Immigration lessons for the U.S. from around the world
New citizens wave flags before being sworn in during a Naturalization Ceremony in October at the Statue of Liberty.
June 10th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

Immigration lessons for the U.S. from around the world

Fareed Zakaria looks at how the immigration systems work – and don't work – in Japan, Europe, Canada and the U.S. in the TV special: "Global Lessons: The GPS Roadmap for Making Immigration Work" which aired on CNN on Sunday, June 10. Watch on CNN International on Saturday, June 16, at 4 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET

Immigrants founded America hundreds of years ago, coming to the promised land in search of freedom and opportunity, in pursuit of the American dream.

Today, many Americans see immigrants as a danger to that dream.

They worry that immigrants are taking their jobs, using government services and changing the country's national identity. The average American believes that 39% of the U.S. population was born abroad. The real figure is 13%, still the highest level since 1920.

Related: How much do you know about U.S. immigration?

Immigration is divisive, a wedge issue in this election year. But most Americans (73%) agree that the government is doing a poor job of managing it.

So, how should the U.S. handle immigration? Does anyone else do it better? What can the U.S. learn from successes – and possible mistakes – from other countries?

Let’s look at three examples: Japan, Europe and Canada.


Japan has one of the strictest immigration policies in the world and has historically been closed off to outsiders. It has a foreign population of less than 2% - six times smaller than the percentage of the U.S.

But what are the effects of keeping foreigners out?

Japan is facing an alarming labor shortage, says Robert Guest, the business editor of The Economist and author of "Borderless Economics."

Japan’s current population is around a 127 million. It’s on pace to be just 90 million by 2050, a drop-off of almost one-third. The nation is also aging. Almost one in four people are 65 or older – making Japan the oldest country on earth.

Guest says there’s a solution to the labor shortage: open the borders and invite more immigrants.

But that idea has hurdles.

“They don't have the idea that you can become Japanese,” says Guest. “And they don't have the idea that you can solve some of the country's chronic labor problems by importing foreign hands.”

In its health care sector, for example, Japan is estimated to be short almost 900,000 workers 2025. It started to invite foreign nurses, and since 2008 almost 600 have come to Japan.

But only 66 have passed Japan’s notoriously difficult nursing proficiency exam, which requires an expertise in written Japanese.

Japan’s health ministry has made the test easier, adding some English translations, but critics say it’s still unreasonable.

“It should be good enough that they are able to communicate verbally with people and that they are able to read the words they need to know for the tools of their trade,” says Guest. “It worked perfectly well in other countries.”

And it’s not just foreign workers who might run into obstacles. In some cases, it’s immigrants who have been living in Japan for decades.

In 1990, facing a labor shortage, Japan gave ethnic Japanese from South America long-term residence status, filling gaps in its workforce.

Japanese-Brazilians filled manufacturing jobs and became the third largest minority in Japan.

But in 2009, with unemployment running high, Japan actually offered money to them to leave the country – $3,000 for each worker to cover travel expenses.

And the flight was essentially a one-way ticket – anyone who took the offer couldn’t come back to Japan with the residence status they once had.

The government says it was only trying to help unemployed Japanese-Brazilians. They’ve stopped offering the deal and are reconsidering the residence status of those who took the money.

So if Japan won’t let in immigrants, what is it doing about its labor shortage?

It’s encouraging families to have more children, giving them $165 a month for each child. But that hasn’t been enough to inspire a growth spurt.


Europe faces a similar demographic crisis as Japan, but it’s trying a more open approach to immigration.

It’s easy to forget that the European Union itself is one of the most ambitious migration experiments in history. Half a billion people are allowed to roam freely within the EU’s borders.

Many predicted that swarms of people from poorer nations like Poland and Romania would move to rich countries like Germany and France. That never happened – only 3% of working-age EU citizens live in a different EU country.

But the EU has not dealt well with immigrants from outside its borders.

There’s been a nasty political backlash – with anti-immigrant parties thriving in Greece, the Netherlands and France.

Rather than rejecting these extremists, Europe’s mainstream politicians have pandered to them. Former French President Nicholas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have all declared that multiculturalism in their countries is a failure.

“They all agree multiculturalism is dead,” says Chem Ozdemir, born in Germany to Turkish migrant workers. “It's amazing that they agree on that, but they do not agree when it comes to euro and on other issues.”

Ozdemir, now head of Germany’s left-leaning Green Party, became the first ethnic-Turkish member of Parliament at age 28.

Now, he helps his nation to answer a very basic question: What does it mean to be German?

“Can you be a German and have a head scarf at the same time? Can you be a German and practice Islam at the same time?” Ozdemir says.

Jonathan Laurence, author of “The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims,” is hopeful on Islam’s place in Europe. In a GPS guest post this week, Laurence writes:

The key development is that as the proportion of Muslims of foreign nationality residing in Europe decreases – because the number of native-born Muslims is growing – Europe’s democratic political institutions are increasingly kicking in. For decades, the absence of integration policy allowed foreign governments and transnational movements to capture the religious and political interests of this new minority. This wasn’t multiculturalism so much as indifference.

The series of terrorist attacks against Western capitals from 2001-2005, however, in combination with high unemployment and educational under-performance, ended Europeans’ hands-off approach. After leaving them outside domestic institutions for decades, governments gradually took ownership of their Muslim populations. Authorities began to treat Islam as a domestic religion and encouraged Muslims to embrace national citizenship.

In Germany, for example, the government has met with Muslim leaders at an annual German Islam conference since 2006, in an effort to better integrate Muslims with the rest of the population.

Germany and others are certainly making strides, but throughout Europe, there are still obstacles to immigrants’ inclusion.

So, is there any nation that’s getting immigration right?


If Japan’s strict immigration policy serves as a cautionary tale and Europe’s experiment is still a work in progress, then take a look at Canada – a nation with more foreign-born per capita than the United States.

Canada may not have the cache the U.S. does – but it holds great appeal for would-be immigrants, says The Economist’s Guest.

“Canada offers many of the same things that America does – a very high standard of living, the rule of law, peace, safety,” he says.

To determine whom it should let in to live and work, Canada uses a point system. You don't even need a job or employer, just skills. Applicants are awarded points for proficiency in education, languages and job experience.

Just why is Canada so ready to accept immigrants with open arms?

Because it has to be.

The nation is sparsely populated, has a low birth rate, and needs immigrants for population growth – and economic growth.

In Canada, almost two-thirds of permanent visas last year were given for economic needs – Canada's economic needs, that is.

The country brings in the majority of foreigners to fill labor holes.

Only 22% of its immigration was for family reasons: reuniting mothers with children, brothers with sisters, grandparents with grandchildren.

In the U.S., the opposite is true. Only 13% of green cards last year were doled out for economic reasons, while two-thirds were for family reunions.

When Nahed Nenshi became the first Muslim mayor of a major Canadian city in 2010, he shattered Calgary's "redneck" stereotype.

“When I was running for office, it was only people who were not from here who said ‘Whoa, is Calgary ready for a mayor like that?’” he says. “The people in Calgary just said, ‘Ah, it's a kid from the East End. We know him.’"

Canada’s real challenge, says Nenshi, is ensuring the economic and social integration of immigrants once they are living in the country.

“It's not about burkas and kirpans. It's about saying to an engineer who was trained in Iran or China, how can we get you working as an engineer instead of a janitor as quickly as possible?” he says. “These are very serious challenges. And we haven't got it right. But I would much prefer we focus our energies there rather than on these meaningless culture war discussions that occasionally crop up ... because those don't make a difference in people's lives.”

The public and Parliament in Canada generally support continued immigration. “Immigration is unambiguously good for the economy. We know that those folks come, they invest here, they create jobs, they work here,” says Nenshi. “There's not much of a policy debate on that in Canada."

While the prime minister of Great Britain, the former president of France and the chancellor of Germany have all declared that in their context multiculturalism has failed, that's not so in Canada, says Nenshi.

“I'm not here to question their reality. It's their reality,” he says. “But I think it's important for us Canadians, and particularly for Calgarians, to really tell a story loudly and proudly about a place where it works, where diversity works, where multiculturalism works, where pluralism works. It ain’t rocket science.”


Canada and also Australia now have smart immigration policies that take in talented foreigners who have skills the country needs and determination and drive to succeed.

As a result, they have transformed themselves into immigrant countries, with a foreign-born population that is higher than the United States.

Australia, which only 15 years ago had strong strains of nativism and xenophobia dominating its political culture, now has more than a quarter of its population as foreign born – double America’s share – and is thriving because of the economic growth and cultural diversity.

Canada's foreign-born population is almost 20%; the U.S. is 13%, just a little higher than Great Britain's.

Related: Why American needs immigration

The United States is not the world's only – nor the largest – immigrant society anymore.

And that will have consequences economically, culturally and in other ways, says Fareed Zakaria:

It's a sad state, because the U.S. remains a model for the world. It is the global melting pot, the place where a universal nation is being created. We may not do immigration better than everyone else anymore, but we do assimilation better than anyone else. People from all over the world come to this country and, almost magically, become Americans.

They - I should say we - come to the country with drive and dedication and over time develop a fierce love for America. This infusion of talent, hard work and patriotism has kept the country vital for the past two centuries. And if we can renew it, it will keep America vital in the 21st century as well.

What do you think? What can the U.S. learn from other countries' immigration policies? Share your comments below and check out some past responses.

Or see what Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has to say, from this excerpt from "Global Lessons: The GPS Roadmap for Making Immigration Work"

and also New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

More from Global Lessons: Immigration

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Topics: Canada • Europe • Global Lessons • Immigration • Japan

soundoff (847 Responses)
  1. CNN Fake News

    The H-1b visa is mostly used by off-shoring outsourcing companies. This CNN story is nothing but a shill story for H-1b outsourcing visas. The biggest users of the H-1b outsourcing visa ship jobs overseas. CNN, this is why you have no more viewers, your news is fake.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Reply
    • concerned

      CNN needs to clean up its act and start feeling the American worker's pain. They're insane (or is it Mr. Zakaria that's insane) – saying the U.S. needs to hand out more H-1B visas + allow students having graduated to stay in the U.S. & work – knowing that we have a 10% unemployment rate in California especially. Has CNN jumped on the bandwagon & started hiring foreign workers (on H-1B's perhaps). I've wondered... since Mr. Zakaria came on board, as well as Piers Morgan. Now don't get me wrong, they're good reporters, (though Mr. Zakaria needs to do a better job in knowing the facts before he opens his mouth), but couldn't they have hired American journalists? Next thing we'll see is CNN leaving Atlanta & going God knows where. It may be cheaper for them to do business from elsewhere as has been the trend.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:46 am | Reply
  2. penguin

    When our forefathers came here from europe, they just jumped on a boat and were processed into our country as soon as they landed. We have a huge number of "illegals" because our bureaucratic red tape makes them wait years before they are admitted Any "illegal" who has a solid work record and no criminal record should be allowed to work legally in the US

    June 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Reply

    I don't really see the point in celebrating the efforts of these "legal" immigrants.

    Since the democrats continue to state clearly that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay and enjoy all the benfits of legal immigrants it seems to me that the democrats are just saying these people are stupid.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Reply
    • chicago7

      The Republicans also seek a way to keep illegal immigration alive and well. The Democrats are looking for new voters, and the Republicans want a ready-made third world workforce for American businesses.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
      • Name*

        Correct! Thank you. chicago 7.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Name*

      I'm a Democrat and I don't support illegal immigration.. You may be listening to Rush Limbaugh a little too closely. You and I probably think more alike than you imagine.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Reply
      • zaxxonzz

        @name* a lot of Dem's don't support illegal immigration due to the there Union ties. But, as a whole, the Democratic party is the pro-illegal immigration party. They are the ones that always pass legislation for sanctuary cities, drivers license for illegals, dream act etc etc. So it is the party of works and the party of exploiting works for their votes, which I've always though was odd. As long as they get their money/votes I guess it's all good. That's why I love Cesar Chavez day so much, it kinda sums up the contradiction of the democratic party.

        June 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
      • chicago7

        We're talking about the politicians and not private citizens. The Democrats and the Republicans both include in their political platforms easier ways for illegal immigrants to become legal. If you look at polls of average Americans however, that's where you see the strong opposition.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
      • Name*

        If I recall, oh..and I do–it was Ronald Reagan who gave everyone amnesty in the 80s. Then G.W. tried to pass something similar during his tenure. There wa
        s a huge backlash and it didn't pass. Only after this immense backlash did Republicans get on the anti-immigratin bandwagon. They had no idea how furious the public would be. The US Chamber of Commerce supported it, then and now. They like cheap labor. Anything to keep business costs down. Where were you then? In high school? Maybe you have amnesia.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
      • zaxxonzz

        No you're right. But I was speaking a bit more in modern history. You left out the fact that Obama has stepped up boarder enforcement since GW. However, by and large, in today's political landscape, Democrats pass more pro-illegal immigration legislation then Republicans, that's simply a fact.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  4. H-1b outsourcing visa

    How can CNN not state the FACT that the H-1b is almost exclusively used by Indian outsourcing companies? This story is pure propaganda.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  5. anticomm

    Zakaria, hopefully some illegal will take your job and you star to understand this issue.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  6. Dennis

    MORE idiotic drivel from liberal CNN. Cant believe I used to use CNN as my homepage.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  7. Kurfco

    Illegal immigration has poisoned the whole subject of immigration. Many of us know that immigrants are vital. However, they should be immigrants of OUR choosing. This is clearly Canada's approach. Our approach is to look the other way while illegal immigrants make our immigration policy for us.

    The Anchor Baby problem is another reason illegal immigration is a huge issue. We end up transforming our country through mass illegality.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  8. chicago7

    It seems that every time I see an article like this, no one wants to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. And no one ever mentions that the immigrants of a hundred years ago, who built much of this nation, came here to stay. They left their old countries behind forever. They made their businesses here, brought their families here and had their children here. They became part of and contributed to our society, and our national wealth and culture. The wave of illegal immigrants have held down jobs in this country because they accepted less pay than Americans would have required for the same work. (Shame on American businesses who were unwilling to pay minimum wage and would rather break the law.) They have not assimilated and have sent much of their earnings back to their home countries and have not invested themselves or their earnings here. That's why they have such a difficult time getting the goodwill of the American people in their bid to be accepted.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Reply
    • zaxxonzz

      I love how the argument is always "these are the jobs Americans wont do"... Which is total BS, it's really "these are the jobs American's won't do for $5/hour, no overtime, bad/dangerous conditions". I have a college degree, am a professional BUT if you pay be 6-figures I'll shovel all day because it's less stressful 😀

      June 10, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Reply
      • concerned

        I too have a university degree (from a CSU), but if I have to take on a second or third job working late nights at a fast food (as I had in my late teens) – that job would today not be available. Because the fast food I used to work – today hires most likely illegal workers. The few times I've gone, everyone talks in Spanish. And not only there, but at just about every fast food (except maybe In-&-Out Burger). Being a cashier was not that bad (those many many years ago). I did enjoy the job (think Fast Times at Ridgemont High). But today, I don't think they'd hire me & take the job away from an illegal. The people working there seem like a tight bunch.

        June 11, 2012 at 4:06 am |
      • Misty

        Not to mention that legals have to pay federal, state, local, and Medicare taxes out of their hard earned wages. There would be nothing left out of the paycheck to provide for one's own survival. That would, of course, defeat the purpose of working.
        I am all for legal immigration. I work with a man from South Vietnam who means the world to me. He is a wonderful friend and very intelligent. He went through the proper channels and received his citizenship because that was the RESPONSIBLE thing to do!

        June 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Name*

      You are so right. But 19th and early 20th century immigrants were also exploited tremendously. They were legal and they finally fought and died for better working conditions.

      The factories could have moved some of the work to the South, which was very poor. Southerners didnt move north because of descrimination after the Civil War. ....Getting off topic!

      June 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Reply
    • jherara

      What I want to know is when exactly is CNN planning to place an article on the front page above the fold that isn't about being sympathetic to illegal immigrants. Every single article seems to only pose the benefits of immigration (without distinguishing between illegal and legal) and why US citizens needs to be more open to immigrants. I have plenty of neighbors who are open to immigration and influx of LEGAL immigrants into this country. It's the illegal immigration that has everyone in arms. And for good reason. The number is in the MILLIONS and there are far to many LEGAL CITIZENS (born or naturalized) who need jobs and are tired of watching people committing crimes getting away with it.

      June 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Reply
      • Jim

        Well Said!

        June 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • concerned

      I agree with you Chicago7. But they would argue that because they can not bring their families with them (as in the old days – when families would come together or come soon after b/c there was no waiting period) – then there's no alternative today but to come here, make the money, & send it back home to the rest of the family that needs it. I understand their dilemma. But yeah, you're right too – that these people are mainly clinging to their home country & language and are only here for the purpose of working. While many I'm sure want to sneak members of their family into this country (for better wages), there's little incentive to learn the language it seems or assimilate into the American way of life.

      June 11, 2012 at 4:21 am | Reply
  9. Ashish

    One very important aspect that differentiates America from other countries is that America grants birth right citizenship to a child born on its soil irrespective of the legal or illegal status of parents. If I were accidentally flying over US and my plane crashed and we had a baby magically on US soil, the baby will be american. Several countries that sued to grants birth on soil citizenship abolished it, but America follows it. It is a major reason why immigration has grown uncontrollably in US. Talkk of birth tourism, or overstaying for work just to have a baby in US. I am surprised why fareed did not talk about this. kind of the elephant in the room no one acknowledges.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
    • Marc

      For the record, Canada also grants birthright citizenship (and so does Mexico, funnily enough) regardless of the immigration status of the parent (provided that neither parent is a diplomat).

      And yes, childbirth tourism is a minor problem in Canada, though it doesn't seem to be a huge phenomenon. The thing is, since Canada also has universal health-care some mothers come to Canada, give birth and leave, leaving the bill to the government to absorb. Yet that hasn't poisoned the immigration policies up there.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:05 am | Reply
  10. Eddard

    To all of you talking about it would be ok if they are here LEGALLY. The US Legal immigration system is very strict. It is extremely difficult to get a green card (alien resident) let alone naturalize (citizenship). To take a step forward you need to take a step backward first.

    Make LEGAL immigration easier, especially for skilled workers. For international students on student visas, if they complete their degree give them a working visa. If they have a job, pay taxes and are productive in their field, then give them a green card. if they don' do anything, revoke the visa and make them go home. Remove requirements such as sponsorship for a visa or greencard. That costs money for the company, so very few people can find a company that will sponsor a visa let alone a green card. and when they do sponsor someone, its at really low wages, so some companies hire in this manner to save wages, if the job is high paying enough.

    create a path for ILLEGALS to become LEGAL. For example, if an Illegal has a job and is willing to pay taxes, give them a visa. if they keep paying taxes for several years give them a green card. if not, let the visa expire and deport. Create a window so it will not apply for future illegals. Illegals that didn't apply during the window will then be deported. This way you sort out productive vs nonproductive members of our society.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
    • Galactus0099

      We don't need to make it easier to immigrate into the United States. What we need to do is enforce the current immigration law. Granting Amnesty to illegal aliens is a terrible idea. It was tried in 1986 with 3 million illegals and today we have over 11 million. The best answer would be to deport all illegal aliens, secure the border and fine anyone who hires an illegal.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
      • Eddard

        Illegal and legal are just distinctions made by law. If the law is different the labels change. The US does not have the resources to enforce its law. Look at the failed war on drugs. drugs continue to pour into the US, regardless of US law. Consider this example. by law you are told to live in a cell. you will eat oatmeal everyday for the rest of your life. However, the door to the cell is wide open and just in the next room you can eat whatever you want with any luxury you can think. What compells you to stay in you cell? the law? just because you are told one thing is right and another is wrong doesn't have any power. only if that law is enforceable does that law actually have any power. The US has too many borders. If someone is determined to get in they will get in. If drugs can come through, so can people.

        What I propose is not General Amnesty. It is a method to separate productive vs non productive individuals. This way the focus can be on those that do not help american growth, and not waste resources on those that do.

        June 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  11. the truth

    Why are liberals so stupid?

    why can't they distinguish between illegal and legal immigration? Why not just shut down the borders and let them do whatever they want?

    Dumb liberals

    June 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Reply
    • chicago7

      You should do your homework before you talk. Check out the Republican platform on illegal immigration. The so-called "liberals" are not alone in this mess, at all.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  12. Satalink

    Does CNN even have editors? The United States was not founded by immigrants! Firstly there must be a country for which a foreigner would be considered as an immigrant. Secondly, the US was FOUNDED by revolting Englishmen. Not immigrants.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Reply
    • SouthernCelt

      On the contrary, it was the grandchildren of the Scottish Patriots who would not submit to English cruelty. Check the facts!

      June 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  13. Kurfco

    Wow, Bloomberg is a lot of things but well informed, he is not. Illegal immigrants' children have completely overrun the schools in California, Texas and elsewhere. They file for tax credit cash by having an Individual Taxpayer ID number. Before Bloomberg spouts off about things he clearly knows nothing about, he might have a staffer do a little research and brief him.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  14. chicago7

    The idea of making things easier for skilled immigrant laborers would be great if we weren't exporting all those jobs wholesale to India and China.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  15. Bribarian


    June 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  16. Prasad

    About Canada getting immigration 'right' : you should visit Toronto which is overrun by Bangladeshis, SriLankans, etc.
    You will be hardpressed to find the original white population any more.

    I don't think this is a healthy situation at all.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Reply
    • Marc

      I'm white, I live in Toronto and I'm doing fine. I just wish there where more francophone here, my French has suffered ever since moving here.

      But honestly, why exactly should I care that most of my coworkers are non-whites? Most of them are completely assimilated into Canadian culture by now and most of them speak English better than I do, so I fail to see the problem...

      June 11, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • Chris in Canada

      Overrun? By people who live and/or were born there? Pfft. Toronto is more than half non-white and it's great. Problems with some communities, as they put it? Yup. But overall, Toronto is a great place to live and work and it's largely due to it not being a stodgy white Anglo-only city, like it was 50 years ago. (and yes, I'm white Anglo)

      June 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Reply
      • 100% ETHIO

        Toronto or Canada is good for those who runaway from Hitler and East-Europeans who were hated and discriminated by their own people, forced to leave Europe.

        Chris, which one are you?

        Many thanks to Great Britain.

        June 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  17. Lenny

    I am in the technology industry, and most H-1b and L1 visas are used to ship jobs overseas. Just look at the numbers, most of these visas are used by outsourcing companies. It really is bad that CNN didn't mention this important fact.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Reply
    • H-1b outsourcing visas create jobs?

      Yea, very true. I wonder why CNN didn't mention this? Seems like this "news cast" is a propaganda piece for the outsourcing industry.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
      • concerned

        yes, absolutely. Shame CNN

        June 11, 2012 at 4:30 am |
  18. Kev

    esta´ buenísimo!!!

    June 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  19. Kurfco

    Every single time Bloomberg opens his mouth, he spouts another example of personal ignorance of the facts of this issue. Several studies by ag economists have shown that significant increases in wage rates would not increase the price of produce much at all. Why? The labor in a box of produce usually costs less than the cardboard box.

    And what Bloomberg clearly doesn't know is that only 3% of illegal immigrants are in ag anyway. The rest are in bricklaying, framing, carpentry, roofing, tree trimming, meat packing, baking, landscaping, restaurants, hotels, on and on - all jobs Americans did do and will do if not displaced by workers who will accept lower wages, poorer working conditions and jobs that they, themselves, transform into "illegal workers' jobs">

    June 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  20. Jason

    H1 visa and Low Wages
    2 points:
    1. A lot of 'experts' here have mentioned that H1 visa is to get cheap labor working for American companies. The allusion being that those on H1 work visa get paid lower than an American citizen doing an equivalent job. Do the people claiming this have any statistics around this or any sort of facts? Or are they just pulling out wishful thoughts from their rear and passing them off like facts? I happen to know around 100's of H1 workers in the technology industry, and if i actually tell yoi how much they make, most of those who think H1 are low paid might not be able to sleep well. H1 get paid equal if not more than a citizen, and quite ironically, companies expend more money on H1 guys than on a citizen because of the expenses invokved invisa processing, green card etc.

    2. Those who say there are adequate Americans available with hard technology skills have never really had any experience with hiring or recruiting. Companies pay 30% more to get in H1 because you just do not have enough talent available among the citizens.

    Just thought i'll drop some reality checks.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
    • louis

      Actually all the real facts prove H-1bs are paid 30% less than US workers in the same position. The GAO stated that the 80% or H-1bs are either entry level or lower paid than US workers. The only studies that refute that are done by the corrupt outsourcing industry.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • zaxxonzz

      You're the one that needs the reality check, where is your supporting information (funny how you put 2 claims out there yourself with no support, yet you expect others to believe what you say with zero supporting information)

      June 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
    • concerned

      Jason, I have to disagree with you. In 2006, I worked with a gal hired on an H-1B. She did a job that was accounting-related. Now, my degree is in Business (w/ an MIS concentration). I know accounting as well. I could have done her job with my eyes closed. It was more data entry related. They only hired her because 1. She was young. 2. She was pursuing taking the CPA. I, on the other hand, was performing a dumb job as a temp worker (copy/paste in search of information in a database, assisting buyers, sending emails to vendors, etc). I probably would have enjoyed her job more perhaps – rather than look for something else. For she stayed there, working happily way after I left. So, my point is – a lot of these are jobs Americans can do. It is the wicked employers who choose to hire people on H-1Bs for insignificant reasons. Perhaps because they want someone young and naive. Who knows (?).

      June 11, 2012 at 4:47 am | Reply
  21. jamesnyc

    We need to fix the issues caused by the 14th amendment and stop incentivising illegal aliens. Stop giving preference to foreign workers over U.S. Citizens who happen to be "people of age". Until then, we will not know how many people legitimately need to be brought in. How many Citizens lost their jobs to H1-B Visa recipients right after training them? How many job need to be "reshored" to American Workers first?

    June 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  22. charlie avila

    Hey, zakariah, the problem is that you don't distinguish between "legal and "illegal" immigration. Legally, we will accept everyone, but illegals are committing a felony, breaking the immigration laws. Everybody talks about immigrants and their rights, but illegals came to the country unlawfully! americans are right thinking immigrantsare a threat to american values. Illegals come to the usa looking for the social service for free and to give birth to lots of sons and daughters to become citizens and prevent being deported!....

    June 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  23. hammer

    Fareed is a good example of why CNN has low ratings.Keep the crap coming Fareed.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  24. H-1b outsourcing visas create jobs?

    No they do not. What is CNN doing?

    June 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
    • concerned

      If H1-B visa holders help create jobs (& the graduates who stay in the U.S. shortly after graduating) – then why couldn't I get a $50K job with benefits after obtaining my degree in the early 2000s? Why was I offered a job paying $13/hr where I'd be working alongside 20 to 30 foreigners in a room?

      June 11, 2012 at 4:54 am | Reply
  25. Eddard

    To the guy posting about the H1 B visa. That particular visa has an annual cap and has a 1 or 3 year time limit. Only 65000 H1Bs are issued per year with an additional 20000 f advanced H1-B issued for those who have a masters or a PHD. It used to be one of the easier paths to a green card. However, now the application of getting a green card takes longer than 1 to 3 years, meaning your visa could expire before you get a green card, so many very skilled workers with a H1-B go back home.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • IAT

      I guess if someone on a temporary guest worker, outsourcing visa leaves... then the system is working as designed...

      June 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Reply
      • Eddard

        The H1B is not a typical outsourcing visa. It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The regulations define a "specialty occupation" as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor[1] including but not limited to architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, biotechnology, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum[2] (with the exception of fashion models, who must be "of distinguished merit and ability").[3] Likewise, the foreign worker must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and state licensure, if required to practice in that field. H-1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.

        Its basically the cream of the crop of foreign workers

        June 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
      • TruthSeeker

        I just looked it up, H-1b is mostly used by outsourcing companies.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
      • Eddard

        Truth Seeker, Have you ever seen what any graduate program of a STEM field looks like? its mostly asians and indians. of course there's going to be a lot of H1Bs that are asians and Indians. Now who would pay most for a worker who is indian, speaks the language, and has the skills necessary? It goes and fits with the added benefit that operating in india is way cheaper in the US. For companies that have operations in India, that type of worker is perfect. This is not a visa problem. Its an education problem. More US students have to compete and beat out foreign students in those fields for those type of work to develop here in the US.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  26. Kurfco

    The reason immigration reform - aka amnesty - is more elusive today is that illegal immigrants have fanned out all over America, especially in the last five years. So, many Americans of all political beliefs, in a lot of states, are mad about how out of control this mess has become and they want it fixed.

    The way to fix it is straightforward, if not rapid:

    (1) Stop all talk of there ever being any form of amnesty, EVER, as this roots illegal aliens in place
    (2) Mandate eVerify for employment and police its use by employers
    (3) Continue to roll out Secure Communities

    June 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  27. Harvey

    "Today, many Americans see immigrants as a danger to that dream."
    Come on. We do not see immigration as a danger. We see ILLEGAL immigration as a danger. People who legally immigrate to the US are no problem at all. All we ask is that it be legal. Illegal immigration is against the law which makes them criminals. What a way to start a quest for citizenship – as a criminal.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  28. Patrick

    H-1bs have been as high as 195k a year and they can be renewed. If you include the L1 outsourcing visa, there are over 1 million workers in the US on outsourcing visas. The biggest users of these visas are Tata, Wipro, Infosys, and a vast array of off-shoring companies.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Reply
    • Eddard

      if they already reach the annual limit of 65000 or have more applicants than that and wasn't lucky enough to pass the lottery, the H1B can't be renewed and that worker goes back home.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Reply
      • IAT

        Actually, it is 85,000 and there are a lot of corrupt exceptions from the cap. L1 is unlimited numbers. Not sure if renewals count against the cap. I'm sure our corrupt politicians make sure they don't.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
      • Eddard

        sure the 20000 Advanced H1bs for masters and above. I wrote about that somewhere in a post here. and renewals do count. that's why many individuals who have been working in the us for years, suddenly have to go back to their original country because the renewal did not pass.

        I don't agree with how the L1 visas are issued, especially the blanket manner. this is a more recent creation.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
      • sharonphilip

        Eddard, there are 65000 visas issued for h1b and an additional 20000 for graduates from US schools with a masters or better. However there is an unlimited quota to those employed by non profit organizations like Universities or churches and vice versa.

        June 10, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  29. tiron

    Fareed, for goodness sake, do your homework before you write about Canada doing a “right thing”. 90% of Canadian immigration is under “family” category, and not “professional”. So, while the country needs construction workers and doctors, 90% of the immigrants are professional accountants. The result: Canada has a labor market where one needs a BA Accounting, MBA & a Professional accounting designation to get a Senior Analyst job. At the same time, Canadians still have to spend 3 months to see a “professional” physician (i.e. cardiologist).
    Talk to any of the Canadians, whose parents are not a part of the latest immigration wave, over a beer. You would hear the true (and pretty emotional) stories on how they “do not mind” the immigration.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Reply
    • agincourt98

      What are you babbling about? 90% of our immigration in Canada is NOT family related. Stop being a bigot. The fact that you can't find a doctor doesn't correlate to family reunification. As for the "in the good old days immigrants assimilated", what a crock. The reason that Little Italy, China Town, Little Vietnam and the Irish areas existed were because the immigrants stuck together with people from their own culture and because WASPs didn't want them in their areas. Very few Browns, Smiths and Whites died in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  30. Canada Person

    Mr Zakaria should come live in Canada for a while and see if we are getting it right. We have Jamaicans bringing their gang violence from Jamaica into Toronto. Asian gangs bringing violence from the Orient to Vancouver...middle eastern people in Ontario who can't drive their rusted out 1995 Dodge so they bump your car in a parking lot and drive away because in Iraq it's no big deal....get a freaking clue people, not to mention the Korean ladies at the golf course who use umbrellas on beautiful days without a cloud in the sky....why? Because in Korea having a tan means you're Korea...not is Canada. It's ridiculous.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Reply
    • concerned

      That's good Canada Person. I'm sure Canada has its problems because of the out-of-hand mass immigration that Mr. Zakaria was talking about. Now, he wants the U.S. to follow in Canada's footsteps. yes, Mr. Zakaria does need to visit Canada & perhaps live there for a while. I too, suggested that he should come to Silicon Valley (San Jose & the Bay Area Pennisula) to see what it is like. I hope he brings some dollar bills to hand out to all the homeless. And if he visits the unemployment office – good luck in finding a parking space.

      June 11, 2012 at 5:11 am | Reply
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