallon (Ret.) on sequestration and American Competitiveness

Sequestration – what’s happening in the States

American Competitiveness and National Security – Podcast

Blog Posts:


Michael Porter: American competitiveness is a foreign policy issue

Look beyond winners and losers in the DoD budget

Event Recap: The UK in the EU and the Future of Transatlantic Cooperation

Words and deeds

The STEM Jobs Shortfall Is a National Security Shortcoming We Can Fix

Immigration, American Competitiveness and National Security 

The China Question

Making the case for U.S. leadership in the Pacific

Pentagon – Rare Metals Shortfalls is a National Security Challenge

More Fiscal Focus From The Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs

America’s Long-Term Test: Fusion Power

Moment near for a ‘grand bargain’ on the debt?

Veteran Unemployment and American Competitiveness

Living with uncertainty in the defense industry

Harvard Business School survey finds more pessimism about U.S. competitiveness

Competitiveness – Education: What most schools don’t teach

Sequestration – damage to American competitiveness

Energy R&D Critical to American Competitiveness